“Go make your own,” is something I hear said more and more when people find a beloved piece of media critiqued. I’ve heard it a lot in video games, a lot in fanworks, often in comics and written fiction, and at times in other forms of art. “Go make your own” has become a kind of default response to critique of something one likes.
As much as we hear it, I can’t consider it a legitimate answer to critique. It’s an a response that’s wrong for a number of reasons I’d like to address here.
There are many flaws to this response, but one truth . .
Reason #1: Those Saying “Go Make Your Own” Often Aren’t
By the way, if you’re gonna say it . . .
When someone says “Go Make Your Own” to a critique their favorite game or comic, the responder rarely seems to be “making their own” as well. I consider this to be hypocrisy
When someone says “Go Make Your Own” they suggest that a critic of a media must for some reason create (often similar) media. Perhaps the idea is “then you’ll understand.” Perhaps the idea is “if you don’t like it just do your own thing.” I’ve not seen particularly good justifications of the “Go Make YOur Own” critique anyway, which alone should make one suspicious.
But if there is value in “Making One’s Own,” then shouldn’t the critic-of-the-critic also be “making their own?” If they require someone to be a media creator of some kind to critique, shouldn’t they hold themselves to the same standards? After all, a person who’s response is positive is still indulging in a critical reaction.
Negative or positive, if “Making Your Own” is necessary to be a critic, it should be a requirement for any reaction to media.
Besides, it seems I see the “Go Make YOour Own” critique the least from writers, artists, etc. Probably as they have at least enough knowledge on an unconscious level to know it’s bunk.
Reason #2: Making Media Can Involve Many Different Things
OK so maybe there’s a value in making media . . .
Though I consider the “Make Your Own” response to critique to be dishonest as noted, there’s a second flaw. “Making One’s Own” as opposed to making a critique of something is meaningless as making media is an individual experience. If there is some value in “Go Make Your Own” it would suggest there is a relatively common set of lessons/experience/validation that making media brings.
But the experience of creating a book, a comic, or a game is a widely varied experience for each creator.
Some people can write easily, while others struggle. An artist can do one style and not another. A programmer can code motion but not particle effects. Some people are good at one thing or not another. Each person thus will have a radically different experience creating media, even if its the same kind of media.
They will also have a variety of non-media skills and experiences that come to bear on producing media. Organizational skills, people skills, typing speed, etc. The supposed value of making media is diluted by all the non-creative skills involved in making it.
The creative experience is so different for people that the idea that creating something blesses a person with unique ability, insight, or legitimacy is incorrect. The experience is far too unique to individuals, and what similarities there are (which I address below) are different.
Issue #3: Making Successful Media Is A Varied Experience
Well, maybe people should go make their own and be successful to see what it really involves . . .
When I see people use the “Go Make Your Own” argument against critique, at times I hear “and be successful” silently appended. It’s as if success would legitimate the critic somehow. This only raises more questions that show the holes in this approach.
Let us say that someone took the “Make Their Own” critique to heart and, upon being told to sod off and not criticize a comic, went and made their own. That, as I note, does not confer any legitimacy. But perhaps the success of said comic is a measure or imparts some ability or right to critique, or special argument?
Success first of all would need to be defined. What is “success?” Is the success parallel to the work criticized – and does it have to be? What, in short, is the criteria here?
Though even if we have criteria for success, does this success actually measure anything?
Things are successful for a variety of reasons. To argue success is the goalpost for someone to be able to critique media is ridiculous. SUccess is a variety of favors, from time to timeliness, to the right endorsement to sheer luck. Success if a fickle, unpredictable thing . . . as many artists and writers know.
Because success often has little to bear on quality, skill, virtue, or indeed any one factor good or bad, there’s no what it someone confers legitimacy on a critic.
Issue #4: Critique May Come From Its Own Skillset
Why do you have to have the same skills and experience as what you’re criticizing . . .
Creating media, successful or not, doesn’t really grant anyone a right to criticism. It involves so many other factors that one’s own creative experience doesn’t compare to anothers. One may at best get some perspective, but one doesn’t get granted some “right” to critique because there’s simply no comparison between creative experiences and legacies.
