Who Reviews the Reviewers?

For the most part I cannot stand reviewers. They’re usually smug and unflappable with what they perceive to be their infallible views. They swathe their opinions with little regard for the potential outcome of their myopic and self-interested intent. Invariably they can’t do what they claim to have vast knowledge of but this never stops them from striding across a person or persons work and laying waste to it with nary a thought on the destruction they leave behind. To paraphrase Woody Allen: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, review.”

And I should know.

Because I review movies.

I’ve been reviewing movies for Mix FM’s Botica’s Bunch in Perth for nearly three years now and if I’m honest with myself I’m an arsehole. A lot of work goes into making a movie, something I have never done. But all it takes is one misstep and I’m thinking of jokes that get me instant gratification but may hurt a movie’s box office sales because someone out there may actually value my opinion. They shouldn’t! It is only my opinion and I am motivated by a desire to either have people agree with me or at least laugh at my gags.

This is what I had to say about the latest Katherine Heigl/Ashton Kutcher travesty: “This movie is best described as dim witted. If a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters will one-day produce the work of Shakespeare then maybe one retarded monkey with a crayon wrote this.” That is harsh to the people who made the movie and retarded monkeys. I don’t know Heigl or Kutcher from a bar of soap but that hasn’t stopped me from having a crack when for all I know they did their best. Does disliking a movie really warrant me having such a reaction? Of course that didn’t stop me when I reviewed the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz flick “Knight and Day”. I finished that review by saying, “This movie is like hanging out with a friend who acts like a smart arse but just isn’t that smart so what you end up with is a lot of arse.” I bet if I met Mr. Cruise he would probably be quite charming but I see him bounce up and down on one Oprah sofa and bam, I’m going for gag city central when once again, he had no other intent than to just do his best.

You would think that someone like myself who has been on the receiving end of some pretty shitty reviews would be more sympathetic but I’m not. I’m like the kid who was bullied at school who grows up and becomes a bully. I had a reviewer in Adelaide this year claim my material for my show “Idiot Man Child” was old and tired. The material was less than five months old! I did jokes about Quantum Physics. Was this reviewer a science major and thought my “vibrating through walls to another dimension gag” was based on a science theory that was so 1998? Was my material about the asylum seekers and the threat to the environment suddenly “hack” because it was out of step with the times? I would say if you followed the election you would find this is all pretty relevant stuff. I was pretty pissed off about this but as soon as I see the Sylvester Stallone movie “The Expendables” I’ve forgotten about the ramifications of a shitty review and had no qualms in letting off this firecracker: “Sly has a heart of gold and a colostomy bag of copper”. Boo-yah! Thank goodness he’s never heard of me or I could be in trouble. He looks big and angry!

Then of course there are reviews by other people that just get my goat. Kylie Northover for the Age stated in her review of Jimmy Barnes latest album, “Take a year off, dude. Nobody's going to forget your awesome legacy in Australian music. But I fear you might be in danger of diminishing it with your 10th solo album of perfectly-serviceable-but-completely-unchallenging ''rock'' songs.” Now I’ve never met Kylie. She might be a lovely person. I’ve also not heard Barnsey’s latest album but that quote stunk of “Hipster Cool” and all I could think was, “Calm down Kylie. Nothing is going to diminish Jimmy. Why don’t you try to come up with something that everyone will be whistling in one weeks time let alone decades later.” Of course I didn’t take into account anyone’s feelings when I claimed this about Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”: “I used to think she was quite pretty but there is something not right. Maybe it was the character she was playing but she was looking more like Barry Manilow in a fright wig.” Calm down Kylie? Calm down little fella, Sandra has had a tough year with her husband banging a Nazi hooker behind her back (is that right? I only read the covers of trashy magazines), does she need some so-called “reviewer” having a go at her face?

Maybe as a society we haven’t evolved our sensitivities and manners with our ability to have our innermost thoughts broadcast across the planet in an instance. Have a look at any site and you will find people ragging on everything all the time. Russel T Davies (the man who reinvigorated Doctor Who) stated that he reads nothing on the Internet because it is full of people who, “like to complain about what they don’t want without knowing what they want”. I tend to agree. I try not to read anything about me online and have come to regret the @ application on Twitter as it shows you what some tools are thinking about you on your direct feed. Recently I had a comedian I’d never heard of from Perth make a crack about me looking really old on Good News Week. Charming. I made the mistake of responding because I wanted to give him an opportunity to make up for it because I may have misinterpreted the intent. Instead he had more cracks like we were bosom buddies. I have no idea who this guy is. I looked him up on Facebook (hello psych ward!) and I don’t want to toot my own horn but while I may not be the youngest dude around I certainly wasn’t as gormless looking as this guy. Instead I had to make myself feel better by realising I’m on the tele and he’s…whatever he is. Seriously though, who needs to go through that shit! Why can’t people just have some manners and try to take into account that most of the people who try to entertain you are doing it for just that reason: they like to entertain people. Unless someone is stirring up rhetoric that causes serious harm or fans the flames of hatred you really don’t have to be harsh towards someone just because they’re not your cup of tea.

So lets all calm the fuck down and try to get along. Everyone needs to sit back, knock back a cup of chamomile tea and just accept that we’re all doing our best and if we’re not into it, that’s cool but don’t attempt to belittle someone just because you didn’t connect.

Of course I can guarantee that the next shitty movie I review I will have forgotten about this and continue to go for the ha has. And I’m sure if Kylie Northover read this she’d have every right to think I could go fuck myself as well.

Justin Hamilton

Rainy Fitzroy North

September the 4th, 2010