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On Thumbs, Stars, and Little Men
Merlin Mann | Jan 28 2009
I love Christgau’s original (pre-1990) explanation of how he grades the records that he reviews.
If every critic — ala Ebert, in his way — would disclose the yardstick by which he generates the “stars,” “thumbs,” or “Little Man” of his reviews, it would go a long way toward educating readers; as well as, I’d argue, potentially helping revive the increasingly one-star interest in professional arts criticism.
It’s not that people aren’t interested in hearing what anointed “experts” have to say about a given movie, CD, book, or what have you. And, it’s not even that the lumpenconsumertariat requires that everything be reduced to a pre-chewed paste about buying decisions.
But, disclosing the fahrenheit, celsius, or kelvin of a given reviewer’s mercury would make it much easier for readers to understand how closely a critic’s cognition maps to their own.
Because, by itself, a thumb is really just a decisive finger. And, by itself, a finger almost always benefits from a little extra context.
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