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Writer's Blah

How much should you care about critic reviews?

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This is a question that I think a lot of people secretly have in the back of their heads but can never get out for whatever reason. The nature of critics, whether they be for film, music, or video games revolves around the fact that these are people that analyze the medium of their choice as a job and are usually well-educated in intricacies of the medium beforehand, so it becomes quite clear that critics tend to have more credibility and weight to their words than someone part of the untrained masses, like me. The words and opinions of critics are usually cited as reasons for or against a movie/game/etc. and it usually means that if your opinions align with the majority of critics, then you're pretty alright as far as recognizing treasure from trash is concerned. However, if one were to start noticing that his opinions are at a disconnect with the majority of critics, does this really mean anything? Should this hypothetical person just stop caring about what critics say because they can't seem to recommend to him things that he actually enjoys (which, ultimately, is what a critic's job is) or should the person reflect more on these critical opinions, realizing that perhaps there's something in the grand scheme of things that he doesn't understand? Would this person actually contribute anything interesting or insightful if he tried to become a critic himself; if he followed all the guidelines, researched all the material, and passed all the classes standing as prerequisites to standing in as a critic instead of just another Joe Schmoe with an opinion, would his disconnect and relative alien way of enjoying films/games stand to actually reach anyone or mean anything? If I wrote an hour-long script with proper transitions and professional video quality as to why, say, Final Fantasy XIII is, unironically, my favorite game of all time (while not stating or insinuating that it is objectively the greatest game of all time), would that really say anything meaningful or important, or would it just be an excuse for people to point and say, "why are you wasting so much time and clear talent in crafting a positive review on something so awful?"

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The knowledge base of a critic goes to nothing more than explaining their subjective experience, which is fair game to fundamentally disagree with because our experiences with media are gonna be whatever they're gonna be. Critics aren't necessarily stating any real truth beyond what is in a work and what techniques and creative decisions were employed within that work. So even while their thoughts and feelings might be grounded in this knowledge and thus seem "correct," the quality or helpfulness of that kind of critique still depends upon the intent of the creator and the work's goals. After all, no one really gives a shit that the first Avengers had shitty cinematography because we went solely to see the superheroes crossover and interact with one another. That's what artistically and culturally mattered.

So while it's fundamentally fine to agree to disagree with the base conclusion of a critic-- "x was good/bad" -- and to leave it at that, if you want to try and make an argument for a work's quality from an academic or technical perspective (you're never required to), then you need to understand the theory of the medium. Saying Avengers' cinematography was instead good requires you to actively demonstrate that under the definitions and terms that cinema culture has created for cinematography. But the only real reason to do this is if you believe for some reason that Avengers' purpose or entertainment value directly correlates with the quality of its cinematography at all, but clearly it doesn't because no one cares. It's the fifth highest-grossing film regardless.

If you disconnect with critics, all it means is that you have different priorities in regards to engaging with a work than they did. That's really it and there's nothing wrong with that.

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Hmm, that is something that troubles me. Maybe not necessary opinion of critics, but overall "other people then me".

I don't get why Transformers fans call Animated Magnum Opus, I think Adventure Time start sucking around middle of season 5, same with Nick's TMNT around season two. Some people (including Flynn himself) claim that Archie Megaman 55 had hidden meanings, but I see only cheap commercial for their games. And those are only pop-culture examples, not "adult, serious" movies I was forced to watch few times.

And those stuff really bother me. Is it just something subjective and simply "not for me" or am I really not seeing the great art in those works?

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I don't buy games, watch movies or listen to music based on the opinions of critics. I totally rely on other people's opinions by reading user reviews just so I can decide whether or not I'll buy, listen or watch specific content or thing or whatever.

I personally find it a bit sad (no offense) that people rely only on critics to base their decision on whether or not they should go for it without reading other user's experience but at the end of the day there is no right or wrong and it is down to the individual. That is the fact of life with or without regret. I'm not saying they should not read critic's reviews but just do both before deciding what steps to take next.

So to sum it up I don't really care much about the critic reviews because I can easily source experiences from other people or just simply risk it  and only ending up making the best choice or the worst choice to make.

 

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All opinions can only ever be used as a guide.  And to be fair, most of the times someone says "I'm not going to listen to critics" it's because they've already made their mind up over whether they want a product long before the reviews come in anyway.  Even if it gets universally panned, people tend to hold on to the hope that maybe it'll appeal to them personally for the reasons they were attracted to it in the first place.

 

Personally I think reading other people's opinions on things is healthy behaviour - myself I prefer to do so AFTER I have experienced the product firsthand.  Seeing what worked and didn't work for other people, professional review or otherwise, is good for the soul and helps you build a more well-rounded view of the product, meaning you're less likely to be surprised (or worse, hostile) when you encounter someone who feels radically different from you.

