How Do You Review?

A couple of nights ago I watched a documentary called Heckler, which was put together by Jamie Kennedy of The Kennedy Experiment fame. It was all about criticism and heckling of entertainers and how they deal with it mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Jamie Kennedy

Yeah, I know, you’re thinking mentally and emotionally are the same thing but they’re not in my context. Mentally is when you’re thinking about it later on and how it affects you in the long run. Emotionally is how you deal with it then and there, in the heat of the moment. Michael Richards is a perfect example of a guy who one bad night let his emotions get to him in a bad way, and look at how he’s had to deal with it mentally ever since.

There were some interesting things he did with this documentary. He talked to a lot of entertainers, mainly comedians, on the subject of heckling. He had lots of clips showing how some of these people reacted in public. Only one guy hit someone, but one guy got pelted with lots of garbage and another guy told the story of being cold cocked by a guy who heckled him and got insulted from the stage right back. Barbra Streisand’s in it yelling something back at a heckler, and some movie director named Uwe Boll actually dared some critics to fight him in a boxing match; he beat every single one of them up, one guy so bad he was vomiting for a long time afterwards. I don’t know why, but I actually enjoyed that.

But the most interesting thing he did was take many of the bad reviews he received for the movie Son of Mask (didn’t see it) to the people who wrote them, read the reviews in front of them, and asked them why they were so cruel.

His point was that as critics, none of them offered anything constructive, and in almost every case they made personal statements about him in general. A few backed down, a couple said it wasn’t personal (please) and a few were actually happy they’d gotten a rise out of him. One guy in particular said it was his goal to get known by any means possible, and the ruder he could be to someone the better he liked it. Yeah, I thought that guy was a punk.

It make me go back through some of my review posts on this blog to see just how bad I might have been here and there. I noticed that for the most part I’ve been really easy on things I didn’t like. Lucky for me, I like a lot more things than I don’t like; that’s a pretty nice life to have, right?

The only times when I’ve been a bit more brusque than other times is when it was personal. For instance, my last review of Demand Studios wasn’t one of the nicest things I’ve ever said here, yet in comparison to reviews by other people it was fairly sedate. I also believe my responses to the couple of people who wrote in support of them was fair and measured as well.

When I wrote my review of the movie Skyline, a movie that greatly disappointed me, I didn’t go after any of the actors in the movie, but rather the breakdown on the script of the movie itself. There wasn’t anything I thought was overly mean or malicious, just truthful.

I think the only time I got really mean was when I was having a fight with the people from some place that I’m not going to name, but it was all about Akismet and involved some other folks as well. To date it’s the only post of mine where I actually deleted comments because some were threatening, and I did a test and found that the email addresses used were all fake; wasn’t having that either.

Goodness, I was even relatively nice (relatively that is) when I wrote a post supporting our friend Sire when he was having a debate with someone over something that, in the long run, was not only stupid, but proved to be accurate regarding commenting. It was a little bit snarky at the time, but even the guy I wrote about stopped by and understood my point, which shows it couldn’t have been all that bad.

Here’s the thing. There are people we don’t like for whatever reason, but there’s no reason to be over the top or mean about it. For instance, there’s a lot of hate I see being directed at this kid Justin Bieber. The thing is he’s only 16 years old; any adult saying nasty things about a 16 year old should be ashamed of themselves. Saying you don’t get his music is one thing; after all, we’re older and it’s not for us. Saying things about his appearance or anything else should be off limit.

I hated when professionals were piling on this young lady below, Janet Evancho, when she was doing opera on one of those TV talent shows. They were saying she didn’t have the chops and wasn’t fully trained as an opera singer. Folks, she’s 10 Years Old! I thought she was fabulous, and in this day and age when many types of classical music aren’t as popular as they once were because more kids want to listen to newer music, one would think these folks would be encouraging her instead of bashing her. So she has an album and you don’t tough!

I guess here’s my main point. Saying “you stink” doesn’t help anyone. Saying “I didn’t like it and here’s why”, then actually telling why, does help to a degree. I’ve had my critics. I wrote in my business newsletter days ago a story on when I wrote my first newsletter I sent it out to a lot of people to get their opinion on it, and anyone who actually made a comment commented on the look and format of the newsletter and not one person commented at all on what I’d written. In that instance I wasn’t helped at all since that’s what I was interested in hearing about.

I’m not saying don’t criticize things when you get irked. I certainly did when I had issues with a plugin that it seems a lot of people liked. But if you’re going to write some type of criticism, either temper yourself a little bit of make sure you do something like this. Now there’s a review! 😉

21 thoughts on “How Do You Review?”

    1. Tanya, she’s just fine. I’m sure that as she gets older adn studies more her vocal capacities will be stronger, but no one can hide the voice.

  1. Everybody need to stay strong regarding his opinion and I agree about the kid. I think you have been always nice Mitch and your posts always cover many angles of topic.

    1. Thanks Carl. I do try to be fair, and I think that should be the goal of most people. But there are those souls that just want to be punks about the whole thing; I have no use for those folks.

  2. I’m much like you in that I tend to like a lot of things probably because I try to find something good about everything as long as it seems like it’s a sincere effort and others like it. If someone makes an effort to create something, even though it may not be my cup of tea I try to acknowledge the talent that has been involved.

    The times I have given negative reviews on my blog I have attempted to show appreciation for what I did like and tactfully tell why I didn’t like something. It’s like the old adage of not burning bridges: I don’t want to just outright offend someone by ripping them apart because I might encounter them under different circumstances in the future. Not only does the Golden Rule apply in criticism, but also we don’t want to create animosities that might reappear later as enemies working against us.

