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View Full Version : Bashing vs Criticism. Is there a difference?



underthecity
05-28-2009, 01:53 AM
This thread was inspired by a thread in Novels forum where the term "bashing," as in, "bashing certain authors" is getting thrown around quite a bit.

But "bashing" is such an ugly, unnecessary, and overused word. Isn't "criticism" more accurate of a term?

If I dislike a new novel because of its overuse of adverbs, starting every sentence with a participle phrase, and its less-than-stellar plot premise, then I am not bashing the book or author. I am criticising the book, just as I would expect someone to criticise my own books. I would not take it as "bashing" if I read unfavorable comments about my book.

So, is "bashing" the new "criticism?"

Don Allen
05-28-2009, 01:56 AM
Bashing shall be defined as "it sucks"
Criticism shall be defined as "it sucks, horribly".

M.R.J. Le Blanc
05-28-2009, 02:00 AM
Correction:

Bashing: not liking something or someone for no reason
Criticism: not liking something or the actions of someone but with valid reasons for doing so

blacbird
05-28-2009, 02:02 AM
You think bashing occurs in lit critique comments here, you should go read some big-city newspaper restaurant reviews.

caw

alleycat
05-28-2009, 02:05 AM
Yes, I think there is.

I think "bashing" sometimes comes into play when there's a general feeling that someone has gotten undue fame and fortune for something undeserved. Someone might not like Stephen King's work anymore than they do Dan Brown's, but most people can at least acknowledge that King worked hard to get where he is and has a certain measure of talent. They generally criticize his books rather than him personally.

I haven't bashed too many writers, but I've taken a swing or two at Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, the Olsen twins, and the like.

BlueLucario
05-28-2009, 02:10 AM
Thanks for posting this.
:e2bummed:

Brindle Chase
05-28-2009, 02:10 AM
There is a difference. Criticism varies as well. Criticism can be constructive or it can be destructive. If its destructive, then its essentially bashing.

icerose
05-28-2009, 02:23 AM
I think criticism can also turn into bashing when it's gone over again and again. If I give say I didn't like this book, it didn't appeal to me, this is why. That's criticism. If I go over it every day for two weeks and rail on about how bad this book sucks and how horrible the writing style is and how the author has no talent and on and on, then it quickly turns into bashing and it gets old really fast.

So I don't like the book, so what, get over it, move on, it's not the end of the world.

Polenth
05-28-2009, 02:25 AM
I'd say they're different. My definitions would be...

Criticism is where you say you didn't like it and probably why you didn't like it. Whether you have a point or you're being petty, you've said it and it's over.

Bashing is where you keep on and on about how much you hate it, you take part in every single thread about it, you start threads about it, you mention how much you hate it any time you can, you try to find reasons to criticise the author too, you try to put down people who like it and then you go back to the beginning and do it all again.

This forum has a bit of both. We've had threads where people discuss their thoughts and leave it at that. We've had threads that follow the bashing cycle (and they usually get locked in the end, because they're going nowhere new).

dgiharris
05-28-2009, 02:32 AM
There is a difference. Criticism varies as well. Criticism can be constructive or it can be destructive. If its destructive, then its essentially bashing.

I sorta agree.

To me, it boils down to intent.

Criticism, whether positive or negative, serves to outline what is right and wrong with a work.

Bashing, usually negative, is a malicious attack with no purpose other than to have a negative impact and effect.

Negative criticism stills serves a purpose that can help a work improve.

Bashing, on the other hand, serves no other purpose other than to hurt a work or writer.

Mel...

Brindle Chase
05-28-2009, 02:40 AM
I sorta agree.


Negative criticism stills serves a purpose that can help a work improve.




It can. Thats true. But it can also shut the ears of those listening. You can point out the negative things in a positive tone, professional, courteous... or you can point them out in a snide, demeaning manner. Both can be helpful... but remember this, as a peer, it reflects on the critiquer how they choose to serve up the critique. Its a choice to take the negative path.

benbradley
05-28-2009, 02:41 AM
This thread was inspired by a thread in Novels forum where the term "bashing," as in, "bashing certain authors" is getting thrown around quite a bit.
I don't recall reading the thread you're talking about, but I don't feel like I need to. I bet I can can even guess a couple of the authors discussed there.

