We get the formula. If you can find fault with someone who, collectively as a culture, we have deemed to be masterful, you're smarter than that person. (This is so much easier than actually creating something masterful yourself. So kudos for the brilliant shortcut.) The subtext is that not only are you smarter, but that given a more perceptive society for you to go rambling around in, your genius would be recognized, not theirs.
They do and you undo.
But when you speak, I watch your wobbly features and that yammering mouth and I think,
1. Did you learn this at your dining room table? If this is the family sport of choice, well, I feel for you (a little). It's time to grow up. Mommy and Daddy are still at the dining room table, but you, jackass, are out in the world.
2. Every once in a while -- for the most fleeting second -- I'll actually feel sorry for the artist you're eviscerating -- an award-winning novelist, a rocker whose given us decades, a director who dares to have an eye -- but then I stop. My sympathy is displaced. This group of wankers -- right here -- I need look no further then your flapping gums for my pity to find a rightful home.
(3. It's way too easy. It's impossible not to be overrated. We live in America -- a huge country -- and now in a global society. If you're rated at all, it's already too much of a rating.)
4. Then sometimes if it blows up into a group exercise in cultural derision (writers, I love you, I do, but you've gotten so good at this I want to blind myself with tiny olive forks), I excuse myself and try to get out.
5. And then later, when I'm home in bed, trying to fall asleep, I think to ask you this, "Tell me what happens when no one else is around and it's just you and your stick and you're the only pinata you've got access to. Is it ugly? I bet it's ugly."
I'm not saying we shouldn't have critical discussions. We should.
I just mean, sometimes, Shut up.
Sincerely etc ...