Millennial Film Critics

In yesterday’s thread about a Wolf of Wall Street review written by The Wire‘s 23 year-old critic Esther Zuckerman, HE commenter “Jeff” said that “[it] works within the context of other reviewers to give a different generational perspective but Millennials have a much more pronounced sensitive side and tend to be horrified by mean or fratty/bro antics (specifically someone whose background reads Harvard/Westlake, Yale, Village Voice ).”

In response to this Ray Quick/LexG posted his own similar riff about Millenials. It’s unwise to generalize too much, but is there a measure of validity to some of LexG’s observations? And if not, why or in what way?

“Late to this, but [this is an] interesting and very true point about Millennials and younger critics,” Lex G began. “This applies to the arisp/Joe conversation above too, but I think there are interesting and valid writing styles to be had from ‘younger’ critics and viewers. Hell, I bluffed my way through a film studies degree at 22 even though I summarily rejected the whole ‘movies reflecting their socio-historical time” throughline that they force upon film students, and used to spin superlatives-laden capsules for my high-school paper starting at 14. But I do find, for better or worse, a lot of the ‘young’ critics of today are this weird mix of overly cerebral/detached (explained by relative proximity to academia) AND now have this post-Armond obsession with humanism and political correctness.

“In weird ways, the Millennial film fans I know or read, you’re always between a rock or hard place. They’re more easily offended by content and nihilism than even some ‘old man’ critics….yet they also have a sociopathic resistance to any warmth or earnestness in film. It’s why places like Slant or critics like Calum Marsh or Ignatiy are a little mystifying. They’ll front like the most detached, scientific viewer…[and] then in the next review clamor for a type of redemptive humanist religiosity from movies.

“It’s a sharp contrast from when I came up, when geeks were all about nihilism and blackness and got off on the charge of the corrupt– even in the Clintonian p.c. days when I was studying film, all the beardos were down the moral ambiguity and shock value of the movies of the time, be it Boyle or QT or Spike or Lynch. In a way that seemed truer to me to the interests of young people.. It’s weird to me how the Millennial generation, from the music to the movies, doesn’t seem to really ‘get off’ on any ferocious or intense or disreputable way. And the age comes into play. Like, filmically a movie can commit a zillion different sins, but if the ‘reviewer’ has such limited life experience and such judgmental moral superiority, it comes off like they don’t have the real-life experiences and losses that shade a more thoughtful review.

“Just to pick something off the top of my head, I’m sure the Walter Mitty reviews next week will be brutal from ‘young’ reviewers, but what, really, does a 22-year-old NYU kid from academic parents and a trust fund REALLY know about middle-age ennui or living a life haunted by compromise? At 22 or 23, everyone thinks they’re fucking invincible and oh-so-fucking-wise. I hated college kids when I went to college, I damn sure don’t need to read them DROPPING THE KNOWLEDGE to me when I’m 41.”

  • Pertwillaby

    February 21, 2012: “So that’s it — LexG is gone and will never return. He’s an alcoholic, a hooligan and an infant. I feel sorry for him but he’s become a pestilence. He will not pollute this site again.”

    April 24, 2012: “Yesterday LexG went hogwild with one of his longing-for creature-comfort tirades and shat all over the trust and respect that I offered in unblocking him a week or two ago. He could climb to the top of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower and jump off, pulling a detonator string three or four seconds later and blowing himself into several dozen pieces of flesh, guts and bone, and he couldn’t be more dead than he is right now. Mark my words, he’ll never appear on these pages ever again. May God strike me dead with a lightning bolt if I relent again.”

    How can you expect anyone to take you seriously, Jeff?

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      What are you, 23? Things change. And sometimes they change back again.

      • Pertwillaby

        I know things change. That’s why I would never write something like “Mark my words, he’ll never appear on these pages ever again. May God strike me dead with a lightning bolt if I relent again.”

        Jeff, I have been visiting your site for about 6 years, I love your writing but this LexG shit is getting really boring…

        • JBM…

          It’s Jeff’s site. He wanted Lex gone, so Lex was gone. He’s okay with Lex back, so Lex is back.

          Jesus fuck.

          When we go to pertwillaby-elsewhere.com and don’t see Lex, we’ll know why.

