We need to talk about Kevin

From if.com.au comes this…

Angry actor returns fire at critic

Tue 11/06/2013 09:15:19

Actors who get lousy reviews usually ignore them or suffer in silence- but not Kevin Harrington.

The veteran actor was so incensed by a review by News Ltd.’s Leigh Paatsch of the DVD of Cliffy, he vented on Facebook.

The ABC telemovie features Harrington as Cliff Young, who became an unlikely hero at the age of 61 when he won the 875km endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne.

In Saturday’s Daily Telegraph and Herald-Sun Paatsch dismissed it as a “dreadful telemovie that turns the ripping true story of the late ultra-marathon legend Cliff Young into a crap-tastic cartoon. How the ABC ever ponied up a commitment to this dim-witted affair beggars belief.”

Paatsch advised readers who want the “real tale- much of which was ignored or changed by this TV calamity,” to read Julietta Jameson’s book Cliffy: The Cliff Young Story.

His verdict: “1 star, run the other way.”

Harrington, whose credits include the movies Red Hill, Australian Rules, The Honourable Wally Norman and The Dish and TV series Underbelly, Winners & Losers, SeaChange, Blue Heelers and Neighbours, wasn’t going to let that pass, blasting Paatsch on his Facebook page.

The actor queried the critic’s tastes, contrasting the sole star for Cliffy with the 3.5 stars he awarded Fast & Furious 6. He told IF, “A critic is useful if he or she has some academic or practical knowledge of that which they are criticising. The public become enlightened as to the artistic merit of the piece because the critic has the qualifications to steer them towards superior quality work. [The Australian’s] Graeme Blundell is one of these critics. Alternatively a critic may represent Everyman tastes and can therefore steer his constituency towards the popular. [Paatsch] has proven himself hopelessly inadequate according to both criteria.”

Harrington’s Facebook friends were quick to offer their support, with some making uncomplimentary remarks about Paatsch. Judging by some of the comments, film critics are about as popular as politicians.

Ouch!

Even though this story wasn’t about comedy we were intrigued when we read it. Even more so when our best efforts to find Paatsch’s review on www.news.com.au and www.newstext.com.au resulted in nothing (has it been removed from those sites?). Also out of bounds for us is Kevin Harrington’s Facebook page. Oh, and we haven’t seen Cliffy either. But…

Is it just us or does the Australian industry prove itself to be unbearably petulant by reacting to bad reviews in this way? (And Kevin Harrington’s Facebook venting is far from the only example of this sort of thing.) Isn’t it best for all concerned – industry and audiences – that a range of critical voices gets a platform? At least then when someone says a film or television show is good there’s a chance they’ll be believed.

Put another way, do we actually want endless newspaper and magazine reviews praising locally-made films and TV shows to the skies when anyone with any sense can see that quite a few are less than perfect?

(don’t answer that – plenty of creative types have made it perfectly clear over the years that they see reviewers as being their publicity arm “for the good of the local industry”. As if the local industry benefits when the public no longer trusts reviewers to tell the truth about shoddy local product. As if the general public can’t tell when they’re being treated like chumps.)

Graham Blundell’s review is well written and says lots of nice things about Harrington’s performance, but if another reviewer can make a reasonable argument for Cliffy being “crap-tastic” (and Leigh Paatsch has enough experience as a reviewer to do so) then it’s reasonable enough to let that review be published. The public can then chose which reviewer to read and/or agree with.

Negative reviews of something you’ve been personally involved in may be difficult to read, but the solution’s simple: don’t read them. They’re not aimed at you anyway. Reviews and reviewers serve the public – not the industry. Or at least they should.

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7 Comments

  • Andrew says:

    The TV industry gets too many free kicks from “critics” gushing praise over stuff that doesn’t justify it, like all the people that heaped praise on Angry Boys before seeing an episode of it, and then of course it turned out to be shite.

    So I think it’s refreshing to see one reviewer go against the trend and be blunt by just saying how it is.

  • Tony Tea says:

    Harrington was stunned an Aussie critic did not suck up an Aussie production.

  • Jimbo says:

    You didn’t miss much by not seeing Cliffy. It was a bland-fest, full of cliches and banalities. There was enough plot for a half hour episode of Australian Story.

    Reef Doctors also got a (deserved) bollocking in the media recently. It’s good to see Australian critics actually do some critiquing, rather than love-gushing all over every single thing our entertainment industry creates. It is possible to kill something with kindness.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Does anybody actually listen to ‘newspaper’ reviewers any way?

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    The thing to remember here is that Paatsch isn’t actually a television reviewer – he’s News Ltd’s film (and presumably now DVD) reviewer, so he’s got nothing to lose with the local TV industry by telling it like it is.

  • Tony Tea says:

    Is it possible FIVE Australian television shows could be among the 20 best-written television shows of all time? It is according to Idato in today’s GG.