Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hating everything

After a few months of reviewing movies on the Gonzo morning show on local radio station Area 108, I've gotten a reputation for being the curmudgeonly critic who hates everything. Apparently, a few weeks ago after I talked about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, a listener called in and scoffed that they might as well just name whatever movie was opening in a given week and say, "Josh hated it" without even having me on. I've got a good relationship with Gonzo and his co-host Nicole, and they've done a lot to promote me, so I didn't mind at all when the next week I discovered that they had created a theme song for my appearances called, appropriately enough, "Josh Bell Hates Everything." Actually, I was highly amused and flattered (listen for yourself here). I ended up with the same reputation (sans theme song) when I used to appear on Adler OnLine in Canada. Even though they don't have me on anymore, the main reason they had me back from week to week was that they liked my pessimistic viewpoint.

But it's interesting to me that this is sort of the default opinion that people have of critics (I remember a while back, the restaurant critic for Las Vegas Weekly told me that I was well-suited to being a movie critic because I "like almost nothing"), and that there's such a negative connotation to "hating everything," or rather to having exacting standards. I've probably given more negative than positive reviews in my time on Area 108, but I've also praised certain movies multiple times. Of course, it's not the good reviews or even good movies that people remember as much. I'm guilty of it, too, in that whenever someone asks me to recommend a movie for them to go see, I seem to always be able to think of the movies I hated more readily than the movies I liked. And hating movies is fun, because it leads to writing creatively nasty reviews, while writing glowing reviews is often more challenging and less liberating.

Meanwhile, my friend Tony Macklin, who writes reviews for the Fayetteville Free Weekly in Arkansas, has a local Gawker-esque blog obsessed with his work, writing a weekly deconstruction of his reviews titled, of course, "Tony Macklin Hates Everything." Like me with my theme song and feedback from radio listeners, Tony is greatly pleased with the recognition, and of course any response, good or bad, means that people are taking notice of your reviews and caring about what you say, which is wonderful. I just got another piece of hate mail last week on my year-and-a-half-old Million Dollar Baby review, and it's nice to know that what I wrote is still grabbing people's attention. (I should realize, however, not to trifle with Joss Whedon fans.)

1 comment:

the fiveforty said...

Uh-oh. We've been lumped-in with the Nick Denton crowd. Is that a compliment? Probably we should take it as one, seeing as how Gawker Media rakes in millions of readers and we average about two a day. Hmmm...maybe we can con Denton into purchasing our pathetic little site....