It’s easy to mock people who take anything too seriously. That’s why mockery was invented. But when the mockery ends, the pieces I’ve read eventually grow indignant at the very idea that people care about something as insignificant as pleasure. Pleasure is only insignificant if you’re not having any, and I have started to suspect that the people who write these critiques are just upset because everybody else is having too much fun. And then I start to feel sorry for them, and want to send them a dozen cookies from Beurre & Sel in the Essex Street Market. But then I decide that cookies would be wasted on people who don’t know how to have a good time.
Pete Wells, the Times’ restaurant critic, answers a question about being criticized by people who think food culture is taken too seriously. You know, basically, anti-“foodies” sentiment.
I really love this answer and agree with it strongly. I think a lot of negative reaction to arts criticism comes from this emotional place that boils down to “I feel left out,” or jumping to the conclusion that your own tastes are being marginalized or dismissed. This is very human, and even people who have been critics for years respond this way all the time. But it is what it is, you know?
It is aggravating when you run into people who do not take pleasure seriously, who don’t seem to value it – in its many, many, many forms – as one of the very best things about being alive, and sharing a life with other people. Creative and constructive endeavors of all kinds - whether it’s music, writing, building, crafting, science, visual art, food, dancing, acting, engineering, design, telling jokes – is a huge part of what makes life worth living, and we should take it all seriously, and take our pleasures in it seriously. Because otherwise, what is there? Just horror?