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Hype, Bullying & Extinction Of The Reviewer

July 18, 2012 - 24 Comments

I have noticed a large amount of posts about the incredible lack of respect going on around the blogosphere.

 

The text ahead is just my opinion. Before you continue I only ask that you please be respectful and have an open mind about this – it’s  my blog, my place to write and share my thoughts. If you can’t do any of that, you shouldn’t read what’s ahead. Comments that do not follow this will be deleted. 

There has been a commotion online towards people who strongly share their opinion. Not only book reviewers but also movie critics, Youtube channels, online games, and sports fans.

What am I talking about?

As Robin Reader @ Dear Author described here: “What is wrong is the “outing,” threatening, shaming, and silencing of readers who are perceived to be too critical of or hostile to authors.” As I mentioned, not only readers and authors are included in this situation, but the society today.

THE HYPE

The first part is inspired by this article in Portuguese that I took the liberty to loosely translate and insert my own opinion:

Let’s start talking about the hype culture. “It’s not enough to have the desire to watch a movie, read a book or play a game; there’s the need to crucify anyone who doesn’t share their pre-formed opinion about it. That’s not the evidence of a fan, but a marketing slave – a not paid employee of the company.”

Marshall Fine was recently condemned to death by Batman fans. “He’s hated by hundreds of fans only because he was brave enough to risk his life by writing a not so glowing critique about The Dark Knight Rises.” That’s all he did.  You know what’s even more absurd? “The disproportionate reaction to the reviewer’s analysis about a super hero film was about a movie that none of those people who commented had watched yet.” Is it something to get your life threatened about?

The hype I’m talking about doesn’t come from the object itself, but the context to its release. The logic is: “any big product, especially if it’s part of a saga or an universe already known is anticipated with blind passion by the fans and treated as the best thing ever made even before experiencing a second of it. When the reviews start coming out, the good ones are glorified while the ones who point flaws are irrationally hatred.”

Can you notice that something was left out here? The product itself: “It isn’t about the product but the expectations towards it”.

Pablo also mentions the famous quote by Pauline Kael: “The critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.” What he really means is that the debate caused by the critique is moved by a true interest in the movie, bit the money you’ll spend in the movies. There’s a need to go back and focus on the art, the work itself.

The movie critic brilliantly ends the article with: “Saying that, I expect to like the new Batman. After all, I want to meed my grandchildren.”

You can certainly see how easily that can apply to books, especially series, and also authors, though that happens more usually with books to movies. Where I live, people are so obsessed with their soccer teams that fans hate each other so much that the fighting ends up in death more often than not. They fight for something that certainly will give them nothing back by behaving like animals without brain.

Next, I’ll be approaching something that’s been bothering the book community:
BULLYING
“It would seem that a few bad eggs have slipped into the dozen and now they are rotting the entire lot. Are we really going to let all this define who we are as a group? (…) And it seems to all stem from a negative review that results in a contact from an author, or an author’s representation. Which seems to be happening a lot lately, even with me. With the fingers of some authors being pointed at the bloggers, just for daring to state their opinion.” – Rachel @ Parajunkee - The Sh*t Stops Here
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go check this article by Sarah @ Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
It doesn’t make sense, does it? Do they get anything for it? What’s the point? People seem to hate everyone online and often hide their face behind a fake nickname and without receiving any responsibility about their behavior. Is that to get attention? To be noticed? To be known? With that conduct? That sounds to me like desperation filled with bad and empty arguments to justify their actions.
Go do something productive, help your community, don’t spread hate and look for healthy ways to be happy. Don’t worry with reading a critique with good arguments by people who love books, who love talking and discussing books with other people who enjoy it just as much. As long as there’s no bashing, I can’t see why that would be a cause for bullying. No one should be the object of bullying.
Bloggers and people, who love reviewing and truly respect the industry, aren’t looking for trouble. They want to share and be that one more person who will be part of the community. They don’t deserve to be cursed at, made fun of, nor bullied.  They’re sincere and very interesting people who deserve as much respect as anyone else.
Moving on to…
THE EXTINCTION OF THE REVIEWER 
Sorry about the incredible lack of motivation for new and potential novel reviewers! I’m not a professional reviewer; I have this blog because I’m inspired by books and love to talk books to share my thoughts to people like me. The analytic reviews I write aren’t just my opinion, but an initiative to create a deeper dialogue. My perceptions, feelings, and justified analysis.
It’s a very sad period for the romance and book reviewing community right now. It’ll soon be seen as an inhospitable place where there’s a constant need to watch out every word, with the risk of being offended and ridiculed.
I have lost some of my will and excitement for reviewing lately. But I won’t stop. That’s why I decided to write this honest letter to you, my dear readers. Don’t give up on me.