On the other hand, I'd be glad to be "bashed" all the way to the bank, like them!

But "bashing" is such an ugly, unnecessary, and overused word. Isn't "criticism" more accurate of a term?
Yes, but it's possible for "criticism" to be valid, so "they're criticizing me/us" seems like such a weak response when one wants to lash out at criticism.

If I dislike a new novel because of its overuse of adverbs, starting every sentence with a participle phrase, and its less-than-stellar plot premise, then I am not bashing the book or author. I am criticising the book, just as I would expect someone to criticise my own books. I would not take it as "bashing" if I read unfavorable comments about my book.

So, is "bashing" the new "criticism?"
I see "bashing" as the new victimhood. "You're/they're bashing me/us" is a common dismissive response to what may well be valid criticism.

Just my humble opinion and observation...

escritora
05-28-2009, 03:04 AM
I think criticism can also turn into bashing when it's gone over again and again. If I give say I didn't like this book, it didn't appeal to me, this is why. That's criticism. If I go over it every day for two weeks and rail on about how bad this book sucks and how horrible the writing style is and how the author has no talent and on and on, then it quickly turns into bashing and it gets old really fast.


QFT.

jessicaorr
05-28-2009, 03:23 AM
There is a difference. Criticism varies as well. Criticism can be constructive or it can be destructive. If its destructive, then its essentially bashing.

I agree. I think of criticism as the continuum of a line, where constructive criticism is the positive side and bashing is the negative. I suppose, the zero point would be providing no input on the work at all. Offering a thoughtful critique of a piece is constructive, even if it is largely negative. However, simply saying "it sucks, you should never write again" or "it's wonderful, you're the next J.K. Rowling" are both destructive, even though one is negative and one is positive because they do not help the author improve. "Bashing" is just a subset of deconstructive criticisms.

virtue_summer
05-28-2009, 03:36 AM
Criticism and bashing are completely different. Criticism involves specifics. Bashing is just an attack. Examples:

Criticism: "I thought the sentences were choppy and the characters weren't developed enough."

Bashing: "The book sucks. The author sucks. People who like this book are just infantile morons."

Criticism applies to the work and comments on specific elements. Criticism can be helpful to writers because it can point out areas that need work, areas that are fine, things that appeal to a particular audience, etc. Bashing is simply a meanspirited attack of the book or author, usually without a reason given.

STKlingaman
05-28-2009, 04:04 AM
This is a tough subject, because at
some time or another will have all been
caught up in 'bashing'. Which may be
more a group/mob mentality negative
criticism whether intention or not, and
certainly when there is a level
of anonymity involved

Also, the tone and words used have a
great deal to do with the users true
intent.

scarletpeaches
05-28-2009, 04:08 AM
Bashing is what over-sensitive people call criticism.

benbradley
05-28-2009, 04:19 AM
I believe somebody has stolen one of my comments.

Pagey's_Girl
05-28-2009, 08:22 PM
Personally, I think criticism is anything concerning the work in question and "bashing" is attacking the author as a person. It's one thing to say, for example, "Pagey's book is not well researched; the entire plot hinges upon a "fact" that even a fifth-grade student would know is untrue and is, in fact, scientifically impossible." It's something else to say "Pagey is obviously the stupidest writer on earth. She doesn't even know what basic science is and obviously failed fifth grade. She's a moron and nobody should ever read her stuff because she's stupid and ugly, too!"

(ETA: And yes, I'm currently doing a LOT of research to make sure that the bit that's central to the whole plot of my WIP isn't just that. And I actually did pass fifth grade. Just don't ask me about tenth grade geometry...:( )

jfreedan
05-28-2009, 08:28 PM
Constructive criticism is where your comments are intended to improve the writer's ability to communicate ideas using written words. Or to point out things like plot inconsistencies. Sometimes we write an idea in a way that pulls the reader out of the story, and those sentences need to be improved so the reader is not pulled out.

