I had a series of reviews today from a person who felt — among other things — that I was being intolerant of certain kinds of critical feedback. I won’t bother naming names. Attention, I feel, is not this person’s goal , so much as demanding someone act is if they matter.
They ultimately don’t, yet, I want to see if their bullshit had any validity at all, or if it was merely the incoherent, racist, homophobic and mouth-foaming rant I wrote it off as at first.
I won’t address the crux of their argument (as it was extremely retarded) but rather the overarching question implied by them:
At what point is rejecting criticism valid, and at what point is it simply refusing to listen to things you don’t like?
Twilight was raised in the conversation. Some people think Twilight is a great show/series. Others think it’s a mess of cliches. Still others hate the creepy vibe it has, suggesting it promotes issues like wife husbandry and worse.
One cannot argue, however, that millions of people like it, or that it is very commercially successful. On that note, is that to say that all criticism of the work is invalid simply because lots of people like it?
No. A determination, I think, of valid criticism, has to be based on two factors.
Is the criticism driven by personal biases or dislikes or by weaknesses in the work?
Is the criticism primarily directed at the execution, mechanics, or storyline of the work, or at the message and intent of the work?
I have said for some time now that I am not a great writer. I do not do this out of faux modesty. My main flaws are simple: I am often formulaic and adhere to certain conventions such as melodrama, climatic focus and overpowered characters. Mechanically I have issues with spelling, missed words and phrasing. Thematically I have a tendency towards fantasy, mysticism and conspiracy even where they are inappropriate. Most importantly, I have low tolerances for those who view my work and demand it match up with preconceived notions of canon, which has resulted in me deviating farther from canon than necessary more that once, and increasing numbers of OC’s.
ALL of these are valid criticisms. I cannot argue with any of them, they are all net negatives.
I have also been called out for having unrealistic or disturbing elements in the Shepard/Liara relationship, distorting the view of certain elements into an anime feel, anti-corporatism, smearing and/or distorting the races of the ME verse into a light that is primarily negative without redeeming features, and creating social structures such as the Commissariat or the Thirty that are fascist/communist and fly in the face of what ME is about.
These are criticisms that I would argue with, but that I mostly chalk up to my personal preferences and style. Some may like them, some will dislike them. I do not feel they invalidate my work, others will disagree.
I have always felt that criticism based solely on one’s personal biases or dislikes, or on one’s political views, or worst of all on antipathy for certain positions taken in a work, are completely invalid. Those who say my aliens act immorally — and, as a support, say there are multiple HUMAN religions who say a given act is immoral — are, in my opinion, missing the point. Those who hate any kind of homosexual relationship, or any suggestion that not everyone is a perfectly well adjusted white male, and imply that because I don’t cleave to their views that my work is sick — what kind of improvement can I derive from such criticism?
To me, a critic exists for two reasons — to point out a work’s weaknesses and provide insight for those who are unsure of whether or not to invest their time and effort into viewing/reading/experiencing a creative work.
When people provide negative feedback, I try to sort it based on what it is. Some of the feedback I’ve gotten on DLP, for example, I didn’t LIKE. But the reasoning behind it was valid. Rehashing the same thing over and over is NOT good writing and it’s something I need to fix.
When, however, I receive feedback that basically states it would be better if I deleted everything I’d ever written — I don’t take it seriously.
Which leads me to the point of this little post. I have tried to incorporate much of what various readers have suggested in my work over the years. I have repeatedly stated that some of the best twists I had came from the feedback of others — TIM doublecrossing the rest of Cerberus, the entire Eingana arc, the use of Vigil.
I don’t really CARE what people who hate the series think of it, any more than the people who are making millions of Twilight care about the people who hate that work. I write to entertain and distract myself, and to entertain those who like my work, and hopefully to inspire others to write. That is my audience.
Do you feel that I am ignoring the feedback that you have given? Is there a weakness (aside from grammar/words missing) that is resonating through ATTWN and TWCD that needs to be addressed that I am dismissing?
Curious to know what people think.