The art of moaning

There’s quite an interesting thread currently going on at the TOS boards regarding Andrew’s Rant of Disappointment at the way negative comments are aired on the internet, specifically regarding series VII and VIII and the DVDs.

This has set me off thinking about the way negative reviews are handled by the fan sites and also the way some people bemoan these negative opinion pieces. Of course, Andrew has every right to challenge pointlessly negative and unfounded comments, like the ones he cited in his post, but the inherent disquiet from other, ‘pro VII and VIII’, fans over other fans bearing negative opinions (especially on VII and VIII) is worrying to me.

I’ve commented on the board myself, talking about my own attitude towards reviewing and expressing negative comments, but the thread worries me greatly as a heck of a lot of people seem to be under the impression that if they’ve got something positive to say about a show then they have the moral high ground to just shrug off negative reviewers and even to suggest that their conclusions require “less intelligence” to arrive at than positive ones or that ww do it to fill our “otherwise vacant lives”. It is often suggested that negative reviews shouldn’t try to speak for everyone else or present opinion as fact, while at the same time we’re being told to accept their opinion on the matters, ignore what we don’t like and just generally stop our foul whining. Is that right? Or is that totally flying in the face of proper discussion? I may be taking this a little too much to heart, but it does seem to be an incredibly frustrating attitude, to me.

So, how do you think negative comments are handled in the Red Dwarf fan site community? Are places like Ganymede and Titan, Garbage World and The White Hole too harsh and to bitter with some of their pieces? Or is it fare and just to be openly honest and frank about your opinions whether they be positive, negative or indifferent?

*I realise that once the thread on the WebBoard falls off the edge, and is deleted, this post will have no real citing point, so I’ll try and save the thread properly at some point.

20 Responses to The art of moaning

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  1. Actually, I think it might be a good idea to point out that I do agree with Andrew’s original post, and that it is important not to mindlessly slag something off or blow things out of proportion, while reviewing something. I don’t always stick to that, but I do agree with it, on principle.

    Also, people who’s critique of something extends to:

    “red dwarf vii and viii were shite OMG I can’t wait for criag and chris to slag it off in the commentaryes, they must hate it”

    can shut the hell up, too.

  2. Being negative can bring about positive results. For one, it starts discussion.

    I’m negative about VII and VIII mostly because I KNOW that Doug can do so much better. However, I can actually sit down and watch VII and VIII without moaning all the way through. (When we get to Pete, though, I will fall into a violent paroxysmal fit and hum the original theme tune to T.J. Hooker one semitone off key. Just one of those things.)

  3. Since Andrew spends a lot of the word-length complaining about negative criticism, it seems odd to mention “According to Bex”, “The Crouches”, “A Prince Among Men” . Ie. Shows which were ripped to pieces by the papers.

    >”Moreover, does anyone genuinely think that the cast utterly hate those two series? This is a cast who have, separately, done shows like The Funky Bunker, Prince Among Men, The Crouches… and this guy expects them to act like two series of Dwarf – with good reviews, genuinely, good ratings and good video sales – represent the nadir of their careers?”

    Someone please explain what he is actually saying here? That the cast were involved in programmes like this and dislike them because they didn’t get good reviews or achieve good ratings? Or that they’re not too bothered about the quality of the programmes they produce? Or is he just simply relying on comparing VII and VIII to badly-recieved programmes to show “how much better” they are?

    (Btw, since he spends a lot of the time rubbishing the reviews of the DVDs, does he expect us to be too bothered about the “good reviews” of series VII and VIII? Or the bad reviews of “According to Bex” et al. )

    Andrew’s main gripe is that humans seem to want to criticise rather than praise, which is not exactly inherent of just Red Dwarf and/or DVDs.

    The thing worth considering is that Red Dwarf is HUGE. An international fanbase, a large web presence and good ratings. Therefore, the negative aspects need highlighting a little more. The reason people are criticising parts of the DVDs is because they care. People want these DVDs to be perfect and they *almost* are so they highlight the things that are wrong so they’re sorted for the next release. Most of the time this seems to happen.

