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Writings on film. Shock and art. There may be blood.

The Doerschuk principle

"Doerschuk's principle" is based on Robert Doerschuk's Musician magazine review of The Clash's London Calling album. Critics of the time were falling all over themselves to praise this album as an instant classic. It was frequently compared to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, which was the consensus "best" album by "the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band."

Doerschuk was the only one to stand apart and say that he didn't see it, that there was something missing. He countered the hype by pointing out that critics tend to save their highest praise for the works that are the most interesting to write about. Not necessarily the best works, but the ones that give the critics the most room to showcase their writing. Keep this in mind every time you read a review anywhere, including here, and remember to take those opinions with a grain of salt. Critics do their reviews the way people choose a suit or a dress: They pick the one that makes them look good, and the review becomes a little more about the critic and a little less about the movie.

Canonization is an extension of this principle. This is where critics go beyond analysis, and set themselves up as tastemakers by creating lists of what they, with their weighty, authoritative pronouncements, deem to be The Greatest and Most Important Stuff. Canonization is to be trusted even less than is hype.


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