Categories: Topic Discussion, Uncategorized

Discussion (24 Comments)

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. As a debut romance author, I appreciate everything that the blogger community does for us. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and the least we do is be open to honesty and integrity when we request a review. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!” Nice article. I read that you had surgery lately. The fact that you continue to post, speaks volumes!

    http://www.alexiabanksromance.com

    • by Nat
      Reply

      Thank you, Alexia! Yes, I believe that shows I really take this seriously =)

      • I know a number of romance authors who carry on when they don’t get the review they expected. I’ve told more than one author that to “expect” an outcome is just wrong. After all, who is going to read a review from a blogger who isn’t honest? Readers want to make good buying decisions based on reliable blogger reviews!

        • by Nat
          Reply

          But of course! And more than just buying a book, it’s important that the reader enjoys their experience with the book. Measuring and arguing our enjoyment is such a hard job sometimes! Authors need to keep in mind that we do it for free, for the love of romance. When that isn’t the case anymore, there’s the need to revise our position and purpose =)

  2. by Maria D.
    Reply

    Great post Nat and I couldn’t agree with you more. A negative review of a book, movie or whatever is simply what it is – an opinion by one of something else. We are all entitled to our opinions and the “herd” or “group” mentality that we must all like/love the same thing is just crazy and stupid. If you are an author and are so afraid of a negative review – then you don’t have the stomach or faith in your own craft you need – like the old saying goes “If you can’t stand the heat- don’t stand in the kitchen”.

    • by Nat
      Reply

      Hi Maria, that’s the same old saying Alexia said! I believe it fits perfectly. Recently I was part of an event where book bloggers discussed 3 rating reviews – if there’s this fuss about a 3, can you imagine a 2?

      3 Stars Rating Event – Reviewers’ Opinions

      3 Stars Rating Event – Authors’ Opinions

      • I think we have many issues here.
        It is easier to give a bad review when we know that we will never be in contact with the author. However, if we already had interaction thru twitter or FB or directly, giving a bad review or totally honest becomes more difficult, not impossible but difficult.
        I personally chose to do not post any review under 3 stars and I posted a chart saying that 3 is a good read. Good means good means I enjoyed it even if here and there I found little inconsistencies. No author do write 5 stars after 5 stars after 5 stars. Nobody is that good. Some authors told me that because I explain in details why I gave a 3 stars, it was for them interesting and opened new perspectives. It does not mean that they would follow my suggestions but they got new ideas and it was totally worth it to review them. The exchange was respectful and nice and they gain a new fan of their work.
        If an author expect a 5 stars and tolerate a 4 stars only. I understand the expectation, each author wish to deliver the perfect baby and when it is not the case, they are hurt. Very few take it as an experience to move on to take with them and evolve.
        They wish to be Pulitzer material in the erotic romance world. They can be but for some it takes a bit longer than other. A lot of authors feels that reviewers bruise their ego.
        I honestly believe that a reviewer is not that important in the large scheme. It is only ONE opinion that yes is expressed loudly on a blog but so do not reflect the large majority of the readers who loved the same book but never said it.
        Grain of salt. Step back from authors and reviewers.
        3 stars is really good in my chart. I guess I have this song in my mind” I feel goood” and the way James Brown sang it was nothing but that: really good!!! :)
        ~Mary

        • by Nat
          Reply

          Reviews have the intent to show how the book could be the best it can. At least that is what I keep in mind while analizing a book :)

