Thursday, 17 July 2014

Misusing the B Word.

I wonder why we supposedly sophisticated moderns are so obsessed with the concept of ‘best.’ You see it all the time on YouTube. Best version ever is a depressingly common uploader’s bleat. What it really means, almost without exception, is ‘this is my favourite version.’

It seems to me that the adjective ‘best’ is rarely applicable to creative endeavours. It belongs where qualitative comparison is easily judged by simple, consensual criteria. The person who sprints the fastest is the best sprinter. The student who gets the highest marks in the maths exam is the best maths student (although, even there, other subjects might be considered less clear cut.)

But applying the principle to creative works is largely inappropriate, unless you happen to be comparing the poetry of a bunch of illiterate 11-year-olds with that of Keats, in which case the difference would be clearly demonstrable. It’s why I pay no attention whatsoever to those daft Oscars, and why, presumably, a few of the awards have been declined down the years. ‘Best Picture. Best Actor. Best Director.’ By what criteria do you judge a doughnut to be superior to a bagel? And why bother anyway?

No comments: