Today I want to take a quick look at the difference between critiquing and hating, because for some people the line between these two gets incredibly blurred. Though what I find more disturbing is how quickly someone who is critiquing something can be accused of hating. So let’s make it clear: Critiquing is not hating.
This creates a clear problem for having a meaningful discussion (or any kind of critical thought) when anything perceived as a negative impression of something someone else values is hating it. Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be a negative view but merely not an overly positive one and the ‘H’ word will get thrown into the ring. And that effectively ends the dialogue. You can’t reasonably discuss something once one side of the table assumes you are attacking them and that you are doing it because of an inbuilt hate.
So if critiquing is not hating, what is it?
To start off I’m just going to give you a dictionary definition of the terms and then look at what that means in practice.
To critique is to review critically or to evaluate. To clarify, critical might mean inclined to find fault with but it also means involving skilful judgement as to truth, merit etc: for example a critical analysis.
So in this instance a critique is to review something in a way as to make a judgement as to something’s merit. It does not mean to criticise it (although if the truth that your analysis leads you to is that there is little merit it may seem as though there is criticism) nor does it have anything to do with an emotional investment such as liking or hating (admittedly, most people fall out of critiquing when writing reviews because they do fall back on a position of personal opinion).
Hating on the other hand is to regard something with a strong or passionate dislike. It is an entirely emotional state of being and does not rely on any kind of analysis or thought or evidence but is merely a position someone holds (though they may have come to that position after critiquing). Actually, I like the 6th definition given in my dictionary: devoted to expressing resentment or dislike: a hate session. That seems more like an appropriate definition for someone who is a hater of a series or is hating on a series rather than critiquing.
See, the critiquer is willing to engage in a discussion and hear other view points. They are willing to accept that their opinion was formed by x, y, z and if yours was formed by n, m, o instead then you will have a different view point. They might also think you are crazy for considering n, m, o important but they will see where your view point came from.
A hater on the other hand is devoted to the negative. They are utterly and completely unwilling to consider for even a moment that something might have merit or even just suck less than their view of it. They don’t want a reasoned discussion, they don’t want your opinion, they don’t want to even hear that another opinion might exist. They just want to repeatedly tear down any and everything to do with the object of their loathing. Which I guess could be an interesting hobby but I doubt you could ever add it to your resume.
We all hate things (that’s part of being human), but does that mean we are naturally predisposed to hating?
Not a chance. Firstly it takes a lot of energy to be an active hater. Secondly, I firmly believe that my own views are not absolute and this is an opinion shared by the many people out there engaging in conversations about anime and films and TV shows and they kind of enjoy hearing a different view point. It makes the conversation more than an echo chamber.
Those following my blog probably know already how I feel about Black Butler 2. That doesn’t stop me from respecting the views of others on the sequel and including those posts that share a more positive side of the show. I think this is important because as an anime viewer I want to read as many view points as I can about something to consider it differently, to see things I may have overlooked, and to just enjoy discussing how a single anime can affect so many people in so many different ways.
Then again, do I think I am a critiquer?
Probably not. While I do provide some analysis mostly what I write are my impressions and reactions to shows with my thoughts on why I had these. I’ll save the really critical analysis to those a little more qualified than myself.
However, I think it is important that when we read the views of others we remember that someone disliking or being critical of something we liked isn’t a personal attack or a direct challenge. There’s no reason to feel annoyed over their opinion as their are as many opinions as their are people. And if they are hating on something you love and refusing to listen to any other view point, you are probably better off ending the conversation on your end and finding one of the many other amazing anime fans online to have a chat to.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
30 thoughts on “Critiquing Is Not Hating – You Can Love Something and Still Critique It.”
Our inability to distinguish critique (or even criticism) from hatred is in large measure due (IMHO) to our addiction to one of modernity’s central cultural myths: the myth of the fully autonomous, self-realising individual. One of the implications and consequences of this myth is that each individual has their own “truth” and that each truth is “as equally valid” as any other “truth”. In other words, there are no meta-narratives which either contextualise our respective “truths” or subject them to external critique. Indeed, critique of any sort is merely an example of an external “hater” invalidly attempting to negate our own personal “truth”.
That’s how societies become polarised, how politics becomes poisoned, and social media becomes a toxic wasteland inhabited by trolls: because we are incapable of coming to a position in which there are an agreed set of “facts” from which it is possible to discern differing lines of interpretation or understanding – and that these differing lines necessarily engage one another in a dialogue of critique from their own perspective. In other words, we cannot agree that a particular anime has certain features or qualities (production value, plotting, dialogue, narrative structure, character design, etc) and from those qualities draw entirely different conclusions: that the dialogue was clunky or convincing, that the character designs were sophisticated or cartoonish, that the narrative structure was cohesive or lumpy, etc. Whether or not the end result of our interpretation of these qualities leads us to conclude that the overall product was well-made or good but flawed or sucked altogether is a separate matter entirely: that’s our opinion. What actually matters is whether we can arrive at a common starting point and work our separate ways from there. That’s where dialogue and understanding and enrichment live.
