Glowing or Scathing
Is there anything more sad than reading a scathing review? To scathe, according to the dictionary, means to harm. So a scathing review is, in its essence, seeking to harm the piece of art it’s criticizing.
It’s a misnomer anyway. Ideas can be harmed about as much a square peg can harm a round hole. So the scathing review reads more like the anger one feels over the fact that they can’t connect.
I can’t say I blame them. After all, it is downright confusing to not understand a piece of art, or to miss its appeal.
There are some people who enjoy reading scathing reviews (scathe-porn). In fact, I read a study once that claimed that people tend to think a reviewer is smarter if the review is negative (which may mean some of the scathe is artificial).
I only read glowing reviews. To glow, to emit a steady light without a flame, is calming and invigorating. And when I’m done with a glowing review, it makes the consumption or art (or re-consumption) all the more fulfilling. I can better understand the highs and lows, the peaks and the valleys, especially with a good writer.
Sure, I’ll skip a movie if it was canned in general, but not if I really wanted to see it. But mostly, I want to feel hungry for a piece of art after reading a reviews, not hopeless. And I certainly don’t want to take someone’s opinion to heart if they didn’t understand the appeal. It’s like avoiding bowling because someone said the shoes look ugly.
I want to feel the warmth of the glow rather than the burn of the scathe.
And that’s why I’ll only write positive reviews for art. Maybe it’s that I don’t get paid to review, but I’d much rather spend my relatively few days on this earth glowing than scathing.