Writing a review of a book, movie, piece of music, visual art or anything connected is easy as a pie, isn’t it ? All you need is personal taste a bit of extra knowledge you can easily grab online these days and off you go! You can be ecstatic about that piece of art, or hate it immensely. You can keep your tone cool, calm and collected or you can jump from joy or be ironic, or even condescending. Of course, all that is quite possible, but not really.
Presenting an opinion about of a piece of art (‘good’ or ‘bad’) is exactly that - an opinion, and as such has to take into consideration any number of elements - knowledge and/or adequate research, accumulated reading, viewing, listening experience and the capability to present the reasoning behind the expressed opinion.
Of course, then there’s that question of whether you should be objective or opinionated. In essence, the question of objectivity in any artistic review can solely rely on the level of reviewers knowledge and correctness of the facts he presents. In the end, he is expressing an opinion about something that is not exactly fully fathomable and certainly depends a lot on personal taste.
And tastes can vary. Sounds a bit trite when you say that, but here’s a telling example. John Coltrane’s landmark album “A Love Supreme” is considered one of the best (some critics naming it the best) jazz album of all time. Last year, when the Coltrane documentary “Chasing Trane” was in full swing , renowned British daily “The Guardian” pulled out of its archives a review by one of its jazz critics from August 1965, titling it ‘An exercise in musical monotony’.
Who knows, maybe the original critic would stand by his review today, even though time has proven him wrong (and that is my opinion talking now). But the point of this example is that by reviewing, expressing an opinion, you at the same time are presenting a review (or re-view) of yourself, not only your taste(s), but also about your approach to somebody else’s imagination, views, tastes. Can turn out to be quite tricky…
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