    I think the DVDs have been pretty great; showcasing a genuine enthusiasm for the programme. That said, some of the features seem to denote a wish to create as long a list of extras as possible. Filler material that you’ll never watch twice is not welcome. However, because – shock horror-Mr Ellard has spent a lot of time and effort producing them, we’re instantly supposed to like them? It doesn’t work like that.

    I’d like Andrew’s list of 10 things he likes about “My Hero” and, in return, I’ll write my “50 reasons why VIII is a pile of turd”.

  4. Pete – happy to engage in the debate (though I’ll mostly stick to the home forum), but I don’t think I quite got my meaning across, given your reaction.

    > Since Andrew spends a lot of the word-length complaining about negative
    > criticism, it seems odd to mention “According to Bex”, “The Crouches”, “A
    > Prince Among Men” . Ie. Shows which were ripped to pieces by the papers.

    My point was that I can’t understand a fan who says ‘I can’t wait for the cast to say how much they hate RDVII and VIII, because they clearly will, for they are pants’. Don’t these people reasilse that these people have been in far ‘worse’ shows, of which they are sometimes proud, and sometimes diappointed by. In either instance, this does not lead one to expect the cast to disparage two Dwarf series which a) did not disappoint them, and b) represented far better work on their CV than some of their more ‘regretable’ choices.

    > Someone please explain what he is actually saying here?

    Just did. :-)

    > That the cast were
    > involved in programmes like this and dislike them because they didn’t get good
    > reviews or achieve good ratings?

    I referred neither to ratings, nor to reviews. But they have THEIR OWN opinions on these shows, and have voiced them. And they have done the same with Dwarf, always.

    Again, to repeat, my point was – it’s a strange thing to expect them to react negatively to two Dwarf series at this point. Because they ARE proud of them, and their work on them. And nothing this outspoken group have ever said suggests otherwise.

    And yes, also, they know how they feel about shows that genuinely ‘fail’, or fall shot of their hopes. (Prince was dropped after much schedule-shuffling; Crouches swapped out the writer, and seems unlikely to return again.)

    > Or that they’re not too bothered about the
    > quality of the programmes they produce?

    No – that is not what I meant to imply at all.

    > Or is he just simply relying on
    > comparing VII and VIII to badly-recieved programmes to show “how much better”
    > they are?

    My point was, as explained, about expectation of cast opinion. I have no new case to make about VII and VIII beyond my usual “people watched it, we get fan mail for it, the videos sold, and not every person thinks like a hardcore Series-hater simply because they are an especially ocal group”.

    I take the fan opinions very seriously, being one myself long before GNP (and still). I ask for, and want, feedback. But sometimes a small hardcore, who are especially loud, think they speak for all viewers. And they can’t possibly.

    > (Btw, since he spends a lot of the time rubbishing the reviews of the DVDs,

    This is MASSIVELY unfair – I most certainly don’t ‘rubbish’ DVD reviews. I thrive on them. But my view, which I think is valid, is as stated in the original post: But we seem to be expending more and more energy complaining about the small things rather than praising the larger things.

    My belief is that statement of opinion should reflect, in reasonable proportion, the qualities it sits within your own mind. I could write 20 pages on Alien, and what’s wrong with it. But I could write 3,000 pages on why it’s good.

    Both are good and valid, but I believe we should be honour-bound to not produce one without the other.

    My complint is not about DVD reviews, not about any one fan opinion – it’s about a culture, predominant on the net, that thrives on bile over reasonable discussion.

    > does he expect us to be too bothered about the “good reviews” of series VII
    > and VIII? Or the bad reviews of “According to Bex” et al. )

    I made no reference to reviews of Bex – I’ve not read any, and only raised the show as one example of a programme I consider to be massively inferior to Dwarf. But that’s MY opinion, I’m not quoting anyone else’s.

    But yes, if you expect people who like VII and VIII to listen to other fans slam in it, then the same courtesy should be expected in return. I don’t expect anyone to change their opinion, but I expect anyone willing to argue strongly to do their best to assess the landscape before speaking.

    > Andrew’s main gripe is that humans seem to want to criticise rather than
    > praise, which is not exactly inherent of just Red Dwarf and/or DVDs.

