Critically Speaking

In my opinion….what should have happened….I don’t think he should have….why didn’t they do….and other challenging phrases, can be seen or heard from armchair critics everywhere. Criticism is, in our hyper-connected world, an enthusiastic pastime of many a keyboard warrior.     

   Whether it is the vitriol of the YouTube viewer, snarkiness of uppity Facebookers or the absolute conviction of the film geeks on IMDB, in the democratic world of the interweb, every opinion is valid, every voice has a right to be heard, right? Not really.

    There are certain subjects that people feel they can venture not just their, less than expert, opinions on, but they also feel the need to explain how it might be improved. There are things that, strangely, opinions are less forthcoming on. Though, especially here in the U.K., drinking is pretty much a national pastime, very few venture opinions on wine. The same holds true for food. Everybody eats, yet few opine with angry authority.

   With music, as I have said before, it is highly emotive. One feels music, the like or dislike is pretty much immediate. The same with pictorial art; you know whether you like a picture or not.

   When it comes to film and television, however, much like sport, everybody is an expert. Whether it is a Hollywood blockbuster or a YouTuber’s funny short, the litany of opinion supporting or deriding it can be overwhelming. This not to say that the opinions are not valid, or even wrong. I have myself vented or ranted about a film or programme that I found less than appealing, even as others have found the same output to be good or great. But, like many others who review, I am here to be shot at and, in effect, reviewed myself. I’ve also, to very little fanfare, made a few films.

   Does that make it okay for me to pontificate and criticise the works of others? No, not really. The reason I review films or television programmes is that I enjoy writing and I love film and television. For myself, writing is an emotional release. My writing does not, however, extend to barbarous comments in fan forums.

   The keyboard warrior is the worse sort of critic, hiding behind a cryptic handle, whilst venomously spewing caustic comments at those who would bare their souls, via their works and creative efforts, for mass consumption. Not that many of them ever have a constructive or, god forbid, reasonable commentary. Typing with misguided authority, there seems a belief that if they had made the film or show, if they had picked the actors, if they had written it, it would be so much better. Of course, it would.

   In a time where, unlike even a decade ago, anyone can get a film, of some description, online, to allow all and sundry to give their tuppence worth on their creative efforts, anyone who feels they can do better should prove it. Leave the keyboard alone, shoot something.

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