Having noted that engaging in creative work doesn’t give some kind of special license, let’s now turn to the act of criticism itself.
The Flippant “Go Make Your Own’ argument ignores that despite some people not making media, they are equipped to criticize, and often quite legitimately. For many critics, their ability or not to create media, their success or not, does not negate the fact they are suited for critique.
- A nutritionist may rightly criticize a delicious meal for it’s unhealthiness.
- A historian may criticize a novel for historical inaccuracy.
- A well-read or well-watched person may have the breadth of experience to critique work – professionally or not.
- A person of a given race, gender, or background may call out a comic for getting their experiences wrong as they lived them.
- Almost any reasonably informed person may call out a story for tropes and stereotypes.
- Some people are not only suited to critique, they may have more knowledge or experience (or common sense) than the creator they critique of some subjects. The creator, in this case, is a less legitimate source of information, nothat that negates their work, but it should be kept in mind.
Good criticism is something many people can deliver. In fact . . .
Issue #5: Critique Is Its Own Art
The critic’s art is their own art.
To tell a critic to “go make their own” really misses that criticism is its own art form. It takes a skill, it takes ability, and it takes effort to develop. A good critic’s work is its own art – it is, in a way, their”making my own.”
It’s just not a work. It is a response to a work that is also a work.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of awful critics out there, one merely has to read online reviews to see that. It means that a critic should not be judged by if they make their own, but the intelligent effort they put forth in their work. You may not like it, but if they can be honestly good about what they do, it’s worth appreciating, if disagreeing with.
Admittedly the highest critique may indeed be “making your own,” to take lessons and apply them, but that’s not for every talented critic.
We need critique. Brushing off critique with “Go Make Your Own” degrades its value. We’ve got enough lousy critique as it is.
So what does “Go Make Your Own” Really Mean?
After hearing the “Go Make Your Own” argument for awhile, the argument is essentially a defensive derailment of a conversation.
It’s derailment in that it distracts from the conversation at hand to be about the critic. Wether it suggests the critic lacks legitimacy, or is wasting their time, or whatever, it changes the subject. Perhaps one simple doesn’t agree, but switching the subject avoids conversation.
It’s also defensive in that it’s an automatic attack on the critic. It does not involve engagement or analysis or conversation. It’s an attack-as-defense reaction that doesn’t involve actual interaction. In some cases – too may cases – it goes way, way too far.
Though I’m no fan of the “Go Make Your Own” argument I do wonder if some of it is because of the amount of awful, bad faith, sensationalist criticism out there. That is something I may address in detail in time to come.
But having said “Go Make Your Own” is an illegitimate response to criticism, let me know there is something of a real point in there. Let’s take a look at that reason
You Should Make Your Own
Though it’s obvious after a giant essay on it that I think “Go Make Your Own” is not a legitimate response to criticism, I do think people should all try and make their own art.
It could be any kind of art. Painting, drawing, writing, speaking. It could b fiction or nonfiction. It could be jewelry-making or cooking. Something that is creative, expressive, and about communication should be a part of everyone’s lives.
This is not because it gives us some “right” to criticize or involves us marching off to create a media revolution no one wanted. It’s because to do this helps us become better communicators and better consumers of media. These are always important – but moreso in modern times.
To practice communication lets us find better ways to work with others – more and more important all the time in a smaller world of multiple cultures that often finds new ways to come apart. Any kind of experience creating for people helps you get better at interacting with them.
Developing creative outlets also let us understand how others create, and how they may both satisfy us – but also manipulate us. To write a book can tell you in turn what you may like, or what tricks are being used to sell you a crap novel. To learn he art of cooking can not only be nutritious, but let you find out when someone is selling you something bad for you in the guise of delicious.
I said earlier that the act of creating varies for each person in what it involves. But the above benefits I find are nearly universal.
Your art may even be critique. Go for it.
So, yes you should “Make your own,” but not for the reasons critics say.
And the first people that should “Go make their own” are those telling us to “go make their own.”