One star entertainment

As I felt particularly masochistic today, I went to Amazon to read customer reviews.

When doing this for fun, I usually pick some book I either know to be bad in my view, or which I am willing to think so in my unknowing and unreasonable prejudice against certain genres (romance, self help, overly serious literature).

Today, I did something different: went trawling in the one-star reviews of the Lord of the Rings and of Dune, both books I very much like. Discovered something curious there — seemed that many of those hating one ended with a snide remark to read the other instead. The overall effect of these critics was something like two men together, both wearing an “I’m with stupid” T-shirt.

Also, thanks to the curious nature of the internet, I had the constant nagging sense that one of two terrible alternatives was true — either the world had entirely too many ill-adjusted nitwits who, much to the world’s detriment, still were (though only barely) able to trot their views to view, and no doubt countless more whose views were lost because of their inability to understand the complexities of a “Submit” button; or then there was a whole lot of trolls aping irritating stupidity the best they could, which was well enough to call forth endless reserves of froth and bile, and to cause enough indignant strokes to kill half of Luxembourg.

Then again nothing says it’s “either” — could be “both” too.

There’s a thought for you.

Some reviewers — and I simulate — suggested that “only an illtererate moran woud liek this borring book with full names impposibile to pronunce. so read victor hugh who wroted GRATE EXPECTATION a true moderrn american classic insted!!!!”, usually after starting their review with a suggestion they were really only interested in serious literature, and actshually shtudied it.

Many reviews had better spelling and grammar, but essentially the same content and approach.

Oh, and the criticism’s effect on me? Not much; I guess the triple affliction of being an atheist, a heavy metal fan, and a friend of fantasy and science fiction has made me a bit thick-skinned against uninformed and dismissive trolling. (Words like “subliterate” and “adolescent” seem to come up a lot.)

It would not be very difficult to write a book called “All I needed to know about bad arguments, I learned from Amazon.com customer reviews”; the customer reviews of that book on Amazon would be veddy interesting.

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