I’ve shared this before, but having just read some recent criticism of an academic – criticism of their appearance, not their work, thoughts, philosophy or contribution to their field, I thought I would share this again, criticising critics!
When I have read a book, seen a film, watched a TV programme, bought a CD, seen a band etc I usually have a look at what other people think of it. It is just interesting to have other opinions and points of view. Sometimes I agree with them,sometimes I don’t; sometimes they have an opinion I’ve never even thought of, or have an insight which throws light on an aspect of the book/film/CD etc which I had not appreciated. It’s interesting if a review is different from my thoughts; if I thought something was awful and rubbish and someone else shows something about it which I might not have realised, I might not change my point of view, I might still think it rubbish, but I might understand why it is popular. Similarly if I really like something, and another person is critical of it, their view might make me defend what I think to myself, or challenge me to re-evaluate my thoughts. If someone offers an objective opinion, and argues their case, and doesn’t disparage the author/actor/artist/musician, then I might still really disagree with their opinion but I will respect it and be interested by it.
However… what really, really annoys me is when someone reviews something they know they are going to hate before they even read/watch/listen to it, and then slam it for not being perfect, or not fitting in with their narrow view. If I really dislike a genre of music, then why would I listen to it, and then say it’s awful? If I don’t like the style of a particular author, why read yet another book by him or her and criticise the way they write?
I recently read a read a review of a band I like; their music is very different, it does not fit easily into a genre, and it might take some listening to before anyone can really appreciate it. So when I was looking for reviews, I expected to read different opinions,and indeed I did; some critics, didn’t enjoy the music but still could make objective comments of the worth of aspects of it, composition, melody, lyric for example. Then I came across a review in which the author obviously hadn’t bothered to listen to the album properly, and adopted a sneering and disrespectful style in his/her criticism; it came across as someone who liked the sound of their own words, and was more keen to be bitchy in an attempt to be ‘honest’ or ‘hard-hitting’ than to make fair comment; they merely came across as being immature and ignorant, preferring to make cheap remarks, than taking the trouble to take a more balanced view.