          • bastard in a basket

            I just can’t believe this dude actually took the time to go into the archives to find when Jeff promised to ban Lex. It’s sorta pathetic to be so consumed with the postings of an anonymous blogger on a website (why not just skip his postings if he so offends you?)

            I have said it before, Lex is Artie Lange to Jeff’s Howard Stern. He is a valuable and often very funny contributor here.

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      What are you, 23?

    • Eloi Wrath

      Christ, every time Jeff posts something from LexG there’s a flurry of no name douches dragging up old quotes like it’s some congressional hearing. God forbid you actually read the post or engage with the points Lex/Wells are making.

  • http://jessecrall.wordpress.com/ Jesse Crall

    Lex is certainly right about a certain kind of Millennial, a numerical minority but high culture majority…think of it like in the late 70′s how every major music rag was probably going off on THE CLASH but STYX were outselling them 5 to 1. It’s not that Millennials in general aren’t earnest; it’s that the kinds of Millennials who deign to work for cultural sites skew toward affectations and irony and the ones who don’t are probably just assumed to be older.

  • roland1824

    Some good ideas here. Who is the millennial Lester Bangs? Does anyone even want to be him? Ultimately this is all about point of view. Everyone’s POV is different and most evolve over time. The problem is when Jeff argues there can only be one, correct, objective response or interpretation (his) to a movie. All shit is subjective.

    • OscarDollars

      There can be only one Lester Bangs

  • Steven Gaydos

    So in case you’re keeping track, if you don’t agree with Jeff on a movie he loves it’s because a) you’re old and out of touch or b) you’re young and out of touch.

  • Brad

    I am 25 and referred to her phrase “I guess, at the tender age of 23, I’m just an old fogey” as “the most asshole comment I have read in a long time” and I think there is a certain truth in Jeff and Lex’s assertions. This isn’t a comment on AN ENTIRE GENERATION here: just the task-orientated, type-A, highly successful people who are film critics at such a young age.

    • http://jessecrall.wordpress.com/ Jesse Crall

      Did you see Peter Debruge’s Variety pan of AMERICAN HUSTLE. Total white knight wackery at the end when he sounds off on how Amy Adams’ cleavage was sexist against women. Yeah, poor little misguided Amy Adams, coerced into plunging necklines by big bad Hollywood. What a shame that Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper play such demure paragons of class and style while Amy Adams & Jennifer Lawrence dirty them up by being “sex objects” or “harpies” (his words, not mine).

      • Brad

        I haven’t read that review, but it sounds embarrassing, like Richard Beltzer-stand-up-embarrassing. I guess critics aren’t just critics: they’re our guardians who need to impart life lessons about modern life by, umm, letting us know that two films stars with their choice of roles are actually the contemporary slave girl.

  • Magga

    Well written stuff. In Norway we call this generation something like “The Generation of Seriousness”, rebelling against the irony of GenX. On the plus side, this means they’re more likely to engage politically, help out others etc, on the minus side it often means they react strongly against anything ironic and take a lot literally. The nineties were all about re-using cultural clichés with a certain irony attached to them (slasher films were old hat until they made one where the characters knew the clichés and mentioned them), and the main thing that’s changed since then is the removal of irony. The same stories are told over and over, and the wish for some kind of modernist new approach or invention is seen as sort of old-fasioned. There’s a lot of nostalgia in everything that succeeds, and ironically I get nostalgic for a time when the future was more interesting than the past. Having said that, the general trend since Star Wars has been that the hunger for disruptive entertainment has steadily declined, but have now been rediscovered on TV. Won’t be able to see WOWS for another month, but it’s funny that the guy who’s movie we are waiting for to give us an experience of creativity in the mainstream is the same guy people were expecting this from in the seventies.

  • bill weber

    “It’s why places like Slant or critics like Calum Marsh or Ignatiy are a little mystifying. They’ll front like the most detached, scientific viewer…[and] then in the next review clamor for a type of redemptive humanist religiosity from movies.”

    So ALL films are supposed to be received the same way, from MACHETE to UPSTREAM COLOR, TO THE WONDER to THE LORDS OF SALEM? You don’t want humans reviewing films, you want dogmatic robots.

  • erniesouchak

    LexG has a very good point, but I have to say that “Walter Mitty” just doesn’t work, pure and simple. And I’m 44.

