TV Tropes Org

Forums

search forum titles
google site search
Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.
Total posts: [59]
1
 2 3

"On Negativity, Raeg and Whining" or "The Pernicious False Dichotomy":

Lord of Castamere
Someone who has visited a forum about fiction -especially if it's related to "fandoms"- has probably witnessed a set of words being applied to certain people: words like "raeg" "whining" "entitled" and "hater", between others. We even have an article related to the people these words try to describe: Hate Dumb. This thread is not strictly about them. This thread is about extremistic behaviour leading to the titular false dichotomy between liking something without criticizing it, and mindlessly hating it, with all criticism being seen as Hate Dumb (thanks to the Strawman Fallacy).

"The thing's hollow—it goes on forever—and—oh my God—it's full of fallacies!" Yes, it is.

Probably some of you will say "uh, I don't see this anywhere"...but we don't have to look too far:

This is a fan site, dudes. It is about people liking stuff. Not the other thing.

Yeah, I am dismissive of hate opinions because harbourers of them find it their sacred duty to go here and shove it in everybody's faces. You don't like it, then stop wasting your damn time on it and it-related things.

Look, you've demonstrated your burning hot Fan Raeg for Aggra [note: the name of a character we were discussing], thanks, we get it. Whatever happened to sitting back and enjoying a story as presented?

It's interesting to note that what is being frowned upon is criticism (Negativity) instead of just personal attacks and baseless complaining. I could start a thread called "Are there any themes you dislike, and why?" and it would be locked for being a complaint thread. Yes, it would be locked for its concept alone, regardless of how that thread develops. And yet I doubt it would develop well, because some people see criticism as an extremely annoying affront to the author/s and all the fans of his/her works.

Why does one have to like everything about a certain work, or like it at all? Why should discussions only happen between people who like/love something? Why is criticism seen as offensive by fans? Why do so many people develop "hate"? Why is criticism not included in "celebrating fiction"?

My opinion is that some (if not most) people tend to think in extremes. If they like something then they like all of it, and if they dislike something then they hate. This creates a very manichean view of the whole deal, with "haters" being the polar opposite of the "fans", and "why would haters express their opinions?"...even if it's not hate, "why would they criticize is if it's useless?" And the often overlooked answer is...

Well because it's a discussion. It's about exchanging different points of view and learning; refining one's arguments (by having to defend them or maybe by learning that one was wrong).

Anyways the mention of useless criticism leads us to another topic that is very closely related to this one: Constructive Criticism. To be honest I don't really care much about the concept, because I believe all criticism is constructive as long as it's civil and with some effort put into the argumentation. But I have seen the opinion that constructive criticism consists of the criticism that proposes an alternate way of doing what the arguer dislikes; or that it's constructive as long as you can have an effect on the disliked issue.

Conclusion: Things that I think we could discuss: Do you agree with me or not? What is constructive criticism for you? does criticism need to be constructive? etc.

Note: I am aware of a certain thread in Wiki Talk that discussed our No Negativity rule and got locked eventually. My thread is about all criticism and what I believe is a bias against it, thus it's a broader topic. My mentions about the No Negativity rule are regarding the forums rather than the articles, and this thread is not only about said rule nor only about this wiki.

Second Note: The above quotes are not part of the same conversation.

edited 27th May '12 7:14:04 PM by Anfauglith

Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.

This post has been thumped with the mod stick. This means knock it off.
 
Lord of Castamere
Thanks for opening the thread ^^

So well... we are free to discuss.
Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.
 4 Lawyerdude, Mon, 28th May '12 10:35:08 PM from my secret moon base
Citizen
Interesting idea. First of all, I think that in order to properly criticize something, you should be familiar with it. If you read something and love or hate it, then your reaction is based on your own experience. But if you love or hate something you haven't read/seen/heard, then you're speaking from ignorance.

But then there is a second level; those who haven't experienced it firsthand, but have heard about it from reliable sources can make an informed decision as to whether they want to experience it themselves, but who aren't qualified to express their own opinion about the quality of the work itself.

