Opinion: Recommendations not reviews

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I ’m sure we’ve all heard the adage about opinions regarding a certain body cavity and the fact that everyone’s got one. But also regarding opinions, it works when you use the aforementioned word as an adjective; they’re the loudest in the room and they’re always trying to put you down.

I ask you to apply this thinking to reviews (which are the glorified opinions of journalism). Reviews serve as a way to critically view the media we all consume, and introduce us to things that we may not have known without the recommendations of “experts.” But instead, the things that stick with us the most are usually the negatives within these write-ups. The way we approach music, movie and television reviews are negatively impacting the way we consume it, often before we get to consume it for ourselves.

Shouldn’t we be spending our energy encouraging others to consume media, rather than give them reasons not to? I understand we are all problem solvers with our own unique and invaluable opinions. But opinions are like the participation awards of thought. No matter how much heart you pour into the game, the guy who takes articles from The Onion at face value also gets the same shiny trophy.

That’s why I believe reviews should be consumed with a more critical eye than the media itself. What are these people behind the bylines trying to make me believe by writing this review? Indeed, what does bachelor Chad Blowhard, age 44, think of the new Taylor Swift album?

Which brings me to the media critics themselves. These folks get to see or hear whatever they’re reviewing for free. And actually, they’re getting paid to write about it, too. What kind of half-assed, superficial experience are we sending these guys out for? As an aspiring music journalist, I have never felt quite right about getting free entry into a show. And these shows, may I add, exist to provide musicians enough cash to pay their rent.

More to my point, this disconnected formula of “media coverage” separates me from the experiences that everyone else in the room is having. Those in attendance made an extracurricular investment of time and money. But the critic is the one who has the final say on how it was for everyone? This formula sets critics out to deliver on their namesake, rather than experience the art with a critical eye.

Granted, it’s kind of a thrill to read someone else’s opinion only to have yours strengthened by its “inaccuracies.” I bet you’re doing it right now. Because, Entertainment Weekly’s review of “Daddy’s Home 2” actually saved your life once, and how dare I try to convince you otherwise.

The argument can be made that reviews serve as a way to “know before you go.” But ask yourself; do you really need to know the metacritic score of “Boss Baby” to help you make that decision?

When writing reviews, free yourself from the formula, “This is what it means. And if you’re woke enough like me, you’re going to agree.” Instead, step outside your own ass and tell me what it is, not what it should be to everyone else. Be the expert you’ve asserted yourself to be, and prepare me for my own experience with the media.

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