"I'm not sure I buy the part about ignoring motivation. Certainly your best chowhounding was all about understanding who made the thing and why, no?"Yes, but I always kept my eye on the ball. I'd broach that stuff in order to try to heighten a diligently fleshed-out story which hopefully conveyed a vicarious experience of the thing.
But that stuff would never be the sole focus, or serve as an easy way to get me off the hook of doing the hard work of doing justice to the thing.
Think of movie or book reviews that talk almost entirely about the topic of the movie/book, rather than the work itself. It's self-indulgence. Film critics tire of the narrow confines of discussing direction, acting, lighting, etc. all the time. This guy's saying: too freaking bad. Critics ought to invest 1% of the creativity and resourcefulness of the folks they're judging into finding fresh ways to work within those confines.
It's absolutely a fair point, and it alludes to the higher indignity of creative people being criticized by uncreative hacks. That's the point I'd stress, but I admire Zak Smith for keeping his criticisms so sharply pragmatic. Much food for thought therein, though.