I love bad reviews. I don’t mean reviews that are written poorly, I mean reviews where the author really goes crazy about why they don’t like something. Nothing amuses me more than seeing someone skewer something.

What is wrong with me?

OK- here’s the thing. I try to be a positive person, and I know that if someone really hated my work, I would be crushed. So why do I take delight in reading and liking bad reviews?

Because they are more descriptive. Simple as that.

When someone likes something, they tend to say it’s good, or it’s nice, or some other meaningless adjective. Have you ever watched “Food Network Star”? Essentially it’s a reality show where a bunch of people do weekly demos in hopes of landing their own show on FoodNetwork. The mentors (most recently Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentis) have the most trouble with contestants when they are trying to describe the food they are tasting. People always revert back to yummy and tasty. OK- while that means they like it, it doesn’t show why they like it. Those are bland words: I want exciting words. I want words that conjure images, make me feel like I’m tasting the food. Well, it’s the same thing when you are reviewing books or movies. I don’t want to hear that it’s “so good”. I want to here the details.

It’s all in the details my friends.

For some reason, when something is bad, we’re able to describe the badness better. I know I do: the few times I’ve critiqued a book, I’ve had no problem explaining why I hated it, or what didn’t make sense, or whatever. The bad things stick out. Good things don’t often stick out. I can be funny (kind of, sort of) when reviewing something I don’t like- I am much better at articulating the reasons why I don’t like something.

I notice it in my book club too. When we all like a book (which is admittedly rare) the discussion is boring: we all have the same favorite scene, we think the author did most things well, blah blah are you asleep yet blah. But when it’s 50/50, and half hate and half love- well- off we go with the discussion, the argument, the fun of discussing a book. And when we all hate a book? Well, that’s discussion gold!!

So what is it about hating something that makes it so much easier to discuss? Why do people have trouble with describing why we like something? Why do we revert back to “I don’t know why, I just do?”

So, hoping at least half of you did not like this post:

Discuss…

 

70 thoughts on “So Bad…

  1. Maybe some of us are just born this way to want to be argumentative? Gets us going, gets us fired up? Like a workout? Lol

    I hear you. I like descriptive words too, especially when describing food. Use some imagination!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It’s passion. People tend to be more passionate about what they hate. There’s a fine line between love and hate. But hate is certainly spicier. I found that in teaching writing too. I’d ask students to use the most descriptive vocabulary they could think of to describe a food they loved and a food they hated. The dish they despised was always written in such descriptive detail that you could literally taste their disgust. Hatred develops a life of its own.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Good point. Passion. It’s easy to become passionate in dislike. I wonder if we also tend towards not believing the good….we’re biased against positive as a reflex to getting hurt or getting swindled or whatever…you know, too good to be true…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm biased against the positive? I’m not sure. Maybe, or perhaps we just expect things to turn out well and when things don’t, our anger/hurt is more intense than the positive. Positive reactions are like a sigh of relief. Whereas Anger/hatred is rather like a tornado destroying everything in its path.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Good one Jane. There’s a helplessness as well as anger regarding DT. We can’t stop talking about him because he drives us crazy. Words seem to help get rid of some of that negative energy. Yet during content times we are more satisfied and have no need to express our frustrations so vehemently.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Writing reviews for books I really enjoyed, but maybe not loved are some of the hardest reviews to write because it is so difficult to articulate they why behind it. Just, “This made me happy and I enjoyed it.” The ones I truly dislike? Oh, I can go on and on about those. Some of my most liked reviews on Goodreads are also some of my most scathing. It’s kind of like horrific events, the concept of disaster is fascinating. You can’t look away, no matter how awful.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Right? How do you explain that you enjoyed something? I find that if someone asks me why I like something I’m at a loss for words (which we all know is rare) it’s like when you break up with someone…you know exactly why, but why you stay with someone? No good words

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it is a bit easier if I really love a book. I can normally point out some of the things that I really liked. It still isn’t as easy as a really bad review, though.

