I’m wondering of late, if I have become the enemy. The Hollywood Fringe Festival is going on, and for the Bitter Lemons website, I’ve been doing reviews. I’ve seen about five shows now, with about as many to come this week. I’ve seen some good, and I’ve seen some bad. It’s always easy to talk about the good. No one gets upset with a GOOD review. “How DARE he call me BRILLIANTLY FUNNY!” Never happens. It’s always when it’s not good or bad… that’s when people aren’t happy. Which, duh, makes sense.
I don’t want to be the guy that writes nasty reviews. I don’t want to be the guy that writes about bad shows. Ok. That’s not true. I don’t want to be disLIKED for writing a not particularly favorable review.
But sometimes… Well. A show isn’t as good as it could be. (Which is way better than bad. It really is.) But I have to talk about it. And I find that I am in two modes:
1. Constructive. Which is great. I can talk about in a constructive way what elements aren’t working and why. I feel like this is me at my best. This is me talking about the show, in a professional manner that shouldn’t be a problem. Not harsh. Not being an asshole. Just talking about the show.
2. Seeking A Great Zinger. Which is NOT great. That is me looking to say something that someone might read and go, “WOW, bang, zoom…SNAP.” It might get forwarded. It might get talked about. It might make me… the center of attention. And it’s also worthless. It’s not a conservation about the show. It’s not being professional.
I have to admit it #2 is VERY tempting. It’s easy. It makes me sound all sassy… and who doesn’t want to sound sassy. And to be honest, I struggle to make sure I’m not doing that.
But it makes me wonder… is being a reviewer turning me into the enemy? Am I going to be secretly unwanted because I’m writing reviews? There is a weird relationship between reviewer and the artist. The reviewer is giving their opinion about an artist’s work in a VERY public way. Some reviewers can make or break a show…(which I am in NO position to do.)… so artists are weary of them. Weary of engaging them.
I remember being in a performer in Minneapolis and when reviewers would come to a show, or if I would see them, I wasn’t sure HOW to talk to them, or even if I SHOULD. It was as if they are on ONE side and the artists on the OTHER. Which is sorta weird. Right? Shouldn’t we be… like… all on the same side? Especially now? Like shouldn’t we be able to talk about the work… and it’s not personal? Though, I get it… creating art can be personal, it can be about personal stuff… and so when someone doesn’t like it… you take it personally. Especially if they take #2’s route.
But I don’t want to be the enemy. I want to be on of the good guys.