The whole nonsense about “haters” is simply the same kind of confusion that (mis)describes “freedom of speech” as the “right” to say whatever I please and be immune from critical or “negative” response. Indeed, the labelling of a response as “negative” is itself indicative of this misguided attitude. Yes, there are “haters” out there, trolls who seemingly exist for no other purpose than the pleasure they derive from tearing down other people. But these are simply inadequate types hiding behind the “anonymity” of the internet and engaging in massive over-compensation for their own sense of unfulfillment. The ones who automatically accuse others of “hating” just because they can’t stand, or refuse to countenance, an opinion other than their own are the end product of the fallacy of every person having a “truth” that is “equally valid” – because the idea of “equally valid” implies “beyond criticism”.
And, you know, critique can involve criticism: if considered analysis leads one to conclude that a product is second-rate or unworthy of the audience or so forth, then criticism can be legitimately part of critique – provided the point of the criticism is not to demean or vilify but to articulate the central point of the critique. What this all boils down to is our culture’s inability to accept that conflicting realities may be true at the same time – which is not the same thing as saying that all “truths” are “equally valid” – requiring that we hold them together in a necessary tension rather than “pick a side” a determine which one is more “valid”, in the process consigning those who disagree with us to the category of “haters”. So it is possible to “hate” something and yet be properly critical of it; the point is that the critique/criticism is driven by considered analysis, not emotional antipathy.
‘the point is that critique is driven by considered analysis, not emotional antipathy’
Very nicely put.
You have no idea how many times I’ve been called a hater just cause I don’t like something as much as someone else, mostly when it involves Beyonce.
I kind of wrote this post because someone suggested I was hating on something when I was merely pointing out a plot inconsistency. I’d actually said in the comment that I liked the show, but some people really don’t like hearing anything negative about a show.
Tell me about it. It’s especially irritating when you critique a show with a lot of hype/popularity
Great post and certainly one that makes one think back to discussions on things that they may have taken too far. I remember just recently throwing out the word hate in a conversation regarding the television series, Riverdale. While that word slipped out accidentally it completely shut down the conversation as many felt I was building towards a hate that was present before I even watched the show. Not what I was trying to do, but when you discuss beloved childhood properties in reboots it is hard to sometimes not show your cards.
You always have to find that silver lining to anything I think. Shunning opinions is a big nono to me, there is always something you can learn from other’s opinions. It is hard though to always hold that silver lining as sometimes that passionate disdain for something can just bleed through an argument. Just having a nice discussion about something subjective is hard because you have people on opposite sides of the fence who will feel strongly about certain things. Then comments of taste can come into the conversation and then we can lose all track of reigning back in our feelings. Passion can be a double-edged sword.
Agreed. When you are really passionate about something it is harder to step back and see a different view. Thanks for the comment.
As you already know I’m a firm believer in respecting everyone’s opinions, regardless if I disagree or not.
Even if people dislike my favourite shows, I always respect and understand their viewpoints, because everyone likes different things and critiques in different ways.
Critique is definitely not synonymous with hating, they’re very different practices with very different mindsets.
Excellent post that sums up the topic really well. More or less how I feel about the subject. Thanks for sharing.
It is a very different mindset. Sometimes I wonder if the internet increases misunderstandings due to the difficulty in conveying intent. Of course sometimes people just don’t like critism of things they like and some people do deliberately spread hate.
Great post as always. The line between critiquing and hating – or at least the way the two are perceived – has become kinda blurred like you said. I don’t really see the point of blind bashing. It’s just fine if one dislikes something down to the marrow of one’s bones but it makes sense that others out there might like it, sometimes for the same reason one hates it.
On the other hand, I think accusations of ‘hating’ get thrown around a lot by people who can’t stand to see even reasonable criticism of something they like. I get that it’s unpleasant to see something you love picked apart but that doesn’t invalidate the criticism. Different people have different opinions and mature discussion would be the best option.
It would be pretty great if we could all chill and like what we like and talk about it like reasonable human beings. And pigs shall fly, I know.
Flying pigs would be really cute though I’d prefer flying cats (go Happy).
Cats do trump pigs when it comes to cuteness, yes.
I’m not sure I hate any anime outright. Even series and movies I don’t enjoy have their moments. My opinion on Dragonball Super has turned from excitement to mixed recently. I don’t hate the Universal Survival Arc but it has problems. It’s actually really funny because I find the slice of life episodes so much better than the action heavy ones because I’ve seen Gohan and Goku enemies for right around 2 decades now. I want something different. Though the article I wrote on it could be easily construed as hate and I could probably be accused of being a Goku and Gohan hater. I don’t hate them they are made to be liked. They are just stale white bread characters to me who never changed. Well Gohan did when he became a father but the series just erased that so he can pound enemies with his fists again instead of being a responsible parent and have a steady job. Two things his father never accomplished. Still I can’t actively hate Gohan or Goku but I can find their stories a bit repetitive and boring.
