Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 10:51 am
I remember taking an intermediate Italian class in college, and to gauge our linguistic level of proficiency, the professor assigned us a short essay to write. Using the Italian I had picked up from my grandparents, I proudly wrote about my familial ancestry in Calabria. The essay came back with every other word circled in red and labeled "dialetto."
"In this class," the professor said as he picked up the paper from my desk, "we will learn the proper Italian language of Dante." At that moment, I felt at once robbed of my Italian heritage, and ashamed of my Calabrian ancestry.
The Television Critics Association is a funny animal. Its challenge, as well as its strength, is that it includes people with massively different jobs: longtime print critics (both nationally and locally oriented) who have been coming to the annual press tour for decades, reporters who cover the television industry, cultural critics whose beats extend past television, online writers who specialize in weekly criticism — this is a lot of people who quite reasonably look at television differently.
In 1960, Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, won the Pulitzer Prize, and overnight became one of America's most beloved writers. But Lee was overwhelmed by the media blitz that followed. She retreated from the public eye, became wary of journalists, and never published another book.
Then, in 2001, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune showed up in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala., to work on a story about the town, which is the model for the fictional setting of Lee's novel.
As a critic, I read for work. Or rather, I read and then work to translate that experience into something others might read. The hope is that they'll then be compelled enough to also read, if it's any good, the thing I wrote about me reading. That's a pretty meaningful exchange for a reviewer.