  • bracedj

    I’ve noticed that a lot of critics (especially the younger ones) obviously know a lot about movies, but nothing about life. they never explain why the movie is good or bad (probably because they are not very familiar with the subject), they just write about the structure, the tone, the performances, the effects, production values, how enjoyable it is, whether it’s an Oscar contender or not and stuff like that. But than again the movies are not very inspiring either. Rare are the movies that inspire the same kind of discussion of the story and characters the way we used to discuss stories and characters from books in school.

    • jesse

      As a part-time film critic right on the “millennial” border (born in ’80, which is claimed as both Gen X and millennials; probably wanted by neither), my biggest problems with a lot of film writing I read are:

      1.) Film criticism that doesn’t talk about what a movie actually feels like to watch — stuff that obsesses purely over story (not even necessarily writing: just story) and performance. Obviously, it varies by movie; I’ve reviewed plenty of stuff where there wasn’t much to say about the editing or cinematography.

      2.) Writing that just isn’t very good: dumbed-down, or vague, or conversational in the wrong way (all the casualness without any of the style you’d get from going more colloquial).

      I used to get all hung up on debating experience levels: you don’t want some super-old critic who’s become so jaded with movies from 35 years of watching and reviewing that everything is old hat and can’t compare to their own salad days, but you don’t want some 22-year-old who hasn’t lived enough or even watched enough to really know anything. Lately, I’ll take either if you can write worth a goddamn.

      That’s one reason I read Lex’s comments/Twitter/etc. He pays attention to how movies look and he can turn a phrase. Of course there are plenty of others: Ignatiy’s pretty strong on both of those fronts; the Times folks are, too. But the point is, I find those elements a lot more important than some overarching generational approach. I don’t always know how old people are, anyway.

      And yeah, ditto Ernie below on Walter Mitty not quite working. I was so going with it for the first chunk, I’m close enough to middle age and self-conscious enough about aging and relatively unsuccessful enough to feel that sense of melancholy, but eventually it becomes an awkward rich-guy fantasy about what a well-lived life might look like.

      Also kind of hard to take it seriously as this lyrical midlife crisis movie with huge Cinnabon product placements stuck in the middle.

      (And I have no problem with Cinnabon. I literally wish I was eating one right now.)

  • Guest

    The reason why LexG gets so much air time in these parts is because he shares with Jeff a resentment toward anyone who might dare be mistaken for “intellectual”, a word that, in their world, only connotes asexual, glasses-wearing prigs detached from life outside of retrospectives.

    That these young critics can also be passionate, but might go about expressing their passion in a way that differs from masturbating on comments sections every day, never occurs to the LexG (and Jeff Wells) types that fancy themselves as reflective of what the true-blue working class MAN actually thinks. But underneath the macho bluster is just a different form of snobbery. I never hear Slant disparaging other people’s opinions or reducing others to cliche. But that happens here on a second by second basis.

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      Why are you afraid to divulge your identity?

      • CBJ

        Nope, not afraid. I wrote this too. Deleted it in favor of the other sentiment, or thought I had, at any rate.

  • CBJ

    The irony is that Wells and LexG are as snobbish and dogmatic as any writer they bitch about, usually more so in fact. It’s just that they wield that snobbishness in a different direction: by embracing “manly” genre films that, in their world, only presumably true blue working class he-men can understand. (How many working class dudes do YOU guys know? Hmmm…)

    Slant critics and their ilk don’t spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how their opinions stack up with everyone else’s: they do the writing and the work and move on. Will you guys ever get that this constant hand-wringing about the “snobs” and the “monks” and the “dweebs” scans as massively insecure?

    • DuluozRedux

      LexG is not a snob, he’s just a miserable, fat prick with no motivation and no desire in life. He likes EVERY FUCKING MOVIE, no one who likes every movie is a snob, they just have no taste.

  • ignatiyvishnevetsky

    Since my name’s invoked above, I thought I’d chime in. It seems to me that this rant / whatehaveyou is built around an imagined biographical context—the 22-year-old NYU straw man with academic parents and a trust fund whose writing evidences a “proximity to academia.”

    I can’t speak for Calum, whom I’ve never met, but here’s who I am:

    I don’t have much in the way of a formal education. I barely graduated from high school. I moved out at age 17 to a city where I didn’t know anyone, got a job and an apartment with a landlord who was willing to overlook the fact that I was a minor as long as the rent came on time. (It didn’t.)

