Response to “The Video Essay” by Matt Zoller Seitz

“… The idea that one would have to seek someone’s permission before criticizing or commenting upon their work is not just anathema to reason, it’s faintly fascistic, and as such, cannot be sustained.” Matt Zoller Seitz brings up an interesting perspective on sharing art in his article that has not necessarily been widely thought about in terms of video copyright yet. Every succesful artist has probably had to deal with the consequences of sharing their art with the world at some point. When we create art, we invite others to project meaning onto it. Our art stops belonging to just us. Artists are constantly taking risks, and it makes their art better. One question this leaves me with is, how does one effectively balance risk taking and self-care, and still produce quality art? This blog post about creative risk taking and self-esteem expands slightly on the benefits of taking that risk and following it through, but where are all of the accounts of artists who’s lives were crushed after their art wasn’t received correctly? What happens when that unsustainable idea of seeking someone’s permission before criticizing or commenting upon their work means the difference between a nurtured creative soul and a bitter, lonely person? As a copyright issue, I understand why artistic work needs to be catalogued. However, I dont think that everything or everyone is automatically required to be open to criticism.

2 thoughts on “Response to “The Video Essay” by Matt Zoller Seitz”

  1. There’s a fascinating, subtle distinction being made here, if I understand you correctly. When you write, “I dont think that everything or everyone is automatically required to be open to criticism,” are you referring some kind of legal right to not be criticized, or are you referring to that artist’s personal orientation toward the idea of criticism, i.e., that she should feel good or positive about being criticized? There are intriguing implications for both positions, but the former would have to be argued on much more legal grounds than the latter.

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  2. I thought what you said about criticism meaning the difference between a “nurtured creative soul and a bitter, lonely person” was interesting. I think that although sometimes criticism can be hurtful or mean-spirited, what we are talking about here is a copyright issue. I think that the idea of seeking permission to comment on public work is truly unsustainable, and maybe even not Constitutional. What we need to ask ourselves is “Does Free Speech extend to hurtful things?” and in my opinion, because words like “hurtful” are hard to define, the answer should be yes. People should know and understand that the criticism comes with the art, and that there is no easy way to have one without the other.

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