Reviews, Venom, and Toughening Up

Reviews are a touchy subject. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and that’s some of the beauty of the subjective starred rating system. And what writer or filmmaker has never felt maligned unfairly by critics, amateur or otherwise? Yet, the dearly departed Roger Ebert had a fantastic formula. I have never read a single review of his that has failed to amuse me, and that was the point. Why read a review full of bile? Mr. Ebert had a few of those, but largely he was an urbane, civilized, totally hilarious man. There’s too much of that pointless stupidity out there, and he was one of the best for a reason.

I remember reading a review on Rotten Tomatoes about the movie Abduction (which I have not seen, by the way). Nobody liked it; let’s get that out of the way. Only teenage girls and gay men who think Taylor Lautner is pretty to look at (and he is) and only need explosions to entertain them liked this movie.

Yet one top critic went out of her way to be…well, a total, inappropriately hateful bitch. Rather than be amusing or snarky or even try to just tear the movie down for its apparent plot holes or bland cinematography, she decided to tear apart Lautner, then only 19 years old. She said, “Sadly, it is already apparent that Lautner shall never learn to act in his, yours, or any other lifetime.” She leaves off the personal attacks for a moment to say stuff like, “…this movie is about as cutting edge as unmowed grass, and dumb as a sack of bolts.” She continues, “And indeed it is running for his life that occupies his minimal IQ for the rest of the film…he becomes the Jason Bourne of his local junior high.” And the insults continue. “…Lautner has a repertoire of two facial expressions…”

She is neither original nor as intelligent as she would like to pretend to be. And being hateful for the sake of being hateful is reprehensible. I don’t know Taylor (and for those wondering, NO my Taylor was not based off him. Though my Taylor wasn’t based on him, either, I prefer Taylor Kitch, thankyouverymuch), but I do know that the plot and script for that movie were universally seen as terrible. What did he have to work with? Further, were all the personal attacks necessary?

He’s sitting in his bank vault, doing a Scrooge McDuck in his piles of cash, no doubt. He has likely never seen that review in all his life, and he’s probably tough enough (now) to deal with the hate.

I, however, neither have Mr. McDuck’s money vault nor the toughness of those who have had to deal with such vile, pointlessly mean-spirited criticisms. One of my first reviews was harsh, ill-informed, admitted to skimming the book, and said there was too much going on. And I’m glad for that review. Do I think it was accurate? Of course not. What else am I going to say? That reviewer is in the minority and that makes me happy. As some wonderful people have told me, I can’t please everyone. And, frankly, I wouldn’t want to. I’m glad I went through that. It toughened me up already, and that is invaluable.

But I would be lying if I said I came to that place easily or quickly. It’s like sending your baby out to have stones or rose petals thrown at it. It’s difficult. But I’m glad for it now, even though I thought about it a great deal at the beginning.

However, what of those reviewers who are mean just to seem important? Isn’t that pretty much what all deliberately cruel reviews are intended to be? I thought about this after reading my negative review, and that review of Abduction has stuck with me for a long time, solely because of its venom. Further, when you see that these types of hateful reviews are more than common for a reviewer, that they are the overwhelming majority, you have to wonder about the reviewer him/herself. What motivates these people? Deflected fame? (Nobody’s going to get famous criticizing me…I was referring more to the Abduction hag.) A self-important air of thinking themselves better because they are self-proclaimed harsh critics? A crusader, a veritable super hero, saving the unwitting and less intelligent from making a mistake their fragile little minds couldn’t handle? I think those feelings are probably very common in the group we are discussing tonight.

It hasn’t been a long time, nearly a month since publication for me. This is my first novel, and I know I will get over it. I’m glad things turned out the way they did. As a fledgling writer, though, it happens. You get caught up in your own head, and as humans, I think we focus on the negative more than the positive. I know I did. And I’m glad for it. I mentioned in other posts knowing that I would need to get a thicker skin. And I am doing that all the time.

Still, I had little else to write about tonight, and I just finished a book wherein there was a very telling quote, and it started me thinking again. So, I have now assaulted you with my thoughts on it.

While reading Her Mother’s Daughter: A Novel of Mary Tudor by Julianne Lee, I came across the most fantastic quote. It made me cackle and I took much solace from it. It is a definite, true, beautiful thing, and I may have to have it inscribed somewhere. I doubt Julianne Lee will ever hear of me or care if she did, but I’d like to give her a cyber hug anyway.

I shall leave you with the quote, and hopefully say no more on the subject:

“It is difficult for me to take to heart every word from a malcontent bent on making himself more important in the eyes of his fellows by criticizing everything he sees and hears.”

Preach, sister! *cackle, running away*


~ by Darren Endymion on September 17, 2013.

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