Idealism and Pragmatism

Webcomic reviews are essentially based on the relationship between three entities: the audience, the reviewer, and the webcomic's creator/s. When a reviewer's developing their style, they must choose one of these entities to prioritize. Positive review sites such as Your Webcomics! focus on providing creators with a positive experience, while negative review sites such as The Bad Webcomics Wiki focus on providing their audience with a positive experience. In regards to my own reviews, writing them is intended to provide a positive experience for myself, the reviewer, with any benefits for the audience and the webcomic's creator/s being secondary.

Whichever of the three paths a reviewer chooses, emphasizing one of these entities to the detriment of the others is the pragmatic approach. Attempting to regard two of these entities, or possibly even all of them, with more or less the same weight is the idealistic approach. This incongruity between idealism and pragmatism inevitably leads to conflict, as their incompatibility creates an obstacle for discourse. Concepts are the language of idealism, while execution's the language of pragmatism, and conversation between speakers of these two languages is clumsy and exhausting compared to dialogue based on common ground. This pertains to not only pragmatism in general, but to the specific facet of pragmatism that the reviewer chooses to specialize in.

In search of a common ground for the various entities to utilize, it's clear that pragmatic discourse is superior for this purpose since it's based on something tangible. When an idealist analyzes a review, their conclusion is always relative to an idealistic, nonexistent version of the review rather than an actual review. This practice of comparing real things to imagined things is distracting, and the state of webcomic reviews would be healthier if reviews of a similar nature were measured against each other.

The nature of the ideal review -- one that generates a positive experience for the audience, the reviewer, and the webcomic's creator/s -- always dominates the discussion because it's easy to take the side of idealism. The idealist claims to be able to appeal to multiple entities, while the pragmatist only tries to appeal to one. Idealism exists through ideas and theories, which are more nebulous than a written piece than can be analyzed, dissected, and refuted. Idealism has a positive, feel-good vibe to it that appeals to a large number of people as long as no significant effort or risk is required to support it. And, finally, an idealist can't be criticized by another idealist because doing so would be criticizing their own flawed rationale.

Idealists, as well as some pragmatists, would argue that reviewer-oriented reviews are inherently narcissistic, but I'd respond that all three kinds of reviews are valid. Writing reviews is a hobby, and the purpose of having a hobby is to provide enjoyment for the hobbyist. It's not a problem for a reviewer if another reviewer gets their enjoyment from helping webcomic creators or entertaining readers, and while I've occasionally made negative comments about various review sites, these criticisms represent only a tiny portion of the material in my articles and reviews. To fault a hobbyist for not having the right kind of hobby or for not having enough hobbies doesn't make sense to me.

No comments :

Post a Comment