For example, I heard that work X totally sucked. That deterred me from seeing it. Then I finally saw it and realized for myself that it sucked. Now I can honestly say that work X sucked.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 5 Bokhura Burnes, Mon, 28th May '12 11:09:59 PM from Inside the Bug Pit
Radical Moderate
I totally agree with this. Although there are many work of fiction that I truly love, there are virtually none that I would consider to be perfect, and as an educated fan I have to recognize this. As long as criticism of these works is respectful, I think it has a place in the fandom, because it allows us to deal with the works as they really are.
You're a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.
Euo will do!
An honest criticism is good for the soul, when doled out in medicinal doses as needed. Without it, you grow a big head, forget what you started out doing and mess up. Quite a few stories in various media could have done with buckets of the stuff before they gleefully Jumped the Shark. And, in less fictional areas, many a politician could do without the yes-men.

Nothing but positive feed-back is as damaging as nothing but negative.

edited 29th May '12 12:37:08 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 7 Gabrael, Tue, 29th May '12 7:58:03 AM from My musings Relationship Status: Is that a kind of food?
2 tons of fun!
I have noticed it also depends on your background how well you can see the merits or accept criticism.

My boyfriend and I are both finishing our masters in the liberal arts, but not the same field. We have both spent the last 8-9 years of our lives ripping our respective fields apart so we can have a more critical discussion and not take it as emotionally as others do because this is what we have been conditioned to do regardless of topic. That is not to say we don't get heated or annoy each other. Last night he criticized my shooting in such a way I found annoying, but that's life. It's not a big deal.

The average person has a great deal of experience useful in forming or digesting criticism. However I do question the average person's ability to discipline themselves to slow down and attempt to following the reasoning of criticism against their views. It is too easy for people to take things personal when it doesn't have to be. People also forget good criticism is based on an educated opinion.

I had to study the Twilight series for my Religion and Pop culture class. Yes, I forced myself through the whole thing and still found it abysmal. But my criticism of the work, it's fandom, and the social movement around it improved because now I could see their reasoning better.
Upon death, I want to be cremated and blown in the face of my enemies.
To add my personal experience, during the time I was unemployed, I was approached by an adult media (porn) company and basically wrote whatever I thought would sell. A lot of the pages/tropes we have here actually helped out, because it taught me the sorts of things audiences respond to and which ones they react to negatively.

The vitriol, bile and sheer hate for some stories taught me a lot about what audiences wanted to see. And where their "priorities" lay for enjoying a story.

This is an excellent conversation to have, and it amuses me deeply that some people would have expressed the opinion that it would never get opened, or that creating it was "asking for a ban". Hopefully they will be proven wrong on both accounts.

Now, I understand that the no-negativity rule on the actual wiki was born out of editors, too often, not being mature enough to dish and take criticism fairly and rationally. This is difficult to moderate. However, it is clearly not something endemic to tropers, or even to geeks. You'd be amaze at how many average people take criticism of stuff they liked (or even merely watched) very personally. They will also dish it like they've actually got a grudge against the piece of fiction and those who like it.

Honestly, I can't blame the moderation here from banning this motherfuckery entirely. With the Bizarre And Improbable Giraffe Herding, it's the most expedient approach.

On the fora, however, which are much easier to keep under control, I don't think there has been any disagreement that criticism is entirely okay. I spend a lot of time on the Glee thread, for example, and we do almost nothing but complain about our favourite show.

 10 Lawyerdude, Tue, 29th May '12 12:09:50 PM from my secret moon base
Citizen
Why does one have to like everything about a certain work, or like it at all? Why should discussions only happen between people who like/love something? Why is criticism seen as offensive by fans? Why do so many people develop "hate"? Why is criticism not included in "celebrating fiction"?

There are a lot of questions here, but I'll try to drop in my two cents.

You can love a work, hate it, be indifferent about it, or like parts and hate others, and so on. There are plenty of movies and books that I love, but most have some flaw or another. On the other hand, if somebody hates something about a particular work that I love, I don't usually take offense to it; it's just a matter of taste, really. Not everybody loves Star Wars, as inexplicable as that sounds.

But the two things that really grate me the most are people who hate a work for the "wrong reasons", and people who hate something that they haven't experienced for themselves.

When I say "wrong reasons", I mean hating something for a reason that doesn't appear in the work itself, or hating something without considering the fuller context. I know somebody who says Monty Python's Life of Brian is blasphemous because Brian claims to be the Messiah when in fact he loudly and repeatedly states that he isn't. The point is, if you're going to hate something, hate it on its own merits, not because of made-up reasons.

