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When did critics stop being journalists?

Posted on Thursday, 29th September 2011 @ 12:54 AM by Text Size A | A | A

It’s my opinion when a journalist is paid by a reputable publication to offer a review of events, it’s meant to be a neutral take on the subject at hand. Since I caught the writing bug I’ve noticed with great dismay too many critics give their opinion in a very personal, hit below the belt fashion. Little focus is given to the performance, movie, book, etc., but rather to meaningless hurtful comments regarding things irrelevant to what I, the consumer, might or might not want to spend my money on.

Of course this has always been the case in rag tabloids check out lines. For the most part I ignore those, unless the line is long, I’m really bored and need a laugh. But to read garbage of the same caliber in well known newspapers representing major cities, makes me think “journalism” and those whose career it is have traded integrity of responsible reporting for shock and insults.

As a consumer if I’m going to shell out twenty dollars for a night at the movies, I don’t care if the lead actor’s hair is receding or the actress looks like she should lose some pounds. I want to know what the movie is about, and if, in their opinion, its worth seeing. Likewise with a book, I don’t want to read what the author has done with their personal life, which the critic might not approve of.

A recent review of a performance by someone I believe is not only a fantastic entertainer, but one of the nicest most genuine people on earth, set my blood boiling! I respect the fact the critic might not like this persons music or style. I appreciate if he does not admire him as much as I do. Different opinions make the world go round. But what he shared after attending the show had little to do with the performance and more to do with what seems to be a personal vendetta. In a bullying style that was in a word cruel, lashing out at his appearance, snide comments dripping with sarcasm about his fans, told me nothing about the show. Be it good, bad or indifferent.

I admit from the get-go I write from the heart about this particular person and share the admiration and feeling his music inspires. He’d have to do something heinous for me to find extreme fault. However, I have written about other performers with an eye to what the public wants to read, a review offering insight into whether or not they might choose to attend a future show. Not based on my personal like or dislike of the performer themself, but rather on the entirety of the performance. If I truly felt personal disgust which would jaundice my review, I’d refuse the assignment.  Much like being on the jury of a child molester who I’d want the book thrown out, I couldn’t be impartial.

Over the years certain people have been the brunt of cruel reviews, and nasty comments. They never seem to get a break when it comes to critics no matter what they do, yet their careers have stayed the test of time for decades, proving the opinion of thousands holds more weight than that of one!

Do critics base their opinions on peer pressure to be part of the cool, often mean “kid” group? Maybe they dislike entertainers who haven’t traded personal integrity for popularity, thereby giving them nothing to really criticize? More than likely they don’t think at all and blindly write for the shock value that sells.

Perhaps it goes back to my ‘Pollyanna” attitude which I’ve been chided for in less than stellar terms. I just don’t get being mean for the sake of being mean; be it one on one or for the world to read. I live by the adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, to that I’ll add, even if to be honest you must criticize, balance it by finding something positive to share. Before putting pen to paper, remember the person of which you write has feelings. Though some might ignore what you say, others can be hurt deeply and even destroyed. I guess I think everyone feels the same way, I wish they did.

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