This week, I noticed a number of film acquaintances and friends sharing a New Yorker article calling the “rise” of the expectation of relatability in creative work a “failure” of society. The article’s author, Rebecca Mead, believes that by us viewers expecting relatability in whatever work we are observing, we are creating a “reductive experience” for ourselves.
The thesis begins with Mead chastising Ira Glass for tweeting “Shakespeare sucks” and bemoaning the classic author for his unrelatable story and characters in King Lear, and goes on to list several instances where critics have relied on the term when championing or lamenting creative work. Though I don’t disagree that that was a poor choice in wording from a man very much respected in the world of storytelling, I find that Mead gives a very narrow definition of the word “relatable” and misses out on the necessity of an empathetic core.
She cites critic Virginia Heffernan’s 2004 comment that relatability is a “weird daytime (more…)