I don't take offense if somebody actually dislikes something because it doesn't fit their tastes. Nobody has to like something.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 11 0dd 1, Tue, 29th May '12 12:51:50 PM from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Not everybody loves Star Wars, as inexplicable as that sounds.
Not so unbelievable. I know plenty of people who don't like or haven't seen it. Also, Freddie Mercury apparently wasn't into it, if "Bicycle Race" is anything to go by.
Insert witty and clever quip here.

My page, as the database hates my handle.

My music.
 12 Lawyerdude, Tue, 29th May '12 12:58:27 PM from my secret moon base
Citizen
I won't hold that against Freddie Mercury. Anybody who can down a fifth of vodka and belt out "The Show Must Go On" perfectly while in the final stages of dying from AIDS is too awesome anyway.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 13 0dd 1, Tue, 29th May '12 1:23:35 PM from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
[up]Truer words have never been spoken.
Insert witty and clever quip here.

My page, as the database hates my handle.

My music.
 14 The Wanderer, Tue, 29th May '12 1:40:54 PM from New York Relationship Status: The new Mrs. Reynolds
Student of story
[up][up][awesome]
I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me
 15 0dd 1, Tue, 29th May '12 2:10:17 PM from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
But getting back on topic, I agree with you about people hating for "wrong" reasons. If you're gonna hate or be against something, at least watch it and make sure you've got an understanding of it.

This classic clip says it all:

And after watching it again, I just realized I've been to the theater in it many times before—it's right by my college.
Insert witty and clever quip here.

My page, as the database hates my handle.

My music.
 16 Lawyerdude, Tue, 29th May '12 2:30:35 PM from my secret moon base
Citizen
Well I haven't read "Twilight" in its entirety, but based on Popcultural Osmosis I have a pretty good idea that I would hate it if I read/saw the whole thing. I've considered watching it with the RiffTrax, though.

I guess there's also the whole Don't Like, Don't Read thing. Which if you think about it doesn't make sense. You can't really know for certain whether you like something or not until after you've read/seen it, and by then it's too late. If you read something and hate it, who can you blame? You can't blame the author or the fans, because they like the work. And you can't blame yourself for not liking something because it's not your fault for disliking what others like.

I think Don't Like, Don't Read is just a lazy rebuttal. If you read it and hated it, then you can speak from a position of authority that you hate it. You can try to persuade somebody that their dislike of a work is based on a misunderstanding of its contents, or get them to reconsider based on other information, but you can't tell somebody to go back in time and not read what they didn't like.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
It works for serial works, or for creators who put out a large number of works. For example, comic book fans need to start showing some Don't Like, Don't Read savvy if they want the misogyny and neverending status quo to be changed. However, because the mantra of every fandom everywhere is, "We only like change when it's on OUR terms!", that's a hard nut to crack.

But another problem with Don't Like, Don't Read is that, by itself, it doesn't solve anything. For example, after Catwoman and Elektra bombed at the box office, there was a stigma put against female superheroes. Seriously, the memo through Hollywood was "Audiences don't like female superheroes"...it wasn't "Audience don't like movies that suck". So producers can and will completely miss the damn point if it screws with their bottom line.

Complaining and Don't Like, Don't Read are two sides to the same coin. You can't complain without reason while continuing to buy everything they spoon-feed you, and you can't boycott it without making your EXACT problems explicit, either. You have to do both—preferably loud enough that they get the point.

Lord of Castamere
Sorry for the absence. Was tired.

@Lawyerdude

Interesting idea. First of all, I think that in order to properly criticize something, you should be familiar with it. If you read something and love or hate it, then your reaction is based on your own experience. But if you love or hate something you haven't read/seen/heard, then you're speaking from ignorance.

But then there is a second level; those who haven't experienced it firsthand, but have heard about it from reliable sources can make an informed decision as to whether they want to experience it themselves, but who aren't qualified to express their own opinion about the quality of the work itself.