    Nor did I say it was – indeed, I said quite the opposite! My main issues are with the culture, not with any ‘branch’ of Dwarfdom. It’s not unreasonable to state your case for something that, you believe, would make the world a better place. And I genuinely believe that intelligent debate is good for people – I just don’t think “this is crap’ consitutes that dabte, nor makes for a heathly societal attitude.

    > The thing worth considering is that Red Dwarf is HUGE. An international
    > fanbase, a large web presence and good ratings. Therefore, the negative
    > aspects need highlighting a little more.

    But that’s an opinion, not a fact. And my opinion differs. I don’t this criticism should be harsher simply because a thing is popular or successful.

    The core of may argument, as you’ve sharply picked up on, is that there is a group who have decided that to over-criticise is beneficial. And it’s my contention that this isn’t the case. That going OTT is actually damaging to our culture, and to our social and mental wellbeing.

    >The reason people are criticising
    > parts of the DVDs is because they care.

    And I don’t dispute this – and say again, this wasn’t about JUST the DVDs, or just Dwarf. It’s BECAUSE I believe the point you make here that I do take the reviews and comments seriously. My issue is with those who do it less out of ‘love’ and more just to join in, cos it looks fun.

    > I think the DVDs have been pretty great; showcasing a genuine enthusiasm for
    > the programme. That said, some of the features seem to denote a wish to create
    > as long a list of extras as possible. Filler material that you’ll never watch
    > twice is not welcome. However, because – shock horror-Mr Ellard has spent a
    > lot of time and effort producing them, we’re instantly supposed to like them?
    > It doesn’t work like that.

    No do I expect that, and I hope this sarcasm is meant to be funny. Because you’ve just suggested I hold an opinion that I don’t.

    Read my original piece again – please – because I never said anything of the sort, nor implied it. of course ‘work level’ can’t relate to critical opinion. It can encourage some respect – when a musician I’m not keen on labours hard on something, I can respect it without appreciating it.

    But i guess part of my problem IS that the respect seems to be slipping out of human nature generally. And maybe it is especially easily forgotten on the anonymous and hastily-reacted-to net; and even more so when the topic is a show, say, that people care deeply for.

    (BTW, I’d happily discuss the reasons I don’t condiser ANY DVD material as ‘filler’ on the main RD board. But as part of this debate, which is sepatare.)

    > I’d like Andrew’s list of 10 things he likes about “My Hero” and, in return,
    > I’ll write my “50 reasons why VIII is a pile of turd”.

    Wouldn’t it be a fairer exchange to give me your ten reasons why you LIKE VIII? Because I can give you that ten for My Hero – or any show – any time.

    While I think you’ve taken quite a drastic reading of my original post, perhaps that was down to the writing. I hope this clarifies my thoughts – agree with them or not.

  5. “Moreover, does anyone genuinely think that the cast
    utterly hate those two series? This is a cast who have,
    separately, done shows like The Funky Bunker, Prince
    Among Men, The Crouches… and this guy expects them
    to act like two series of Dwarf – with good reviews,
    genuinely, good ratings and good video sales – represent
    the nadir of their careers?”

    I actually think this is a really good point. The reason I personally can’t wait for the VII and VIII commentaries is not to hear them either slag them off or pitifully attempt to justify them, but to hear them say exactly what they think worked and didn’t in them. What’s clear, from series VIII at least, is that the cast and crew had a bloody great time making it – I expect that to come through in the commentary, even if I may not agree that the series are any good.

    But the point made about how Series VIII, while you may think it’s pants (and I do), is nowhere near the nadir of any of the cast’s career (Captain Butler is one of the worst sitcoms I have ever seen) is a fair one :-)

  6. Sorry about the lousy typing, BTW. My idiotically long post is now replicated on the RD webboard without quite so many errors – for those who can’t stand the psychological damage the original may cause.

  7. It must say something about how stupid I am that if I could get any tapes of Captain Butler, I’d do a section on G&T about it.

    I do have something decent to say about this discussion, but it requires me actually putting some thought into what I’m saying for a change…

  8. I think everybody’s right. Except me. So just forget I spoke, OK?

    (It’s Ian, btw, I can’t be fucked changing the details. But I have just bothered to write a sentence explaining this. And another.)

