What You Want, Baby I Got

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

And while we’re on the subject, The New York Times sucks. As many of you probably know, they published a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a couple days early, much to J.K. Rowling’s dismay. The Times offers two defenses of their actions: 1. They didn’t ruin the story and 2. They obtained the book legally*. Both of these excuses can be disputed, and both miss the point. Journalists are welcome to offer glorious praise or scathing criticism, but they should always respect the artist. In this case, the artists very simple wishes were arrogantly trod upon and dismissed.

A DJ on Q101 got in a similar tiff with Jack White when she played The White Stripes’ new album on the air before it was released. Jack White called her personally and yelled at her. She was, apparently, shocked, and couldn’t imagine that she did anything wrong. I understand breaking the rules to get a scoop and make a buck or score some publicity. What blows my mind is that these folks are surprised when the artist is upset by it.

Anton Ego, the aptly named food critic in the movie Ratatouille offers this comment on criticism in his final review (which happens to follow one of the most brilliant scenes in the history of motion pictures): “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

* I also question how legally they obtained the book. They say it was bought two days early at a chain store in Manhattan. It seems unlikely that this particular bookstore wasn’t bound by the same contract as every other bookstore in the country, and it seems just as unlikely that The New York Times didn’t know the book was being sold illegally.

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