Posted in Of Culturel

Of Reviewing Things

Cartoon: The Critic

Once upon a time, I had a movie blog. I reviewed movies I had seen. I won’t link it here, because I don’t think you’d recognise it’s the same person. That reviewer was sharp. Brutal. Snarky. Fearless. Not the wishy washy, whiney, mopey, mellow creature you’ve grown to know and love over the past few years here on Of Opinions.

I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but this blog wasn’t intentioned to be this sort of a introspective and contemplative thing that it is. It wasn’t supposed to be all so ‘Of-fy’. I mainly wanted to talk about movies, music and books, in that order, writing most about what takes the least time to consume. Only I didn’t. In over four hundred posts, there are less than ten that are specifically about those things, and less than five that are actual reviews. Now, why is it so?

I still do make analyses of the above. I just don’t do it for a conspicuous, deliberate platform like this. In a bid to keep this place as positive as possible, I sometimes believe I’ve over-sugarified it. Actually, when I think about it, this blog has more of a bland, innocuous taste, like rice or water. If it’s not that, then it’s me making myself the sacrificial goat of my own reflective life.

But, now that I’ve put all that in a book, as well as paid for the WordPress Personal plan, I want to do things differently. And I’ve been trying to, but it’s not working out. The last few days, I’ve been trying to write a book review, only I cannot find the right words for it, for this blog. It just comes across as too mean, even though I actually liked it. You see, I don’t want to provide you with an extreme, ecstatic, five-star review because NO BOOK deserves that. Seriously. Even Shakespeare would hold something back if he was reviewing himself.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be mean-spirited either. You know, like those critics who you aren’t always sure whether they like something or not, even as they point out several things wrong with something they profess is “important” for human kind. The former isn’t helpful, and the latter makes the piece of art into an argument even before you’ve had the chance to consume it. Which makes me think, why review anything in the first place?

Really, what does it matter what I think about something? At the most, it will make you want to check it out. If it is something you already know, my review will provide you with a perspective that may challenge or agree with your own. And if it is something you don’t feel engaged with even after my telling you about it, then it will just sit here on the interspace, neglected (as most things I write here tend to be anyway).

You see, the easiest way to stir up somebody’s blood and imagination is to be mean-spirited. Do you remember the insipid people-pleaser of a reviewer who says everything is nice and lovely? No. Do you really care if they tell you in under two minutes that they liked something? No. Of course, you might be too nice to criticize their critique, but it’s the reviewer’s job to get you agitated.

For example, veteran film critic Mark Kermode is not somebody I always agree with. I respect his opinion, I’m aware of numerous films I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for his reviews, but the most entertainment value Mark Kermode provides is when he rips apart a movie he hates. I’d obviously hate to be at the end of that, but even as he shreds a movie I personally liked, there’s still something to be admired in his passion.

Therefore, the fundamental tone of this blog, that thing which readers have come to expect, doesn’t agree with reviewing things. And I can’t talk about something passionately if I am not allowed to rip it apart, should I want to. I don’t want to make anybody miserable. I’ve published a book, and it’s been hard being at this end of things. People don’t even want to read it, just because it’s self-published and non-fiction. I’ve made myself open to rejection and criticism, and it’s the duty of the reviewer to follow through, not be kind and generous. It is a conflict that can’t be solved.

I suppose the question to ask is, do I want to review things here? Not will people care or not, but do I want to do it, in the first place? Honestly, maybe not as a ‘review’, but I would like to talk about things for what they are, and not always find its place in the greater scheme of things. Not link every f**king thing to having an existential crisis. Not be a bore, but have art to fill up this place, to hide behind.

Do you review things? How do you approach it?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

12 thoughts on “Of Reviewing Things

  1. I am terrible about reviewing books. I have many author friends who ask me to leave a review and I don’t like to. I almost always enjoy the book, but I want my opinion to be well written and concise and make people want to read it. I’m pretty sure they won’t be, so I don’t write them!

  2. Yes。My “MaureensNetflix Blog ” on Tumblr is still getting followers。 I am not posting from China。 Daily reviews from watching Netflix was my priority and was very enjoyable。

  3. I review things!
    But I wasn’t ready to assign star ratings because I feel so much depends on the when/where I heard the album. I suppose with reviews I try to do something I’d like to read, rather than focusing on evaluating every aspect of the record

    1. I like the way you do them. Sometimes it’s just a flicker of what’s it’s about, usually there’s some graphical analysis, and once in a while a more detailed data interpretation. I don’t ever get the impression of being told to like or not like something, or have things pointed out or explained. It’s mathematical, it’s accurate, but it doesn’t try to be definitive

      1. That’s wonderful to hear Amrita – I don’t think I’ve ever formally written down a mission statement, but what you wrote there is better than what I would have hoped to write!

    2. What I’m basically trying to say is, a ratings system would do a disservice to the open-ended approach of your reviews. Leave them with the traditionalists! Soldier on with your charts!

  4. Hey! That’s great, I really enjoy this!
    My own thing is I write a music blog because I’m dyslexic and write about music I love and did try being a reviewer once a long time ago but now it’s mainly no criticism because it was way to negative for me and I ditched rating things too, you know the something out of whatever.
    I think my new music albums write-ups are just hopeless. I’m writing one about Kate Bush live album right now, I love Kate and off course is great, what do you say?
    Sometimes it seems totally pointless, it’s like talking to yourself and you know what they say about that? Maybe I should focus on the stuff I find more fun, I’ve got this post tag called Classic Albums which might be the whole title to call it but that’s my fave to write but it’s turn into kind-off my own diary of listening to the band/singer and a little about them too but I was trying to figure out why I love them too, I don’t know if anyone wanna read that anyway? People do look at it but a few followers seem to really dig it so guess that’s cool.
    Here’s my blog, if you wanna check it out?
    Sorry about that super long reply, I don’t normally do that but your post got me thinking.

    1. Thank you for your”super long” reply! The most rewarding aspect of writing my blog for me is the discussion it brings so please, feel free to share your thoughts as much as you want to!

      I read your post on the new album. I didn’t know she said she won’t release a DVD! Usually, I try to avoid reading too much about something I am going to watch or read or listen to, and a Kate Bush album being an event is something I want to know even less about. I still haven’t got hold of the album, because it is ridiculously overpriced in my country, but now I feel even more desperate to listen to it! I wanted a DVD too, because so many people got to see her perform. But, I guess we have to respect Kate’s intentions and make do with the album. Any little piece of Kate’s artistry is fine by me, even if it’s an album that I’ve listened to a zillion times.
      Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

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