What does it mean to be a media critic? What does it mean to “think critically” about something like Modern Family or Survivor or Facebook games or Justin Bieber lyrics? And why would one want to bother putting thought into something that’s been created for the purpose of entertaining an audience?
I used to be a media studies professor. I left that profession, happily, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was that I found it immensely difficult to teach many my students to critically analyze things that they insisted were “just entertainment.” While there were moments when I loved teaching, I found that overall, I lacked the talent to bridge the gap between students who came to my class in search of business-savvy communication skills and my desire to teach students to study the media as a way to develop critical thinking skills.
So here I am, five years later, starting a blog that’s primarily about media criticism. I’m hoping very much to attract others to my blog who will comment on whatever it is I say about the media. I hope they will agree with me, or disagree with me and provide alternative interpretations. But what I very much hope is that I don’t get people who say, “Get over it, Naomi! Why are you analyzing Modern Family? It’s just entertainment!”
So, let me start by going back to the original question I posed: what is media criticism? And what is it not?