  9. Oh dear (said in the same way as Rimmer says it in Out Of Time). It appears things have gotten a little out of hand regarding this subject. My personal opinion is that everyone has a right to their own personal opinion and everyone has every right to express their aforementioned personal opinion as often as and to whatever degree they choose.

    Check out Star Wars. A lot of Star Wars fans rip the shit out of Episodes I & II, but there are also many fans who enjoy them and can see their merits whilst also seeing their cons.

    To me, Dwarf became slightly a parody of itself by attempting to play to fans in VIII especially (Dibley family….dancing Blue Midget) when really no-one fuckin wanted to see those!! While it’s plainly obvious that there are some good moments in VII & VIII, some good episodes (well, IMO Tikka, Cassandra, Duct Soup and Stoke Me A Clipper are the best (notice only 1 from VIII!!…)), the majority is bad and there’s no way around it. No-one can persuade me that episodes like Blue and Pete aren’t cancerous polyps on the anus of humanity in comparison to Dwarf 1-6. And if I want to state that opinion I can…I just did. HOWEVER, I can see that it’s wrong simply to say ‘Red Dwarf VII & VIII? They’re totally shite’ without thinking about it. But the arguments for and against the series have been gone over time and time again, so it isn’t a wonder that people are so negative abouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu\ws *got so bored with self fell asleep at keyboarddddddd* end transmission.

  10. Perhaps I was a bit harsh, Andrew and I apologise. I agree that there seems to be a need to be cynical and particularly nasty about – well, just about everything- especially on the net. However, I believe this stems from society?s displeasure and growing resentment towards hype and crass marketing. Viewing the posts on a well-known site such as AICN isn?t pleasant because the vast majority of posters have become disillusioned over?I don?t know what.; the Hollywood mill-machine, the disposable nature of celebrity, bad haircuts?pick one.

    It just seems like you?ve overlooked the very nature of fandom. Especially with this sentence :

    ?That going OTT is actually damaging to our culture, and to our social and mental wellbeing?

    But this, in essence, is what being a fan is about. And these people are the reason you have a job at Grant Naylor. If it weren?t for people being OTT; treating the show as if it?s ?more than a show? and being passionate about the highs AND the lows, you wouldn?t sell half as many DVDs.

    If people ?care? enough to discuss a show?s virtues, you have to be prepared for them to discuss it?s faults. Fine, some people may love it unconditionally and may not wish to do this but others are entitled to express their opinions. You seem to think that people ?enjoy? the fact that they?re slating VII and VIII and, while I enjoy a good whine, it?s only because I dislike them so much in comparison to Series I-VI. Given the choice, I?d rather blindly love the later series than find huge flaws with my favourite show. Unfortunately, I?m not built that way and my ?ten reasons why I like VIII? is rather pitiful. I tried, I really did.

    1. The Music.
    2. Rimmer is back. Yay.
    3. ?You?re not supposed to wear your disguise under your normal outfit?.
    4. ?Wrong number?.
    5. ?About the same speed as the average Little Chef waitress. That’s why they don’t appear to be actually doing anything.?. The best ?torturous simile? by a country mile.
    6. Um. Cat dressed as a nurse?

    7. The old bunkroom set.

    8- 10. Help me someone.

    Your chief objection is with the G+T post that the cast will spend the commentary slating VII and VIII. While I agree that it?s extremely doubtful that this would happen, perhaps I?m cynical to think that it wouldn?t happen because the cast are being paid to talk for eight hours about a body of work that they probably haven?t watched since its initial screening. Of course, you?d know a lot more about this than I but, as someone who has listened to the previous audio commentaries, there does seem to be the problem that none of the cast can really remember the episode their watching. (Obviously I?m ignoring the fact that VII and VIII are more recent).

    As for these defenceless fans who love VII and VIII, well, times have obviously changed. When I was a member of TORDFC, it was a tantamount to blasphemy to discuss a flaw with either series. Don?t be so eager to believe that people are ?jumping on the bandwagon? and just love to criticise the series. Just accept that they might not be particularly eloquent in their criticism, but it makes it no more valid. Ignore them, by all means. After all; they?re ?only? opinions.