    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

    1. Thanks for your opinion here, Arlee, and I’m in total agreement with you. It’s okay to dislike something or someone, but how one decides to criticize, at least in print for everyone else to see, should be done with some judgment whenever possible. Going over the top just to try to be as mean as you can doesn’t help anyone, and if one has to make themselves look better by harming someone else, then they’re really not worth our time.

  3. Hi, Mitch. That kid Janet is so cool and at such a young age! 🙂 My boys are showing their interest in drums right now and I am doing everything to encourage them.

    About bashing, well, I am not really into that much. I do my best to really find the good in each person and tell them about that as much as I can. I know a lot of people will think that’s ridiculous, but I guess that is just how I was molded.

    Not that I mind your reviews or critiques in any way. I have been religiously reading your posts and I believe you have been fair with all your critiques. There are people who are able to criticize in a good way and there are those who are just mean about it and you are certainly one of the former’s best.

    – Wes –

    1. Thanks Wes. I’ve never believed in the concept of being mean just because I could be mean; not in my nature. Telling the truth about something; definitely. But there are ways of telling the truth that are constructive, if it’s taken that way.

  4. Fair point – if you don’t like a performance, product, whatever there always has to be line drawn.

    For a 10 year old kid brave enough to go on stage should be applause in itself. So for anyone to make any sort of attack on her is despicable. Same goes for the 16 year old – if you dont like what they do don’t watch them, I bet most of the people spouting of such garbage probably wouldn’t have the guts to go on stage.

    The trouble is and Ive said this before, and this is a problem with online media, too many people think they can say anything they like and remain anonymous cos their behind a screen

    1. With you on that, Peter, but it seems that the offline critics are getting just as bad. Everyone wants to be a break out star and many of these people think that to get there they have to be deliberately mean. If most people remember the original Siskel & Ebert movie critic show they’d have learned some great lessons on how to critique something and not be mean about it. After all, if you already hate someone, how can you think you’ll be able to give a fair review? And if you didn’t even see the thing… well, you know.

  5. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes when being critical of something I didn’t like. I remember hearing about that little girl singing opera. I just shook my head and felt bad for her. People were criticizing what they didn’t know, and jealous of her talent. A real singing voice doesn’t mature until a person is well into their 30’s; she sounds incredible for her age.


    1. Yes she does, Delena, and they might be jealous because she got a record deal and they didn’t. Tough; talent is a day job, but charisma conquers all, and that little girl has it.

  6. Hi Mitch

    This is very on topic at the moment. I have read an honest product review by a dissatisfied customer. The biz owners came over and got personal as they didn’t like her honest but negative review. Their responses only got more attention which wasn’t good for their company.

    On another site I read where another marketer had a blip with a company who apologised and sent a card and gift to said blog owner. What a difference in response.

    I believe we should be honest but never cruel. We are dealing with other human beings after all. My friend was very gracious in her response to the attacks she received for her honest review. Terrible customer service and they probably lost plenty of potential customers who would have tried the product but now never will!

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. Pat, I think I linked to the post you were talking about, although I wasn’t thinking of it when I was writing this post until the end. If so, the post was definitely honest and raw, but one would have to say that the title was inflammatory, and it’s no wonder the creators were upset. Of course, that still doesn’t mean it might not be bad, and the way she detailed it all certainly was about as thorough as one can get. Honest, never cruel; I echo those words as much as I can.

  7. Mitch, I’ve always wondered how the hecklers in an audience would behave if they were the only one sitting there. Would they have the courage to yell and criticize? I doubt it. Same with online reviews containing spiteful comments, especially the ones submitted anonymously. It’s easy to tear someone else down when you’re doing it from a safe position. For some people, that’s all the justification they need.

  8. I think you’ve pretty well covered that the same way I would: “don’t say ‘it stinks’, say ‘I didn’t like it and here’s why'”. I don’t do many reviews, but when I do, I try to remain as neutral as possible and present a balanced view; good points and bad points. An aspect I did not care for may be just what someone else is looking for.

    Speaking of which, I was telling my wife just yesterday that I’m watching for Skyline to come out on video. I have not seen it, but the previews look good. But, I’m interested to see what you thought of it. Our tastes are not the same in many things, but I’m interested in seeing what you have to say. So I’m off to read that.

    1. Allan, if you decide to buy it, buy from me! lol Seriously though, if I read a review that doesn’t really tell me anything, then I’m outta there. For instance, a stupid review I remember but don’t remember where I saw it was about a children’s movie The reviewer said the movie was “childish”. Of course it was, it’s a kid’s movie!

  9. Hi Mitch,

    Individuals who are happy with themselves and their lives have no motivation to heckle, belittle, or act mean. Those are the destructive acts of people who aren’t focused on creating something and/or who seek to feel good about themselves by making someone else feel bad. (They mistakenly perceive life as a zero-sum game where someone wins only when someone else loses.)

    In my opinion, of course.

    A few years ago, there were a few people who started launching personal attacks at someone who worked very hard creating great software that was ahead of its time. The attacks were personal and nasty.

    When he responded, he stated the facts as he saw them and never resorted to any personal attacks.

    If the attacks continued after his one response, he would respond, no matter how vile the attack, “You may be right.”

    Then he moved on and continued creating things that mattered and helped people.

    He’s still around and is well-respected. His attackers? Who knows?

    I do my best to be honest in my reviews and to talk about the pros and cons of what I’m reviewing. Sometimes I may not live up to my ideals, but I keep trying.

    It’s obvious that you do, too. That’s one reason I continue to read what you write.

    1. Thanks John. Sometimes it seems like the world is getting to be a meaner place just because some people think they can get away with it, and it’s good to see people who wish those folks would just go away.

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