Bashing is when your goal is to point out how you would have written the story differently, and it has less to do with trying to help the author and more about the ego of the reviewer. They did not like something, and want to tell everyone why in order to "prove" they are a superior writer.

Everyone has been guilty of bashing at one time or another, even if unintentionally. But there are some people who believe what they dislike about a story is more important than what other people like about a story, and that's where the line gets crossed.

Sometimes the very things I dislike about a story are what other people enjoy. You have to take bashing with a grain of salt.

White-Tean
05-30-2009, 02:47 PM
I don't think any valid criticism can ever be bashing, although I should mention this is just my personal opinion. Valid criticism can come from a place of love, or it can come out of someone trying to be nasty. I don't care where it comes from or what motivated the person to share it with me, because if it's still valid criticism it's useful to me regardless and I'm always looking for suggestions on how to improve - because I'm lazy essentially, and it strains my brain trying to always figure out the things I need to work on in my own work. If someone can identify the weak bits of my body of work or of specific pieces of my work, even if they're lashing out against me and it's intended as a slur, great.

Bashing is where what's being said isn't about the work; it's all about one persons dislike of another, and doesn't have anything to do with the actual flaws the work may posses.

Again, this is just my way of thinking of things, YMMV.

Ken
05-30-2009, 03:05 PM
... bashing is in the eyes of the beholder to an extent. If Jane is really into Novel X for instance any criticism of it, however justified, may appear to her like unwarranted bashing. Of course, criticism sometimes is unwarranted and not backed by verifiable observations, in which case it is bashing, and not constructive or helpful to discussions.

scarletpeaches
05-30-2009, 03:10 PM
You're shit! Everything about you is shit! Why don't you give up writing, crawl away into a cave and die?

That's bashing.

I didn't like this chapter because you tell instead of showing. For example...[quote from manuscript]. I liked where you [compliment] but don't think Character X would do such-and-such because earlier on page seven, you have them saying [quote from manuscript].

Criticism.

dpaterso
05-30-2009, 03:25 PM
Man, this subject is being bashed to death.

bashing n. 1 striking bluntly or violently. 2 harking on about something so often that it comes across as some kind of demented/obsessional personal grudge.

Seriously, if you've already aired your negative opinions about Brown, Meyer et al elsewhere, let it go! No need to say it over and over and over in every thread.

-Derek

icerose
05-30-2009, 05:28 PM
Man, this subject is being bashed to death.

bashing n. 1 striking bluntly or violently. 2 harking on about something so often that it comes across as some kind of demented/obsessional personal grudge.

Seriously, if you've already aired your negative opinions about Brown, Meyer et al elsewhere, let it go! No need to say it over and over and over in every thread.

-Derek

:ROFL: I like your definitions! Especially the demented part.

Medievalist
05-30-2009, 05:37 PM
Bashing is about the author, not the text.

Criticism is about the author's text, and should be specific.

dawinsor
05-30-2009, 10:55 PM
For me, criticism comes in at least two forms. First, I can crit a writer friend's draft, and there we're both concentrating on the text, trying to make it better. As Medievalist says above, it's focused on the text and it's specific. What's more, it's often actively helpful, with me supplying suggestions for how something might be done differently. We both know the writer doesn't have to take my suggestions, and I'll cheer for the writer in any case.

Second, in contrast to the pre-publication critting above, I also sometimes crit after publication, where I'm not going to be helping the writer at all because that story is done. What I'm after there is an analysis of how good writing works or what's gone wrong so I can learn from it. It's for my benefit, and I try to do it privately on locked blog entries that only my friends can read and discuss.

For me, the sign I've moved from critting to bashing is that I get emotionally worked up. I'm angry or disgusted. Any comment growing out of that is probably bashing, and at that point, I try to shut up.

Williebee
05-30-2009, 11:04 PM
Bashing is about the author, not the text.

