The advent of social media has turned the world into a stage. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you can publicly post your opinions for an audience of your own. Whether it’s about an album that you think was disappointing or a film that was Oscar-worthy, the old adage is more true now than ever: “Everybody’s a critic.”

Whether you agree with it or not, criticism is an art. And in the Philippines, it seems to be dying. 

Many writers have talked about how niches like music criticism or food criticism are non-existent in the country, and serve as avenues for PR. On the other hand, reviews panning positively accepted media are often met with ire from fans, artists, or the entities that produce these media in the first place.

In a world where everybody can be a critic, it seems easy to think that professionally written criticism no longer has a place in society today. However, criticism is absolutely necessary in the development of both art and the industry at large. Critics employ rigorous analysis to determine whether or not a piece of art is good, bad, or something in between. They relate art and its implications to society at large, deepening the discourse on how we appreciate art in the public. 

The practice of analyzing media with depth is crucial in signaling what themes, messages, or topics, and more should be continued or not. Take a look at how critics reviewed Darryl Yap’s Maid in Malacañang — it became clear where exactly the film went wrong and what its implications were in the bigger picture. This depth can’t be found in a one-sentence tweet or similar posts. Critics and journalists should be allowed ample space to analyze, give praise where it’s due, or nitpick why certain elements don’t work, in order to foster a better environment for true criticism to flourish in the country.

Of course, there are badly written reviews from critics. However, in the same breath, there are also bad songs, bad albums, bad films, bad shows, bad musicals. But at the end of the day, it’s not personal.

What creators also need to understand is that their art, once published, is now for the general public to consume. It’s exactly how and why people become fans of an artist and/or their work. They move from “casual listener” to “absolute fan” because they resonate with the message of a song, its melodies, or its sound, and they don’t have to be songwriters, musicians, or producers to understand that. Artists don’t seem to have a problem when non-artists are fans of their media, so why is there suddenly a problem when someone isn’t a fan?

Simply put, you can’t pick and choose what — or who — makes a “valid” consumer of your art. Most critics are non-artists just like everyone else — but with a more discerning ear for appreciation (by this we mean appraisal, not gratitude), and a strong opinion with the appropriate words to back it up.

Critics want the exact same things as the general public, and the art industry as a whole: good, valuable, and purposeful art. Art and media are an inherent part of our cultural identity, where they become creative representations of what it means to be Filipino. As the general public, we want Filipino art to truly represent what makes Filipino culture distinct and important, especially in today’s globalized world. We can’t have that if everyone’s afraid to write a bad review.