Reviews leave final decision up to consumer

Logan Mcdonald

There are hundreds upon hundreds of publications out there whose sole purpose is to rate and review things. Whether it’s the latest action movie, video game, solo indie project, book or Marc Jacobs’ 2010 Fall Ready-to-Wear line, there are going to be dozens of magazines and websites that will tell you how good it is before you ever have to experience it for yourself.

And then, of course, you have the thousands of magazines and newspapers that have opinion writers and dedicated reviewers that are up to the same thing. I know that I’ve read dozens of movie and album reviews over the years in our very own Daily. So then is this some sort of condemnation of reviews and their reviewers? Of course not.

I’m just as obsessed as everyone else with what album to download or which movie to watch the night it premieres. When I was a kid, I used to watch Siskel and Ebert give movies thumbs up or thumbs down during their afternoon show. Long after Siskel passed away and Ebert lost the ability to speak, I like to see what Roger Ebert says about a movie, whether or not I agree with him. Every day, I check Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews and trailers for upcoming movies. I also check Pitchfork for album reviews as well as news and videos from some of my favorite artists.

I know that besides myself there have to be millions of other people who do the same thing. And what would a flashy commercial for an action movie be without quotes like “full throttle adventure for the whole family” or “edge of your seat thrill-ride from finish to end” to grab your attention? Besides the age-old adage about opinions being similar to assholes due to their relative frequency, there has to be some reason that so many of these reviews exist.

It seems to me the root of reviews comes from a general insecurity throughout the consuming masses. No one wants to make the wrong decision and have that Chumbawumba tape taking space in their attic. Or they don’t want to take all their friends to the new M. Night Shyamalan movie and leave the theater groaning. Beyond that, it seems like people want to be told they’re spending their money wisely, that their $49.95 is going toward hours and hours of fun in a cool game and not monotonous hours of flying through hoops.

What I propose is not to disregard all of these reviews. I’ll probably have checked Pitchfork at least once since you started reading this article. What I suggest is letting yourself make your own decisions, not solely based upon the suggestions of hundreds of faceless strangers. I know that I’m going to the midnight premiere of the new Harry Potter installment, whether or not it gets a single positive review.

Some of the best book reviews ever given were on the children’s show Reading Rainbow. No matter how good the book sounded or how much the kid describing the book liked it, they always ended the review with a line that would leave the last decision up to the reader.

“But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Duh dun duh.