Nearly 50 years after Barthes proclaimed the death of the author, it is with great sadness and accompanying X Factor contestant departure music that I announce the death of the critic. Or if not the death, at least the inexorable decline. The critic is – wait for it – on the critical list.
Now that I’ve wowed you with my punning, let me explain. The Independent on Sunday recently axed its arts section, The Critics, and with it long-standing, highly respected reviewers like Kate Bassett, Tom Sutcliffe, Charles Darwent, Simon Price and Nicholas Barber.
Sadly, print-journalism redundancies are now about as common as Daily Mail articles condemning the sexualisation of our children while splashing pictures of Hollywood tweens “flaunting their bikini bodies”, but these losses got my spider senses tingling – and not just because criticism is one of my “Get rich quick through writing!” schemes. (It’s a work in progress.)