Question of the Week: Which is Harder..


October 9, 2007 by A.C. Rhodes

writing about something you really love or can’t stand? In the case of the latter you could opt to not write at all, but it may be an assignment. The former might be a case of a band or record you like more than usual. What to do?

12 thoughts on “Question of the Week: Which is Harder..

  1. Margaret says:

    Something you love. It’s like playing comedy as an actor. Very hard. Writing about things I hate is easy because I don’t have much invested in them. Writing about things I love requires more thought in analyzing why I find it so appealing.

  2. Chris says:

    Something I hate. I just don’t like saying mean stuff about anyone, no matter how unlistenable their creation.

  3. Stuff that I have an extreme opinion on is easy to write about, it’s stuff that’s a bit bland — not so boring as to be detestable, but just there, unable to stir me in any way — that’s hardest to write about.

    If I had to answer the question properly, I guess it would be something I hate. There’s a guilt that comes with giving something awful your attention, even if it’s negative attention. It’s a good thing it’s so much fun to stick the boot in.

  4. A.C. says:

    As a space saver, it was favorable to not waste time or print over artists/bands who put out lame efforts (meaning something freelancers didn’t want to touch, either). Conversely, it’s easy to get choked up about something really exciting. You can wonder if words explain or are sufficient enough. Oh, the agony.

  5. s woods says:

    For me, it’s easier to write about something I hate, but I’m at a point where I dread the prospect of putting in the time on those things (and trying to come up with something witty, which is almost a prerequisite for writing a negative review), and the truth is, easy-to-write pans often read like they came too easy–like they are too pat in their conclusions. (cf. this week’s review of Jennifer Lopez in Now magazine: (seriously, why did this guy even bother? does he really believe his paint-by-numbers snideness is impressive or something?). So while it’s harder to put into words why something moves me, it’s usually a somewhat more rewarding experience in the end.

  6. Chris says:

    I’ll change my answer to Jody’s. The most difficult subject is something I’m indifferent about, especially something that’s competently made but not particularly inspired.

  7. Jackson says:

    When I write about that which I love, it’s more difficult, because expressing love often is more complex than the laser-focused vitriol that comes with writing about something I loathe. That said, two things: These days, because of the past couple of years I’ve experienced, and the necessary philosophical adjustment that came with learning acceptance, I steer clear of channeling the emotion of hate, although I’m interested in the causes and conditions from which hatred (and love) arises. And, second, it’s easier to write about something I feel strongly about than something that triggers indifference.

    That said, I’m not getting a whole lot of writing assignments these days, although I’d welcome them. Especially since my day job is coming to an end, and I don’t have anything lined up yet to take its place.

  8. Kevin Avery says:

    Writing about something I love is more difficult because I’m challenged with justifying not only my taste but my affection. It’s easy to dismiss something with, “I just didn’t like it.” Plus, nobody’s going to get pissed off at me because they sunk good money into purchasing something that I’d reviewed negatively. If I praised it to high heaven, however, and they bought it and hated it, well, that’s another matter . . . (I’m reminded of the angry reader who wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that everybody who bought the first Ramones LP based on Paul Nelson’s rave review ought to launch a class action lawsuit against him.)

  9. v'ron says:

    someting i hate. I have to justify the hate, and I tend to give the benefit of the doubt, and then find myself overcompensating.

    It’s easy to write about things you love, because you can justify them. And admit your bias is an important facet of it, too.

    As a photographer, this brings to mind what the great W Eugene Smith said: “You can’t photograph if you’re not in love.” Hmmmm. Can you not write as well?

  10. Jesus, I’m the king of writing negative reviews, and I love it. I love writing up stuff that I love as well. Neither one has ever been harder. Though I will say I cannot understand the people who “can’t write anything negative” about a piece of shit. No offense to anyone who answered that way, but really, it’s not like you owe a shitty band or artist anything. They put the crap out there and wasted your good time with it. Their lives will go on, and they’ll continue making shitty music regardless of what any critic is going to say. In the meantime I’m still getting hilarious hate mail from the 25 and under crowd for the mauling I gave to Trapt’s new live CD. Those funny teens. They seem to like using “faggot” as their main insult. I was also called a cunt, a loser, and was told I don’t know what I’m writing about, that I should really listen more, that I should get a real job and do something I’m actually good at, and that beond all else “TRAPT IS NOT EMO!!!!” What the fuck ever. This up and coming generation of tomorrow’s leaders are all retarded as usual.

  11. Harold says:

    When I was working at a daily paper, I frequently assigned myself subjects that weren’t necessarily to my taste, but which I felt many of the paper’s readers would like to know more about.

    All I’d do is put myself in the position of someone who likes, and would like to know more about, say, Kenny G. Then I’d read as much as I could about him, to find what other interviewers are asking him, so I can avoid that. Sometimes — often — we’d talk about something other than the music itself. In Kenny’s case, we talked about his early days in Seattle.

    There’s always something.

  12. Fred Mills says:

    I think it’s easy to go both ways, but writing about something you love probably gets the nod, at least in terms of saying something meaningful. While a positive review can sometimes resemble the placing of lips to anus, with all the attendant cliches, it’s simply easier to muster up lucid commentary when you feel positively about a work of art. When you go negative, you can fall into the traps of ad hominem attacks and unsubstantiated griping.

    That said, I welcome the opportunity to rag on a band that needs a good public whuppin’ because there should be no sacred cows in this biz. Too, I disagree with Art Black’s comment back in the ’80s about not wanting to waste his time on negative reviews when there’s so much good music to talk about: sometimes the emperor has no clothes, and in this age of thumbs-up/thumbs-down, 4.5-out-of-5-star reviews that are essentially meaningless (thank you, USA Today), the public deserves to be told why the sonofabitch is naked.

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