The section I found interesting in Carroll’s book was the discourse about the involvement of politics and criticism.
Though I am both atheist with respect to the Christ and an anti-Stalinist with respect to the Soviet collectivization, I can acknowledge that both films (Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and Sergei Eisenstein’s The Old and the New) posses artistic value. That the films are at odds ideologically with each other as well as at odds with my political convictions, I submit, indicates that my evaluations are based on something other than politics.
Rather, I would contend that my evaluations are derived from the reasonings I’ve employed to establish that the means these two directors have invented for advancing their very different points in each case were extremely appropriate and effective.
I agree with Carroll when he says, “even if some critics are political that hardly shows that all critics are political.” I also want to point out that, as a practicing evangelical Christian, it bothers me when “Christian critics” use their power as critics to push agendas for example, against gay relationships in movies(I remember Brokeback Mountain causing stirs in the Christian community, and because of the “Christian critic’s” reviews I was not allowed to see it).
My question then is –regarding Carroll’s non-political criticism of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ– wouldn’t critics with different backgrounds –christian, atheist, agnostic, catholic etc.– have slighty different understandings of the movie, and therefor have different results of criticism even if they are doing their best to be non-political in their evaluations as Carroll says he is? It seems to me that Carroll is saying that a good critic is able to remove himself from “real-world political affiliations and interests, and to evaluate the artworks before them on the basis of good reasons.” So where do the backgrounds and beliefs of critics come into play with their writings? If critics are not affected by their beliefs and past, wouldn’t every critic say the exact same thing?
How do you guys feel about this?