Confessions of a Hate Reader
January 24, 2020 9:58 AM   Subscribe

The thing is, in consuming so much criticism, especially the bad faith nitpick-y genre-oblivious sort, I have interalised these critical voices. Much like how others have internalised the voice of a discouraging teacher or an overbearing partner. And it has been bad for my writing.
posted by storytam (7 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Abusive criticism is the defining characteristic of contemporary intellectual life.
posted by No Robots at 10:01 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]

Her review of Rise of Skywalker finally put into words why I hated the film so much, when I couldn't bear to think about it long enough to know why. I'm grateful for that.
posted by radagast at 1:11 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]

This is a great read. I had no idea there were people out there analyzing the aliens from District 9 as if everything said about them was a literal fact, rather than as a mix of partial truths and dehumanizing lies and seemingly missing the fact that the movie is a very obvious apartheid metaphor.
posted by asnider at 3:06 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

I hear her. I am constantly struggling with the idea that what I am writing about is too dull, too dusty, too seen already. Someone I consulted about my work in progress told me that too many things were going on, too many characters were being introduced, and that she sensed some anxiety there. She was right, and I told her so. I am afraid that I will not hold a reader for very long unless I have just subverted an expectation or raised a new question or done something they haven't seen before. And this very voice is telling me that.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:11 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Yeah I struggle with this in academic writing. A lot of my reading of other people's articles happens in reading groups or other places where the modus operandi is to tear it apart. And in order to show that they are smart or to fit in, everyone tries to find negative stuff to say, even if it's relatively trivial. But that means when I'm trying to write my own stuff all I can hear is those critical voices of my colleagues.
posted by lollusc at 6:13 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

While it may at first sound tangential, this has a lot of relevance to software development.

Reviewing the work of others (either code reviewing before it gets released, or reviewing after the fact as part of onboarding/knowledge transfer/design for future work) is a big part of what developers do. It is really common for shitty review cultures to arise in organizations, where the main goal of participants stops being to find real problems or help the writer (or other future writers), but instead to be a performative know-it-all asshole and flex at others. This then results in a culture of writing defensively to avoid getting (too badly) skewered by said assholes, instead of focusing on actually writing good code.

Fundamentally, I think it's important to have in mind why you think you're giving feedback on any creative work; specifically, is this about improving things, or is this about showing off? If the latter, in most cases we'd all be better off if you kept it to yourself.
posted by tocts at 8:34 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]

> "I had no idea there were people out there analyzing the aliens from District 9 as if everything said about them was a literal fact ..."

I first encountered that the day I saw the movie. There are apparently people who CANNOT handle the idea that something someone says in a movie may not be 100% true unless the movie explicitly shows the statement being contradicted in an obvious way.
posted by kyrademon at 1:18 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

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