Criticism is about the author's text, and should be specific.

Works for me.

BlueLucario
05-31-2009, 12:00 AM
And why do MODs lock threads for bashing? Are you allowed to criticize someone's text?

I'm just asking.

Cyia
05-31-2009, 12:09 AM
Bashing isn't criticism, it's baseless lack of respect.

Criticism - you don't like it and there's a definite reason why:

I hate the book "XYZ" because there's no plot, the dialogue is wooden, and the characters aren't well defined.
or
This book is like a boring rehash of Star Wars meets Planet of the Apes.

Bashing - you're being a jerk for no reason, other than the usually mentioned jealousy or just for the sake of ganging up on someone:

John Doe is a moron. I hate him. He's ugly and stupid and makes more in a year than everyone on this board will in a lifetime. He should be ashamed of himself - his books mean there's no readers for the rest of us WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

scarletpeaches
05-31-2009, 12:24 AM
And why do MODs lock threads for bashing? Are you allowed to criticize someone's text?

I'm just asking.

Medievalist explained at the top of this page.

roseangel
05-31-2009, 01:52 AM
Yes, I agree.
Bashing is about the author, not the text.
Also called flaming as well.
It's when you are insulting, degrading and generally mean about the author and that is your focus.
To be as negative towards the author as possible.

Ruv Draba
05-31-2009, 03:01 AM
Bashing is in how we perceive the commentator's intent. A story is a communication between author and reader, and it's hard to separate the communication from the people at its ends. People will construe bashing the moment they believe that the commentator intends to insult (or neglects to respect) author and reader.

So persistent scorn, ridicule or dismissal can be seen as bashing even if it's only about the story. Critique that we think is unfocused (e.g. about author, readers, genre or society rather than the story) or imbalanced (focusing on flaws and ignoring strengths) can also make critique look like bashing, even when it's factual.

We only care about bashing because of the people at the ends of the fiction. If commentators remain aware that stories are works by people, enjoyed by people they'll never inadvertantly bash.

seun
05-31-2009, 02:28 PM
Man, this subject is being bashed to death.

bashing n. 1 striking bluntly or violently. 2 harking on about something so often that it comes across as some kind of demented/obsessional personal grudge.

Seriously, if you've already aired your negative opinions about Brown, Meyer et al elsewhere, let it go! No need to say it over and over and over in every thread.

-Derek

Derek raises an interesting point. Would the same be true if a writer was constantly praising an author?

nighttimer
06-01-2009, 02:16 PM
Back in the day, I used to read and love a rock magazine called CREEM. They specialized in writing record reviews that were sarcastic, witty, and irreverent.

The CREEM philosophy seemed to be boiled down to, "sacred cows make the best hamburgers."

There was an all-girl band called The Runaways featuring Joan Jett and Lita Ford and one of their albums was critiqued by a guy who started off the review with the line, "These bitches suck."

The review was funnier than hell and I got a good laugh from it, but what did I learn from the review? Not a darn thing.

Bashing a book, movie, album or what have you, can have some entertainment value when a reviewer goes postal on a particularly awful effort, but do you anything more about why it fails so spectacularly?

I review jazz CDs for a website and every week something arrives in the mail for me to listen to. Most times it's mediocre. A few times it's brilliant. And then there's the stinkers that foul the air and make you open all the windows to let the funk out.

There are time I'd love to say, "This blows. Don't waste your money buying it," and move on, but that doesn't help the reader one bit. I've vented my spleen and I feel better, but for everyone else, I've given them zip to make an informed decision.

It's harder for me to bash something that it used to be. I don't believe most artists intend to make a piece of crap (though sometimes you can't believe they didn't know how bad it was going to be).

Criiticism properly applied can be a scalpel. Bashing is a mallet. There's nothing subtle about it. I'd rather point out where, when, how and why something fell short of the mark than just rip someone a new hole.

:e2hammer:

AnonymousWriter
06-01-2009, 07:28 PM
Bashing: Your book is rubbish.

