Are Reviewers Becoming Too Much Like Simon Cowell? An RTB Columnist Thinks So...
Her column started like this:
I’ve been watching “American Idol,” as hooked on that show as the rest of America. However, I’ve about had it with Simon Cowell. Not that I want every judge to be as nice as Paula or as “dog” down sorta honest as Randy, but I would like to see a bit more niceness, particularly from the King of Mean.
As you can imagine, I totally disagree.
Perhaps it’s because I work in an industry where my work is constantly open to criticism. Yes, I’ve had a couple Simons, usually the kind who believe in posting a scathing review in a public forum. They don’t subscribe to that “if you have nothng nice to say, don’t say anything at all” philosophy. I wonder sometimes where that went, if it went out of fashion with chinos and purple swoosh Nikes.
I think there’s a growing tendency among people to be a little more Simon. It’s too bad, really. Being nice can go a long way. Not the fake nice where you encourage people who have two left feet and no natural rhythm to pursue a career in dance, but the kind where you couch criticism with a compliment or two. Where you aren’t setting out to degrade someone and their hard work just because you can.
If your neighbor’s dancing ability is in the negative digits, then congratulate her on her bravery for getting on the dance floor and refrain from the “it was a nightmare” Simon review.
She says that being nice can go a long way, I’m sure it can and does, but isn’t the world so PC’d out that sometimes it’s a relief to find somebody who wont sugarcoat shit for you?
We don’t trust politicians because of the very fact that you can never get a straight answer out of any of them, so why would we ask ordinary people to behave like they do?
I used to review books. If I read a book that I truly didn’t like, for one reason or another, I didn’t review it. I figured that author got to where they were for a reason and what I didn’t like someone else would.
Plus, I knew how hard that author had worked to first get published, then stay published. I was honest in my reviews, but skipped writing reviews of “wallbanger” books. I figured it was my way of staying honest, but not becoming Simon.
Basically, her beef is that she thinks that too many reviewers play to the gallery by making their reviews extra snarky, rather than finding a nice way of saying that an author’s work is shit.
I’ve never subscribed to the “if you can’t say something nice” thought process. Balls to that, I want honesty, so that I at least know where I stand.
This was my response:
I think he’s a totally necessary voice of honesty.
There’s simply no point feeling sorry for these people because they’ve watched the show before, they know what to expect.
If their well meaning friends were stupid enough to tell them they could sing, when they obviously can’t hold a note, then as far as I’m concerned, they’re the bad guys, not Simon. He’s just telling it as he sees it. I certainly applaud him for that. It may be cruel, but guess what, life sucks sometimes.
When it comes to talent, whether it be singing or writing, diplomacy is totally over-rated. We know that authors are sensitive souls, but would they really preferred to be lied to, than told the unvarnished truth?
The fact is, people, even authors, prefer straight talking, rather than sycophantic claptrap. How much notice do people pay to Harriet Klausner, who extolls the virtue of every single flaming book she reads?
Also, let’s face it, for those who watch AI, the judge who’s opinion you can’t wait to hear is usually Simon’s. Anybody who says otherwise, is just in denial.
Simon’s habit of telling it like it is, also means that when he says something positive, we all sit up and take notice.
Oh yeah, and like somebody else mentioned earlier, I’ve never read a review that was scathing about the author themselves, and just as well too, because that would just be unnecessarily mean.
Unless of course the author is JW Mckenna, then I totally understand.
OK, the JW McKenna line was a bit harsh, but fuck it, I hate his books, and I don’t give a shit who knows it.
The thing is, as somebody wisely pointed out, reviews are for readers, and although they are wholly subjective, I appreciate an honest review any day, more than a book that’s been Harriet Klausnered.
I’m a huge advocate of letting readers rip the crap out of a book if they thought it was wank, after all, they went to the trouble of (probably) buying it and reading it. Besides, it’s just one persons opinion, after all.
If an author wants a nice gentle critique, they should go to their editors, or their author pals. Readers and reviewers aren’t there to pander to writer’s egos, as far as I’m concerned.
Without the Simons of this world to keep balance, every book would probably read like a Thea Devine soap opera.. Thanks but no thanks, give me a Sarky Simon over a Perky Paula anyday!