Criticism gets a bad rap a lot of the time, even from its practitioners. But rather than a defense of criticism, A.O. Scott. a chief film critic for The New York Times, has written a kind of long-form thought experiment around the profession that traces the impetuses behind criticism and its myriad functions. Scott’s Better Living Through Criticism explores how we determine our own taste, the value and function of criticism in our current media environment, some (low) points in its history, and rhetorical issues, pulling from a wide variety of texts from poetry to performance art to criticism in its many guises.

FILM COMMENT Digital Editor Violet Lucca was joined by Scott and another veteran critic, Matt Zoller Seitz of and New York magazine, to discuss ideas raised by the book and how larger changes in media have affected their careers and the profession at large.