    You should be thankful that the majority of criticism directed towards
    The next two discs will stem from the features themselves; not the extras; something which is beyond your control. In the meantime, you can concentrate on the special features; an aspect which has improved with each successive release. I haven?t watched VIII in atleast a couple of years; yet, you have a ready made consumer here who is passionate enough about the programme to complete this, very impressive, collection.

  11. Totally agree about the AICN postings. Scary stuff indeed.

    You make a good point about ‘going OTT’, but I disagree that it relates so directly. Fan love isn’t OTT to the people who feel the show deserves their passion. But my contention – and I’m sure you’ll disagree! – is that the negative sprial has a faster trajectory. It’s an easier bandwagon to jump on. I’m not saying all, or even most, do just that – but plenty do. Or so it feels to me.

    (Oh, but fans aren’t a reason I have a job. They’re just the reason I have THIS job! I’m quite capable of other things, y’know!) :-)

    As to this point: “If people ?care? enough to discuss a show?s virtues, you have to be prepared for them to discuss it?s faults.”

    I’m sorry, I may still not be making myself clear. To repeat, I welcome and demand a critical audience. It’s not just valid as a form of expression, it’s incredibly useful to anyone creative. Either to prove a duff decision was made (DVD-wise, say, not whipping up English-Japanese-English translated subtitles for comedy value on the Series I DVD episode extra), or to confirm our own opinions (I wasn’t entirely happy with the Life in Lam? recut, which lacked my original narrative structure, for example).

    Also: “You seem to think that people ?enjoy? the fact that they?re slating VII and VIII”

    I really do think that it’s become a kind of competition, for entertainment. See Austin Ross’ second post in this thread – I think that’s next to useless as constructive critique. But it’s a funny gag, and people’ll like him for it. That’s fine, but it’s endemic in our culture that a good put down i better appreciated than a fine compliment. That’s not just Dwarf, that’s everywhere.

    I also think that a lot of net opinion isn’t done for the good of the programme, it’s done to show people are ‘on side’, or to vent spleen. Equally valid, but not simply motivated by love.

    Also, good reviewing is an art. Everyone can have an opinion, but not everyone can write a good review, provide useful critique. There’s a reason way Empire print the work of decent reviewers, rather than just nick some of the ‘This film sucked balls’ comments on the IMDB!

    I don’t believe your Series VIII list. I just don’t. But I don’t know you, and I’m probably wrong. How about editing the guys in AR – that’s a clever SF concept, well used. Cassandra’s performance? And indeed much of the crew’s dialogue when they first meet her? The production design? The lighting? The fact that each episode cost the same as Dinnerladies?

    (This is what I mean about respect, really; hate the eps or not, it’s churlish to be wholly derisive of the achievement. Just because Doug’s good at turning lead into gold, I think people kinda ignore the effort if he produces – and I use this metaphor for your benefit, because it doesn’t match my opinion – bronze.)

    I concur on the commentaries, at least from the POV that they haven’t seen them in a while (but they HAVE seen them several time before, just not in the last year or two). I’d love to force them to ‘rehearse’ and research, but they have their own style and it works for them. But anyway, I’m not sure how that’s relevent to any opinion they give once they’re in there!

    Indeed, they’re quite happy to slate things in those commentaries – but mostly they don’t. Their choice – they get paid for the interviews, too, and are very vocal in those, as I hope the docs attest. (We’ve never yet removed anything simply because it’s a difffering viewpoint to ours, or is too ‘controversial’.)

    Finally: “As for these defenceless fans who love VII and VIII, well, times have obviously changed. When I was a member of TORDFC, it was a tantamount to blasphemy to discuss a flaw with either series.”

    Fair point. but yes, times HAVE changed, and now things are the other way round. And I didn’t like it eitehr way. Because balance is best.

    For the record, old BTLs have my reviews of Series VII and VIII – positive and negative, but generally very happy – and they weren’t written that way because TORDFC’s members were wired a certain way. I think it’s issue 8 that contains my first BTL letter…stating how unhappy I was with Series V. I had no problem giving that opinion, and nobody tried to tear me a new one when I stated it.

