The Big Issue : Edition 487
THE BIG ISSUE 26 JUNE – 9 JULY 2015 13 people on the internet enthusiastically screaming things I don’t understand. There is so much noise and so many passionate acronyms, I have learned to avoid all of it because never once does this giddy new enthusiasm point me to something I might actually like. Better than people, who have now all lost their heads, is something even more powerful as a guide to what is good and what is not. This is the passage of time. I have found the calendar to be the most reliable arts critic. As I can find few actual critics I can trust or who eschew the immediate passions of the give-it-to- me-now habit of the internet, I now trust the accumulation of years. I no longer crowd-source an answer to the question “is this good?” Instead, I time-source it. Say there is a new blockbuster film. Even before its release, much of the critical world will have decided to take a stand on its quality. Some might say that affection for this film is proof of your moral goodness and others might say that even the barest tolerance for it is proof that your taste, and your morals, live halfway up your lower colon. Both groups are ultimately wrong in their judgement. Because, when I’m alone inthedarkwithamovieorabookora song, I only want to know if it transports me far from the rigours of everyday life. It is difficult to be alone in the dark in a world always lit with the white heat of opinion. But, given that this opinion fades when the next thing to adore or despise comes along, our only return to the darkness of pleasure can be had when time has passed. A while ago, I started living about six months behind the times. I would onlypickupabookoraTVshowor a song when I was sure that everyone had forgotten what they thought they knew about it at the time of its release. Now this time-shift seems to be expanding. Why? Because I recently watched a film I had long held to be extraordinarily tacky. I wouldn’t have been seen DEAD watching it in a cinema at the time of its release in 1992. Okay. So I am not going to try to convince you that The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston as a fragile- but-gifted diva and Kevin Costner as a strong-but-vulnerable former Secret Service agent, is good. Actually, it’s awful. But its recent viewing probably constitutes the most deplorable fun I’ve had watching a romantic film for some time. The songs are marvellous, the costumes are incredible and the still-young stars, for all the poorly written plot twists in which they find themselves entangled, are super-hot. And when Whitney tells Kevin that she will always love him, I believed it in the moment and found that this indulgence of candy floss was exactly the non- critical escape into stupid-syrup that my sweet tooth demanded. Now, 23 years after the fact, I can make this claim and be seen as a nostalgic duffer instead of an evil opponent of cinema. Thanks to time- sourcing, I am now reliving all the worst moments of the 1990s in the pleasant darkness of ignorance. “When I’m alone in the dark with a movie orabookorasong,I only want to know if it transports me far from the rigours of everyday life.” RAZER Critical Timing PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND IF WE DON’T count crushing wealth inequality, moral famine and the certain decrepitude of the planet, the chief problem of our age is surely a lack of decent movies and other entertainment. While I am yet to solve those first few problems, I think I might have found a way out of the last. It is undeniably true that most of the art, music, film and literature produced in a given year is awful. It is also true that there is a small percentage of good stuff. But separating this precious wheat from the pop chaff is so exhausting as to almost become full-time work. Once, of course, we had critics to tell us what was good and what was rot. But now, instead of critics, whose opinions we learned to either accept or ignore, we have » Helen Razer (@HelenRazer) was the deportment coach for participants in the ABC series The Killing Season. She asked them all to play nicely. Please...