Criticism: I didn't like your book because the overuse of adverbs, unrealistic dialogue etc.

scarletpeaches
06-01-2009, 07:29 PM
I am so in love with your avatar right now.

quickWit
06-01-2009, 10:24 PM
You're shit! Everything about you is shit! Why don't you give up writing, crawl away into a cave and die?

If you had a soiled housecoat, sagging breasts and four teeth in your head I'd swear you were my mom just then.

:)

BlueLucario
06-01-2009, 10:47 PM
Medievalist explained at the top of this page.
No she didn't.

quickWit
06-01-2009, 11:03 PM
No she didn't.

She did, Blue. Bashing focuses on the author as a person. Criticism focuses on the author's written works.

Dale Emery
06-01-2009, 11:26 PM
Criticism is a description of the person's reaction to the story and the quality of the writing.

Though bashing may be phrased similarly to criticism, the difference I see is the emotional intensity. Bashing has an emotional intensity that suggests (to me, at least) that the person is reacting to something beyond just this story and its quality.

My guess is that the "something beyond" has to do to the story's publication and popularity. The story's publication or popularity violates an important belief or assumption that the person holds about publication and popularity. And that violation holds deep personal significance for the person.

Dale

AnonymousWriter
06-02-2009, 01:21 AM
I am so in love with your avatar right now.

Mine?

Oh, I know, I know. :D Makes me proud to be Scottish...;)

The Lonely One
06-02-2009, 01:35 AM
OK so bashing has an intended negative effect and criticism has an intended positive effect. That's all I really think there is to it.

As SP says, some over-sensitive people confuse the two. I wouldn't necessarily ignore bashing, either.

It may be intended to cut you down but imagine how great a writer you could be if their attacks only made you better. Take the small truths (if there are any) from their attacks and trash the surrounding fat.

Norman D Gutter
06-02-2009, 02:01 AM
Criticism vs. Bashing

Artistic criticism is as old as the first poem written, the first recital on an instrument, the first painting, or the first performance in song or dance. Someone who knew something about the art told others what he thought, and others, perhaps less-informed than the critic, formed their own opinions or simply accept what the critic said. They may or may not buy the work or pay to see the performance based on what the critic said.

Criticism is evaluation of an artistic work to provide information to the consuming public. Bashing I would define as either 1) uninformed criticism designed to harm a work of art, or 2) ad hominem attacks on an artist either based on a specific work or on a body of work or perhaps not based on anything at all except the basherís intent to damage the art or the artist.

Criticism, favorable or unfavorable, is meant to inform. Bashing is meant to injure.

Is there the opposite of bashing? You betcha; itís called uninformed praise or shilling or fawning or preparing a panegyric.

Some time ago I picked up in a used book store a 1948 criticism of John Steinbeckís body of work, as it existed at that time. My, you would think Steinbeck was the worst writer ever to have a bestseller based on that work. The only thing the critic praised Steinbeck for was The Grapes of Wrath. Full disclosure: I havenít read the whole thing yet (kind of highbrow for this engineer), but have scanned critical passages in the whole book. Obviously the judgment of literary history is different than that contemporary critic. Was the critic bashing Steinbeck, or was he simply giving his informed opinion, negative as it was? In the hindsight of history, he was bashing or engaging in legitimate criticism? I guess it depends on the writer's intention and, to some extent, expertise.

I think one other element of bashing is to overweight certain elements of a given work or authorís body of work. A novel consists of story (plot), characters, dialog, craft, and probably a dozen other things. When a critic ignores an excellent story and focuses on craft issues, thatís probably bashing. But when a critic takes a balanced approach and praises what can be praised and pans what canít, then that is criticism and not bashing.

IMHO, of course,
NDG

P.S. Also, given that this is a writersí site, where works in progress are regularly discussed and evaluated, it is a good thing to remember that evaluation of a work in progress with the aim of helping the author make it a better work is critique. Evaluation of a completed work with the intent to inform is criticism. Critique is either constructive or destructive. Criticism is either favorable or unfavorable.