    I worked a lot of jobs – some good, some demeaning. I would go a gas station parking lot at 6 am. On one side of the lot were all the Spanish-speaking guys, and on the other were all the Poles, Ukrainians, and Russians, and we’d wait for trucks to circle around and offer us work—moving furniture, clearing properties, etc. I spent a year working a laundry drop-off service, cleaning upper-middle-class people’s soiled underwear. I did a couple of semesters at a college with an open admissions policy while working more or less full-time, but dropped out because I was just as bad of a student there as I was in school.

    During those years, I read, wrote, watched a lot of movies, and met a lot of good people. Eventually that grew into a career. Now I’m married and I’m a parent and I do this, in part, because I have a family to support.

    And for the record, I’m anything but a humanist.

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      Good reply. Ball’s in your court, Lex.

      • ignatiyvishnevetsky

        I’m not sure. There are probably young writers that match Lex et al.’s description, but I haven’t read them.

        What I do think is that these kinds of pseudo-biographical complaints tend to say more about the people doing the complaining than about their targets.

        Lex’s argument (and its various endorsements) combines two sort-of-contradictory positions: “I did nothing in my twenties, and therefore I can’t trust the writing of anyone in their twenties” and “These people are nothing like me when I was their age, and therefore they must be poseurs.” Neither position is based on the writing itself (though Lex mentions some kind of “redemptive humanist religiosity” that he has an issue with), but on Lex’s own perception of his past.

        In short, I don’t think we’re talking about a present-day real world here.

    • Ray Quick

      Heh, don’t I feel like an asshole… Actually threw in Ignatiy’s name in this riff as a last-minute edit for “Gabe Toro,” who I penciled out for being a little more vaguely mookish and brusque than his Brooklyn counterparts, and thus roped IV in for the dual sins of a) writing for the AVClub b) his pained-but-earnest, A.I.-alien-esque cocked-head “curiosity” faces at Christy Lemiere’s opinions on the Ebert show….

      I didn’t know the guy was STALLONE IN PARADISE ALLEY, lugging hunks of ice through Hell’s Kitchen in stained long-sleeve thermal-wear when not hiding in rat-infested EL NORTE tunnels or whatnot. Kidding aside, I didn’t know anything about your/his background, and that’s actually pretty interesting, and all apologies and all that…. Just somehow, thanks to said run for Ebert, and as the first “kid critic” that made me feel like an old fuck, Ignatiy was curious to me, in that here was this young dude who looked about 19, schooling us (and Christy) about his Criterion Collection picks (I think I did a YouTube of Wells co-hosting with IV somewhere along the line)…. I made the leap to assuming his scholastic remove in discussing cinema was emblematic of some privilege or academic background…. Obviously, then. that’s 10000% wrong… But in all fairness, Ignatiy sort of IS the ultimate science-project viewer. Dude discusses, say, Van Damme in a way that works Triple Lindy-worthy verbal contortions to arrive at what any DTV-renting musclehead in 1991 expressed by saying, “Hey, this smarmy Euro kickboxer dude kicks fucking ass.” Whether it’s that or Calum’s LAST STAND ravings (again, lumping together two wholly unrelated guys), it’s like a zillion scholastic words expended to justify having basically the same movie tastes as any dudebro, but with this air of analysis about something that’s emotional, not intellectual.

      It’s just like, wow, these “kids today” with their Netflix and streaming access to every movie from every land, it was this sharp contrast to how I grew up in the early-mid-80s– if they didn’t have it at Network Video in West View PA and it wasn’t running every 2 hours in between Modern Problems on HBO, I didn’t see it. So seeing obscure or foreign movies wasn’t an option, and thus I gravitated to stuff I ‘related’ to in some way. I found something in movies, whatever they were, that was visceral and a way of living out or acting out through fiction. Even though I was a fucking dork loser in coke-bottle glasses, for 101 minutes in my head I was Dirty Harry or Deke DaSilva or whoever.

