Article: The Reviewer & The Reviewed (2013/04/03)

Rainlore on the roles of reviewer and reviewed and associated implications.
Edited 2013/04/03

A recent 'incident' following publication of a review rather disturbed me and set me thinking. The musician whose work had been reviewed rather took exception to my review, despite the fact that the review had been quite generous and positive, rather than negative. Indeed, I was practically bombarded with Facebook (private) messages and emails by the musician in question, demanding that the review be removed from the site!

Furthermore, said musician felt grievously wronged and hurt, and a lot of emotive expression was made. Not only that, said artist felt justified and competent to lecture upon how a review ought to be written. No, please, don't laugh, this whole affair is no laughing matter but in truth, rather tragic.

It is this entire affair that set me thinking, as mentioned at the beginning. Generally, reviewers, reviewed and public alike tend to understand the respective roles of reviewers and reviewed well enough and, indeed, generally, we all tend to take these for granted. However, as this whole episode clearly shows, apparently there are a few exceptions out there who do not understand the 'rules.' Thus, perhaps it is time to examine these roles and their consequences in a little detail.

The role of the reviewer is to express his opinions and appraisals of a work such as a musical album or a book that has been submitted for review, or of a musical gig, art exhibition, theatrical or other event to which he/she has, preferably, been invited. These opinions and appraisals are, it is to be fervently hoped, knowledgeable and well informed, but above all the reviewer should be able to empathise with the work he/she is reviewing, 'get into it,' develop an intuitive understanding of the artist's intentions, and be as objective and fair as possible.
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Ultimately, a review is just that - an expression of the reviewer's opinions and appraisals. Nothing more, nothing less. Reviews can range anywhere from extremely positive to extremely negative, i.e., a reviewer might praise a work to high heaven, or totally 'pan' it. That is the reviewer's privilege. He must be able to express his opinions freely and honestly, and to the best of his abilities.

The reviewed, or potential reviewed, who does not comprehend this and/or accept this and considers a reviewer to have to be some kind of 'rubber stamping' service, had better never submit any of their work for review. He/she would be bound to encounter a great many disappointments at the very least.

The reviewed's role, once he/she has submitted something for review, is to sit back and await the review, possibly with some trepidation, and once it is published (whether in traditional printed media or online media), take it on the chin if necessary, as it were, and perhaps study it rather carefully, for a lot might be learned from a constructive review. Once submitted, the matter is entirely out of the reviewed's hands, there is no further active role to be played by him/her. End of story. He/she has no influence over publication or non-publication of a review, nor any influence over how a review is written or what it does or does not discuss and at what length.

It all really is that simple.

Until this recent affair, in all my many years of reviewing I had never encountered an artist who did not understand and indeed take for granted our respective roles. However, I have, on numerous occasions, been thanked by artists for my constructive comments and for helping them to learn and grow as artists, even where a review might have been somewhat negative.

We are all entitled to our opinions, reviewer, reviewed, and reader. Let's keep things clean and respect that.

© 2013 Rainlore's World/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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