Will Self has reviewed Mark Kermode’s recent book Hatchet Job. He uses his review of this book on film criticism to open up some questions about the future of cultural criticism. The problem being that the changing medium makes the review and reviewing seem a bit ponderous and potentially outdated – as he says at the end of the piece, it may be left in the future belong to the academy and the museum. I thought this passage carried particular resonance:
In my working lifetime I’ve already seen the status accorded to book and film reviews undergo a tremendous decline – not, I hasten to add, because there aren’t good reviews being written (this one is especially good), but because the media they are reviewing and the medium by which they themselves are delivered are both in a state of flux. All sorts of cultural production that was concerned with ordering and sorting – criticism, editing and librarianship – can now be seen for what it always really was: the adjunct of a particular media technology.
I’ve written before about my experience of being a reviews editor, and this piece spoke to those concerns. At the same time it also draws us to question the future of reviewing as both the objects we review change and as the media we use to communicate our reviews also change. The questions that Will Self raises about pay walls are undoubtedly going to continue to raise questions.