Sunday, June 24, 2012

The rather lousy usefulness of reviews

  Don’t get me wrong, reviews aren’t totally useless to a given artist or enjoyer of art, especially when reviewing the work of an unknown artists. They give attention to the given book, film or piece of music or art and might draw attention to it that way. But they rarely say much about it. If the review is negative, they tend to exaggerate faults and even actually invent them, and if it is positive they tend to play them down. The somewhat «neutral» is often indifferent, boring pieces of texts helping nobody but earning the reviewer some more easy-earned cash.
  I tend to see professional reviewers as culture’s parasites. They don’t do anything but present one person’s opinion of art, something anyone could do. Some people claim that they have a special knowledge of one or more given art form and that we should give them special privileges, but I have never adhered to that stupid notion. To me they seem very set in their mold, very inflexible and therefore less able to give a piece of art anything even resembling a correct description.
  The very idea of reviews (and especially reviewers…) has always seemed… wrong to me. I often watch or read or listen to something that has been given scolding negative reviews, and very often find that I love it. I scratch my head and wonder if said reviewer has actually read, watched or listened to said art.
  Bloggers are a bit different, though. At least some of them approach it from a position of love. They genuinely love the written word, the moving images, the collection of chords and pieces of art, and they work hard to be honest in their assessment and don’t pretend to be demigods giving their divine opinion to poor mortals.
  I should point out that this isn’t about me. My low, general opinion of professional reviewers existed long before I published anything myself. I have been given both favorable and very unfavorable reviews (they tend to be either or), but even though I can’t claim they do not affect me (of course not, since I’m human), they don’t truly move me much either way.
  Each time I give a review I usually write an introductory note stressing that this is only one person’s opinion and that it shouldn’t be taken for more than what it is.
  So, you shouldn’t really care about reviews, one way or another.
  To me the ideal «review» would be a short description of the story and a few critical, honest comments.
  I get my best feedback and learn a lot when I have private, informal conversations for mutual gain with my readers, mostly through emails. That’s certainly one advantage of having sold fairly few copies. Bestselling authors don’t have that. Their feedback is doomed to be more impersonal.
  It is strange how more honest and open and bold people are in emails, compared to during an ordinary conversation. I may have to assure them several times that I appreciate them telling me both pros and cons before they start mentioning what they didn’t like about my story, but it works.
  The classic review doesn’t.


Anonymous said...

Glad to have found you on Twitter!

I'm a struggling writer-director (film) but I'm not sure how different the reviewers are. Right now I mostly have reviews from the general public on Youtube or Film fests so I haven't experienced the 'classic.' Yet. Not sure what that's going to be like.

But...I read TONS of reviews for films. TONS!

I do that not to inform me about the movie per say, but I study the reviewers. If you think about it, they are still 'audience.' So, it's the feedback of one audience member. It's what THEY got.

I guess their feedback is transformed because people listen to their feedback to decide if they want to view a given work (sometimes). Still, how much do they take that in, if the work has had the chance to be adequately promoted?

Anyway, they may come off as negative alot because they view that is part of the job? Like - people are coming to hear the issues with the piece ...

I dunno, what do you think? Anyway, all the best with your book anyway luv.

Anon Films

Amos Keppler said...

Hi, glad that you have found me. :)

The article is about film reviewers as well, all reviewers.
As stated I find them pretty insignificant.
A well-thought review by ordinary readers, viewers, listeners can be a good thing, however.

I do film, too btw, even though we haven't really started up yet. But we will soon. I have lots of scripts ready for use. I guess my pre-production period has been a bit longer than usual...

Thanks, good luck to you as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

Thanks for the follow on Twitter. Ahhh, glorious pre-production, all I have to say about that? It takes the time it takes. Lol.

That's wonderful. Love to see the film trailer and final when you guys are there.

So you write novels and screenplays? Geez, I'm having enough problem getting it on paper in script form.


Well, thanks for the well wishes and I hope some 'reviewers,' find your blog. Feedback for them!

Anon Films