Article // A Scathing Review of Scathing Reviews

My Idols - 1

Jonathan Jones and Charlie Brooker having a little cuddle

I’ve always been a big fan of needlessly harsh reviews. I remember getting the Sunday paper and rushing to the critic’s section to gorge myself on other people’s throwaway opinions about film, TV, art and comedy shows that I would probably never see because the reviews put me off. My eyes are glazing over in nostalgia even now! Nothing feeds the soul better than a scathing critique of a cultural product that someone else bothered to make.

Charlie Brooker was my spiritual guide for many years. He was a babbling brook of bile, teeming with catty abuse for anything that crossed his path. So brave. His career nose dived when he started writing his own shows, so we can only imagine how he manages to live with the shame of creating things now. I’m faithfully learning from his mistake never to err into creativity, so every morning when I wake up, I sit at my desk and purposefully don’t create anything. To be honest, it’s much easier than I thought it would be.

I have lived my life by some of the quotes from these critics, guided by their quiet wisdom. “I hate this show. It’s shit” – Charlie Brooker. “Art is bollocks. Everyone should stop doing it” – Jonathan Jones. “TV is for the working class” – Rachel Cooke. Then it occurred to me that no one is critically analysing the reviews by these humble experts. It’s as if reviews aren’t meant to be a way of achieving personal fame at the expense of artists and musicians! Today this changes. Their reviews deserve to be reviewed just like any other delicate art form.

Luckily, I know what a good review should be. Reviews should be entertaining. That’s what they’re for. You might say that a well-balanced, respectful and informed critique of an art form could be useful to the artist and the reader, but I’m yawning even as I write that. It’s not about honest evaluations, baby; it’s about dishing out acidic verbal attacks at the expense of the artist, and that’s the way it should be. Gallantly, I have put myself forward to be the first weekly reviewer of reviews, so as to discourage anyone else from reading them if I personally don’t like it.

A Review of A Review of Disinformation: 2 stars

You might read Philip Maughan’s review of Disinformation and see it as a thoughtful and knowledgeable evaluation of a new poetry book, and think that this is what all reviews should be like: impartial, fair and objective. But you’d also be categorically wrong, and who likes being wrong? Not me. That’s why I never am.

At best, this review is a good place to put your coffee. At worst, it’s coma-inducing drivel. The 7 minutes it took me to read it passed far too slowly, with every paragraph break coming as a welcome relief. What a feast of platitudes and clichés. The review was a crazed exercise in box-ticking, first talking about the poet, and then a selection of poems, then discussing some quotes, like anyone cares. It was as though Maughan respected the genre and knew what he was talking about, when of course a review should just be a collection of cutting flippant insults from a self-absorbed critic. This review is in danger of not entertaining me, and I need to be entertained continuously otherwise I get bored and look at my iPhone and forget what I was doing and then smile vacuously.

It might sound like I’m being hyperbolically critical just to make my own review more entertaining, and therefore carve out a name for myself by parasitically leeching off other people’s hard work and talent. But that isn’t the case: the minor faults in reviews do genuinely appall me in a hilariously entertaining way to a deadline every week, and that is nothing more than a coincidence.

Philip clearly needs to pimp out his review with some hardcore derision or I don’t think he’ll ever make it as an effective producer of soulless but shareable high performing digital content. Sucks to be him.

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