I’ve argued with some of my friends and family members that tell me the things that I personally like are not any good. At the same time, I’ve debated some of my friends when they give a glowing review to something they really love to something I think is awful. Sometimes, you can even get into fights with people because of how strongly you like or dislike a particular TV show, song or movie.
There may have been times when your views on something may go against popular opinion. And, if it did, I bet the video below perfectly encapsulates the experience:
But when you start writing up reviews and publishing them in any way, things change. Reviewers are usually viewed as someone who should always be impartial. They should be able to give critical thoughts on something. They need to take a purely academic approach when giving their assessment. They should be able to remove their own personal views and thoughts on a genre and give a highly unprejudiced opinion on anything.
I don’t agree with this. I think reviewers should be able to be as biased as they want to be when they review something. While this may go against the general view on what a reviewer should be, give me some time to explain…
I used to be in the school of thought that all reviews should be as unbiased as possible. However, I soon learned that, if a review is unbiased, the review will never be inspired and will be devoid of emotion. For example, let’s look at one of the later works of Pablo Picasso, the Weeping Woman. Just so you know, The Weeping Woman is one of the more notable pieces created by the artist. But, from my point of view, I don’t get it. In fact, I don’t particularly like it! It’s kind of freakish looking but I actually do like the colors used. But, overall, it’s something I would like to hang up on my wall since I’d be frightened by it every time I pass by it.
Guess what? That’s a valid review!
In its most basic essence, a review is a person’s opinion on anything. However, a review cannot just simply state they loved or hated a particular thing. A reviewer has to be able to be able to cite specific reasons why they didn’t like it. Was there too much gore? Did the CGI effects look fake? Was the acting bad? Was the story too far fetched?
Also, a reviewer reserves the right to actually nitpick on specific things if those things specifically bothered him or her. A staff member of Polygon reviewed a game called Dragon’s Crown, a sidescrolling action-RPG for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. The game was reviewed by a female that was disgusted by the way the most of the female characters were illustrated. She felt they were extremely hyper-sexualized and, to quote her, “with breasts literally bigger than their heads with rear ends to match” and turned her off from enjoying the game. It’s like complaining the graphics are ugly. To her, the graphics were ugly… sort of.
Since reviews are opinions, I think the people who read them should take it easy if the resulting reviews do not agree with their own views. Take for example Gamespot’s Carolyn Petit’s review of Grand Theft Auto V. Carolyn absolutely loved the game and gave it a glowing review. She just had one problem with the game: it was the way women were portrayed. Still, it was given a 9 out of 10.
What happened? The gaming community went ballistic! So, gamers who loved Grand Theft Auto V started bashing Carolyn and spewing hatred and profanity at the person because of this person’s comment to the way women are shown. In fact, there was even a petition created to get her fired from Gamespot because… well, because! This issue went completely overboard and over a simple thought about something a reviewer didn’t like about a game she gave a favorable review on!
A reviewer needs to be honest in giving their opinions. If they don’t, they’re not doing their job. This actually helps the “normal” reader in a way. Instead of relying on Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes to see which movie or video game has the highest rating, you should just trust a handful of reviewers that seem to share your opinions.
I personally trust only a couple of movie reviewers. One of them is MovieBob from Escape to the Movies. While I may not agree with him all of the time, we do have the same opinion more often than not. So, if he does give a good review on a movie, that’ll make me more inclined to watch it. You just have to find certain reviewers that you can sort of relate to and check on their views.
In closing, reviews cannot be totally academic. If they do, we remove the thing that makes a review a review: the personal thoughts and opinions of the individual evaluating it.
What are your opinions regarding how reviews should be written? Please leave your opinions in the comments section below!