        Here is a thought. Are we also a lot less likely to admit to the things we like as opposed to the things we don’t? Is that part of why talking about or reviewing positive things harder? More of a “I really loved this thing here, but I don’t want to put it out there and then get criticized for it?” kind of thing. I think it is easier to accept criticism for the things we don’t like than the things we do. Maybe because if someone disagrees with something we like it feels more personal? Just some random thought that popped into my head when I was responding.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes. I think you’re onto something. We’re always a little afraid to show our true selves and don’t want to be liked because of it, or hear that someone had the exact opposite opinion. I know I always suggest books for book club that I’ve never read, becaus3 I don’t want the risk of people hating a book I love

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I like this post because it reminds me to try harder to use more interesting and descriptive words. I use Yummy and Awesome way too frequently. 😀 And I agree with your post. I always read the negative reviews on products or places I’m considering.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. May I say, from the sociological perspective, that the ease with which we can write negative reviews may stem from a desire to create drama, to fire up the masses so to speak, to instigate debate or to spark a reaction that might otherwise be just another boring review that no one reads.
    Why do I liken this topic to the trolls that abound on social media? They want to stir up controversy and drive responses, no matter what those responses are. Negativity seems to do that, while positivity results in just…meh. We want to be part of something big, something a little bit risky. Getting enjoyment from something as harmless as a negative review may satisfy that…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love when you come in with the leaned sociological perspective! I never think of things from the that viewpoint. We have an innate desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Though I am clearly talking about well thought out criticism, not the stupid negativity

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, well if my input ever gets irritating just tell me! I tend to think in sociological terms about most things, and over-analyze at times, but I suppose that’s why it was the perfect degree for me 😉
        And yes, the trolling sort of crap just popped into my head as an example. Reviewing literature (I hope) is a bit less chaotically spontaneous and less about generating drama…

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I think when you don’t like something and I mean really hate it, it is a visceral thing. I always shy away from recommending books, movies etc because I question whether or not people will judge my dislike/like as not relevant. I just saw Rocketman by myself in the afternoon, I knew my husband would not like it and I would see it again in a heartbeat. 20 minutes in I forgot it was an actor and just identified him as Elton John. My husband couldn’t get past that. Trying to explain why I liked it beside the music(the soundtrack of my teenage years) was difficult because it was a feeling that didn’t fit into a category. To me it was a glorious escape for 3 hours.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. This is so true and definitely worth thinking about in terms of positive vocabulary. I wonder if things that are ‘nice’ are just too bland? I think the comments about passion are true. Why is it apparently easier to passionately dislike something than to passionately like something? Do we actually have more adjectives for things we dislike? 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think we do. I think we can hate things passionately, yet like things just “meh”. Deb had some interesting sociological insight, so maybe it’s sort of a survival thing

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I didn’t realise this until now but it’s so true. 😂 I can write a bad review so well but I sometimes struggle when it’s the opposite. It’s not just that, people tend to like bad reviews more than the good ones. 😉 (Talking about number of likes on a post here)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. YouTube has one truly memorable brilliant video of Orson Wells being interviewed by Michael Parkinson, it is truly enthralling hypnotic viewing and incidentally 23minuts in Parky asks Wells his view of movie critics, (I know cause I just watched it 😀 )

    Interviewer Michael Parkinson: “Do critics ever wound you?”
    Orson Wells: “Deeply yes, I can remember every bad notice I’ve ever had…………….

    What connection this has to your post I have no idea, except that it prompted me to watch this great interview for the umpteenth time.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I loved your post, it made a good point. When I read a bad review it almost makes me want to see the movie or read the book more, just to see if I agree with the reviewer! I think some people are just better at writing about stuff they dislike. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I don’t know if I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading a bad review, but it does sound rather entertaining. Sometimes my sister will rail on something, and it always cracks me up. Also, whenever I tell her not to watch something, she tells me flat out that because I’ve done so, she totally will. Now I’ve learned!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. 😘I refuse to like this post because I am a pretentious asshole who can tell you exactly why I like a fruit: today’s strawberries had a mellow note with a faint hint of vanilla, with a rich sweetness. Last week’s blackberries had a floral note, with a pretty good balance of tart and sweet. Today’s raspberries? Super sweet, mellow, with just the faintest hint of tartness. Wednesday’s honeydew melon? Light, sweet, with a perfect texture that wasn’t too firm and wasn’t too soft. Red starkist pears? Firm, sweet, a bright fruity flavor, and slightly less gritty than Bosc and D’Anjou. Why do I like a Pecos cantaloupe so much that I won’t even consider eating any other variety? They have a rich, thick, heavy, stereotypical cantaloupe flavor; they’re so sweet that you’d swear that somebody injected them with sugar; even the color is perfectly cantaloupe-y.
    I can do this all day, you know.
    😘

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I remember (from one of those boring management theory classes I did once upon a time) the idea that people will groups together against something easier than group together for something… maybe it’s like that in you book club sessions…? More passion and excitement knowing you’re going against?

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Sorry, but I like your post. 😉. I’ve never thought about it, but you’re so right. And I loved your reference to Food Network!! Next time I review a book I like, I’m going to be conscious of this and try to be more descriptive. Actually, I will apply it to everything I talk or write about!!

    Liked by 2 people

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