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Funny thing is, I think reviews and critics are usuful for everything BUT the final conclusion and score.
I like to see perspectives, analyzing what the piece of media contains and what effects it can have.
Just a list of observations/ facts/ amusing anecdotes.

But I tune out all the "this is why it's bad/ good/ perfect/ terrible" conclusions, they're irrelevant.
Opinions and conclusions are personal for everyone, observations are for everyone.
It happens so often that a reviewer ranting about why some piece of media is terrible ends up summing up a list of reasons why I'd probably like it.

Altough I admit I do get some entertainment out of reading/watching critics tearing apart some disasters, but I am consious I'm doing it out of schadenfreude and not under the delusion I'm expanding my mind.

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I personally don't care about reviews from critics. However, if there's a piece of media I liked and want to recommend to to someone, I generally check the reviews for their sakes. I have a rather "everything is at least Pretty Good" attitude about things (i.e., I have a tendency to like low scoring movies, games or shows), so I check reviews just in case, mainly so there's a better chance they'll actually watch or play it.

I mean, I had no idea people hated recent Doctor Who episodes, for example.

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7 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Hmm, that is something that troubles me. Maybe not necessary opinion of critics, but overall "other people then me".

I don't get why Transformers fans call Animated Magnum Opus, I think Adventure Time start sucking around middle of season 5, same with Nick's TMNT around season two. Some people (including Flynn himself) claim that Archie Megaman 55 had hidden meanings, but I see only cheap commercial for their games. And those are only pop-culture examples, not "adult, serious" movies I was forced to watch few times.

And those stuff really bother me. Is it just something subjective and simply "not for me" or am I really not seeing the great art in those works?

Man, are you still hung up on all that?

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You didn't specified what exactly, but I'm going to take random guess and say that  you're referring to MM 55 (Plus, you just might be Mordum from Bumbleking)

Answer: Slllllightly. Not as much as few months before, but I don't think I'll forget that for a while. This issue left me with two options: either Flynn lied to me, a man that I have great respect for and would never accuse of such a thing OR I have to accept that I'm not as smart as I would like to think I am, I don't like neither of this options.

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6 hours ago, JezMM said:

All opinions can only ever be used as a guide.  And to be fair, most of the times someone says "I'm not going to listen to critics" it's because they've already made their mind up over whether they want a product long before the reviews come in anyway. 

That pretty much sums up what I think. As far as critics go, I tend to lead towards Yahtzee and Jim Sterling. I think their views are a whee bit more educated than most other Internet reviewers, but I tend to disagree with them from time to time. 

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10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

You didn't specified what exactly, but I'm going to take random guess and say that  you're referring to MM 55 (Plus, you just might be Mordum from Bumbleking)

Answer: Slllllightly. Not as much as few months before, but I don't think I'll forget that for a while. This issue left me with two options: either Flynn lied to me, a man that I have great respect for and would never accuse of such a thing OR I have to accept that I'm not as smart as I would like to think I am, I don't like neither of this options.

I am Mordum, yes.

Also...dude, it's really not that big a deal. It's entirely possible you just disagree with Ian Flynn. Not everything is objective.

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20 hours ago, Singapore Sling said:

I am Mordum, yes.

Also...dude, it's really not that big a deal. It's entirely possible you just disagree with Ian Flynn. Not everything is objective.

Maybe I'm overacting, but I don't think this case subjective.

If chief made me a meal and I think it tastes like cardboard, then we can disagree about it's quality.

If the claims he used finest spices from his kitchen, while I taste only some salt, then one of us is right, other is wrong.

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12 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Maybe I'm overacting, but I don't think this case subjective.

If chief made me a meal and I think it tastes like cardboard, then we can disagree about it's quality.

If the claims he used finest spices from his kitchen, while I taste only some salt, then one of us is right, other is wrong.

Writing isn't a collection of ingredients that objectively exist.. 

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8 hours ago, Singapore Sling said:

Writing isn't a collection of ingredients that objectively exist.. 

Weren't you the one that complain that Teen Titans fans aren't understanding their own franchise? Now I'm complaining about myself and you're defending me, this must be the weirdest argument I ever had.

There is one cartoon that I really like that ended with a "temptation of a dark side" moment. I though it was stupid and out of nowhere. But then I read article on Tv Tropes pointing out how "Fallen Hero" is recurring theme of whole show and that the moment was probably planned from very beginning. And so I grew to respect the ending (to some degree, I still think I could have been better implemented).

So subjective or not, I know that missing a subtext can diminish worth of the story. I WANT this to be the case with MM 55. But it isn't 52 episode cartoon, it's 20 pages. There are few hints about the Flynn's plans, "never ending battle for peace" theme and that's about it I can find.

