As a journalist of some 28 years’ experience, some things in the local media drive me nuts.
I’ll only mention one thing now, though – the quality of reviewing of artistic endeavours. Quite often the explanation for the poor reviewing is that the writers have no experience and not enough training and simply don’t know. On other times it is because writers are driven by personal agendas, as has become crystal clear with one “writer” this season. On yet other times, it is an unhappy combination of both.
The reason I’m mentioning this, however, is because of a brilliant light in the often dark tunnel of reviewing, which came in this publication’s Monday review of the semis, by Wade Gibbons.
Now I know people will say I’m saying this because he praised me in the article. Truth to tell, of course I enjoyed it from that angle. It’s rare in Barbados for any reviewer to note any achievements on my part, despite the indisputable catalogue of good songs I have built up over the years. In fact, in my 31 years in this kaiso thing, I have probably received four reviews which did me justice. I can actually remember three, including Monday’s, but I’m adding in another in case I forgot one.
The acknowledgement of my ability is not the biggest reason for my joy on reading the article, though. It warmed my heart because at last I was reading a reviewer that had the cojones to call it as he really saw it and not be seduced by the reputations of the people under review.
Reviewers here often go with the crowd or the ones with the big reputations, never ever questioning whether the reputations are indeed deserved or just the result of good marketing. They too, as Gibbons mentioned, often judge performers and not performances. In short, the media here like to watch face. It is who, not what.
Monday night’s review stood out like a beacon. The criticisms were fearless, an attribute often lacking in Bim. This is how it works on this rock – if an entertainer is seen to be “large”, with a big following, reviewers very seldom make any pointed criticism. If you are not in that category, however, dog eat yuh supper! They feel quite free to lambaste you, even if your work is actually better than that of the big names.
It comes down to this – if yuh got backins, yuh safe. Otherwise, otherwise. That’s not right. Reviewers should be honest and if the Emperor is naked, say that they saw that, bare botsie and all. They should not seek to establish just how fine was the material in which the Emperor was clothed.
The first thing reviewers seek to do here is justify results, rather that examine and question them. That’s why Gibbons’ review was such a breath of fresh air. I really feel it should be enlarged and displayed prominently in every media house, as well as over the bed of one particular “writer”. Then again, I don’t think he’s smart enough to understand it.