Midnight Thoughts: Why I don’t like criticising art

It is currently 11:30 pm. I’ve just finished watching The Age of Adaline (what a great film) and I’m waiting for my roommate to come home from a karaoke night. I’ve also not been feeling well these past two days so I spent most of them lying in bed or on my couch, trying to get a bit better. Which means I’ve had a lot of time to think – hence this post.

It is no secret that I am a huge geek. I love all sorts of different books, TV shows, films; my playlist is just a mix of ‘oldies’ and weird youtube parody songs (although… define weird). I also did theatre for about 7 years of my life and I’ve seen a lot of performances during that time. Not all of them were great and there were definitely times when I would tell my not-so-positive opinion quite loudly and openly. I didn’t see anything wrong with me talking down on someone’s performance… that it until I gave that some thought.

When it comes to reading or writing reviews, I feel like nowadays there is pressure to be negative, to be critical (but not in a ‘critical thinking’ kind of way). And to be honest, that is not something I particularly enjoy. Not only does it bother me as a writer (I like to stay positive and that pressure of finding faults and things I didn’t like can sometimes be a bit overwhelming), but it also bothers me as a reader. There were plenty of times when I googled a film, either before or after I watched it, and the review would completely affect my way of looking at it – and not in a good way. When you read a bad review, it sticks with you. And you won’t stop thinking about it, wondering whether the writer has a point or not. And what happens then? Well, because you can’t stop thinking about it, you will notice the bad things the writer talked about and then… filmed ruined. Whatever might’ve been your personal opinion gets seriously affected by what you’ve just read.

My problem with negative reviews, however, lies even further. Not only do I not like having my opinions altered by someone else’s, I also don’t really agree with the whole concept of ‘reviewing art’. A professional review should be objective – but how can that be? Isn’t art supposed to be subjective? Isn’t art supposed to be very much personal, significant to you alone in your own ways? I mean, most of us can probably agree that Van Gogh was an excellent painter: yet I doubt that we all get the exact same emotions whilst looking at, let’s say, Wheatfield with Crows (that is, by the way, my favourite painting). Art exists not to be objective, not to work as perfectly as a clock, rather it is here to help us get in touch with something deeper, non-mechanical within ourselves. Something most people find incredibly corny and tacky might just be my favourite thing of all time – and that’s alright. It doesn’t mean I have bad taste, or that I don’t understand art, it just means my taste is different than other people’s. But how could it not be? We are all different, after all. We have different experiences, we lead different lives. You might feel as though there are things like bad acting, bad camera angles, bad writing. But if I were to ask my roommate what was the most genuine fun she ever had whilst reading something, chances are she would say My Immortal (a piece of Harry Potter fanfiction that is generally considered to be the worst fanfiction ever written). And does it really matter, then? If it’s ‘good quality’ or ‘bad quality’? The line between those two is so fuzzy anyway…

1200px-A_Vincent_Van_Gogh

(Also, would you really be mean to your friend if they spent a year working on a film and you didn’t really like it that much? I mean, let’s just all be nice to each other and get along. Smiling is much better than frowning.)

Veronika

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