Alex’s Guide to Reviewing Stuff

It’s not that common of an occurrence, but when it does come up that I write reviews on my corner of the internet I’m sometimes met with the question of ‘how do you do it’? It’s a bit odd because it’s not like I’m ending world hunger, but the question is phrased and inflated in a way that suggests it’s a hard thing to do. Sometimes sticking to my schedule is hard, sure, and finding the time to edit posts sometimes gets to me. But the actual act of reviewing something never does.

Reveiwing stuff is super easy. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve been doing it for a while. You could start a blog like mine, type ‘Transformers Review’ as your title and have the body of the post simply consist of the words ‘I like/dislike it’. A review is just an opinion, and I’ve toyed with using this gimmick for an April fools day post or two, but I can’t think of a film that it would be funny to write this about – it’d either have to be a really good and deep art film or a bottom of the barrel Z movie. But I digress.

Writing a review is as simple as writing an opinion. And just because the typical review structure is to go through a list of pros/cons and personal experiences you’ve had with whatever you’re reviewing before wrapping it all up in a nice little bow doesn’t mean you have to. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your opinion.

That last sentence is why I think so many people are scared of putting their thoughts out there. I know when I started writing reviews I felt the need to justify why I liked something not because I thought it made for better reading, but because I had to defend my stance and that everything I said needed validity to it. It has a lot to do with the fact a lot of internet reviews are incredibly hyperbolical. If you take that hyperbole at face value you get the distorted and totally untrue notion that media only ever falls into two catagories:

  1. It sent to Earth by God to educate the human masses on what it truly means to make and experience art.
  2. Satan produced it as a sick joke to waste two precious hours of your life.

I’m not saying making hyperbolic reviews are bad; I’ve certainly made my fair share right here on this blog, and exaggerated opinions often make for fun reading and writing! But the way you consume hyperbole can have this negative effect. Especially if you respect the reviewer and feel the need to align with them. The cult of social media – particularly Twitter and YouTube – is full of ‘my views are the only ones that are valid, but they’re just my opinion so they can’t be challenged types’. Y’know, the same type of reviewer who says ‘you can like whatever you want to like’, and in the same breath will utter something to the effect of ‘but if it doesn’t align with my tastes, you’re wrong.’

You can’t be wrong about an opinion. If you think The Rise of Skywalker is the best Star Wars movie and want to write a review simply stating ‘it is good’ with no further analysis, go for it. Fear not for Twitter and YouTube. Fear not for aligning yourself with the online personality with whom your opinions frequently align, just be honest with yourself. Y’know, like how I said I took a lot of positivity away from Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004) for all it’s faults in respect for what it was trying. Lord knows Alexander was a bit of a disaster, but that doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy it. Hell, you might enjoy something more because it’s a disaster. The mid-Showa Era Godzilla, for instance, was in many ways disastrous but still wildly fun. There are more way to review something other than saying it’s good or bad, and that’s something to consider not only while writing, but also when reading or watching.

So don’t worry about what the hell is happening in anyone else’s brain or about writing 2000 word essays justifying and defending every part of your views, just post an honest opinion and elaborate on it as much or little as you want. That’s what a review is. It’s easy and as fun as you want it to be. Alternatively, if you want to write half-essays a sI often do, do that too!

And if you’re somehow still concerned about how other people might perceive your opinions…

…and the feeling should subside.

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