Once upon a time, I had a movie blog. I reviewed movies I had seen. I won’t link it here, because I don’t think you’d recognise it’s the same person. That reviewer was sharp. Brutal. Snarky. Fearless. Not the wishy washy, whiney, mopey, mellow creature you’ve grown to know and love over the past few years here on Of Opinions.
I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but this blog wasn’t intentioned to be this sort of a introspective and contemplative thing that it is. It wasn’t supposed to be all so ‘Of-fy’. I mainly wanted to talk about movies, music and books, in that order, writing most about what takes the least time to consume. Only I didn’t. In over four hundred posts, there are less than ten that are specifically about those things, and less than five that are actual reviews. Now, why is it so?
I still do make analyses of the above. I just don’t do it for a conspicuous, deliberate platform like this. In a bid to keep this place as positive as possible, I sometimes believe I’ve over-sugarified it. Actually, when I think about it, this blog has more of a bland, innocuous taste, like rice or water. If it’s not that, then it’s me making myself the sacrificial goat of my own reflective life.
But, now that I’ve put all that in a book, as well as paid for the WordPress Personal plan, I want to do things differently. And I’ve been trying to, but it’s not working out. The last few days, I’ve been trying to write a book review, only I cannot find the right words for it, for this blog. It just comes across as too mean, even though I actually liked it. You see, I don’t want to provide you with an extreme, ecstatic, five-star review because NO BOOK deserves that. Seriously. Even Shakespeare would hold something back if he was reviewing himself.
On the other hand, I don’t want to be mean-spirited either. You know, like those critics who you aren’t always sure whether they like something or not, even as they point out several things wrong with something they profess is “important” for human kind. The former isn’t helpful, and the latter makes the piece of art into an argument even before you’ve had the chance to consume it. Which makes me think, why review anything in the first place?
Really, what does it matter what I think about something? At the most, it will make you want to check it out. If it is something you already know, my review will provide you with a perspective that may challenge or agree with your own. And if it is something you don’t feel engaged with even after my telling you about it, then it will just sit here on the interspace, neglected (as most things I write here tend to be anyway).
You see, the easiest way to stir up somebody’s blood and imagination is to be mean-spirited. Do you remember the insipid people-pleaser of a reviewer who says everything is nice and lovely? No. Do you really care if they tell you in under two minutes that they liked something? No. Of course, you might be too nice to criticize their critique, but it’s the reviewer’s job to get you agitated.
For example, veteran film critic Mark Kermode is not somebody I always agree with. I respect his opinion, I’m aware of numerous films I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for his reviews, but the most entertainment value Mark Kermode provides is when he rips apart a movie he hates. I’d obviously hate to be at the end of that, but even as he shreds a movie I personally liked, there’s still something to be admired in his passion.
Therefore, the fundamental tone of this blog, that thing which readers have come to expect, doesn’t agree with reviewing things. And I can’t talk about something passionately if I am not allowed to rip it apart, should I want to. I don’t want to make anybody miserable. I’ve published a book, and it’s been hard being at this end of things. People don’t even want to read it, just because it’s self-published and non-fiction. I’ve made myself open to rejection and criticism, and it’s the duty of the reviewer to follow through, not be kind and generous. It is a conflict that can’t be solved.
I suppose the question to ask is, do I want to review things here? Not will people care or not, but do I want to do it, in the first place? Honestly, maybe not as a ‘review’, but I would like to talk about things for what they are, and not always find its place in the greater scheme of things. Not link every f**king thing to having an existential crisis. Not be a bore, but have art to fill up this place, to hide behind.
Do you review things? How do you approach it?