The Art of Trashing the Classics

We’ve written before about the occasional hyper-critical comments on certain blogs, but such comments are like valentines compared to what some Amazon.com customers heap upon The Rolling Stones, The Godfather, The Diary of Anne Frank, and other standards. The Cynical-C blog lists the most caustic of these every day. (HT: Very Short List) [%comments]


anon.

Do you mean "Diary of Anne Frank"?

Jesse

Really, though, some of the classics are horribly overrated simply because they're classics.

Rich Wilson

Actually, some of those comments about "This is Spinal Tap" are pretty good 'in character' reviews.

michael malta

Joke? Classics? The Rolling Stones? The Godfather? The Diary of Anne Frank? How about the Beverly Hillbillies or Madonna or, perhaps, the great and glorious oscar winning movies Forrest Gump, Braveheart and The Titanic, crap cinema to warm the hearts of anyone with an IQ less than 100. These things are only classics in the eyes of the extreme, IQ challenged dopeocracy that rules the world.

In around 1955 a wonderful Science Fiction story was written called "The Marching Morons". The prescient premise was that stupid people had more children than smart people so the human race was gradually and inevitably getting dumber. One of the things the authoriites did to compensate was to make cars with fake odometers. They would read 60mph when the car was actually going only 20mph -- cause the morons who were driving couldn't handle 60mph but were too macho to understand that fact.

I wonder what folks on these blogs might think of "The Golden Bowl" or "Persona" or "City of Women" or "Cossi Fan Tutti" or "The Milkmaid" -- that is if they ever heard of such things.

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Eric M. Jones

In my humble opinion, anything by J. D. Salinger is wildly over-rated. Why they make students read "Catcher in the Rye" was beyond me when I had to read it and I haven't grown in understanding one wit since. Salinger probably turned more students against the pleasures of reading than any writer in history.

Half the pieces are obviously satirical.

1984 is a great work but not stylistically a good book.George Orwell wasn't a good writer and never claimed to be . He refused to be a member of the Writer's Union and kept his Journalist's Union card.

Jacques René Giguère

jorge

@Jesse I'm sorry but the "You like it just because it is old", or "it's a classic just because it is a classic" is one of the most brain dead, conversation killing statements you can make. It's the type of argument 14 year olds might use amongst their friends in lit class but it adds up to zero amongst adults with more than a thought in their head. There are actually people who really enjoy and appreciate the special things that have been created over the years. But as always, the people who don't get it feel the need to heap dung all over the finer things in life.

Science Minded

My daughter called me dumb the other day. I told her, "say that to me again and there will be consequences." It is just condescending and inappropriate. I admit to have bought a hard cover book the other day because a well known tv news person recommended it. And I thought that it might be a book that I could relate to. But having read a bit of it I see that --It is no classic and I am wondering why it was recommended, That said, I do intend to finish it off and continue to remind myself that its author tried--- but just did not succeed this time round. As far as I can tell, great work takes time and when one looks at the body of work of any individual-- how much of it is classic and how much build up to that point i.e., not classic at all?

SteveAK

Not all classics are "great". Pacing, the stereotypes and misconceptions of the time, or simply the filmography used can be disconcerting. I will admit that many works are worth more for historical value (it was there first, but not best) than they are enjoyment or edification.

Which doesn't really matter, because these reviews are mostly all sarcastic =)

Science Minded

Dear SteveAK

You raise an interesting question- what makes a book great? Now if I could just figure that one out? Perhaps, the concern should not be with greatness in writing--just with doing an adequate job. I do know one thing though, Great books are the ones that I keep reading over and over again and continue to find new food for thought each time. So in that sense, great books live on. Not too long ago, I reread Romeo and Juliet. Had not read it since hight school. This time, I was looking for a better understanding of why the two families were at odds. The book then took on a different dimension.

Merus

I want to take some time out to give michael malta a virtual smack over the head, here.

Despite the correlation between intelligence and the amount of children a couple has, to think that it'll have some monumental effect on society is folly. If it did, we wouldn't have had a society with steadily increasing complexity because let me tell you, people didn't start out smart.

There's two major things wrong with the theory the story you describe (and similar works, such as the Mike Judge film 'Idiocracy' which is quite amusing if you get past the premise) - firstly, it's a misunderstanding of evolution to assume that because dumb people have more kids then all their kids are going to be dumb. Genetic drift will ensure that there's some genetic diversity in those kids, and some of them will end up being significantly smarter than their parents. Most of the dumber kids are going to find themselves, by necessity, in higher-risk scenarios, and so I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers worked out that "dumb" families passed on their genes to a further generation only a smidgin more, if not at the same rate, as "normal" families.

Secondly, the environment a child's brought up in has been proven to influence their intelligence, and kids these days are bombarded with much more stimuli than kids 50 years ago. They're going to be more functionally intelligent than kids from 50 years ago, even though genetically nothing's changed. Diet, too, has an effect, and we have far more flexibility in our diet than our ancestors did, which would arrest any slide backwards.

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ukdan

some brilliant reviews, guess some might have been tongue in cheek.

this one on spinal tap was unbelievable,

'Okay, seriously, who the heck are these Spinal Tap fellas? I'm an expert on music (I studied the art form for four years, know every artist of the last 40 years, and scored an A+ on my math test…which really doesn't have anything to do with music, but it shows you that I am intellegent), and have never heard of these guys before.'

Graham

Maybe the "great" books are considered great because there wasn't much competition? I don't know much about publishing, but I would think that far fewer books were published back in the 1800s, so "The Scarlet Letter" rose to the top of the heap because so few books were around.

If it were published today, with so many more options, it would sit on the shelves and collect dust.

George C

Haha, the This Is Spinal Tap reviews are fantastic.

Sunny

My generation thought the Beatles were good.

Their stuff is pretty bad, even by pop music standards of any generation.

It was bad even before Original Paul died.

Must have been something we were smoking.

askjh

Werther by Goethe has to be one of the worst books!

Derick

@11: Cynical, hugely antagonistic generalities aren't considered sensitive to logical or data-driven analysis the way positive statements are. At least not according to people in our culture, it seems = )

Half the pieces are obviously satirical.

1984 is a great work but not stylistically a good book.George Orwell wasn't a good writer and never claimed to be . He refused to be a member of the Writer's Union and kept his Journalist's Union card.

Jacques René Giguère