If this was true, wouldn't it technically mean that praising a work, or even offering any opinion at all, should also require that you do better than the work in question? They basically operate under the same premise.
Yes. It is a flimsy excuse to criticism, after all.
Uhmmm... why is that? Praising a work requires you to not be able to do what they can do or do nothing at all. You recognize their hard work.
If the idea is that criticizing something requires that you do better, the premise is that you do better in order for your opinion to be valid. A negative opinion and a positive opinion are both opinions, so therefore, the underlying implication of this trope is that any opinion whatsoever requires that you do better than the work in question in order for it to be valid. And yes, both positive and negative opinions are equal. "Hard work" has nothing to do with it (especially for the shit this fallacy is usually applied to).
You criticize my previous argument. If you can't do better than my previous argument, can your argument still be correct?
'Equal'? Not necessarily. A positive opinion which takes the time to express to the creator precisely what they did that the opinion-holder appreciates and why their work is strong is not equal to a negative opinion that simply says "It's shit." without further elaboration. One is considered, in-depth and helpful (in that it gives the artist some idea of what they're doing right and what they should consider continuing to do), the other is not. The inverse is true, of course; a negative opinion which takes the time to at least establish what the creator did wrong in the opinion-holder's eyes (and ideally what they can do to improve) is superior to a post which simply says SQUEEE! (At least in terms of content; there's a reason why we tend to value making people happy over making people unhappy, after all.) But opinions are not necessarily equal just because they're opposite, and not all expressed opinions are of equal value or worth. Someone who uses this trope to dismiss valid criticism is simply being a dick, but on the other hand a creator is perfectly entitled to get frustrated with a so-called 'critic' who offers nothing but negativity without any substance to it.
Not if the opinion being expressed was "I could never do anything as good as this!"
The person giving the opinion might actually be able to do better, but lacks the ability to recognize that they have done better. For example, the objective is to draw a circle: While Spongebob draws a circle that is correct down to 1/100th of a centimeter, and Squidward draws a vaguely circle-esque amorphous blob, Spongebob considers his attempt to not be better because his only context is that Squidward is (supposedly) a better artist, and thus because the attempts don't match, Spongebob's must be worse.
They might actually be able to do better, but that particular form of praise does not actually require the person giving it to be able to do better. Which was what the OP was asking for.
The big problem with this "argument" is that just because one random person from the street can't do better in one day than a team of paid professionals who do it for a living did in several months, doesn't make the work good.
This trope bothers me because even if someone can't do better, they can still legitimately recognize when it can be done better, just not by the criticizer themself is all. Say I notice a poorly sculpted statue. With the right studying I can notice out loud that it's poorly sculpted even if I can't sculpt a better one myself. I never claim that I'm better, I just know enough to see when it's not good. Anyone know what I mean?
For instance: "Say, um, both of this statue's hands are left hands... Other than that it looks fine to me, but did the person you're modelling really have two left hands?"
I agree. For another instance: "That ice sculpture sucks. The wings are completely uneven in a seemingly unintentional way, and the neck looks like a crinkle-cut french fry!" "Let's See You Do Better!" "I can't- I'm completely paralyzed aside from my eyes, and I'm typing this using an eye monitor." Alternately, and more in line with what the trope is supposed to rebut: "Something's wrong with that ice sculpture- I can't tell what it is, but I don't like it." "Let's See You Do Better!" "I might and might not be capable of creating a better sculpture in general, but I don't think I could do better at that, since I don't know what to fix to make it better (if it even can be made better in general without invalidating its specific intended purpose)."
Exactly. If someone is preparing heart surgery and the doctor uses a contaminated, rusty knife and uses his bare hands to scoop out stuff, I'm going to say they're doing it wrong. Not that I will ever be a heart surgeon or doctor of any kind in this type of situation, but I, as a human being, would know there would be something wrong with that. Demanding someone show off their not expressed skills to prove your point is a lame, tired counter-attack used by insecure people who cannot take criticism lightly.
