Arts Year In Review 2013: Editors' Note

Tiana A Abdulmassih

With this issue, the first Crimson Arts Year in Review, we hope to begin a successful tradition of putting students’ perspectives on arts and entertainment in the same room with those of our staff. The issue is a new project, but it is also the culmination of a year of bringing Crimson Arts back into alignment with The Crimson’s oldest values.

“I will not philosophize, I will be read”—so wrote the Crimson staff in the paper’s first ever editorial. That was published 131 years before the first edition of Crimson Arts was, but it’s a maxim we’ve tried to keep in mind. It’s easy for arts criticism to be dense, pretentious, or pseudo-intellectual; music, movies, books, and theater all inspire strong feelings, and all too often those feelings inspire florid prose, overblown metaphors, or hopelessly obscure references. Crimson Arts has been guilty of all of those things.

There’s nothing wrong with The Crimson’s arts journalism setting a high standard of writing and analysis, though. The problem is when that complexity is used to confuse, not clarify; to obscure conclusions (or a lack thereof), not to present them at their engaging fullest. We have remained committed this year to journalism and criticism that make the arts accessible and exciting. “The role of the critic is to mediate intelligently and stylishly between a work and its audience,” Daniel Mendelsohn wrote in The New Yorker in 2012. Well said, Danny, but there’s also the part that involves punny headlines.

That ethic has shaped our coverage choices as well as our writing, with one goal: to connect with our readership. It seems obvious, but it’s a goal that has sometimes been neglected in the past. With the Year in Review issue, we’ve made our most direct effort yet to engage with our readers, and we can’t wait to see how it goes over.

—Staff writers Petey E. Menz and Austin Siegemund-Broka are the outgoing Arts Chairs. They can be reached at petey.menz@thecrimson.com and austin.siegemund-broka@thecrimson.

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