More “Critique” less “Critical”


Last week, the new Ghostbusters trailer appeared and, as would be expected, the internet was soon ablaze with comments about what was seen in those 2 minutes and 37 seconds; comments that, pretty much, sum up a lot of what is wrong with social media giving everyone a voice – and something that has become a bit of a bugbear of mine.

And not just me, as this comment from Lucy Hay suggests.

Now, I am not suggesting that people aren’t entitled to their own views, far from it but, sometimes, I just wish people would keep them to themselves if they aren’t particularly constructive.

Just because you have something to say, doesn’t mean you should.

(And, yes, I realise that accusation could be leveled at me with this blog.)

Actually I am not suggesting that people say nothing, I just like comments to be validated with reasoned and intelligent argument.

Unlike a lot of what was said about the Ghostbusters trailer.

I watched the trailer and it may not be the most exciting trailer I have ever seen but I have no idea whether it is going to be a good film or not. I long ago learned to not judge a book by it’s cover, or a film by it’s trailer – and definitely not if I haven’t seen it. But the release of a trailer these days, or the announcement of a film, seems to be met by an online competition to see who can make the most crass, baseless and profanity-laden comment about what they have just seen.

The number of people who announced it was going to be a crap film was astounding. Not just that it “looked” like it would be, but that it was actually going to be – as if they had seen it. This was before we got to the downright misguided moaning about the female leads. (I’m not going to get into a discussion about the casting though, as that is a different matter.) It was also surprising to see a large number of people complaining that the very existence of this film has destroyed their memories and love of the original Ghostbusters from 1984.

How does it? How does the existence of this film, negate any enjoyment you have had, and will have, watching and rewatching the classic 80’s comedy?

Guess what…?

It doesn’t.

I remember when “teaser” posters for the updated Paddington were released. One of the commenters suggested that the existence of the film had “raped their childhood.” I’ll let that sink in while you think about how absurd that is. The original still exists, it isn’t changed by the existence of a new film which you don’t have to go and see if you don’t want to.

If you want to express your dislike with something, or if you disagree with something, why can’t you do it with a qualifying statement to justify your thoughts? If you have to criticise something (and we certainly should be) at least try and make it constructive.

I hope, as writers, that this is something we can do, to separate us from the faceless trolls who litter social media and the magical interweb. It is a skill that is vital to us as part of a creative community and for when we work with other creatives to act as peers and support others’ development. How can we give useful notes to other writers if we can only be critical but not provide a critique? When we give notes, we need to back up those notes with supportive critique that explains the rationale behind our comments so that those on the receiving end can understand the context and reasoning behind them.

It isn’t rocket science.

It’s a simple thing to do, but something that seems so hard for so many when sat behind their identity-hiding screens.

When The Force Awakens was released, it was always going to generate some heated discussion. I followed some threads on Twitter with people who clearly didn’t like the film. However, they had reasoned arguments for why they didn’t and I could appreciate the reasoning behind their arguments. So the discussion was interesting and informative. I may not have agreed with them, but I was able to have a mature discussion because they were able to discuss it beyond the simple, reductive, “that was ****”.

I haven’t yet dared go online to read into what the world thinks of the (great) casting for The Dark Tower adaptation.

Anyway, I think I’ve veered into rambling and/or ranting but I just had to get this off my chest.

It is incredibly draining to read about other people’s work in this way, so imagine what it must be like for those who actually produced the work? I guess my take away from this is that it is easy to just criticise in this day and age. However, as writers, we are all in this together and, regardless of who writes what, who succeeds and who fails, we can be incredibly supportive of each other. I have had some fantastic notes from writers who don’t shy away from offering criticism, but they do so in a constructive, supportive way, so I was always only ever going to learn. I hope any notes I have given in the past are a fraction as good as those I have received.

So don’t get sucked into that world of negativity and cheap-shottery. Give each other a pat on the back and remember to be less critical for the sake of it and invest more time in providing a critique of work we have the opportunity to comment on.

What goes around, comes around.

I’ll step down now….


Posted on March 9, 2016, in Learning, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. That blog was rubbish…

    Liked by 1 person

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