      Now we’re in a time when any Ritalin-fiending, Cera-looking pansexual college kid has at his fingertips every Ozu or Kurosawa movie, and most here would say that’s a HUGE improvement over zoning out to TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT 11 times in a month…. But it’s created a younger generation of critics– as with movie fans– who watch everything with a judgment-free curiosity that renders all movies and all art equal; AV Club, which actually is closer to Gen X irony, has this feature where they basically BRAG on how their stupid asses haven’t seen this or that “old” (read, 80s) chestnut, and it’s just like NOTHING RESONATES…. Like, do you come to TAXI DRIVER or RAGING BULL as a 19yo kid today and relate to it any way– the sweaty, tortured misery of sex and desperation and rage and male impotence…. Or is just 100% EQUAL to some old SABU MOVIE that you ALSO downloaded because it had a Criterion spine? And you’re not RELATING to either, it’s all just one big lab experiment to brag that you’ve seen everything, and that you can write circles about it without WRITING THROUGH IT, explaining why that movie is a PART OF YOU, why it speaks to your longings and hatreds and anxieties and depressions? To me, that’s great criticism (and great filmmaking), when someone can go fucking Hunter Thompson and make us live through a movie in a visceral way, not sit 10000 rows because tsking and “hmm”-ing in a style that’s both socially without judgment but cinematically full of nothing but, because a younger “kid” is so wholly detached from the human experience and all the disappointment it brings.

      Now I gotta go to my soul-killing office cubicle job transcribing reality shows where the internet is blocked, while Ignatiy counts his millions.

      • ignatiyvishnevetsky

        I think you’re substituting one imagined biographical framework (“the streaming cinephile”) for another (“the trust-fund kid”).

        I can’t speak for everyone of my generation, but my personal film education didn’t happen online, nor does it continue online now. It occurred with a group of likeminded people (most of whom also became critics), in video stores, movie theaters, and impromptu screening spaces. We’d buy prints off collectors to see otherwise unavailable films. We’d program series. We’d pool our meager money together to fly out filmmakers who’d bring 35mm cans with them on the plane.

        This solitary online cinephilia doesn’t really exist in any substantial way—at least not in a way that affects criticism-at-large. I learned to think about movies critically through conversation. The younger writers—younger than me—that I know all belong to flesh-and-blood film scenes.

    • moviewatcher

      A very interesting reply to the discussion on “young film critics” and it brings a whole new perspective on the issue. I wonder about your very final sentence though. You say you are “anything but a humanist”. I understand why you may have said it in the context of the accusation that was made that young critics “clamor for a type of redemptive humanist religiosity from movies” while at the same time view them as something completely detached from themselves. But I wonder why you gave such a resolute and concise rebuttal, saying quite clearly that you are NOT a Humanist. In the context of a society at least, Humanism seems to be an appropriate ideological system to work under. Now, I understand I’m pushing the discussion off the topic of film criticism, where one must adapt to the work of art being put in front of us; but did your comment extend beyond those boundaries?

      • ignatiyvishnevetsky

        It’s a viable framework, but it’s not my framework. I have my own politics—informed, I guess, by a particular relationship to religion—and my own social / moral views, and they don’t always match up with the films I watch.

        If you only like movies that match your own worldview, then you don’t really like movies; you just like to be comforted. At the same time, you can’t really deny if something irks you on a moral level. Balancing the two—approaching something on it own terms, approaching it on your terms—is tricky.

        • moviewatcher

          It is tricky indeed. Thank you for answering my question.

  • brenkilco

    What’s happening to kids today? Where’s all the multi-layered irony and pitch black nihilism we grew up with? Show me some anarchic ferocity in one of these wet behind the ears film bloggers and I’ll eat my hat.

    Seriously, if some enthusiastic twenty three years old fresh out of film school is penning criticism, fine. If you’re over forty and feel the need to engage this kid, well…. And if you find the writer in question, smug, superior, affectedly detached, insecure, yearning for meaning yet fearful of showing feeling, it doesn’t mean much except that he or she is fucking twenty three. As one of these young pointy heads might say, Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.

  • Kano’s_Razor

    This is (potentially) a fascinating discussion.

    Seeing how I’m sort of standing at the alleged metaphoric crossroads of the Gen/Y film crit divide here at age 33 (the generational divide in and of itself is probably overstated a bit by Lex above, but nevermind — that’s how a lot of great conversations actually get started), let me try to break down what I see happening…or at least my perception of what’s happening.

