Man Gets Opinions From Critic

John Man, earnest nodder and smiler, was slightly concerned after hearing some of his colleagues discussing a concert they had recently attended. Though they discussed it for some time, they could not agree whether it had been a good or bad concert; luckily, Man had read some random critic’s review of it, so he was able to settle the matter.

“They were lucky I was able to explain it to them,” he said. “If not, they might have just kept discussing their own opinions fruitlessly.”

Man’s colleagues were interested to hear what he had to say and asked him several questions about the music and what he thought of the musician’s performances. “Yes, that was very confusing,” said Man. “I had already told them that it was a two-star concert, so I don’t know why they wanted to ask about all that stuff. How am I even supposed to know all that if I wasn’t there?”

Bravely, his coworkers persisted in asking him about the two-star rating, hoping to find out why he thought the concert was not deserving of more. “Well, I know it is worth two stars because it had two stars in the paper,” he said, getting exasperated. “If it was better than that, it would have had four or maybe even five stars in the paper. You see, it’s the prevalence of stars which indicates quality.”

Man’s friend Sally McNally wondered if perhaps he was relying too much on the views of one critic. “Oh no,” he said, “of course you can’t rely on just one critic to get your opinions; that would be absurd. The trick is to rely on at least two critics. When they agree on something, it’s because that thing is true.”

After the conversation had finished, Man was pleased that he was able to present his friends with a verdict they could trust and use for themselves. “Even if I had gone to the concert and enjoyed it,” he said, “well…you just can’t argue with two stars, can you?”

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2 Responses

  1. eloisehellyer says:

    I know performers who think critics should be removed from the human race. I can almost understand reviewing a movie, theatrical production or any performance that is repeated numerous times so that people may decide if they want to go to see it. (However, once I went to see a movie I thoroughly enjoyed, “All That Jazz,” which made a huge impression on me – thank heavens I saw it BEFORE I read the review which panned it.) But what is the sense in reviewing a music performance which is usually a one-off?? If the review is favorable, those who enjoyed it will still have pleasant memories and those who didn’t are not likely to change their minds. If the review is unfavorable, it just makes those who enjoyed it either to feel stupid or angry and those who didn’t are only justified. Everyone takes something different away from a performance and it’s an extremely personal thing. Who cares if a certain famous violinist’s “pitch wavered” if he’s transmitting something important? I’ll bet most people didn’t even notice his supposed intonation mistakes (if there were any and even that is up to interpretation). Performing is hard enough without the added anxiety of someone arbitrarily deciding what’s good and what isn’t when everyone’s parameters are different AS THEY SHOULD BE. Why can’t we just enjoy life and music (same thing) without worrying about other people’s opinions????

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