Friday, October 18, 2013

Going Critical: Bias

If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, you'll note I try to link to every comic or website I reference.  I feel if I'm going to comment on them, I should at least let my readers read the site themselves and see if they come up with an alternative opinion, with one exception:  Penny Arcade.

I hate Penny Arcade.  And I was hating it before it went through it's recent issues with dickwolves (BOTH times now).  I won't link to it, not even in an article ABOUT it.  Why do I go to such extremes?  Bias.

I am biased against Penny Arcade.  Every thought about it brings with it disgust or rage, sometimes both.  I can't think rationally about it as a comic (as a business, I can, to a point).  Why?  I can't really describe it, not in words that don't default to nonsensical cursing at least.  Knowing I'm biased against it is kind of important because if I tried to review Penny Arcade, the review wouldn't be very good.  All comics deserve a fair hearing, and I would not provide Penny Arcade with one.

In this sense, the reader of a critic should be a critic of said critic.  Pointing out the critic's bias is essential to an active and informed audience.  Last week I linked to the Cinema Snob, which was created in response to Roger Ebert, who had a disposition against horror and other exploitative works of cinema.  Were his criticisms wrong about those works?  Maybe, but his bias resulted in him being more confrontational about those pieces than were necessary.  Does it invalidate any of his other reviews?  God no, nor does it mean his opinion of those pieces any less valid.  It does mean, though that reader must take that bias into account.

That said, it's quite easy to confuse a negative reception with bias.  Just because a critic doesn't like something doesn't mean they naturally hate it.  A bit ago the inspiration for this series came when I had a discussion with an IRC chat member about Blade Kitten of all things.  He really likes the game, and while I've not played it, just watching the Let's Play, I could see that mechanically, the game is pretty solid.  I told him what I thought of the comic and his reply was "everyone has different tastes."

Of course it wasn't about taste, I tried to enumerate that in my review, it's a badly executed comic.  Saying it's about taste is basically saying "you're biased against it because it's not what you like."  Just because I have a negative opinion about the work doesn't mean I'm biased against it.  I didn't go into it wanting to hate the comic, I NEVER go into a comic wanting to hate it, but what I found was poor, so I had to say so in the review.  I don't HATE Blade Kitten, not like I hate Penny Arcade or Diesel Sweeties.  I just found it to be a bad work.

He still assumed I hated it.  Which is funny considering he hadn't read the comic yet himself.  Still hasn't as of this writing.  Will his opinion change when he does?  No idea, but if he likes it, he likes it, life goes on.  My review is my opinion.  I tried not to be bias with it, and I don't feel I am.

Critics who say something is bad will always face this kind of reaction.  They don't necessarily hate it, they just see that it could be better.  The best defense is not go into something expecting to hate it, but that's the only way to get around the issue, and only just.  Still, not liking something means I have to take precautions, thus why I don't link to Penny Arcade, because I really don't want to deal with those who are biased the other way, they love the comic to death.  They might find this place anyway, but at least I didn't actively seek them out.

Well, that's enough of that.  Next week, we wrap this series up.  Until then kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment