Criticism and Attack; A Matter of Critical and Offensive Importance

I recently finished watching The Warrior’s Way (a Samurai film with roots in the deep west) for the second time and since I am somewhat of a fan, I decided to search for reviews by popular critics and the general public by going to various websites and so on and so forth (the foremost being YouTube; if you want to know how people feel about a movie or TV show, go to YouTube, search for the trailer and read the comments. For every troll comment, there’ll be one that makes up for it; a genuinely interesting and thorough comment). Suffice it to say, I found the reviews I was looking for; though in the process I also discovered a rather startling fact, specifically that people don’t know the difference between criticism and attack. Now, it’s all well and nice to dismiss this as a mere observation with no real data to back it, but luckily for all those involved, I searched further (on websites such as IGN, GameSpot, Veoh, Dailymotion, and even the New York Times) and I’ve found that people actually do not know the difference between the two concepts. The good news, however, is that TheByteDaily is always there to provide a helpful hand when it comes to definitions and descriptions, so for all intents and purposes, read on, read on, read on.

To begin with, criticism is the act of finding and discussing the merits and faults of an individual, or substance of matter. For example, merely claiming that The Warrior’s Way “Sucks” is not criticism. In fact, it’s the furthest thing from criticism as it contains no actual argument as to why the piece of work is bad. Furthermore, the comment fails to provide any of the film’s merits (the good stuff) and therefore, because it fails to defend it’s argument and because the argument is nothing more than a simple comment without taking into account what the film did right, it can be classified as “Not criticism.” Attack (in the psychological sense) is the forceful act of blaming, abusing, and violently finding fault in an individual, or substance of matter. Claiming that The Warrior’s Way “Sucks” is attack. Yes. It isn’t violent and it certainly isn’t blaming the movie for anything, but it is abuse and it is finding fault, and that thereby, and by default, makes it attack. A proper criticism of The Warrior’s Way would be as follows: “The Warrior’s Way sucks because the movie attempts to make up for its bland acting, and insistence on sticking to overused cliches, with pretty visuals which do not do enough to distract the viewer or allow the audience to venture into a state of escapism. Additionally, while the acting, visuals, and western cliches take away from the film, the score is well used and the movie sounds fantastic.” Note that in the above criticism I pointed out why the movie is bad, discussed these reasons and then proceeded to point out something that movie did well (specifically, its musical score).

Contrary to popular belief, criticism is not equal to attack and, in fact, it’s quite the opposite; while attack is often used to demoralize an individual, criticism is meant to give them a reason to find solace in their faults. Criticism allows an individual to come to terms with their discrepancies, and at the same time, it allows an individual to find ways to fix these mistakes. Additionally, while these faults are brought to attention, an individual’s merits (that is to say, their good qualities) are also discussed, which allows them to apply these positives to their negatives to better themselves. This, however, is all assuming one knows how to handle criticism; the next point of interest that I noticed while researching the aforementioned film being: how does one handle criticism?

Well, the first step is actually quite simple (in comparison to the subsequent ones); before one can begin handling criticism, they must first understand what criticism is. If this set of information is not available in one’s pool of knowledge, then they must immediately refer themselves to the beginning of this article (or a dictionary; whichever is easier). For the intents and purposes of this exercise, criticism is, once again, finding the good and bad in someone or something and attack is, once again, finding the bad in someone or something. The worst thing anyone can do is enter a discussion about criticism (specifically one where they themselves are being criticized) without truly understanding the difference between criticism and attack. Interestingly enough, the next step in the process (of handling criticism) is understanding whether or not your critic understands what criticism is. This can be rather difficult to figure out, but it’s all a matter of knowing your audience.

If they don’t know the difference, educate them, otherwise move onto the next step. Specifically, listen to your audience and try to understand the points they are making. More often than naught, this will be easy because your audience is talking about yourself or your own work. If it at first they make sense, this is a good sign, one should keep listening to insure that they continue making sense before launching their own argument. However, if the audience does not make sense and their points appear to be invalid, quickly ask them to elaborate further (so as to avoid any further difficulty) and above all else, do not hold back on any questions you might have. The worst possible situation to be in is one where you or your work is being criticized and you don’t understand the points being raised. It must be mentioned however that there will always be a point where the criticism doesn’t make sense, which is why it is imperative that one listens closely to what is being said so any concerns can be rectified.

It must also be mentioned that there will always be a point in the criticism where an individual will not agree with their audience or critic, and the worst possible thing to do in this scenario is ignore the critics and claim them to be a series of philistines who do not understand your work or your medium. The reason why, obviously, is because you’ll be right; your critics will not understand your work and they will definitely not understand the amount of time and effort you have put into your medium, and with this knowledge in hand, you will cloud your own judgement, which is why if the first thought that comes to mind while you’re being criticized is that they’re wrong and you’re right, you won’t be going anywhere helpful, or at all. If you want to handle criticism properly, you need to get past the fact that you worked hard on something, and the fact that you spent hours of your life devoting yourself to a certain medium, and understand that the critic hasn’t, therefore their claims (whether accurate or not) are still founded because they have the ability to step back from the work and look at it objectively. This objective gaze is something you definitely cannot do (no matter how much you believe you can) because to you, whatever is being criticized, is entirely subjective.

On the topic of objectivity and subjectivity, however, I’d like to offer this bit of insight: yes, one must remain objective to fully take in everything that is being said, but it isn’t wrong to be subjective during this time. Quite the contrary actually; if you aren’t subjective to your own work, then what’s the point in having worked so hard in the first place. Yes, I can certainly understand having someone meticulously berating you for a minor misdemeanor (which to you seems almost inconsequential) and I can absolutely agree that it can get to be a bit much. I also agree that it can be hard to not want to voice your opinion on the subject even more vocally, which is why you shouldn’t and mustn’t stand there and remain entirely objective to the criticism. Which is why, before I conclude, I’d like to add one final bit: when it comes to something you believe in (especially something you feel proud of, or something you’ve devoted yourself to) be incredibly and absolutely defensive. Do not miss an opportunity to defend yourself and your actions by using carefully constructed and extremely thorough arguments as your base. Allow your critics to see that you do understand their point of view, but also that you are capable of developing criticism on your own, in addition to being able to explain your choices and thoughts. I understand that there are certain levels of criticism where one cannot respond directly, or in a manner where they feel comfortable, but remember that nothing worth having or doing comes easy; meaning that if you’ve somehow managed to find something you’re good at, or something you enjoy doing, and someone comes along and tarnishes the idea, defend yourself. But remember to take their words into consideration, and to criticize and not attack. Otherwise, you won’t progress at all, and you can almost entirely forget about moving forward or growing as an individual.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment and CRITICIZE, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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