    I think there is a certain amount of bafflement amongst the “older” film fans about the younger generation of cinephiles who just stream one selection after another nonstop off their Netflix queue without ever having to leave their couch. “Back in my day you had to get up off your ass and drive to an actual VIDEO STORE to rent what you wanted (as if that were any great Sisyphean task!), or at least contend with what the two or three high-end cable stations decided to air that night in prime-time. And of course the windows between theatrical and video were much larger back then — if you really wanted to see something, it was absolutely imperative that you got your ass to a theater in order to do so (and if it happened to be showing 100 miles away? You were driving.).

    The argument for building a film education this way certainly seems clear enough — pursuing the movies (literally!) built character, forced you to be more selective about your viewing habits, made you remember the “real-world” experience of going to see it nearly as vividly as the actual flick itself, and — perhaps most importantly — gave you proper time to digest and reflect upon the picture after seeing it (after a long drive home, or returning the video, for example). These are all legitimate points, to varying degrees, although to what extent they’re legitimate — as opposed to strictly ’80s-fueled nostalgia — is definitely a question worth asking.

    The argument for building a film education the modern way? More convenient, which equals more time, which equals more movies (if you’re an obsessive), which CAN equal a more encyclopedic knowledge of film. And also the selection of movies available today is undoubtedly deeper and broader, which CAN also lead to much more diverse and well-rounded tastes. We all know Lex likes to rip on the Criterion Collection, but how is a 10 year-old being able to explore Akira Kurosawa’s entire filmography a bad thing? Pure and simple: it isn’t.

    But here’s the million dollar question, in a nutshell: what’s the most important job for a critic today — is it seeing everything (well, as much as possible, anyway), or is it being able to communicate vividly and expressively what you just saw in a way that feels both personal and organic? Obviously — as in almost any aspect of life — striking some kind of balance seems ideal. But due to shifting viewing habits, younger critics are probably going to place a higher premium on quantity, whereas people in their mid-’30s (and up) care less about seeing every single release, and more about forming strong personal opinions on those things they do catch.*

    * I fully realize this is a gross generalization, and young guys like Crall have a really strong voice on here (despite Dulouz’s unfoundedly luda claims of, “milquetoast!”), and Lex — despite being the one who initially brought this issue to the HE forefront — literally cannot help himself but see every one-and-a-half-star-and-everyone-with-an-iota-of-discernment-fucking-knows-it POS that comes down the pike every February.

    • Kano’s_Razor

      This is not to say that you have to choose between Team Kael or Team Vishnevetsky or anything. Thankfully, this ain’t Twilight, so you don’t have to decide — you can enjoy both (pectorals) equally.

      But — reading both — they are vastly dissimilar critics, aren’t they? The difference is night and day, really…

    • http://jessecrall.wordpress.com/ Jesse Crall

      Thanks Kaned…FWIW, I fall much more into your latter category, trying to absorb films on an individual level and finding personal undercurrents. Part of the issue is that I get so much more out of seeing something at a revival house as opposed to streaming so I’m less inclined to bomb through Lubitsch over a long weekend than seeing a single movie like THIEF and really connecting with it.

  • merton82

    I’m younger, a millenial myself, but the critics I grew up reading and admired – Owen Gleiberman, Glenn, David Denby, even Stephen Hunter for the Post before he became crazy – all had informed worldviews that cracked movies open. It wasn’t just that they had the ability to read and articulate the experience of a film – which they did, well – but their insights often got at the core of what a movie was saying and what that meant in our culture. When people say, “everyone’s a critic,” these days, I think they’ve confused “being a critic” with “having an opinion and voicing it”. The best critics get at something of the spiritual core of a film. As much as I like to give Jeff shit, he’s a talented writer, and I think he does this well.

    But apart from the overgeneralization, I think Lex is onto something about younger critics. More often than not, I won’t quibble with millenial critics’ sense of taste, but they offer very little in terms of bold stroke insight. “This performance worked, this didn’t. Cinematography was amazing, etc.” It’s either academia speak, as if they were straining for credibility by writing dissertation-style, or it feels like a list of likes/dislikes. Even Ignatiy’s response – “you’re substituting one biological framework for another” – is a prime example of the kind of petri dish-Ph.D. thinking that, regardless of Ignatiy’s personal history, has crept into the language of so many younger critics. (And I even like Ignatiy’s writing – he’s one of the few young writers with a POV).