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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

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 20, 2018

            7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

            7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

            What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

            For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

            It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

            1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

            The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

            What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

            The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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            2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

            Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

            How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

            If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

            Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

            3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

            Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

            If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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            These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

            What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

            4. What are my goals in life?

            Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

            Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

            5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

            Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

            Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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            You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

            Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

            6. What do I not like to do?

            An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

            What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

            Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

            The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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            7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

            Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

            But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

            “What do I want to do with my life?”

            So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

            Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

            Reference

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