Hmh...I don't fully agree. First because some things can be criticized based on their concept alone, and other things can still be criticized even if you didn't watch/read/play/etc through all of it. You read a fragment of it, or hear about it from a reliable source, and you can emit an opinion on that fragment and on the whole story for having that part. Yes, you may not have the bigger picture, but depending on the criticism being emitted, this can be enough. My point is, one can't determine that every piece of criticism coming from someone that didn't experience the work is hogwash, but experiencing the work definitely improves the criticism. (note: this last part doesn't apply to paedo-filth and such)

Nice that you brought up this issue, though, because as it was mentioned in the following posts, there is a clear and interesting contradiction that appears in some people: "You can't criticize something you didn't experience" and "if you don't like it then why are you reading/playing/watching it?". It's rather fun to note that someone that uses both of these mutually exclusive phrases just doesn't want anyone to dislike the work in question, and believing only in the second phrase doesn't make sense; criticism would not exist at all or it would have to come from people who didn't experience the work. As for the phrase applying to serial works, It depends. Sometimes people can follow a work and continuously complain about something because they like other things about the story, so they would prefer that to be changed rather than abandoning. Also sometimes even a Hatedom can have good points.

@Euo

Nothing but positive feed-back is as damaging as nothing but negative.

Yes, and I would go even further and say that nothing but negative criticism is much more useful than nothing but positive. All positive criticism is nearly useless because it comes off as mere adulation (could maybe make the author feel better, but hardly make him improve the work); while a very caustic criticism, even if you don't take it at face value (you should not) can show what were the things that disgusted the person who made that review, and this can be an interesting thing to reflect about. Is there some truth in what the complainer said? Did he overreact or not? Was it just because of a personal preference of his, and do I really want to cater to people with such opinions?

The problem with caustic criticism is that it can turn into a verbal beatdown for the author and/or fans, which disrupts discussions and is not civil at all. Not all harsh criticism is a verbal attack, though.

Most important part of the post because it applies to these very forums, and I would like mods to notice it:

@Mark This

On the fora, however, which are much easier to keep under control, I don't think there has been any disagreement that criticism is entirely okay. I spend a lot of time on the Glee thread, for example, and we do almost nothing but complain about our favourite show.

I agree completely about this part. I would even go further and say that arguments in our forums are started more often by people who can't receive criticism than by the complainer. The problem lies in that some people then believe that the criticism was the trigger of the argument, when the problem was that someone else was not willing to refute it in a civil way and thus used Ad Hominems or just told the complainer to shut up. I think there isn't any logical reason for the No Negativity rule in the forums, which includes the rule against "complaint threads".

Criticism even makes the threads healthier, as is the case with the A Song of Ice and Fire thread, for example. There is a poster there, ginger, who dislikes a lot of things about the books, and to add (supposedly) insult to injury, he has a lot of unpopular opinions about characters, and he's very vocal about it. Most would believe that the thread sunk in a terrible Flame War, but it was not the case. Each time ginger appears on that thread, the number of posts go through the roof, discussing the parts that he's reading at the moment, etc. and when he's not there, people speculate about what his reaction to future events will be.

Also I think that the most interesting discussions I saw here were debates caused by someone criticizing something.

Edit: added some parts and fixed typos.

edited 29th May '12 5:31:43 PM by Anfauglith

Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.
 19 drunkscriblerian, Tue, 29th May '12 11:33:48 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
My opinion has always been that if you are going to hate something you ought to at least take a gander at it first.

I'll use Twilight as an example since it has already been mentioned once. I heard a lot about it, both positive and negative, before I even glimpsed a page of Meyer's writing. I decided to read the series just so I knew what all the fuss was about...and having had a bellyfull of Anne Rice and all her horrible imitators, I thought that a vampire novel without a lot of kinky sex might not be so terrible after all.

After reading Meyer's work...well, okay, I thought it was terrible. But I can speak with authority, now that I've read all four books and watched two of the movies. Also, I can see things Meyer got very right, things I can go on to apply to creative endeavors I might eventually effect (hopefully, I will use my powers for good instead of for insipid).

