Friday, January 8, 2010

A word about reviews


(One of my favorite Monte Python sketches)

I'm one of those people that likes to have opinions but not necessarily to reveal them in polite company.  (Maybe that makes me the worst kind of intellectual coward: I only get into a discussion when I'm pretty sure we're all going to agree.  On things that are close to my heart, anyway.  I don't mind disagreement about the small things.)  I think it makes me kind of a boring person to be around, but as I don't generally enjoy arguing, and most people are generally pretty immoveable in their opinions anyway, it seems the best way.  So for some time now I have resisted writing book reviews, movie reviews, etc. on this blog.  But the trouble with that is, that I can't think about something properly until I've written about it.  And I do much better writing about it if I think someone's going to read it.

I've also been inspired by some very well-done review sites I've come across online, including:
http://likeordontlike.blogspot.com/ (I especially like the "like/don't like" format, as it allows you to be kind of non-committal if necessary---i.e., "it's not that I HATE the movie, I just didn't like it!")
http://polyopine.blogspot.com/
http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/index.shtml

Here are my thoughts about reviews:
  • I appreciate a willingness to state a true opinion forthrightly, but without being condescending towards conflicting opinions.  Respectful disagreement (some people can pull off being disrepectful and also funny without seeming mean, and I like that, but I don't know if it's my forte) is okay.
  • It doesn't have to be too concise if it's interesting.  But brevity is usually good.
  • I like it when people review unusual things along with the more conventional movies, books, etc.  I'm always looking for books and movies and restaurants to discover, but I sometimes enjoy the other things just for the review's sake alone.
  • Cutesy blog-phrases like "I'm coveting" or "I'm swooning over"---not my style
  • I dislike reviews with an agenda (i.e. "Must-have" organic baby toys, lists of "eco-friendly shopping tips!", etc. that reveal a desire to present oneself as a Virtuous, Enlightened Overseer of Others' Choices and, hey! maybe you'll start getting free products from the companies, too!)
So.  I will probably begin reviewing things from time to time, trying to stay true to the above principles while not being too wishy-washy.  I have a bunch of things I've been wanting to review, and even drafting posts of, (mostly things I like, such as restaurants) because it's fun for me to clarify my thoughts by writing them down.  And don't worry, I have made up my mind not to care if you disagree with me (as long as you are either respectful, or at least funny, about it).

5 comments:

  1. I'd love to hear some reviews from you! I've thought about doing it from time to time too, but I'm really cowardly and can't handle offending people. So I tend to just post about things that people won't argue with me over.
    Anyway, review away. I'd like it!

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  2. I doubt that you will review anything I will ever read or see because you are more erudite than I am, and when you open the closet door, you will find me on the floor surrounded by some pretty silly and forgiving fare. I actually need to review more myself - which kind of means I have to read something other than puppy raising books. But then, maybe you'll review something I will end up swooning over/coveting.

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  3. K: hmm, erudite? I think you'd be surprised at some of the drivel I read. It comes of being a fast reader; I'm less discriminating. But I'll probably only review things that make me look good :)

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  4. This is a wonderful review about reviews. Much appreciated.

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  5. I LOVE Like/Don't Like. You know why? Not only do I know I'll get an honest and thoughtful review, but it will always make me laugh, too.
    You are always welcome to post anything on polyopine. That was its original purpose, to be an outlet for multiple authors. Not that it's very highly trafficked, but whatever.
    Hey, I just spelled trafficked right! Doesn't it look weird?

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