Critics behaving badly

A few years ago I received my first ‘hate mail’ following a newspaper review where I suggested that a play may have needed more rehearsal times. A fellow audience member disagreed strongly with my verdict, as they are entitled to, and was quite vocal in telling me what she thought of me.

Now that things have moved from print to electronic media, the interaction has also advanced. Reviews still illicit strong responses but in this digital age it is easier to fire off an email in the heat of the moment, rather than cold reflection of putting pen to paper.

Now we may disagree but (personal attacks aside) I will defend people’s right of reply and celebrate the wonders of a difference of opinion. After all, the world would be a dull place if we all liked the same.

This week things have taken a slightly surreal turn however. A fellow critic has taken offence that I have disagreed with his views on a recent show we both attended.

Now I defend his right to his personal views and his review was well written and his view as equally valid as the next persons. The show in question has had divergent views as is often the case. What has been surreal in this case is the unexpected arrival in my inbox this morning of an email full of personal attacks. We’ve never met, are not in competition, actually rarely review the same productions but apparently he has been incensed enough that we disagreed to put fingers to keyboard and pen an abusive missive.

Now I’m not going to give them the oxygen of publicity by naming them, but would suggest that it is perhaps time they reviewed their own views on critical freedom of opinion.

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