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The Lost Art of Criticism

The Lost Art of Criticism

How often do you look up people’s opinions and reviews about movies before you watch them? In this day and age, it’s so easy for everyone to write out their opinion on something and post it on the internet. So in the case of movies, pretty much anyone can be a ‘movie critic’.

But a lot of these people openly criticize newly released movies without real concrete reasons to back up their points of view. Most of the time, people only see things from a personal perspective and their own feelings about it rather than forming different perspectives and providing a critical structure towards the film. Criticism is an art but an art that’s getting lost in a sea of personal opinions.

Roger Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism is a prestigious award presented since 1970 to critics who have demonstrated ‘distinguished criticism’. Ebert won due to his “relative, not absolute” critical approach to films.

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    In other words, when he reviewed a film, he did it from the point of view of its prospective audience as well as the film’s value as a whole.

    The Damage of Biased Opinions

    We all have opinions and like to express them and the internet makes it much easier for more people to voice their strong points of view. There are many people who are more informed or knowledgable than others but this isn’t a ticket to being right with their opinions. It’s still subjective criticism if it isn’t done in a professional and trained way therefore bias rears its head in most cases resulting in a limiting, single perspective.

      Bias is natural for us and hard to rein in. In neurological terms, the brain has limited information processing capacity.[1] This means we actually believe we know more than we actually do and we have a tendency to embrace only information that supports our own belief and so “confirmation bias” is formed. This allows many of us to enter a state of assumption or relying on common ‘facts’ to back up our belief without seeking disconfirming evidence. It’s in this state that we create the “I’m right and you’re wrong” way of thinking.

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        While people giving out their idea of criticism may seem harmless, the danger of this is the general dismissal and lack of credibility within a critical review. The main point of constructive, unbiased criticism in anything is to create an improvement but if we don’t know the true art of delivering criticism, the people receiving the criticism can easily dismiss it and not use it to build on improving.

          What Exactly is Good Criticism?

          The basis of good criticism is positive intention. This means it’s presented as a form of communication with the intent of understanding others or helping others to improve in a positive direction.

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          Anyone who puts their creative work out there should be open to ways of improvement and growth. Good, constructive criticism is in place to allow the creator to gain more perspective and help them to make their next set of choices.

          Valued criticism should also be objective and come from a space of taking in different perspectives. This means being able to recognise that there isn’t one universal opinion but recognising there are many possible and valuable points of view to take into consideration.

          Fully understanding the intention of what you’re forming a critical eye about is key to sensible criticism. Measuring how good or bad something is requires knowledge about the true intent behind what the creator is trying to get across.

          Lastly, respecting other points of view is essential. Good criticism never comes from a standard perspective but takes into account different ways of seeing something and acknowledging other approaches of thinking than your own.

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            A Guide to Good Criticism: Giving It Out and Taking It

            The ability to be a good critic will add to the world because you can really create improvement and growth. Taking criticism can be hard, but if you do this with an open mind and in a constructive way, you can really add value to your own growth and direction.

            Giving Criticism

            1. Make sure you fully understand the intentions and goals behind what you’re looking at.
            2. Be mindful of your personal opinion and realise that it doesn’t determine the quality of something.
            3. Avoid focusing on only the flaws and be sure to pay the same amount of attention to the good qualities. This creates an important element of motivation and encouragement for the one being criticised.

            Taking Criticism

            1. Listen and be as open as possible to what’s being said. It’s important to get as many perspectives as possible in order to gain a fuller picture and identify growth.
            2. Ask clarifying questions with the intention of fully understanding what they are communicating to you. It’s very easy to shut off and make judgements about their opinion if you feel it’s wrong. Make sure you’re clear about what they mean and then process what they’re saying.
            3. Ask for suggestions for improvement but stay true to your original goals. Don’t change entire areas just to keep someone else happy but keep them aligned with your initial outlook and intention.
            4. Be in control by choosing someone who you know has the ability to give good and constructive criticism. This doesn’t mean someone who you know will have a biased towards you but someone who is honest and wants the best for you in terms of growth and improvement.

            Next time you give an opinion, read someone else’s opinion or take criticism, be mindful of the perspective it’s coming from. Ask yourself if your or their opinion is bias, fuelled by emotion or a limited perspective. Take into account more than one perspective and understand what the true intentions of what you’re seeing is trying to convey. Taking criticism can be hard but make sure it’s coming from an honest source and be open to improvements for positive growth.

            Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

            Reference

            [1] ScienceDirect: Trends in Cognitive Sciences

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            Anna Chui

            Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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            Last Updated on September 17, 2019

            10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

            10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

            Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

            But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

            Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

            1. Spend Time with Positive People

            If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

            Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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            2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

            When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

            Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

            3. Contribute to the Community

            One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

            Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

            4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

            Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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            Some recommendations for you:

            5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

            You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

            If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

            There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

            6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

            It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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            Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

            7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

            Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

            Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

            8. Offer Compliments to Others

            Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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            9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

            If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

            Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

            10. Practice Self-Care

            Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

            Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

            Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

            More About Staying Positive

            Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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