A List of Things I’m Qualified to Critique, Since Apparently You’re Only Allowed to Critique Something if You’re an Expert Now

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Monday morning, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled its official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. I thought they were nice and cool and sleek and shit, but some others did not. But, then, some people were mad at the people who did not, like, “You can’t critique art if you’re not an expert on art.” Which is an unfathomably bizarre thing to say on the internet, because offering occasionally hot but mostly tepid takes on things you have opinions about but might not be an expert on is the entire point of the internet.


Of course, there are certain nuanced and difficult topics—race/racism, patriarchy, white supremacy, sexual assault, etc.—that you should probably sit down for if you’re not an expert. Your half-baked takes aren’t welcome then. But when it comes to music or movies or sports or any other sort of arts or entertainment—take the fuck away!

Unfortunately, I’ve decided to take this suggestion to heart. Going forward, I will offer opinions only on the following things on which I am qualified to offer opinions because I’m an expert:

1. Snickers Ice Cream Bars

2. The way my face looks in pictures

3. The NBA League Pass

4. The rims at the LA Fitness in Bakery Square

5. Killarmy

6. Breakfast pork

7. Levi’s discontinued 522 jeans

8. The leaning left-to-right crossover dribble

(Also related: the fact that “the Shammgod” shouldn’t even be called “the Shammgod” because Jerome Allen from the University of Pennsylvania is actually the first person I saw do that move.)

9. Watching Shark Tank reruns on MSNBC

10. Procrastination

11. Pretending to make texts and phone calls to people when in public in order to alleviate social anxiety


12. Founding and writing for a blog called VerySmartBrothas

13. Annoying my friends, my family, my editors, my co-workers and anyone else who knows me because of my pervasive aversion to timely communication


14. Saying “brb” during text convos when I have no intention of coming back soon

15. Growing and maintaining a luscious beard

16. How Pittsburgh smells in the spring

17. The late-’90s and early-aughts filmography of West Coast Productions

18. Hate-reading Reddit’s NBA message boards

19. Forgetting to eat breakfast, and then thinking, “I’ll just eat a super-big lunch to catch up,” even though that’s totally not how metabolism works


20. How the name “Damon” is spelled

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



I am so proud to be an expert on so many things! Like...

1. Whether there’s too much icing/frosting on a cupcake. (Never)

2. How my face looks in pictures.

3. Whether pants are actually gonna fit me.

4. Pugs.

5. How long it’s gonna take to copy edit a document.

6. Who can sing and who cannot.