Virgo: Critiques, Critics and Criticism

February 25, 2010

With the Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Uranus in Pisces, polarizing the sign of Virgo through an opposition, recently I had an opportunity to view a first hand, live action presentation of this polarity in real life. There were no classical planets in Virgo, though we all anticipate Saturn’s impending return for his last hurrah between the corn rows of Virgin fields during this orbital sweep. However, within a reasonable orb, Logos, Makemake and Typhon – two trans-Neptunian bodies and one Kuiper Belt stationed dwarf planet, stood conjunct for all intents and purposes. Let us not forget the other underworld maybe dwarf planet, Orcus, also in Virgo. What a time to honor the creative spirit! Or pick it apart.

While attending the Independent Short Film, Music and Arts Festival in Long Beach, California, it was all there. The planets described above as artists, musicians, directors, actors and screenwriters (of which I was one – an award winning one) displayed the fruits of their fecundity. Also attending were members of the press, critics and those presuming their station was to offer less than hospitable commentary on the artistry presented.

In the world of film, a critic is one who assesses a movie for character development, a beginning, a middle and an end to the story, dramatic elements, amazing turns in the story and such. They do this objectively based upon movie “rules.” Things like: there are three acts, characters should face a conflict and overcome it (comedy) or fail in surmounting it (tragedy) and characters must generate support – empathy or sympathy from the audience. A writer knows that when submitting a script, these rules of perfection – rather like Virgo standards – will be considered in assessing the quality of one’s writing. Fair enough.

However, things heard at the festival included: I didn’t like the main character’s hair, the main character was not sympathetic, the movie sucked, it had no ending and what the hell was that about? Some of those comments agree with critical review standards. Some of those comments simply express criticism thrown at those daring to explore and express their creative spirit. Years ago I had a screenplay that placed as a quarter finalist in the esteemed, Academy-sponsored Nicholl Fellowship. This script later went to a cable network where a reviewer wrote “coverage” for the project. Coverage is a review that recommends or rejects a project for production. Many studio coverage writers are aspiring screenwriters, working a job at a studio for an industry foothold. Anyway, this script, which placed well in a major competition received coverage as the work of a hack. So which was it? A good, solid script or something that offended someone who read it or a true work of crap?

There are other Virgo-like details and rules. It is true that if you write your script in a fancy, fluffy font, it will not get read. Use Courier font only please. Like it or lump it; that’s the rule. According to one school of thought, the script name should be penned on the side of the script so it can be picked from a stack. Or is it true, as I was told this past weekend, “never do that; that means you don’t expect the script to be read”? Scripts are printed on three-hole punched paper. Brass brads are used to hold the script together. Three brads hold a script together better, which is good if there are rough readers in the world. Though, perhaps it is true that the current trend is to use only two brads, as was so emphatically touted by a self-proclaimed authority (with three planets, including Saturn in Virgo).

Effectively, the terms presented in the above paragraph mean nothing to the quality of the script. That’s just it with the Virgo-Pisces axis. Fretting over nonsense can get in the way of appreciating art and the creative spirit in general. Creative folks realize that Saturn underscores all creativity. Without dedicated work, persistence and determination, no creative effort comes to fruition. Creative folks also learn very quickly those unfamiliar with applying creative spirit tend to rip it apart. Everyone’s a critic. Everyone thinks they can write because they use sentences in everyday life. According to Craigslist, there are a heap of folks out there who think their life is the most amazing story ever and should be turned into a block buster novel or script. A ton of people think they understand what makes a story interesting. Woe be unto you if you land next to one of these folks at your employer’s birthday party. You have to listen, smile and nod your head in agreement; you never know the story teller’s relationship to the boss.

Good writers know structure (and they also can be overheard whispering, “If critics had talent, they’d write too – their version of a critical response when feeling rejected and downtrodden). They track an inspiration into tried and true formulas of story success which pleases Pisces, Virgo and Saturn. Fair criticism of any art form is fine. But criticism for the sake of criticism or nonsensical nit picking does not make one an afficionado; it makes one an annoying pain in the ass. Is this why there have been recent accusations that some judges on American Idol are not qualified? Perhaps. Is it fair for an Idol contestant to have endured the wrath of Simon Cowell? Is such negativity really good television? Or are people simply identifying with their inner critic, relieved that it has some place to go other than hammering on one’s own personal lifelong issues?

The Pisces energy runs thick for a spell. If you are a creative sort, dive into it, oblivious to the bellows of those protesting that it’s unfair for you to do what you do. Use the Virgo planets as your templates. Use them to support your drive and determination. Let them guide you in turning a deaf ear to nay sayers much like one would do with a dive under water.