Is Research really needed for Reviews in The Guardian?

Today, I was wondering if my reviews suck… or rather… if I’m doing everything wrong, after all. Moreover, this post is about The Guardian’s reviews that do things very differently from me. I found this one video talking about someone slandering Shrek on its 20th anniversary, so then I dug into The Guardian, again, only to see that Crimson aka Fujo also commented on one of their more recent review-tweets (from three days ago) on Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train! So, I gave it a read… was done in not even a few minutes… and I hated it. 

Initially, I started blogging to bring more attention to Indie Games and stuff that I really like that nobody really knows that really deserves more attention. I wanted to be somewhat “objective” and give games a chance… and I wanted to actually play the games which is something that, surprise surprise, not every reviewer does… and that sounds silly, right? Writing a review but actually knowing nothing about the game? Well, yeah, it’s really fucking silly,… so I don’t get why you’d review a movie that is the direct sequel of a show without watching a show.

Wait,… this is not a pun… but it could have been such a great opportunity!

Or in the case of The Guardian, you’ve got their review¬†“Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train review – an anime fever dream”, which basically talks about the movie, in not even 400 words, without giving a fuck about what it’s about. The review starts strong with three very pretentious lines “Good, bad and powerful spells collide in this impressively animated romp that inspires touching reflections on life suspended”. No idea what the fuck that is supposed to mean apart from the animation being good and… magical spells being in the movie… but Felperin, the author of the review, has no idea about the show really as it touches on something deeper… so deep that it actually didn’t make sense to me and I watched the show actually, even if I didn’t like it a whole lot. Leslie Felperin then continues “if, like me, you have no watched […] Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, let alone read the manga series it was based on, then you may struggle somewhat to understand exactly what’s going on […]”. Well, of course, if you watch the second season of any show, you may not quite understand what is actually going on. Felperin then goes into how you can see who the main characters/good guys are and who the bad guys are… based on appearance alone. Then, Leslie praises the animation, calls one of the characters a “shouty half-man-half-boar”, which btw is not actually true but whatever… and then Leslie spoils the film partly… Why the hell? In the end, she tells you to squint a bit, relax your mind and blablabla, here comes something pretentious again.

This isn’t a review. In my opinion, at least, this does a lot of things wrong like the lack of research, the length and the spoilers. Sure, length doesn’t matter and stuff. You can pull that joke here but I find it hard to count something as a “review” that doesn’t even remotely touch on how the author felt about the music, the characters, the plot, or the animation. It doesn’t have to be everything but at least something would have been nice. One sentence about the animation is… nothing, essentially, and it’s sad because this is essentially just a bad summary of the franchise without the necessary research and without anything added to it. You could have gone into Wikipedia, looked up the entry on the show and its plot summary before then telling someone about it who then would draw it so that someone else can describe it (yes, this is gartic phone) and then you’d have this post.

It’s a short post that doesn’t really summarise anything from the plot and yet manages to spoil one of the plot points completely. And then there’s this annoying pretentiousness that may very much just be a rhetoric device that The Guardian is forcing onto its writers because… how else do you look “sophisticated” nowadays unless you fake it. I mean, I’m not sure if people really care all that much about The Guardian… I know I’ve spent a few minutes reading through two reviews, both super short in length, to know if The Guardian spoils games often… Their review on Subnautica: Below Zero is a bit spoiler-y but at least it was kind of entertaining and it doesn’t go into too much detail. I just feel like writing 300 words down on a movie that you watched without doing any research, straight up hopping into – what essentially is – the second season of a show you’ve never watched is… bad? I mean, people wouldn’t watch the movie without watching the show first. Nobody jumps straight into the movie for a show they haven’t watched. I don’t just start with the end of the season when I suddenly watch a new show and then proclaim that it’s weird and that I have to squint a bit and question stuff… I don’t know.

Leslie, this is for you.

So, maybe this is just how journalism works nowadays or how you write reviews if you want to stay relevant. You either slander Shrek or you admit to not having done your research while still trying to review a movie only to generate hate clicks. Shrek is turning 20 this year and an article published by The Guardian not too long ago on it was meant to be another hate click farm where they slander this movie and challenge the fanbase to a battle… but little did the Shrek fanbase know when they accepted the challenge and only fell into The Guardian’s trap, generating clicks for them, all according to plan. And even I may have fallen into this trap myself by linking to their 300-word post that is probably filled with ads unless you, “like me”, use adblocker… because I don’t support this. I don’t wanna.

(THIS FOLLOWING SECTION IS A JOKE)
To get back on track, I’ll update all of my reviews now and shorten them to 300-word summaries that then spoil the end of it, only to tell you that it’s kinda weird to look at when you haven’t actually played it and that it’s a great game and that you should subscribe for more. Maybe I’ll write for the Guardian, too, as a freelance writer for 31p per word. Honestly, not putting in the effort to make money actually sounds like a plan. Maybe I’ll become a “journalist” now for The Guardian, and then I’ll write for Forbes and then I’ll scam countless people into writing articles for me while I do not pay them at all, promising to give them a way to enter the Gaming Industry.
(THIS IS A JOKE)

No, jokes aside, I wouldn’t want to do that. The blog is doing great nowadays and I’m loving it more than anything right now and I’m finding my own style and happy with the work I put into my reviews, posts and everything. When I write reviews, I actually play the games and try out most of the features and settings and stuff… and then I write down my verdict and then I edit the post and add screenshots and all of that. And I actually add screenshots because the videos that The Guardian embedded into its post aren’t actually working which is kind of sad.

