In reference to a recent conversation I’ve had with my husband, I’ve started to contemplate the level of honestly one should employ in critique. Obviously, eloquence is key, so saying things on the lines of: “The work is crap and its maker must be stoned in a public square because I say so” is certainly unacceptable (though sometimes oh so tempting), but how far should eloquence go?
I’m usually comfortable with being brutally honest because I have ‘science’ on my side, in that I can back up my opinions with solid Art theory and basic design principles. Lately however, I’ve been told that I’d lose a lot of- what shall we call them?- ‘friends’, if I say my opinion loud and clear. More importantly, if I say my opinion when I have not been asked for it (or paid for it) in public arenas such as twitter or Facebook.
I reacted violently to my husband’s Shakespeare inspired “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice” mantra, because I felt that that’s a little…timid. To clarify, my husband is a very chilled man of few words; the complete opposite of myself. I felt that his attempt to tame my opinion was stifling and somewhat insulting. I love that man, but at the point I didn’t like him very much.
Until I realized that everyone was doing the same. In the recent event of a distant acquaintance of ours presenting her latest piece of work (mind the pun) in a public arena, I felt compelled to voice my opinion negatively. Now this is not someone whose my opinion would harm (if it was I’d word my critique very, very wisely) so I felt compelled to say how I feel. After all, she did present her work to the world, surely she can expect all sorts of feedback, right? Apparently not. Not a single one of our mutual friends said anything short of polite, with ‘good luck!’ texts, tweets and posts and not a single one voicing an opinion (positively or negatively, which means the work was in fact, awful. I’m usually right about these things. Just sayin’).
Yet all chose basic pleasantries over what otherwise can be used as constructive feedback. I’m probably ostracized by now for saying (well, tweeting) what I genuinely felt, and that’s alright. It’s happened before. My husband is probably right, and maybe I should try to keep my mouth shut from time to time, but it’s highly unlikely. in the words of the satirical Charles McCabe: “Any clod can have the facts, but having an opinion is an art.”