Stars in their Eyes?

In an article in The Guardian today theatre critic Lyn Gardner writes about the reduction of reviews to their star rating. This can be a positive when given a four or five star rating but if given a three, Gardner is concerned that it may deter theatre goers who do not fully read a review but instead, simply skip to the rating and decide that three is not worth spending money on. She does have a point, we read things quickly these days and find ourselves skimming for essential information. This may mean that we miss. Uncles that a reviewer really wants us to consider. Their job is to review, as she rightly points out, not to sell tickets. Our job, if we want reviews to guide us, is to read carefully.
Personally I prefer to ignore reviews of plays until after I have seen them and made up my own mind. Some corroborate and some contradict. That is fine. The reviews are a bit subjective. Sure, they are more experienced in that area than me and they do have tried and tested criteria on which to base their assessment; I just may be seeing the whole play differently to them. I like to go on fresh and then ponder it. I may connect with a play for personal reasons or because I valued ( or otherwise) the dialogue, accent, set, plot above elements that spoiled, or made it, for them.
My point really is to agree with Gardner, we should not be swayed by a three star review, especially if it is only one review, and avoid seeing something we may connect with on a different level.

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4 thoughts on “Stars in their Eyes?

  1. Whether it be for movies, books or restaurants, the problem with star ratings is that they assume most visitors to a site will use them to express their opinion. For star ratings to mean anything they need to be from many people and from a broad demographic. One look at the Gold Logie nominees is all that is needed to determine the voter demographic. I don’t see Australian Story anywhere in the lineup. Catalyst didn’t rate a mention. Rachel Perkins? Nope. Hamish Blake? Of course he is there – for his contribution for informing young Australians about … ? http://www.tvweeklogieawards.com.au/logie-buzz/articles/2013/3/nominees-revealed-for-the-2013-tv-week-logie-awards!/

    Like the Logies,, star ratings are biased towards the demographic who like to publicise their opinion, making them biased and so of limited value. Or perhaps old age is just turning me into a cynical old fart … and get off my lawn!

    • You are absolutely correct. I guess though that for a person to read a review in The Guardian or The Age, there is a certain cultural expectation and assumption underlying the views of both readers and writers that is different to the expectations among readers and writers of The Herald Sun or any channel nine or seven and Ten viewers. A review on A Current Affair is qualitatively as well as culturally different to a review on Jennifer Byrne’s First Tuesday Bookclub. Culture wars anyone?

      • This is true. The Herald Sun is for girls (and boys) who ‘just wanna have fun’ and vote for the Logies and all the beautiful people. The Age is for those who want to hear informed opinions about what is going on in the real world. However, the Herald Sun is useful, I have found, for mulching the garden. Then you cover it with sugar cane mulch and it works a treat!

      • Yes, whereas we ARE the beautiful people. I do find the Herald Shun useful though, particularly Andrew Blot. How else does one teach hyperbole?
        Also, it does come in handy for leveling one’s priceless antiques when the legs are uneven. Simply iron it and fold carefully several times et voila!

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