Breaking the New Wave

A critic and a curator butt keyboards over the Rohmer retrospective


Daniel Ruen

Bob Cowgill gets the last word: That Mr. Wilder has a right to his preferences has never been in question--and I have no interest in battling him on that front. What is at issue is his obligation to the artist and the audience given his privileged role as a writer for the major "alternative" or "progressive" paper in our community. I assert as a minimum standard that he should: receive and reassess the artist's work in good faith, which means showing a high regard for accuracy and precision of vision when he interprets and contextualizes, something he did not demonstrate in the Rohmer article; help his audience to understand themes and currents and complexities in the artist's work that might foster intelligent and thoughtful discussion and interest; and assess the artist's work apart from rather meaningless generalizations about his putative audience. I would also try to wean him from his swaggeringly dismissive style of pop-culture condescension, but there is always the possibility that I have missed an element of self-parody.

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