How Literary Criticism  Is a Lot Like TV
(substitute TV or lit. crit. for it)

1. We see too much of it for our own good.

2. We see a lot of crap that later we wonder why we wasted our time.

3. The ratio of worthwhile material to utter crap is the same in both TV and lit. crit.  Dismal.

4. What sells best to the greatest market gets prime time, even if it's just a tired reworking of the same old clichéed material. And intelligent material often isn't recognized as such. If it doesn't have some new and improved glitz, it probably won't make the cut.

5. Strong gravitation pulls a lot of creative people into the field who once would have written for other venues.

6. Fifty or a hundred years from now most of it will look really hokey, although a few works will endure as classics.

7. Jerry Springer and post-colonialism pull a mighty audience, purporting to analyze our darker sides and open them to correction. But both are a vehicle for performers who would find little other market for their sanctimony.

8. Some really good books have been written and published lately, and maybe one's laying on your coffee table, but you've not had time to read it, what with all the time you spend with crit./TV.

9. Maybe you tried living out in the wilderness for a while and refused to have the thing in your home, but when you returned to the mainstream you found it's everywhere, so you just resigned yourself to it.

10. Most of the programming is produced under economic pressure, rather than any real passion for the material, thus ensuring mediocrity.

11. Although TV and lit.crit. both deal with the same topics you find in bookstores, real book-readers have better things to do.
 

The comparison ultimately breaks down, however, because lit.crit. has no PBS where you can find good material most of the time.

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