Today on Blogcritics
Home » There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Review

There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Review

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

“A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.” When Danielle Steele said this, she might have added, “…but some people like cake that’s been sat upon.”

Bad reviews are not fun to write. (Except for reviews of incredibly awful horror films, which can be a joy to write.) When an author puts heart and soul into the writing of a story or book, who wants to burst balloons with nasty, negative comments? However, books that are sloppily edited tend to insult the person paying for them and invite scathing, angry invective.

Recently, FCEtier wrote a music review that, while not awful, wasn’t good. It wasn’t a recommendation to buy, no matter how far the imagination can be stretched. The publicist who sent the CD got back to him within a few days, thanked him profusely, and asked if he’d like to review more of the PR firm’s clients. I thought this was a freak occurrence until I wrote a lukewarm review of a CD that wasn’t all that great (in my opinion). Since musical tastes differ widely, I did not pan the CD, but I didn’t praise it either. The publicist immediately got back to me with review offers and copious thanks.

The only conclusion I could imagine is that just getting the CD, DVD, or book (although authors seem a little more sensitive) noticed was a coup. It’s not praise they are seeking, it’s attention.

Back to Danielle Steele and horror films…(no, I don’t think she’s been in any). Horror films are immune to bad reviews (at least the low budget, independent ones are). There are so many fans of truly bad horror, that revealing that a movie was made for thirty-five cents using the employees of a freak show and a script that was never completed (and missing a few pages) is a guarantee that it will get a bigger audience. “Oh, this movie sounds awful, it must be hilarious,” and “I love bad movies,” are phrases commonly heard in connection with such productions. They benefit from anything that gets their titles out there.

No matter how much a reviewer hates a title, there are going to be people that see the review as news. A review reading “Joe Blow’s Current Tour Sucks,” is bound to have some people saying, “Oh, look, Honey, Joe Blow is touring again.”  Brendan Behan is widely quoted as saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary,” but when it comes to the arts, even an obituary will start those cash registers cha-chinging.

Danielle Steele may have felt stung by bad reviews, but the crumbs of her cake reached more readers because of them. And, no matter how bad the reviews are, loyal fans will blame them on bad reviewers who obviously don’t know what they’re writing about. And, in many cases, we don’t.

Powered by

About Miss Bob Etier

  • Jordan Richardson

    Bad reviews are not fun to write.

    No, they really are. Nothing is more satisfying than really tearing apart a piece of crap.

  • the real bob

    Okay. I admit it. You’re right. But when a title is garbage, I’m angry, so I don’t think of it so much as fun, as venting or telling the creator off for wasting my time (and $$$). I take it as a personal affront when someone sells me a piece of crap product. After all, instead of watching or reading crap, I could’ve been having a rewarding entertainment experience (sort of quid pro quo). The negative reviews that I find to be really fun (as opposed to frustration-relieving) are for titles that are “so bad, they’re good.” It’s those schizo reviews that reveal everything that’s wrong with the product (and EVERYTHING is wrong with the product) and then urge the reader to see the film–those are fun!

  • Best Practices

    When a title is garbage, I’m angry, so I don’t think of it so much as fun, as venting or telling the creator off for wasting my time (and $$$).

    Miss Bob, am I missing something? I thought the deal at Blogcritics is that they give you a free copy of a CD, DVD or book, and you get to keep or sell or give it away as you see fit. How have they wasted your $$$?

    Whatever, writing less-than-favorable reviews and then getting copious thanks + more review offers from publicists isn’t surprising. Publicists are paid to place reviews, not read them.

    And publicists are not alone. As you note, “No matter how much a reviewer hates a title, there are going to be people that see the review as news.” In other words, some people respond to a review without reading it, or at least without comprehending it.

    Which isn’t limited to bad reviews. Not that long ago, I used to write reviews, and it was clear that most of those who responded had not read my review. Many people come to a review with their minds already made up, whether they’ve consumed the product or not. They don’t even need to have past experience with the creator. They use the review merely as a convenient coat rack upon which to hang their pre-formed opinions.

    There’s nothing wrong with that. In the end, everybody benefits regardless of what the reviewer writes. The artist benefits because his/her work gets exposure. The publicist benefits because he/she can take credit for placing that review. The reviewer benefits by receiving a free copy of the product. And the reader benefits by having a place to post his/her opinion.

    As far as I can tell, the only loser here is the odd writer such as you who somehow gets swindled out of $$$. But I suspect that’s because you’re not playing the game to its fullest advantage.

  • the real bob

    Re: “Miss Bob, am I missing something? I thought the deal at Blogcritics is that they give you a free copy of a CD, DVD or book, and you get to keep or sell or give it away as you see fit. How have they wasted your $$$?”

    Not all the titles I review come through Blogcritics. You know those old cartoons where the miser would open his little change purse and moths would fly out? That’s me when I’m buying a book, however I will occasionally do it (in fact, I just bought three!).

    On the other hand, when I write a negative review, it’s with the righteous indignation of the consumer who reacts badly when swindled (I love that word!).

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    BC doesn’t give me books, but I’m on some publicist’s mailing list at Simon and Schuster – in fact, I got a book in the mail this morning. Books are a little different, in that if you’re a writer and especially if you are aspiring to get published, dissing a fellow writer is a definite no-no, so if I have nothing good to say, I don’t say a word. I think Ms. Bob is right, any attention is good attention.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/sherry-lipp/ Sherry Lipp

    I have to agree with Jordan, I bad reviews can be fun to write. It’s the mediocre that can be hard. Not that good or not that bad, sometimes means not all that much to say.

    The PR people don’t care if it’s good or bad usually. That’s not always true of the creator of the book/film/album. I gave a bad review and the director of the movie left comments saying how wrong I was! A couple other people involved in the production did too!

    It the job of the reviewer to give an honest opinion regardless of what anyone else thinks.

    Also, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean someone else won’t read what I say and determine that they might like it.