When I was going to school, teachers would say "if you want to be a good writer, read." The exposure to different techniques, writing styles, content, directions, etc, is the food for our brain and we as future writers can plow through and pick and choose what we like and try to combine and develop these things into a creation of our own and hopefully it would be a unique and pleasing style to other people.
I did not generally do well in writing.
Too many fragment sentences.
But that's my STYLE. I write in a way that I would like to speak and think I do a better job of "speaking" when I write than when I actually SPEAK because I'm not too quick on my feet in the real world.
Heaven forbid I ever publish my zombie book and have it reviewed.
Of course, according to a recent thesis article talked about on the fantastic podcast from NPR, "Pop Culture Happy Hour," I may not have anything to worry about, provided that I'm friendly enough on Twitter that most people like me. The author basically stated that reviews are soft now and there isn't enough vitriol on the Internet, which makes me question what Internet HE has. Any guitarist who has ever been to just about any guitar forum, or looked at reviews of albums or bands, or perhaps even looked for reviews of gear, knows that hate is in no short supply here on the ol' Interwebs.
Now, the author was talking about books, book reviews, and authors being chummy with fans (and reviewers) on social media, and the hosts of PCHH focused a lot on that and the implication that what the author was REALLY attacking was the chit-chat going on over on sites like goodreads.com and even implied a level of sexism from the thesis author based on certain phrases used.
That's why I didn't read the article: I'd get all bogged down in details relating to what the author really wanted to talk about when all I want to do is use the core as inspiration.
Anyhoo, reviews: I've seen a lot of horrible reviews and generally I always wonder why they're there in the first place. Search for reviews of ANY band and you'll see some review that says they're a complete waste of time, but everything in music is so SUBJECTIVE that it can't be a waste of time for everyone, right?
One of the PCHH hosts, who reviews a lot of music, said that he gets a lot of criticism himself (critique a critic?) because almost all of the music he reviews features positive reviews.
It makes sense. Why would I want to dedicate my time to not only write about how little I like something, but force myself to listen to more than one song from the album in the first place? Do I hate myself that much?
I would much rather wade through the music, find something I like, and then write about that. Because another PCHH host nailed it when she said (or quoted) that bad reviews cause bad writing. I don't get the glee I see on some reviewer's faces when they shred something. When I've tried in the past, I always feel queasy, perhaps because I know that everything is subjective, but more likely that I know I'm going to hurt someone's feelings and WHY DO I NEED TO DO THAT? Who gave me the responsibility to say that, even if I didn't like something, I still must spew forth my lack of fondness to prevent others from trying it out?
No thanks. Gear reviews, music reviews, I would rather review things that I want to rave about instead of downing Pepto Bismol and trying to deal with the guilt of potentially hurting a company/artist and their living.
Another thing brought up in the article was the idea that reviewers and writers, or writers and writers, or readers and writers, are too dang chummy on Twitter. This is a bad thing, apparently.
What I got from this was that reviewers may be scared to do a hit piece on a writer because they're their friend on Twitter.
Of course, being open and honest about your work and life can lead to people not liking you or not being able to separate things like character from actor. Jim Parsons, who plays physicist Sheldon Cooper was recently outed by the press and one amateur reviewer said that he wished Parsons had stayed in the closet until the show was over because now the character Sheldon's relationship with a female is tarnished to a point where he just can't believe it anymore. I asked why he can't just try to enjoy the show and Sheldon's relationship and stop thinking so much about Parson's.
C'mon, man, try to separate the artist from the work!
But then I realized I'm just as guilty and I can't freaking stand John Mayer, not only because his music is only tolerable when I absolutely, positively MUST fall asleep RIGHT NOW, but because he insulted bloggers, saying something to the extent that we all live in our moms' basements and haven't accomplished anything. I take issue with that, I take issue with him, and even if his music was good to me (which, I swear I've given him multiple opportunities to change my mind, but each time I walk away with my resolve strengthened and my soul a little darker), I would probably still not like him.
But that's on the negative end. What about the positive? Could anything bad come from having a positive relationship on social media between reviewer and reviewed? Short of lying to the people to increase sales, I sincerely doubt it.
Honestly, if there's anything the Internet needs it's more positivity.
So are reviews being destroyed by friendships? I don't think so. If anything, I think that the review structure is changing and, with more available resources, material, and writers, we're getting positive reviews to push what we like and want to recommend. If we all ignore the lame stuff, eventually it will go away. It gets the same desired result (less people will find/be exposed to it) but with added perks (good stuff will be pushed UP, and you don't risk the cultural backfire of writing such a scathing review that now people HAVE to read/watch/listen to it)!
It seems to me that the thesis author is more upset that we are drifting away from a culture of insensitive hit pieces in favor of ignoring the things that deserve it and recommending things that are awesome. If that's the case, I really have to question the logic behind his argument.
I mean, he's writing about BOOKS. I'm writing about MUSIC and gear. These things are so subjective that hit pieces just aren't necessary. It doesn't do the public any GOOD to know about an awful album's/book's existence It's not like a car that has brakes that don't work in 100% of the cars tested. THAT would do the public good to know.
But subjective stuff? I'd rather write (and read) positive reviews of things the author thought worthy of recommending.