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 Post subject: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 11:23 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 269
A hypothetical situation submitted for consideration:<P>Let's say a critic attends a performance by a home-town dance company. The performance is quite bad all-around, in the quality of dancing and of the choreography. The critic thinks it's awful and talks with other knowledgeable dance folk and they too think it's awful. But the critic also sees that the small audience really wanted to like it and clapped wildly. The company is going through financial/managment/artistic difficulty and the critic wants it to rebound. So the critic writes an emphatically positive review, praising the dancing and the choreography, even though the critic did not like either, to cheer on the company and its supporters.<P>Is this an admirable act of advocacy? A lapse in responsibility? A bit of both? If this helps the company in the short term, do the ends justify the means?


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 11:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Ooh...<P>Honesty I think is always the best policy. Better not to write a review at all than to give a false one, no matter how noble the cause.<P>There are other, more honest ways to help a struggling company.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 4753
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Ok, but what if it's your job and the editor is expecting that review?


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
Yeah, what if you don't have a choice? What if you're the only dance critic? And you don't always get to tell your boss, in any job, "no, I can't do that".


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 2:56 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 241
There's a way to be honest without being cruel. Find the positives, describe them. Suggest areas that could be stronger. Write an encouraging review without giving undue praise. For example, encourage the process rather than the product. Look forward to their future improvements, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 3:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 2708
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Yes, I agree with JM. Try to be constructive and make suggestions. I know reviewing, and BEING reviewed is hard. I know, because as a dancer, choreographer and artistic director, I've gotten both positive and not positive reviews in my day. They're hard to stomach, because you've put everything on the line, whereas it seems like critics havent', it's merely a job to them, or so we sometimes say to ourselves. I think, though, that most critics love dance or whatever art form they're reviewing. And they do have a job to do.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2001 8:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Hmm, this almost brings us back to that conflict of interest discussion we had many moons ago.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2001 9:24 am 
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But this hypothetical critic has no conflicts of interest--except his or her own sympathies.<P>Is this strategy bound to backfire? Do readers see through the praise? Will they begin to mistrust critics who write falsely positive reviews as deeply as those who write over-emphatically negative ones?


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2001 9:46 am 
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BTW, and slightly off-topic, there's an excellent article by SF Bay Guardian critic Rita Felciano about what it takes to be a dance critic in this month's edition of the SF Dancers' Group publication "In Dance." Alas, it is not available online and the organization has moved to subscription-only distribution. There are also responses from Kim Epifano and ODC/SF's Brenda Way on whether they have ever found criticism helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2001 4:24 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
I think it also depends on what company you’re reviewing. The Royal Ballet was struggling a few years ago. A prestigious company has a certain reputation to uphold. Whether struggling or not you have to be honest. But, let’s say you’re reviewing an average company or one in its infancy. I think your standards have to drop accordingly. If you do recommend a ballet and it’s clearly bad and many 1st time ballet fans come out to see it, you may be doing more harm than good. Would you come back after seeing a stinker Swan Lake? You also have to consider whether they’ve performed the ballet before. <P>------------------<BR>Michael Goldbarth<p>[This message has been edited by Michael Goldbarth (edited November 07, 2001).]

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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2001 5:59 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1689
Location: USA
Those are some good points, Michael.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2001 7:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 11:01 pm
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It seems this "critic" simply needs to make a career decision: journalism or public relations, and then seek or retain employment accordingly.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2001 8:50 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
I think many critics care passionately about the arts and this puts them in the difficult position of knowing that what they write may adversely affect someone's artistic career in the long term. For many this is not a problem, obviously. I don't think the issue is journalism vs. public relations necessarily, but more about constructive vs. destructive.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2001 10:04 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2001 12:01 am
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I believe that critics should review based on what they see at a performance. While the critic should put aside any "positive" personal feelings, he/she should do the same for "negative" personal feelings as well. Just because a reviewer has a personal bias against (or for), for example, a choreographer or director, this should not influence his review of a company or performance. If it does, he is not being true to the art. Instead, he is putting his own preferences above the art itself.


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 Post subject: Re: False-Positive Reviews
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2001 10:27 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
More good points. I agree with everything above.<P>It also a matter of tone. One can give criticism with a tone of encouragement, especially to young companies. You can also give a bad review but encourage readers to see for themselves, because a review is always just one persons opinion.


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