  3. Thank you Nat.
    Sadly I just experienced this hateful manners in a forum I used to be a member. People lost complete perspective that the people they so loved or so hated were people they never met in person and the character they saw on TV was edited so much that it was like obsessive unhealthy groupies. Bullying was their #1 action: you are not thinking the same then you are against me and I hate you for that. Let me tell you that it was not a happy experience and I am happy to be out of there. I miss a couple of nice decent people but the nastiness was all over the place and not a happy little sanctuary anymore.
    This kind of behavior is in every field and unfortunately in author/reviewer/publishers world.
    I am also a non professional reviewer. I express my opinion, my feelings. I will never be taken seriously because I am not an author and never published but I am fine with this. I do what I love to do and I do not expect anything but a little bit of respect in return.
    I do believe that I am a reader, a fan before a reviewer. I am allowed to express an opinion, my opinion. I do not want to change the world, I just want to express ideas and how a book made me feel, made me think. It should not be reviewers versus authors. I do have this romantic image in my mind of authors and reviewers complementing each other. Reviewers being totally not mandatory but a nice bonus.
    Thank you Nat to share your opinion. :)
    ~Mary

    • by Nat
      Reply

      Reviewers complementing books is a very valid point. Why write a book that no one will read, isn’t it meant to be read and discussed? To transcend the paper pages and travel the world through healthy discussions?

      It’s the same as a piece of art that is kept in the studio and never shown to the public. It isn’t complete.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Mary =)

  4. by Babs
    Reply

    Nat, you know how I feel about this subject as a fellow book review blogger I totally agree and couldn’t say it better myself.

    Bloggers need to be honest about their reviews and authors need to take it in stride. Bloggers do not need to be hateful or condescending. The same goes for the author as well. There has been several books I could not get into or needed editing badly and I was honest with the author and have yet to have any kind of backlash from the author I have had them come back to me.

    We are in this together and should all be respectful.

    Good post Nat :)
    hugs
    Babs

    • And I just bet no author in the civilized world has ever attacked a NYT reviewer! LOL

      • by Nat
        Reply

        I bet they at least felt like it, alexia! Lol

    • by Nat
      Reply

      The way we say it is just as important as saying it! We cant forget there are real people with feelings behind a blog and a book!

  5. well said Nat! Can’t we all just play nice?? What ever happened to simple respect… *sigh*

    • by Nat
      Reply

      People forgot their manners, heather!! Thanks for reading it : )

  6. by Jeanne Miro
    Reply

    Alexia -

    Please don’t let small minded people for discourage you because anyone who has followed you respects what you do.

    One of the first things my parents made me understand when I was just a child was “Judge not that ye be not judged!” It seems that today no matter what media you read or watch that important lesson hasn’t been taught to the youth of yesterday and today.

    I was taught at a young age to read ALL the opinions with an open mind, to keep in mind the prejudices the person writing it might have and THEN come up with YOUR OWN conclusion respecting that the other person’s idea of right and just might not be the same as your own.!

    • Jeanne:

      Thank you for your encouragement. I very much appreciate it! I work very hard to maintain credibility as a writer with my readers, the blog community and my fellow authors. I’ve been very blessed so far, since the bloggers really seem to like my book Forgotten Dreams. But I know it’s as the old saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.” I expect that somewhere along the way, someone isn’t going to respond to the work, and that’s okay just as long as the reviewer is honest and fair. There is one blogger who frequently attacks cover art and co-mingles these comments with her overall analysis of the writing. That’s the one and only time I’ve ever felt that the reviewer was being unfair to the author, since writers have no control over the artwork whatsoever.

    • by Nat
      Reply

      Thanks for participating in this discussion, jeanne! I gess the synthesis is: dont do to others what you wouldnt like to be done to you! Thats the secret to a better world.

  7. Hi Nat!

    Rocking post ;) i’ve been seeing snd reading aboit this for the last two weeks and I just don’t understand all of this. Why write a book if you can’t take critism. Everyone isn’t going to like your book..that is just a fact. I hope this all end soon and book blogging can get back to what it was. It’s why I started my blog..to share my love of books with like minded people.

    Feel better and take care

    Sharonda @ Salacious Reads

    • by Nat
      Reply

      Thanks for joining the discussion, sharonda! I do hope this huge celebration of hate going around could be healed : /

  8. Hey Nat
    Great post and you have hit the nail on the target so to speak.
    I think authors need to write out what they expect in the wildest dreams and what they honestly expect. That my option of course.

  9. Thank you for this Nat. I’ve thought about writing a post on this topic but you and others have said what I’m thinking and feeling much more articulately than I could. I’m constantly amazed at the hate, the negativity and the drama floating around. Somewhere along the line, discussion and disagreement turn nasty and ugly. It’s discouraging.

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