    Of course, that may be about to change… :-)

    I still hold by my main point – that it’s good to get critique, but as one person once said “You’re not entilted to your opinion unless it’s an informed opinion”. I don’t wholly agree with that, but there’s no denying that people seem to take any excuse these days to mention their greviences.

    Why else do so many Amazon reviews of Series I-VI mention VII and VIII? How does that help guage the current DVD, or affect subsequent DVD production, or help a buyer choose this item or not? These guys are venting, and that’s not reason enough to inflict an opinion on a vulnerable world.

    Which is still what I’m really talking about. And why I’m now done with this topic (though I’m looking forward to a lively series debate at DJ, if someone else is buying!); because if I got struck down tomorrow, I’d hate my last actions to have been random pouring of bile. Something that was not only not-contructive, but selfish and mean.

    I’d rather help out, if I can.

  12. > I think it’s issue 8 that contains my first BTL letter…stating how unhappy I was with Series V. I had no problem giving that opinion, and nobody tried to tear me a new one when I stated it.
    >
    > Of course, that may be about to change… :-)

    You vile man.

  13. This is a perfect time for me to get onto my buns and write up that “In Praise of Series VIII” article I’ve been intending for the last few months.

    It’s not tongue in cheek, either, for anyone who doesn’t know, I genuinely think series VIII was great. It’ll be a nice companion piece to Flibble’s series VII article.

    Want it, John?

  14. OK, Andrew just dug himself a deeper hole saying how he disliked V…..although, everyone has a right to their view, deluded or otherwise…

    I certainly agree with most of what he said there, particularly that there’s no need for mentions of VII & VIII on amazon reviews of I-VI DVDs, after all, they don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence (apart from when I just did it then…), no seriously, there is obviously a lot of slagging of the two which shall not be named (apart from when I named them earlier…..DAMN I did it again!!…) and I think the MAIN reason for this (apart from them being poor series) is that fans haven’t yet had the bitterness felt after those series’s broadcasts taken away by either a) the Movie, b) a new series/special, c) re-editing/mastering of the aforementioned two series including cutting BITR down to 1 episode (same with Pete), reintegrating unused model footage for VII, redoing the film effect, redoing CG ships, sorting VIII’s ending, excising some poor gags and getting the cast to dub over new funnier lines etc etc……. So all the fans’ focus is on slagging VII & VIII.

    Personally, I am worried that VIII will be the last ever Dwarf. A series so great doesn’t deserve to bow out on an episode so bad. I’m sure a lot of people feel this way. If IX & X ever came into fruition (my wish) with a bigger budget than frigging Dinnerladies, and a plan to properly tie up Red Dwarf, then fans would soon forget about ripping VII & VIII. Also, those re-editing decisions, particularly on VIII, would largely improve the series, making it easier for fans to swallow.

  15. Phil: yes please!

    In return, maybe I can get a website to you before the next century.

  16. “I really do think that it’s become a kind of competition, for entertainment. See Austin Ross’ second post in this thread – I think that’s next to useless as constructive critique. But it’s a funny gag, and people’ll like him for it. That’s fine, but it’s endemic in our culture that a good put down i better appreciated than a fine compliment. That’s not just Dwarf, that’s everywhere.”

    This is quite true. It was a snide remark to make, but seeing as I’m right now in the midst of a level-headed VIII review, I figured it was time for a bit of cheeky smarm on my part. I’m afraid I can be prone to such things. I’d love to discuss this with you further, but I won’t be able to go to DJ this year. Instead, I’ll save you any further sarcasm and finish my review.

  17. For the record, although I’m sure all involved are aware of this, it’s not me and John who think the cast will slate VII and VIII, or even want them to. Although it was posted on G&T, it’s nowt to do with us. We have our fair share of fools posting.

  18. The first bit of spam on here for AGES, since I updated to MT3, there.

    Hooray!

  19. Can we keep it? I’m going to name it Gerald. Ellen is a stupid name.

    *gives Gerald a bowl of bikkies*

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