On Sunday morning, I had a rubbish breakfast. I was going to have my first encounter with Floriade. I have anosmia, so flowers have never really been my thing. A friend of mine, on the other hand, was aghast at this barbarism and invited to show me what all the fun was about. To begin the day, we were going to have breakfast and then head to the Lake to look at the flowers and eat honey puffs.
Breakfast was terrible. The coffee was gritty and the froth was ashy. The scrambled eggs were claggy. The salmon was stingy. Even the toast was really ordinary (and how can you mess up toast?). The person I was with ordered hotcakes with mascarpone… strangest looking mascarpone I’d ever witnessed.
The person I was with complained (‘voice’). She queried what the hell was up with the mascarpone but didn’t get much of a response. I endured the meal, gave my usual response to the waitress when the food is awful (‘How was your meal?’ ‘Yes.’), and departed, deciding not to return (‘exit’).
On the way to the flowers and terrifying stilt-walkers, I thought about this excellent post by Jennifer McGregor about harsh reviews:
I’ve been reading plenty of reviews this year, and I’m horrified by the lack of content in many of them. 120 words or more to say nothing of any value, just a kneejerk reaction followed by some waffling, usually designed to make the reviewer sound intelligent.
It was in response to a post by Jenni Gould:
Some of the reviews I have read lately are substandard and frankly disheartening to read. Take the fringe festival for example, many of the companies involved have worked tirelessly for months and it’s true that maybe their shows are far from worthy of five stars. What they are worthy of is a proficient review whether good or bad.
I don’t think that Jen or Jen are advocating a lack of criticism. What they are advocating is an improvement in the quality of professional reviews which move from ‘I hated it’ to ‘As well as finding it unenjoyable, it suffered the following problems.’
But online, here in my tiny empire of a blog which gets a few dozen hits per day, I’m not a professional reviewer. Can the terrible eatery to which I’ll never return expect the same sort of consideration from me on my blog as Jen could expect from somebody reviewing her play?
Further, does the online medium make it any different from when I catch up with some friends and say: ‘Hey there, old chum. I ate at the most terrible place on the weekend’?
The internet has made reviewing a bit of a mug’s game, but I can’t work out what the response ought to be. Am I allowed to criticise the place on my blog? Does that make me a terrible person? Is there a difference between criticising The Dark Knight Snoozes and criticising a play I saw at the uni? Should I play with kid’s gloves when I’m talking about anything non-franchised?
Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobis.