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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

biased critics who accidentally tell you their biases

While I get beat up for being my regular ol’ biased self, here’s a great example of a bias that just accidentally happens to come out. It’s from, coincidentally enough, Time critic Richard Schickel’s review of Knocked Up:

Alison (Katherine Heigl) and her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) are out clubbing, celebrating the former’s promotion from stage manager on one of those Inside Hollywood TV shows to an on-air job. There they meet the overweight, unemployed Ben (Seth Rogin). She’s giddy with happiness (and a certain amount of booze) and they retire to her place — it’s the guest house at her sister’s nice middle-class home —

My mouth dropped open when I read this. Schickel clearly has no idea what constitutes “middle-class,” or what a “nice middle-class home” looks like. (Hint: they don’t have guest houses.) Now, could Schickel’s clearly privileged perspective on the modern American economy and the difficulties it presents to many of us have affected his reaction to the film? Is it possible that he might have not enjoyed the film so much if, say, he took into consideration the reality that an unplanned pregnancy can be a devastating thing, economically, for a young woman whether she has a partner at her side or not? The film finds humor in Ben’s perpetual unemployment and utter ignorance about the money needed to survive in the today’s economy. But would Schickel find it as funny as he clearly does if he had a more realistic appreciation for these things himself?

And to think: this one little aside in his review, which could so easily have been cut by his editor for space, is the only inadvertent indication we have of Schickel’s biases. Maybe he needs a Bias Meter too.

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