Posted by BE on March 30th, 2009
Many years ago I had a heated debate with Neil Roberts who was then Head of Television at TVNZ. The debate was about standards, about quality, about good and bad programmes. Neil’s view was that there was no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ programme. The terms were essentially meaningless. There were programmes that people liked and programmes that people didn’t like. It was purely a matter of individual taste. ‘Standards’ were arbitrary and personal with no objective validity. ‘Quality’ existed solely in the eye of the beholder.
There is logic to this argument, just as there is logic to the argument that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are themselves entirely subjective concepts, that nothing is inherently good or bad. But you can’t live like that. You end up with anarchy and social collapse.
And other than ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’, Roberts’ approach makes judgements about television programmes impossible and conversation about their merits or lack of merits futile.
The same could be said about every form of criticism, from food to the arts. Nothing good or bad. Everything just popular or unpopular. Read the rest of this entry »