Tuesday, 17 January 2017

From music to movies... to books!

I had a blog post with the headline "From music to movies... to books!" in mind for a few weeks now, in honour of my very first book review and what has come with it, but I usually have to wait with my blog posts until the corresponding review has been published, and that naturally takes some time in the world of print media. And while I have to wait with the publication of a blog post of mine, the world keeps turning. And, sometimes, the original focus of a blog post may change, due to what is happening in the world in the meantime. This is the case right now with this very blog post.

Originally, I wanted to write about my very first book review, the content of the reviewed book and how that book also played a role in my private life. Not to mention the pleasant news that I have extended my field of activity during the past few months, from mere music journalism to broader cultural topics such as movies and books. A change that is not only pleasant but was also long overdue.

Now, I'm going to postpone everything regarding the book (and reading overall), in order to broach the issue of the pleasant news which became even more pleasant as of today. 

What happened? Well, today, I stumbled on an article about the singer of an American band who allegedly insulted an American online magazine with very vulgar words. The cause for the conflict was the release of an album by the band almost twenty years ago; the album was rated rather low by the online magazine back then. Now, almost twenty years later, there is a re-release of the album. For this reason, the album was reviewed again by the aforementioned online magazine - but this time, the rating is very favourable. 

I want to emphasise that the singer allegedly (!) insulted the online magazine with very vulgar words and that the singer allegedly (!) accused the online magazine of hypocrisy (After the first review was published, the album turned out to be a huge commercial success) since I could not find any source that backs up the content of the article I stumbled on today. So, either the whole story is made up or the singer has removed the corresponding source from the world wide web in the meantime - which seems to be common practice nowadays, especially for those who type first and think later. In any case: Stuff like this happens. All the time. It has happened to me, too. And what I always do in such cases: I just move on. 

As a music journalist, you have a gigantic selection of music, bands and events that you could write about. If you or your work is dissed because a musician or the organiser of an event cannot deal with criticism or - even worse - believes that everything he / she does is always worth at least 10/10 and never "just" 9/10, you as a music journalist realise in this very moment that you just dedicated your time, your work and also the space on the website or in the print magazine to the wrong band / wrong event. All of this should have been dedicated to another band / another event. A waste has taken place. A waste of time, work and space. Personally, I consider it as the best solution to just move on in such cases. The waste has taken place already and, unfortunately, it cannot be reversed - but from that moment onwards, one can make sure to not waste another second on this band / this event in the future. This is how I deal with such cases, and this practice is only applied in cases of insults and not in cases where someone may be dissatisfied with something. The latter are usually mature and professional enough to ask questions. 

But back to the American singer. If the defamation really took place, it tells a lot about the singer himself - in a not so positive way. And the older you are, the more embarrassing is such an immature - not to say childish - behaviour (In this specific case, we talk about a man in his fifties). However, it's not the part with the alleged defamation that makes me write this blog post; it's the part with the two reviews which were published by the online magazine. 

The same album, reviewed by the same online magazine. Once with a low rating and once with a high rating. In between: Almost 20 years. Obvious die-hard fans of the band post their "discovery" of these two contrary reviews by the same online magazine on Instagram and the like, either accusing the online magazine of hypocrisy or claiming that time had turned the album into a classic, while putting in their two cents here and there without thinking. The most logical context here does not seem to cross their minds: It's the question of the person who wrote the review. And guess what: It's not the same person behind these two reviews. There are two reviews on the same album published by the same online magazine, written by two different persons. Judging from a facebook post on this topic, only 3 out of 122 commentators seem to understand this fact. 

As if that wasn't sad enough: Even if both reviews had been written at the same time, there could have been differences in the evaluation, because a review reflects the opinion of the respective reviewer and not the opinion of an entire editorial office. One would think that such contexts would be a question of common sense, but apparently it's not the case. And let's assume that both reviews would have been written by the same person: There are nearly two decades between these two reviews. Who does not develop in the course of such a long time?

Maybe this is the usual social media madness where people push the buttons of their smartphones faster than they think. If they think at all. And maybe the fan base of this band is not as dumb as it seems at first sight. The smarter part of the fan base may have better things to do than to hang around on facebook, Instagram and the like, sending inconsiderate nonsense into the world wide web (and is therefore invisible). Apart from that: If the second review had turned out as negative as the first one, wouldn't the clamour have been just as loud as it is now? Nagging for the sake of nagging? At least the singer should be aware of the respective contexts, should the alleged defamation be true. However, there is also the possibility that this whole thing might have been hyped: Attention for the band, their brand new album and all the re-releases which are to come in the course of this year, plus attention for the magazine. Maybe, maybe. 

The reason why all this turns the extension of my field of activity into an even more pleasant news should be obvious: I no longer have to deal with such a kindergarten. Not even while working. 

To be continued... 

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