Oh boy, a short and controversial article? One that deals with semantics and definitions?
I see no way this could possibly go wrong!
So, if you’re a frequent user of the internet, you may have noticed that a lot of people call themselves reviewers rather than critics (me included), and some even go so far as to call themselves analysts.
Which got me thinking…what’s the difference?
Well, according to the dictionary, there isn’t. At least not much of one.
(Taken from Merriam-Webster)
One that reviews; especially: a writer of critical reviews.
One who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation of works of art or artistic performances.
A person who analyzes or who is skilled in analysis.
That’s a lot of overlap. In fact, most people tend to just use the words interchangeably. It doesn’t even seem like there’s a noticeable distinction between the three.
Well, no more!
Today, I will attempt to give each one their own proper definition. One that I’m sure none of you will have a problem with, or disagree with…at all.
I did say this was going to be controversial.
A reviewer will:
- Focus on relaying the overall plot, usually in a vague manner to avoid spoiling plot elements.
- Focus on personal feelings and subjective enjoyment, often using “fun” as a measurement rather than artistic merit.
- Usually focus on both the negative and positive qualities equally.
A critic will:
- Focus on finding negative or sub-optimal portions of a film/book/show.
- Be as objective as possible, avoiding emphasis on personal taste.
- Look at a piece of media as it applies to the medium it’s in, and how it compares to other similar works.
An analyst will:
- Analyze the art piece by piece, paying close attention to small details and character interactions.
- Have a larger focus on theme and context, rather than plot elements.
- Will often speculate on the intentions behind certain aspects of the film/book/show.
So, there you have it. A proper definition for each that is irrefutable, concrete, and iron-clad.
If you do feel like refuting me though, post it in the comments.
Till next time 🙂
Special thanks to: Collin Pearman and Dylan Alexander
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Reblogged this on debbieschumacher.
That makes a lot of sense. And each has their own place, I’d say. Like, reviewers belong on sites like Goodreads and Amazon, and possibly critics do as well, though I’d say they’re more suited to formal publications like Publisher’s Weekly. The analysts, of course, generally belong in academia.
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I agree, the styles fit different areas, and works better for different groups.
I have actually seen a lot of movie and television analysts on YouTube though. So clearly the three can intermingle.
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I don’t like any of the three terms for my own writing – at my blog DrPat Reads ( http://goo.gl/YbMEmj ), what I write are my reactions to what I have read (or movies/TV I have watched, etc.). Some of these posts are reviews, some are analysis, a rare few are critiques, but most have blurred those dividing lines as thoroughly as ArtemisJJones would expect. And that’s just one blogger!
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Well, ultimately it is up to the writer to decide which they feel applies to them. And certainly people are capable of doing all three. I wasn’t attempting to put anyone in a “box” so to speak.
You have defined all three well, but strict adherence will rarely happen. But you left out one of most blurred lines in rating and evaluating books and written expression- the synopsis. The synopsis which is the author or publishers short snip-it on why you should buy the book or read the story, also become conflated with reviews, sometimes( when the reader likes the book) they are almost identical. This can harm a legitimate review because it comes across as a pitch for the work. I have been guilty of this, I recently reviewed a book, the author sent me the book and several sheets of copy. I put all the copy aside, read the book, wrote a review, and then picked up the copy with the related synopsis and other promotional material. My review had many similar points about the book, mainly because I liked the book, and thought about what were the highlights of the book.
As far as serious criticism goes, I have always referred to Harold Bloom first, I will look a critique or compilation that he has edited and many times read the book several months ( on purpose )after reading his criticism.
Link to Harold Bloom- Bio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Bloom
Yeah, I do agree that the lines will often blur when it comes to each person’s personal style. It’s more of a checklist to help determine which camp a writer falls into. While a reviewer may us the tactics of a critic, if they mostly stick to the characteristics of a reviewer, I would still refer to them as such.
In regards to the other part, I see how that is a major topic, but I only wanted to focus on the semantic side of things. Anything else was left out for the sake of brevity.