The real problem with the "let's see YOU do better" argument can probably be summed up in the following question to the person using it: "Look, do you or don't you want to actually sellnote for suitable, not necessarily monetary values of 'sell' your work to the very same people whose opinion you're so blithely dismissing here?"
"You don't need to be Stanley Kubrick to say that Uwe Boll's movies suck". There. I just proved the invalidity of "Let's see you do better".
So would the better option be to simply do nothing in regards when someone wishes to put more validity into their opinion, whatever it may be? that's this troopers question.
One thing I think is a major flaw in this type of argument is when someone says that people can't criticize them unless they can do better, they're implying that merely being better than the general public at what they do is praiseworthy. Merely being a better writer/director/coach/etc. than the average person isn't saying much when it comes to quality, because only a small percentage of people are even good enough to make a living in those fields in the first place. For example, if someone is good enough to be in a major pro sports league, but does poorly, the fact that they are better at what they do that the vast majority of the population doesn't mean much in the context that they're in.
If I may, the examples presented on this page are a bit too extreme and/or one-sided; most of them boil down to "It doesn't take [the best knowledge] to know that [the worst possible example] is bad.". Of course it doesn't! Try using a less extreme example; or ideally, an average example. These people are forgetting/ignoring a valid potential counter-argument: "But [a person with insufficient knowledge] won't be able to understand the work/situation clearly either.". Essentially, forgetting the 4th paragraph on the main page intro text. In the case of a criticism, both the creator and the critic are to be questioned. If the context of the line is meant to say "Will you be able to do a better job if you were in my place (without all the knowledge I have)?", that doesn't sound unreasonable to ask at least. There's always the most common possibility that a random viewer/critic might not have the same knowledge and perspective as the creator; if the critic is being a bigot by not being aware that his opinion might not be the complete/correct one, the creator has all the right to chew him out.
Still no. The problem with "Let's see YOU do better" it's that it thinks doing and knowing are inseparable. Even if you can't draw better(because, let's say, you have no eye-head coordination, you never had practice or you don't have limbs at all) you can notice the artist's perspective is wrong, the anatomy is hideous and his style is basically a mish-mash of styles from different animes. In one side you have a person who knows, but can't do; while in the other you have a person who does, but doesn't know. In short: it's about having a well-based opinion, and whether you can or cannot do better is irrelevant.
What if the critic neither knows about nor does what the artist does?
Then in this case (depending, of course, on the specifics of the actual criticism), their criticism can mostly likely be dismissed simply because they clearly don't actually know what they're talking about; you don't have to demand that they be able to do better than you, you can simply disregard them because they're presenting themselves as ignorant and uninformed.
Are these legit comebacks?
If I did do better, it wouldn't be publishable due to Fanwork Ban.
If I did do better, it wouldn't be publishable due to the console maker's blanket ban on home-based businesses (e.g. Nintendo's policy against Bobs Game).
Those are both crappy comebacks, and completely miss the point. It's not about the accuser doing the exact same work better, but just making a better work.
— Madden sucks lately. — Let's see YOU make a better game! — Can't; EA has secured exclusive licenses to all notable professional and college football leagues, and people buy football video games not to play football but to play as the home team. — Let's see YOU make a league with which to do better! — The skills needed to make and market a rival sport league in Real Life are completely different from the skills needed to make a video game.
— $console_platformer sucks. — Let's see YOU do better! — Can't; Nintendo and Sony won't let me release a game on their platform. — Let's see YOU make a console on which to do better! — The skills needed to make and market console hardware are completely different from the skills needed to make a video game.
So in each case, how would you recommend that one do better?
"I am. I do my job a lot better than you do yours." Works best if true, though bonus points if it's bullshit but impossible to disprove.
What if you (or the person you use this on, if you're on the other end) actually can do a better job? Do you automatically win the argument?