In short, I learned some shit. Which is what happens when you approach the unknown with an open mind. If you want to hate the Devil, at least look him in the eye once before you decide to do it.
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
Euo will do!
[up]Bingo. I approached with much the same attidude. Except from the angle, "Well, I've read Anne Rice*: how much worse can it get?". [lol]

edited 30th May '12 1:08:23 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 21 Lawyerdude, Wed, 30th May '12 7:43:10 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
Sure, there's a difference between disliking something based on what you heard about it (which is ignorance), and disliking it after having experienced it yourself. The best I can say about certain books or movies that I haven't read or seen is that, based on what I've heard about them, I'm just not interested. Some of them sound stupid, or boring or like something I wouldn't enjoy based on my experience with similar subject matter or the descriptions that I've heard.

So back to the "Twilight" example. I've heard a great deal about it and it sounds like something that I would not like. Nothing of what I've heard has given me a reason to think otherwise. Therefore I have no interest in reading the books or seeing the movies. That is about the extent of what I am "qualified" to say, in the sense of a critic.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 22 Gabrael, Wed, 30th May '12 7:58:26 AM from My musings Relationship Status: Is that a kind of food?
2 tons of fun!
It sort of depends on the topic and medium. I have not read anything by Monique because I don't appreciate her thinking. When a book is labeled _Skinny Women are Bitches_ you can judge her for it. I know some people who refuse to see anything by Michael Moore not because they think he is lying, but because they find his approach in interviews so off-putting, they rather not watch his documentries. They'll go look up things on their own.

I don't need to listen to Paris Hilton's CD to know it's crap. I look a her, I look at her record sales number, and it shows.

I've heard the saying if you give enough monkeys time and typewriters one will work out Shakespeare. Maybe, but how much junk and resources will you go through before you get it? Sometimes it's not worth the effort.
Upon death, I want to be cremated and blown in the face of my enemies.
I agreed with Gabrael up until the Paris Hilton point. I don't disagree with what he was saying (I don't plan to listen to it either), but low review scores are not necessarily reflective in and of themselves. There are lots of movies I like justified only by So Bad, It's Good or for sentimental purposes.

When I was (briefly) a JRPG reviewer, I made strides to not paint a conclusion on my review. One review was about a game I really didn't like for a ton of reasons, but I tried to avoid saying something about its many "faults" which formed a conclusion. For example, instead of saying, "the dungeon design is awful", I said: "The dungeons tend to be maze-like. At one point, I reached a save point at midnight and decided to just play until the next save point before going to sleep. . . . . And I didn't find the next one until 2 am. Hallways which lead to dead ends and an encounter rate of one battle per every four steps did not help this endeavor."

This way I let the audience determine if my priorities are the same as their priorities. While one person may not like Ang Lee's Hulk because it's too much psycho-babble and melodrama, others may love it.

Burn
All positive criticism is nearly useless because it comes off as mere adulation (could maybe make the author feel better, but hardly make him improve the work);
While I agree with most of what you say, I disagree with the idea that all positive criticism is nearly useless. Positive criticism can be just adulation, but it can also point out an author's strengths that s/he may not have realized.

When I was showing my short stories to my friends, there was a lot of negative criticism, and that was good. However, there was also some positive criticism for specific parts of the texts, such as one scene in a bar. I then asked which aspects they liked about those scenes, and I soon find out what my friends enjoyed reading. This became a very helpful guide; knowing what people enjoy reading is just as useful as knowing what they don't. It's why many questionnaires ask the inevitable "What did you like about ~?" in addition to "What did you dislike about ~?"

However, there is a problem with the readership grows too big; the volume of positive criticism increases so much that it's difficult to find trends. At least with negative criticism, there tend to be more specific complaints; with positive criticism, a lot of the praise just melts together.
 25 Steven, Wed, 30th May '12 12:44:59 PM from MY PANTS Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
The guy who face palms
The whole bit about Don't Like, Don't Read is widely misused like Mary Sue is. When someone claims to hate something, such as a series, and keeps complaining about it, yet never seems to leave and keeps coming back for as long as the series goes on. It's like someone who hates the Super Mario Bros. games for being too samey yet they never seem to just go away and leave others alone for those that do like the games, regardless of the faults. This is where Don't Like, Don't Read would be ok to use since you got a repeat complainer that doesn't seem to leave.

For everything else, the misuse of the trope to guard against criticisms is basically LALALALALA!
Mario Kart 8 TV Tropes Tourney Group: 3089-1771-2781 (DLC courses) 6728-1950-8250 (without DLC tracks)
Total posts: 59
1
 2 3


TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy