Why criticize art in the first place?

By Molly Mott

The trouble of writing critical articles is knowing what to write about.

There’s part of me that asks, “What’s the point?” Part of me that knows that, no matter what I say or how well you say it, no matter how many people see what I’ve written and read it in its entirety, none of it will have a real impact. It’s just an opinion online.

If I touch on frivolous things — TV, video games, literature — it might bring me some momentary reprieve, or help me gain traction in my chosen field in some way. And that’s wonderful. But there will still be real issues outside of this that art and my analysis might have little to no impact on: war, famine, the climate crisis, among others.

Sure, I can write on those topics, too, but what can I write that won’t already have been said? What can I say that won’t come across as drivel, as useless, as panic? What could I say that would cause any meaningful change?

Such is the crisis of the art critic.

So what’s the point? Why should I continue to write about art, especially when there are real issues left to be tackled? Because in short I don’t have a real choice.

I have to hope. I have to create hope and have to believe in hope. I have to believe that there are helpers in the world. That there are people like me that care and that fight because it’s the right thing to do. And that there are those in power that will listen to others and make meaningful change happen.

That’s the point of writing serious columns. It’s also why we review art.

I have to believe that no matter how small, a good thing is still a good thing, and that countless little good things will mean big good things when work together. Sometimes serious columns can help us create a roadmap for that.

It’s easy to say that we’re doomed when we look at the big picture. It’s easy to get used to letting go and saying goodbye, even if the horizon isn’t a guarantee but a spectrum. The truth of the matter is, I don’t want to give up yet. I can’t. None of us can.

All I can do is what I can, and ask you to join me.

Remember, there is hope in art.

And through its interpretation, maybe we can find some solutions to this broken world of ours.

Molly Mott is the former Poetry Editor for Spires, MCLA’s literary magazine, as well as the former Life and Health section editors for MCLA Her Campus. 

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