Within my articles since starting up Theatre Scotland, I have tried to stay as relevant to either theatre or the entertainment industry within Scotland, however, recently I have had the urge to do this article. And it is a very relevant one. However, it does mean that this article is definitely away from the norm.
YouTube is a site which gives everyone the right to post whatever videos they want for the world to see. Within recent years this has led to a buildup in self-proclaimed critics. And by self-proclaimed, I mean people who have undergone no training what so ever within the industry they are critiquing. Of course, critiquing is subjective, and personal. However, within recent years, many people have used YouTube as a platform to gain views, subscribers, followers and money by completely hating on different forms of entertainment and also at points the stars fronting those productions. Which in my opinion is not critiquing. It’s hateful click bait. And it’s adding to this new hate culture we find our social media platforms drowned in. And if anyone should be able to regulate their content, it would be YouTube.
Within theatre, there are only a few critics out there which are renowned for being pretty hateful and being vile towards productions. Let’s talk about the notorious Alex Belfield. A night after the roof fell in at the performance of Death of a Salesman at the Piccadilly Theatre, he attended a preview of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ in the west end. He then took to social media and stated he wished the ceiling fell on top of him during this performance. Luckily no one was hurt in the previous night’s incident but how insensitive can you get? Especially when you are supposed to be someone who has a passion for theatre. It seems like he is just doing these reviews as he knows it will appeal to the theatre community. Well I mean. Maybe not… If you want to see what he thought about ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, then take a look at his review below. However, it is just him going on a rant as to why the powerful show which highlights mental health issues is not important, and “boring”.
In a video that has since been deleted, Alex ranks the hit musical sensation, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ one star due to him not being invited to the press night of the new UK Tour. How low can you get? He changed his mind, deleted the video, and changed it to 4 stars when the producers surprisingly gave him tickets to attend the press evening. (I wouldn’t.) If you look at all his reviews, many of them are 3 or 2 stars and the productions he does support are all old musicals with no contemporary themes or issues, then you kind of get the idea that he does not totally support the idea of new musicals. He calls all those who have a differing opinion to him haters and trolls. And tries to rile them up on twitter and in the comments section. Thankfully many theatres and theatre fans have boycotted this reviewer for the hateful stance he has taken on many loved productions, just to provoke a reaction and a certain kind of viewer.
In regards to Film and TV, there are a very specific group of “critics” that just have no comprehension of the modern world and are encouraging an audience of working or middle class white males that shows are being blackwashed. They are also taking the stance that modern productions which feature social issues and female leads are all failing, they do this through using or unreliable news sources, twisting news, speading unlikely rumours, downplaying any success, good acting, writing or directing in these productions. These types of youtubers are the ones which blame film companies for being too “woke”, PC and this is all because of us millennials or as the call us, social justice warrior. Well they say all this and get a fairly agreeable reaction in the comments section of their videos by all their subscribers. However, these youtubers usually elevate their hate for the camera and do it for click bait and to get the most hateful people watching. Or even better to wind up those who disagree with them and then rile them up further by replying back with a gif or a meme. Below are two examples of these types of YouTuber, enjoy:
If these views aren’t heightened then these guys seriously need to see councilors for the problems they have with a woman being the lead of a franchise. And if you check out their other videos you will see that is not their only issue. They even join popular franchises with the prior knowledge that they are going to rip it to shreds. Nerdrotic (Harley Quinn video above) has been caught out missing pivital infomation from a character comeback in a recent review, due to the fact he hasn’t actually seen the show before it’s recent episodes, therefore other youtubers and proffesionals called him out on it. It’s also pretty sad the amount of followers these guys have for the hours of ripping apart franchises that is on their channels. However, that being said, the main issue I have with all of this is that the negativity that these videos bring up, there is this new culture arising on YouTube where almost every single thing we see, will more likely have a larger percentage of negative reviews than positive. And that’s because of this network of hate critics which are arising and it’s sickening to think people watch them, people enjoy negativity rather positivity it seems, even if it is unsubstantiated bile.
Real critics look at a show, TV show and movie with an open mind, they go in evaluate everything they see and come out giving evidence as to why they feel a certain way towards a production. With these videos, many of them have no substance and just discuss why they hate female and social political themes being brought into something which some of these “critics” had no interest in previously.
So when you want to go see a new piece of theatre, watch a new TV show, or perhaps see a movie, when you’re on youtube looking at reviews to see if it’s worth your time, check your sources, look at their reviews previously before clicking on someone who hasn’t ever given a 4 or 5 star review in their life. There is also hundreds of thousands of theatre, tv and film loving critics outside of youtube who will be able to give you an in-depth review which includes pros and cons, not just a list of hate.
Written by Lewis C. Baird