It’s not that I don’t understand the purpose of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I do understand it, and I do appreciate it. I certainly think it’s useful for situations such as funerals, meeting your in-laws, and entertaining Japanese business clients, to name a few. However, I don’t that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” is always useful or a good idea.
Because I’m a dickbag, that’s why.
Didn’t you hear? According to Mike, I am the scourge of crappy high school bands. I’m 2-for-2 in giving bad reviews to bad bands who happen to be younger than myself, and because of this, at least according to their members and some of their friends (possibly also a parent, I haven’t decided), I am the devil. Which I sort of suspected already, but now it’s confirmed because I’m picking on children.
Just so you know, I’m not really picking on children. Yes, the people in said bands happen to be below the legal age of adulthood, but that’s not why I said they sucked. I said they sucked because they sucked. This is not to say that they will suck forever. In fact, I hope they don’t. I hope they work harder, get better, and someday don’t suck at all. It’s not that I don’t think they have potential. However, for the performances I saw – and as a reviewer, this is the only aspect that I am obligated to review – they sucked, and I said so.
The reasons for the sucking were numerous, at least according to the band members themselves. The first band blamed any suckiness on being young, being inexperienced, and their friend, who apparently requested that they play a sucky song. The second band blamed any suckiness on being young, being inexperienced, not having money for decent equipment, and not practicing for two weeks because of issues with their parents.
Since I don’t get this kind of pushback from older bands, I have to believe that this is a generational thing. Older bands seem to understand that criticism and bad reviews are inevitable, and they either don’t read it or they don’t really care. All of the musician friends I’ve asked have said that any kind of a review is a good thing (to an extent), because not only does it attract attention, but, as long as at least one person has the opposite opinion of the reviewer, it can allow for discourse. When I asked these friends why they thought younger bands had trouble realizing these points, they answered that while yes, younger bands were more inexperienced, there also seemed to be a gap in the way different age groups handle criticism.
This is the part where I get all “in my day…” by the way, in case you’d like to stop reading.
The older generation (which by this point includes my own) seems to understand that criticism is natural. This generation was raised in a time when authority figures, be they parents, teachers, cops, or anyone older than you by at least ten years, were the bosses of you. They grew up knowing that any of these people could say “no” or “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t,” and while this could be frustrating and I’m still pissed at a lot of the authority figures in my past, it wasn’t considered unacceptable for this kind of thing to happen. If you sucked at soccer, your coach made you ride the bench (or just didn’t let you play on the team at all). If you failed a test, your F was in red ink. If you acted like an asshole, one of your parents may have smacked you in the middle of the grocery store, because that was the punishment and you knew it. And again, this wasn’t considered cruel or abusive at all. It was how children were prepared for adulthood, because as we’ve all learned by now, adulthood is full of failures, disappointments, and being told “no.”
This is what the younger generation might be missing. They’ve been raised in a more indulgent time where everyone gets a trophy for participating and teachers have to use green ink when they encourage you to do better next time. They’ve rarely been told “no,” or that they’re untalented or unexceptional, and when they are told this, they’ve been taught that it’s okay to argue their case with a list of excuses, blames, and demands. While I’m 100% behind allowing people to try for their dreams (or whatever), I think there’s a disconnect between what’s actually required to achieve that dream and what an entire generation has learned to think they can do to get away with it.
Like I said, I’m all for being nice. I think that on the whole, people should make an effort to be kinder and more thoughtful to everyone else. But when being nice is broadened to the point of never saying anything that might hurt anyone’s feelings in any way, it’s less about being nice and more about being too afraid to work hard, speak up, or think critically.
I don’t want to hear your excuses. I don’t care if your feelings were hurt. Your list of problems are none of my concern. This is adulthood, okay? You’re not allowed to argue about your grade anymore. I’m sure your parents are right and that you’re a special little snowflake with lots to offer, but demanding that everyone treat you this way regardless of your performance, behavior, or personal issues is completely unrealistic. This goes for everyone, mind you, from the bands to clients to recent graduates who come to my company wondering why no one will let them file a complaint over their latest performance review. Criticism is natural. Sometimes the answer is “no.” For fuck’s sake, just suck it up.
(Apologies to anyone who was shocked by this information. If you have so far lived without really fucking up, being dropped on your ass, or feeling disappointment, humiliation, or self-pity strong enough to make you consider crawling into a hole and dying, then congratulations! You have lived a life full of fortune and magic! Back to the Shire with you, ride, Shadowfax, ride!)