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Monday, April 09, 2007

Bunch of savages in this town.

I have yet to see Grindhouse, but something Keith wrote in the comments section of his review really made me think:

One of the sagest pieces of advice I ever received as a critic was that you can never judge something by its worst fans.

If I'm reading this correctly, what I gather is that you can't fully judge something by what fervent fanboys and doubters say. Sounds like a reasonable judgment right? Well, why do we give so much power to what these fervent people have to say?

A part of reading online news stories/reviews is seeing the comments section. Sometimes the comments can be valid, but more than anything, they're knee-jerk reactions to whatever the topic is. They can be well-written, but more often than not, they're immature and tacky. There's a whole culture around online comments sections that I've never fully understood. Does being the first one to post a response qualify you as a winner? Not in my book, but it is for plenty of people. Does a poorly-written, two-sentence response to a multi-paragraph review carry as much weight? Not to me.

I'm still in the dark about how somebody could highly praise a writer, director, or band and later rip them to shreds. And the ripping apart is usually over one matter -- be it a follow-up book, film or album. It's the apparent ebb and flow, but I've never understood the abundance of vitriol. It's as if you love a person's work, you're destined to hate it.

Now, my personal experiences with the extreme have usually been separated by one or two degrees of separation. I have friends and family who are very much into the world of anime and sci-fi who take relaxed, tactful approaches in talking about their feelings on various shows and movies. But they definitely know people who make Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons look tame. Chances are very good the reason why these people are so ardent has nothing to do with the shows they watch, the films they see, the books they read or the music they listen to. Be it fear of rejection or anger towards family or friends, the list is endless.

Still, what's the most frequent topic brought up in interviews? What the hardcore fans' response is/will be. "How will your fans react that this is coming out on Sire Records?" "What about the fans of your first film, Clerks?" "What's been the response from your fans about your latest book?" It never ends and never fails in writing copy. Such is life, but I think it's important to place more emphasis on how the person felt about writing the book, directing the film or making the record. That's far more interesting to me. Besides, you will always have doubters, even with your most critically-acclaimed work.

So, the advice Keith got is very true. But I'll add this, what carries more weight: how you feel about the book/movie/record or what everyone else thinks of it? I go for the former. Of course I acknowledge what the critics are saying, but I stick with my own feeling.

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