Saturday, August 8, 2009


An internet phenomenon, or human nature?

I call it "Read/Reax," though I suppose it could also be "see/reax" or "listen/reax."

We've all done it, some more than others. How it works, is we consume some kind of information, and then produce a reaction to it. Read, and react.

The original form of this kind of expression was likely literary criticism. Aristotle wrote the Poetics, Plato attacked poetry altogether, and there is an overabundance of literature on Christian/Jewish/Islamic texts. For film, the most renown and influential criticism is probably from the small French magazine Cahiers du cinéma, highlighted by the film works of their writers Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. As for music, there has been criticism of the classical kind for hundreds of years, though most prominently the Musical Times, but most of popular music "critique" probably comes from something derived of Rolling Stone magazine.

Back in the "old days" (like, 10 years ago) we used to just call that a review, and it might have come in the form of a book review, or film review, or album review. A critic listens to an album, watches a movie, or reads a book, and reacts. You'd read these reviews in magazines, or in newspapers. Maybe you'd even hear a "review" on the radio, or watch a goofy looking dude on your local news station give a "review" of a movie he just watched before you did.

The difference is that criticism, especially literary criticism in the classical sense, was an academic and cerebral affair with analysis. Today, we're more or less just talking about an immediate response.

I believe there is still room in this world for professional critics, especially good writers with scholarly insight. Simultaneously, it thrills me that everyone is given a voice of expression if they want one. After all, the internet has brought us closer to democracy, right? We all get a voice if we want one, we all get a vote if we want one, and that vote is equal.

Internet reactionism appears, to me, to have flourished as the 'i-generation' has finally come into its own. I've noticed two trends from this new 'i-generation':
- One is that we've begun to consume news differently. While literary, film and music 'reactionism' are probably still the most common and popular types of 'consumption-reaction,' we aren't limited to these topics anymore. News is now consumed not as knowledge, but as something closer to entertainment, and we respond to it not as a valued piece of information, but as a product to react to.
- Second is that, if news is to be considered more of a product than as valued information, then ANYone can react to it. We're moving away from the days of "water-cooler talk," and instead, reactionism is in print, because ANYone can put it to print, right here, on the internet. So now, someone can take a column, or a quote, or an article, or a really cool video, and, just, react. No insight, no "critique," just unsolicited, blindingly-entitled, opinion.
Read/Reax: Evolution or Degradation.


Ozkirbas said...

Would you say "reactionism" is its own movement, in a way?

AZ Winer said...

I don't think I would go that far.. I think of a movement as something more unified and with a common goal.

People have always had reactions, but for some reason, but with new and popular forums, people seem to believe reactionism is appropriate.

And as an aside, I don't often say much on the nature of journalism unless I really mean it, and I really mean this.