Yes, but only in your own mind because it relies on the person you're arguing with actually agreeing with you. I once criticised a Paramore song (actually, ok, the entire catalogue of that band) and was struck back with 'shut up, I'd like to see you do better!'. In my own opinion, I can write and have written better songs, but just try to explain what good music is to a Paramore fan ;)
Wow, nice way to sneak your hatred of Paramore and it's fans into an argument. You're pretty damn mature about it, huh?
Would it be a legimate argue to reply to this by: "Sure, give me X years, [project's budget], all the staff."?
Depends on what the artwork is. With a movie or something, you might have a point. With, say, a novel, since all you really need to write one is some form of word processor (or basic writing implements like a pen and paper), basic literacy skills and a few hours set aside each day (many novelists start writing in their free time between other employment), that can more easily backfire since you're essentially challenging the author that you can do better, which in turn leaves an opening for the author to legitimately demand that you put your money where your mouth is and prove it.
It should be noted that Agatha Christie's career is down to this trope; her first novel was because her sister used this trope when Christie complained about a crime novel she just read.
Is it fair to dismiss all invocations of this trope? After all, not all critics make reasoned, articulate arguments against a work. Sometimes they're just assholes. If you're just a troll, why should the artist accept your criticism as valid?
Nope. You dismiss a troll because s/he is a troll, not because of the quality of his/her own creations. After all, great writers/artists/etc can be assholes, too, and they shouldn't get a free pass just because they can do better.
In this particular case, it is sufficient enough to dismiss the troll because he/she is not making 'reasoned, articulate arguments against a work'. Besides which, with most trolls it's pretty clear that they probably can't do better anyway (since they probably wouldn't be wasting their time trolling other people if they could, they'd be doing something more productive with their time), so why waste the words?
I guess you could use this argument if the critic suggests some changes to the work that aren't feasible. For instance, if the critic suggests that a scene should be removed, but the scene is integral to the story, then this argument could be used.
In its worst manifestations, this can be used to deflect any opinion that the creator should alter any part of their work, thus allowing the author to never take feedback from anyone. You think my book is sexist? Write your own! You don't think I should have put an actor in blackface? Make your own movie! You think it's irresponsible to publish a children's book instructing kids to stick metal things into outlets? Write your own children's book rebutting it! Let the most popular work win!
All works should inspire us to create something better, whether the earlier works meet up to our expectations or not. To have the ability to do a better work than the previous person and just not use it is what can be considered creative laziness, and that is just not excusable as a counter-argument if somebody tells you "let's see you do better" if you see the quality of their works do not meet up with your expectations and you decline the challenge. There's always the risk of failing to meet the challenge of doing better work, but it's better to try and fail than fail to try.
To perhaps offer some balance of the dismissive nature of a lot of the discussion surrounding the use of this phrase (if not to actually defend it), it should perhaps be remembered that it's often a lot easier to criticise than it is to create. Hard it may be to accept, but not all criticism is of equal value, use or worth. To offer a hypothetical example, if you're an author who's put a year or more of your life into writing a novel, editing it, fine-tuning it, getting every word as finely tuned as you can get it, stressing over it, negotiating and battling it get it published, then seeing someone who seems barely able to spell smugly dismiss all your hard work and effort in a blog post that took maybe fifteen minutes at most to write and which has nothing constructive to say or add has to grate a little bit. And let's be honest — in the days of Facebook and Twitter and Amazon reviews, this is likely to form 90% of the kinds of response that a creator is likely to receive. And if you're getting this kind of criticism for something you did unpaid, in your own free time, that you're offering for free public consumption, getting this kind of response can be even more galling — if you can take time out of your otherwise busy life to create and offer something up for free, then what's stopping your critic from doing the same instead of snidely crapping all over your work? This is not to defend the use of this phrase — someone who is saying it just to deflect any criticism whatsoever, even if it's constructive and valid, is just being a dick. But it's not entirely unreasonable or incomprehensible why this mindset can evolve.