Don't shoot the reviewer!
I need to write about this today, before The Ridges drops out of relevancy forever. I mean the TV show, not the celebrity mother-daughter pairing who are no doubt negotiating their next magazine spread as we speak.
More than 290,000 people tuned in for the finale of the six-part reality show on Wednesday night, a 139 per cent increase on the week before, apparently. Good for them. I was not one of those viewers; in fact, after the first episode - and that review I wrote* - I barely even took in an entire commercial, let alone an entire half hour of that utter dross.**
However, I was interested by Jane Clifton's review of the show yesterday. And even more than Jane's review, which was (as always) well written and entertaining, I became engrossed in the response from readers. Here are a couple of the choicest cuts from the comments thread - I've left out the names to protect the idiots innocent:
"This review is so one sided. For shame!"
"I think the reviewer just wants to be negative for the sake of it. Get over yourself."
"Boy could this review show any better example of Tall Poppy syndrome in this country!"
"Ouch that has to be the most girl dog writting I have come across, if you can't keep your jealousy out of the article then you shouldn't be writting it, really really catty and unprofessional."
"Perhaps it is easier to write untruths than challenge your own perceptions."
"It just goes to show the nit picking country we are can't stop people doing what they want to do."
"I think you need to get a sence of humour asap."
All told, around half the comments on Jane's review are like this, with commenters throwing terms like unfair, jealous and tall poppy syndrome with reckless abandon - and, spelling mistakes aside, I don't understand any of the thinking in them. As best I can tell, these commenters are just throwing childish tantrums and making up criticisms of the writer because dammit, she said something mean about something I like.
I'm not about to launch into a "cyber-bullying is bad" rant, because I don't think this is a case of cyber-bullying.
However, I do think someone needs to point out what a bad review means for people who strongly disagree with it. If you like - love - a show, and a reviewer (like me) gives it a bad review, it means ... (wait for it) ... absolutely nothing.
Despite what the first commenter, above, might think, reviews are supposed to be one-sided. That is the very nature of their existence. They're an account of what that one individual writer thinks. Reviews are not supposed to be taken as fact. Nor are they supposed to be taken as insult. If a reviewer disagrees with your opinion on a show - if you love it but they hate it - that doesn't mean the reviewer hates you by extension. Nor does it mean they want you to think the way they do; if anything, a review is the start of a discussion - "Here is what I thought ... what about you?"
In the case of The Ridges, Jane Clifton was hardly the only writer to give it a negative review. And they all say much the same thing, that the show was boooooring, that Sally and Jaime Ridge have no real reason to be on TV, and that their life is no more interesting than yours or mine. You can find other mostly negative reviews here, here, here, here and here.
It's not jealousy to describe the Ridges as "spoilt, rich, beautiful and famous"; that is how they appear to be in their various magazine spreads and television appearances. It's not Tall Poppy Syndrome (that most heinous of lazy comebacks, a ridiculous notion that has no basis in reality as far as I can tell) to call their show out for its triviality.
In opinion, there are no untruths - only personal truths. If you disagree with a reviewer, explain why. Don't just yell "tall poppy syndrome!" and call the reviewer a "girl dog". Insults are cheap, but real opinion has value.
But hey, that's just what I think.
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(*) Somehow, my review of The Ridges is the most commented-on blog post I've ever written.
(**) If I'd been guaranteed another appearance of the thespi-mouse, I might have tuned in.