This week I want to ramble about a topic that came to me after the relatively loud discussion under Cinematic Corner’s Girls post. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend to do so in order to understand the situation and hopefully I can start a small conversation with my readers. First of all, I find this phenomena remarkably interesting and I’ve been in the world of Internet long enough to have encountered this numerous times before. Second of all, I think it is quite the topic to discuss in a general sense so I will stay away from the topic of Girls since I didn’t enjoy that show and I don’t find my opinions to be neutral. That being said, this post is about the matter of “bad words” that can cause a riot and bring in comments left and right?
I don’t consider myself a scared blogger, surely, I was one when I started but I’m getting more and more comfortable in my own skin to express how I feel about certain movies, actors, actresses and directors. It comes with experience and time, we evolve as people and so do our opinions as self-started critics. We become more different after a certain age when it isn’t about mass-love and more about personal preferences. This is why the industry has such a big variety: the fact that not everybody can love the same things means there should be a lot of options. So with our likes and dislikes, while we are passionate about many things we still can’t avoid writing about things we don’t enjoy. For sure I have expressed my dislike towards romantic comedies and some of the movies I thought of being illogical and so on, in addition to my most negative review about Snow White just recently. But my negative approach to the movie didn’t cause such a ramble among bloggers who wrote crazy long comments in reply to a, I’m going to be honest, an even more negative review of Girls. It got me thinking and I started to wonder if negative critique goes further than a positive one?
For my Bachelor I studied semiotics and cultural theory – basically I learned how to approach things from different angles, take a more critical stance and analyze texts from poems to movies. In short, I actually learned how to be a critic, I’m not saying I’m now an expert on the matter because it would be a complete lie. Still, I think I have some credibility when I say that criticism rarely has an impersonal and an academical substance because it is mostly coming from a personal perspective and for even the most experienced people, leaving your feelings behind is impossible. What I’m trying to say is that, in the blogging world being critical is more about expressing your discontent and we can’t hold that against anybody due to freedom of speech. Without going into the vast discussion on that matter, I still want to come back to my actual topic where I seem to have discovered a pattern where “bad words” scream louder than a positive feedback.
The reason is quite simple: we are programmed to respond to threats rather than compliments! At this point I’m going to remind you again that the Girls post is not in question regarding its content but since it’s overall a great example of the situation I’m gonna bring it out one last time. Though Margaret, who is the writer of Cinematic Corner, has generally a lot of comments, the post in question still managed to double them in numbers. They weren’t short comments either, some of them actually were divided into two parts and created a longer discussion in the blog as well as Twitter (I promise, I’m not a stalker, this topic just happens to interest me too much not to ease-drop) because the phenomena comes down to a simple truth of people and especially fans feeling threatened and they have a need to protect and defend “themselves”. I get that and I have to admit, I’ve reacted as such numerous times because when somebody says something bad about for instance The Hunger Games I feel like its an attack on my taste. So not only are they saying negative things about a movie I liked or loved, I feel like they are telling those things to insult my taste level. With movie people and avid fans it is even more serious since we (and I strongly put myself into that category as well) get too attached and too emotional about things.. for women it might be also hormonal but most of the time it’s not – trust me.
Yet, this is not only common in the movie-blog world, I remember perfectly this random article in my local newspaper saying bad things about a certain institution I had a connection with. I hated the lies and the negativity that was portrayed against it as if everything the paper said had now become the truth. Adding oil to the fire by reading the comments from people who probably had no idea about the situation, was even more frustrating and I fought with the urge not to comment myself! That moment and many similar ones regarding public media have increased my understanding of criticism and its effects. Sure, blogging world is different and far more honest (as far as my personal experience goes) but it still affects readers the same way. The thing that makes movie reviews and criticism against actors/actresses even more hurtful in the blog-sphere is the personality and subjectivity of it all. We don’t like same things, we express different opinions but as soon as somebody says something about something we like/love we want to protect it because we see it as protecting ourselves. And all this is perfectly normal!
“I hate Kristen Stewart! Yes, I hate everything about her and I will probably never like her!” – this is me expressing myself, this is normal.
“You are stupid, she is talented and beautiful! You’re just jealous because you’re fat and ugly!” – this is an avid fan of the Twilight saga defending her taste and preferences, this is normal.
What bothers me with this situation is this, if I would have written that I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I would have gotten much less comments and reactions from readers. Certainly I’m not saying that this is the case every time but it is something I have noticed over the years and it will probably never change. So what if we are sometimes harsh and say things like “I hate her”, “I loathe this movie”, “he has no vision”, “why was this even made” etc – but these are all opinions and sometimes opinions are negative. It is just sad that we are mentally programmed to react to those things far more than the ones that express positive feelings towards a certain man in front of the camera or behind it. Not just in the world of movie blogging but in every aspect of life – we tend to express our discontent and we usually don’t see the need to push the comment button for something that doesn’t push our buttons. It’s not our fault, it’s mostly the wiring inside our brains but still, I think it’s bitter sweet that bad words go a long way while the good ones stay behind.
Well there you go, it was a weird ramble about a very complicated topic and I’m pleased you made it this far. In case you want any tips for the future to improve the blog-kind – leave a positive comment to a positive review and maybe skip the protective rant under a post that says your favorite actor looks like a raisin or something. But as far as criticism and protecting goes, it shouldn’t be angry and mean and anonymous! but constructive and thoughtful. Because we can’t like and love everything, it would be silly, stupid and quite frankly, impossible – you don’t even have to like this post even though I do cause we are different, and this is normal!