Quick note at the end here… I know I don’t have a huge platform of sorts but… still… don’t hate on Leslie for writing the article. Don’t attack her. Don’t slander her. This post was mostly my opinion on why I personally don’t think that that should count as a “review” and I just wanted to share it. This is not an attack or whatever. And if you read this and wanna tweet out at Leslie or whatever,… don’t. Seriously. Don’t. Nobody deserves that.
And if you didn’t plan to do that, that’s great and I love you (platonically) and I really hope that you stay kind and hydrated and safe! Take care of yourself. Enjoy the day. Kick back and relax.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

4 thoughts on “Is Research really needed for Reviews in The Guardian?

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  1. “Good, bad and powerful spells collide in this impressively animated romp that inspires touching reflections on life suspended” Is a sub-heading. Leslie Felperin won’t have written that. A sub-editor will.

    Other than that, I thought it was a reasonably clear, quite entertaining review. Stylistically it’s quite dense but that’s the Guardian house style. Guardian readers would expect it. It’s a pretty positive review, too, so I wouldn’t have thought fans of the IP would be concerned about it. Bear in mind it’s not directed at an audience who know what this movie is about or who have heard of the IP. It’s a review for a general audience who might happen to notice the movie is on at a cinema nearby and be curious about it. The Guardian isn’t a fan site or even a specialist platform – it’s just a newspaper that needs to try and review most, if not all, of the movies that get released every week. Someone has to go and see all of them and in many cases there won’t be anyone available with prior knowledge of something like this, which draws from another medium. There certainly wouldn’t be any expectation that someone would do research for a short, filler review of this kind. The chief task of the reviewer in those circumstances is firstly to entertain the readership, which that review does fairly well, and secondly to give a fair impression of what the reviewer thought about it, which it definitely does. I thought it was about par for a Guardian review, which puts it well above the standard of most newspaper reviews.

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    1. I just find it weird to talk about the plot (and spoil a plot point) without knowing much about the plot. Sure, it was a positive review but it didn’t feel like a review. It felt like they were trying to summarise the movie but without having seen it at all based on the trailer or whatever, which is weird.
      And while I can understand that not every reviewer from The Guardian can watch the show behind it, I wonder why they have to make the review at all if they aren’t willing to read up on a summary of the plot or whatever… There are plenty of videos like that. Doing the research is important, in my opinion. If I were to play a game that won’t run on my PC and then complain that the graphics are shit and that the game is unplayable, that’d be a bad review. If I watch a movie and don’t understand the plot because I didn’t pay attention or because I just didn’t watch the first season of the anime aka the prequel of the movie… then that’s a bad review, in my opinion.
      But from my perspective, I also see that The Guardian frequently goes for these “Hateclick Farming” Posts where they slander something (like in the Shrek example) just so that people can furiously click on it. So, sending a reviewer into a movie only to watch it without any prior knowledge feels like a way to bait the anime community into clicking on the article, even if it was positive.
      Hence, I’m just commenting on that and giving my two cents. Thanks for your comment, Bhag!

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  2. tbh i didn’t understand most of their review and i have to agree on the review points. i mean, why waste so many words on describing a) how to tell the good and bad characters apart from their visuals and voices b) noting the shape of their eyes and c) how awkward they speak *hmmmm* when you can be talking about something more important? i’ve never actually read anything from the guardian and i don’t know anything about it but it did sound a bit uppity *sigh* and ofc i don’t plan to read any of their other stuff xD i don’t trust non-nerds to review the nerdy things properly :P esp anime nowadays, i think that because it’s getting more traction, more “general” people are trying to pick up on the money which then (one scenario at least) is that we get reviews like this one

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    1. I feel like having non-nerds review nerdy stuff and kind of having them disrespect it, is a good way to generate hate clicks. This one guy wrote an article that I alluded to about Shrek being bad… on Shrek’s 20th anniversary. He starts off by saying that the critics loved it and that it was even added to the Library of Congress… but it sucks apparently because of all the great things about it. It was super weird and warped and he basically described why Shrek was so good… but he said that it’s bad because of those points, which made 0 sense.

      Either way, people hated it and when people hate something, they retweet, quotetweet, reply, and all of that, y’know? And then more people find the article and complain about it after reading through it. Amazing. That’s what The Guardian is trying to do here, even if in the case of Mugen Train, they’ve praised the movie and stuff… the fact that that the reviewer didn’t bother to read the manga up to the point, watch the show up to that point or just read the Wikipedia summary,… idk, kinda weird. Nobody liked that. :D

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