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I think criticism is useful, you just have to be vigilant about finding it - Youtube is pretty terrible at this, to be perfectly frank, because it's not necessarily the best content that you find at the top of a search pile.

For instance, I get why Angry Joe's popular, but he's a terrible journalist/critic/thinker about videogames and other media. Or The Completionist, who seems like a lovely dude, but his Final Fantasy VII review series is some of the worst criticism I've ever seen, to the extent where I learnt more about FFVII from watching SomecallmeJohnny's livestream of the first few hours, and that's him talking to Twitch chat whilst playing the game! I didn't pick it up because of Jirard's review, because I thought 'oh, it can't be that interesting if he can't find anything to say about it'. The fact that Jirard claims that his review was adapted from his college thesis is seriously embarrassing....

But the Youtube culture probably discourages Jirard from putting his academic work on his channel, and instead he gets Egoraptor and other youtubers (who are... ambivalent at best about the game and are almost certainly there for views) to back him up on saying things like 'Aerith is a nice person so that's why you care for her' and 'the people in the game have identities, and some people are grieving, which ties into these themes of identity and loss'. Which is about as informative as dead air or Arin calling Cloud an asshole. But you sound like a critic, and Arin's funny, so you get a like and a subscribe!

To whit, I found these seriously academic videos about No More Heroes, by someone in the industry, which touts in depth analysis, critical interpretation and smart shit about every aspect of the game and has interviews with staff, other critics, etc. Top notch games criticism, fine journalism! And the first episode, which uploaded a month ago, has 600 views. Even Johnny isn't as successful as he should be! This stuff doesn't get you to the top of search algorithms. 

It's probably easier to do the Angry Joe stuff, because it doesn't really require you to think that much except throw a bunch of shit at the wall (and your toys out of the pram when they make crap Transformers movies or lazy Mutant Turtles games, because NERD CULTURE) and see what sticks. Why waste your time on doing proper journalism when no-one watches it? 

(God this is a bit of a rant...)

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I think criticism is simply a form of advice, in that the critics try to advise their audiences on what movies, games, etc. are worthwhile purchases and which ones are not, as well as advising creators on what aspects of the movie, game, etc could be done better and were done well. As with all advice, it doesn't necessarily apply to everybody and isn't necessarily good.

With my personal experiences, I find that I tend to like the TV shows and games critics dismiss as mediocre-- MySims, Sonic Lost World, Sonic and the Black Knight are all examples of games that got at best mediocre reviews but I which love. But at the same time, I think its important to understand where the critics are coming from, because there's usually an understandable reason why they would dislike something-- MySims and its obnoxious loading screens, LW and its steep learning curve, BK and its mediocre gameplay, etc. This doesn't always work and there are plenty of bad reviews out there that don't use good reasoning at all (I still can't wrap my head around IGN's Sonic Unleashed review), but I think its worth a shot. If anything, its helped me stave off purism and understand differing viewpoints.

The bad, poorly reasoned reviews should be taken seriously and criticized, because people who are clueless about the thing being reviewed will be likely to take the bad advice and possibly miss out on a title they would enjoy or purchasing something they'd hate. I don't think reviews alone should be seen as the definer of quality, and I consider citing Metacritic/Rotton Tomatoes/etc. scores as evidence of quality in lieu of actual evidence from the media being criticized to be a logical fallacy. But unfortunately, a lot of people do take the reviewers to be the first and foremost determiner of quality, so it is important to make sure they are getting the facts on a title when the reviewers won't provide them.

At the same time, if you want to make a review that goes against the grain, that's fine. Provided that you're honest about the content, I don't see a problem with making a positive review of Final Fantasy XIII. Yes, there will inevitably be that guy who points out how pointless it is to defend a bad game-- but the type of person who makes that sort of complaint was likely not intending to listen to you in the first place, but rather looking for grounds to dismiss your opinion. Why try to cater to the people who aren't even going to try to understand your point?

So in short-- criticism is advice. This means that it is giving some person's perspective on if a movie, game, etc. is worthwhile. It is not what determines the quality of a title, nor what a title should do in the future, nor if you or anybody else is obligated to like it or hate it. At the same time, it shouldn't be ignored, because a lot of the advice is good or at the very least understandable. Plus bad advice (e.g. poorly evidenced, illogical, etc.) can quickly turn toxic due to some people's lack of familiarity with the title, so its important to nip the toxicity in the bud before it gets out of control. And its perfectly fine to make a review expressing some unpopular opinions, provided you back it up well.

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I really couls't care less about critics opinions when it comes to games. Never could, never will. Especially after the ign accident, like fuck, is that what a stereotypical proffesional critic is like? An ignorant cynical person with simple hatred towards the game spewing out loads of bullshit meanwhile their site gives the games a good rating? Big nope from me.

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