In a time where people seem to mix up criticism and hate, we need a heads-up on what we are actually talking about.
I see some people using “criticism” as a means of covering over their obvious hate on something, as well as people who try to cover their hate as “criticism.” It’s really frustrating to engage in a discussion when the two sides are very close-minded and shut the other side down.
Gets me thinking – what happened to good ol’ discussion and debate where two sides share fair points and not get all too bitchy about it. It’s a bit disappointing how far our societies have come and we still cling to childish means of interaction.
This article was a good read!
Glad you enjoyed it. Though even just looking at the way politicians interact it is clear that being civil and reasonable is pretty much a value of the past.
Great post. I honestly always respect other people’s opinions. What I do think sometimes seems to be a trend lately (and it is something that I have adressed in my Ghost in the Shell post), is that everybody these days seems to enjoy bashing the same thing, just because everybody seems to be doing that. At times I wonder if people sometimes take the time to even watch something objectively. But obviously if something really is very bad (Lol), that is okay. It all comes down to how you do it. I have sometimes read reviews that totally destroy a certain series or movie, without really providing a motivation for it. But as I have said so often, whether it be a tv series or a movie, or whatever, everybody in the end will see and judge it differently. As long as everybody respects other people’s opinions, I really like going into a discussion. (Even when there is a hate piece lol). That is what makes all of this so much fun 😊
I agree, the discussion is the fun. Disagreeing is fine as long as both sides respect the other viewpoint.
Nice post, reminds me of how we’re taught to critique at school, I know I always try to use that method to write my reviews but when I don’t like something I feel like I show it too much o(-(
No problem having an opinion. Pretty sure the draft of my Hand Shakers review is still just a rant.
I think critique and opinion go hand in hand tbh. Like you’re not always going to give your opinion with an analytical eye, but if you’re critiquing something and saying that the art is like this and audio is like that, there’s still you’re opinion in there because not every art style is going to be to your liking. I think just slamming something for no reason is where being an irrational “hater” comes from,, but like you said if they’re hating on something and can back up their reasoning, nothing wrong with that.
That being said, I’ve seen people use calling someone a hater as a shield to not have their feelings about a piece of media contested, and I never think that’s cool. A good example is when Yuri on Ice ended, and anyone who didn’t like the YuriXVictor ship was “a hater”. That always leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because why are you going to close down a discussion by doing something like that?
Yes, the hater title gets thrown around very quickly when people don’t want to hear a contrasting opinion. Sometimes, it isn’t hating, it is just a different view point which when we’re discussing subjective opinions is probably every bit as valid.
Thanks for the comment.
Excellent post, Karandi. It’s similar to what our professors teach us where during debates, question or attack the point/position, not the person. While I do agree that critiquine is noy synonymous with hating, I have encountered some bloggers who camouflage their hate with critique. The line is indeed blurred between these two, especially on the web. What we should look for in critiques are logical analyses or evidence. Anyway, good job on this post. Keep it up. Cheers!
Thanks Arria. Agree, there are definitely some people who do try to use a reasoned argument even while they clearly just hate something. Though it usually become apparent when you raise a positive point and they shut it down in the comments really quickly.
That’s so true. When things quickly become illogical, more emotional, it’s usually just hate. It’s usually more, I hate this anime, fuck reasons why. I just hate it. Something alone these lines.
It’s fine if that’s their opinion. Sometimes you do just hate something. Still, if you then tell someone else they can’t like something or they are wrong for liking it because you hate it, that’s where it all kind of falls down. Same if you tell someone they are wrong for hating it because you liked it.
yeah, i dunno. critique and hate dont seem mutually exclusive (i.e. you can critique a show and hate it once the evaluation is complete). it sounds more like the distinction you’re trying to make is based on the willingness to participate in discussion, which isnt really related to those terms. even someone who hates a show vehemently can contribute to a discussion assuming they’re willing to put forth their reasoning. equally, someone who likes a show can fail to contribute to a discussion with a justification like “because i enjoy it” (this is not to be confused with “because i enjoyed this specific part, which i tend to like that kind of thing”). to be fair, i agree with the general principle being proposed, that we shouldnt be so invested in our opinion that we reject any criticism as hate, but i guess a lot of the distinction that’s being made here doesnt really come through.
That’s a fair enough point. And I think you are right in that the main point is the willingness to reason and to discussion. Thanks for the comment.
like i said, i think your core message is correct and have no problem with it. i just think that putting these labels here and trying to make these distinctions gives the wrong impression. basically, something like it’s not wrong to hate things.