FYI, Critics Want to Like What They Watch

Although I had to laugh at a comment on rottentomatoes.com regarding my review of “Clash of the Titans” (the full review being available here), it also advances a popular myth about critics that I think it’s helpful to bat down from time to time.

Namely, that we’re unduly influenced in future reviews by past ones that we’ve done.

“This guy seems to only review crappy movies,” the comment read. “That must be a Hell of a job.”

Well, sure, it can be — says the guy who reviewed “All About Steve.” But the false assumption is that because we’ve watched bad movies or TV shows in the past, we’re pre-programmed to hate everything when, really, the opposite is true: You want to like things.

Granted, writing negative reviews can be great fun, but sitting through things you don’t enjoy seldom is. The bottom line is that any critic owes it not just to the projects they’re reviewing but to their own work to approach any review with as fresh a set of eyes as possible.

Moreover, I’d say the bigger risk of watching a lot of bad stuff in a row is that your standards can be systematically lowered. In essence, you’re tempted to be too easy on the next just-OK show that you see.

Reviews are always subjective, and it’s perfectly fine to disagree with them. Nobody’s opinion is delivered from Mt. Olympus, just to put it in fanboy terms. Questioning the motives or psychology of those who write them, though, is pretty silly. Just assume we have few friends, no lives and limited interpersonal skills, and you’ll be in the general ballpark.

No, go play with your Kraken.

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