The Absurd Existence of Pretentious Assholery in Literary Criticism

Aka, stop shaming people for liking stories that aren’t literary perfection, dammit.

Literature is an art. What different people like from their art varies. We could make arguments for whether that means there’s true perfection in it at all, but for the sake of this thread we’ll assume that there’s a set of things a story has to achieve to be, what we’ll call “perfect.”

To start out, we should acknowledge that it’s okay to want to read literature that’s as “perfect” as possible. It’s okay to want this from commercial fiction or literary fiction or fanfic. It’s okay to rate fiction based on how much it aligns with perfection (or your idea of it).

What is not okay is to shame people for rating, and enjoying, or even publishing, fiction that isn’t perfect! Because, just as it’s okay to rate based on how close a story is to perfect, it is also okay to rate based on how much you enjoyed a story (aka: found it fun).

Doesn’t this effect the respectability and overall “perfection” of literature as a whole though?! Yeah, maybe. Maybe it fucking does.

But art for the sake of perfection is a pretentious. Moreover, this kind of shaming and gate-keeping can easily be intertwined with nasty biases and classism when the, usually wealthy and “educated,” group starts to say that being a fan of a form of art that’s Less Than is equivalent to having intrinsically Less Than opinions or being Less Than.

It’s a very nasty slippery slope.

Art’s primary purpose, in my opinion, is to be enjoyed. (It has other purposes and responsibilities, but none of those are too be “perfect”.) If someone is enjoying something because it has their favorite tropes in it, then the art is functioning as intended, and therefore worthwhile.

So, don’t be a pretentious asshole. Let people enjoy, and publish and positively rate, literature that isn’t perfect, without shaming them or looking down on them.

We don’t all have to constantly have “standards” in regards to harmless literature. Sometimes, we can just have that thing called fun, and we should be allowed that without being criticized for it.

(p.s. This is meant to be a thread about the quality of literature not the potential implications of specific content. No moral dissertations here please. Thanks!)

2 Comments on “The Absurd Existence of Pretentious Assholery in Literary Criticism

  1. I agree. Can we also be honest and say William Faulkner is unreadable. A BA in English & then an MLIS. Teachers lived assigning him. Sound & Fury is illegiable. Full disclosure had a paper on Light in August published in an Academic Journal


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