What is the next game about? Well, think of what is the least exciting genre of video games. It is probably the stock market simulation game.Despite how easy it is to criticize, critics (think Roger Ebert) have a hard job of it. They need to be as objective as possible in their assessments not just to gain and maintain credibility in their audience's eyes, but also because it can completely overshadow and ruin the review itself as a work. Granted, critics are (probably) human and have pet peeves or favorites, and good/bad performances and dialogue are certainly open to criticism, but when these feelings get out of hand and leak into the review, things get worse. If the critic has a strong bias against or in favor of a genre, style, director, actor, or what have you, and they allow that acerbic vitriol or blind admiration to fill their review, they're driving a Bias Steamroller. The review stops being about the work and becomes about the element that inspires the bias; essentially boiling down to "I love (or hate) A; since work B has A in it, I love (or hate) work B; therefore you should (not) watch it." This may be because they hate a particular trope or just likes hating in general. Then again, they may be a fan of the series/franchise/creator who, out of loyalty, never fails to give the most glowing of praise. In any case, the damage to the review is such that it becomes too biased to be useful. (When a reviewer does this, people tend to ignore it, when fans often use it, it becomes a justified use of Don't Like, Don't Read) In some of the worst cases, the reviewer may fixate on a particular thing they liked or disliked and give the impression that they might actually not have seen the work in question. And there are times where they actually haven't seen much of it. Part of the reason this trope exists, is that a review that accurately informs the readers about a subject's objective qualities, and allows them to make an informed purchasing decision, can be very boring. A hugely biased review, by contrast, may not be useful qua review, but may be entertaining enough to keep the readers coming back. Note that this happens a lot outside of media criticism. Because it's just easier to remember particularly noticeable or dramatic experiences and events, this routinely happens in both positive and negative ways to people like politicians and celebrities. Compare Fan Dumb, Hate Dumb, Caustic Critic, Opinion Myopia, Public Medium Ignorance. Compare/Contrast Unpleasable Fanbase. Peruse the Ghetto Index to see examples of when many critics develop a bias against entire genres. Note: This is not a way to complain about reviews or reviewers you don't like, unless there actually is a bias steamroller inherent in the reviews.
Examples (sorted by medium being reviewed):
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- Atop the Fourth Wall host Linkara is decidedly not a fan of anti-heroes in comics. He primarily views superhero comics as escapism (not that he has a problem with them tackling serious subjects or challenging the viewpoint of the reader) and really thinks that anyone deserving of the title "superhero" should at least be trying to take the moral high road in any given situation. This can sometimes cause him to be overly harsh to Marvel comics vs. DC comics because DC doesn't have nearly as many anti-heroes, whereas Marvel has several and even has previous boy scouts like Cyclops become this. This bias also colors any review of any Darker and Edgier comic. He also really hates it when superheroes are killed off, but understands why it happens in some cases.
- Nostalgia Critic-like fanfiction critic The Fic Critic (No, not that one, nor this one, the text-based one) has noted that he tends to be biased against fics that act meanly towards certain characters or treats them badly, especially ones he likes. One noteworthy example was when he went from disdainful but amused at the stupidity of Web Of Shadows, a Spider-Man/X-Men Evolution crossover Mary Sue Parody fic, to outright anger and chain swearing after Carlie Cooper called Mary Jane Watson, who he admitted is one of his favorite Spider-Man supporting characters, a slutty model who dresses like a street walker. His reaction to her calling Mary Jane this is one of the few times he went from snarky to outright pissed, and ended up giving that chapter a "Fuck/10".
- The Film Atheist reviewer gives Ben-Hur a near scathing review due to the presence of Christian themes (this is even stranger if you know that famed Atheist Gore Vidal wrote the script for the film and even originally intended for there to be homosexual tension between Judah and Messala).
- Ditto Movieguide.com reviews films from a "family" (read: fundamentalist Christian) perspective. They criticize The Golden Compass for its "strong pagan themes". Fair enough - if you review the film from a Christian perspective, then you are perfectly within your rights to take issue with it. However, they then criticize the "graphic violence". The violence in The Golden Compass is no more "graphic" than the violence in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which movie guide says has no strong violence at all. Their other foible is reviewing films badly purely because they are "anti-Family". Sure, Pulp Fiction ain't for kids, and would probably give The Vicar palpitations, but it is not a bad film by any reasonable standard of criticism.
- Roger Ebert:
- He considered movies where young children are apparently unfazed about committing serious acts of violence to be "morally reprehensible." This was a major reason why he was not a fan of the Home Alone series and (in contrast to most critics) only gave Kick-Ass a one-star review.
- Ebert has expressed regret for his previous bias against the Spaghetti Western genre, particularly for how it drove him to give The Good, the Bad and the Ugly a 3-star score despite writing what he acknowledged was a 4-star review.
- Zero Punctuation doesn't care for anime or anime-themed games, and tends to be pretty harsh on them. He openly admits this and tends to avoid reviewing them in the first place, but some games aren't as obvious and gets through. When they do, he tends to focus on the anime elements, and overlooks some obvious answers or flaws in his arguments. (for example, when reviewing Valkyria Chronicles, he jumped to the conclusion that all the characters were teenagers, when the game makes it clear that they are in their low-to-mid 20s, and one of them has just come back from college)