From the ed­i­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Deb­o­rah Jones

I AM far from the only critic to ob­serve that readers seem far more en­gaged with a neg­a­tive re­view than a pos­i­tive one, although I’m not en­tirely sure why. This was brought home to me force­fully a cou­ple of weeks ago af­ter I re­viewed the mu­si­cal ver­sion of An Of­fi­cer and a Gentleman, a world pre­miere of a work writ­ten by an Amer­i­can creative team but with an Aus­tralian cast and di­rec­tor. As some of you may know, I didn’t ad­mire the piece and expressed that opin­ion force­fully. One of the writ­ers, Dou­glas Day Ste­wart — he also wrote the 1982 film — was deeply of­fended and asked us to pub­lish a re­sponse, which we did. Ste­wart didn’t pull any punches re­gard­ing how he felt about me. He played the woman rather than the ball, but that’s show­biz. I dished it out in the way I wanted to, and Ste­wart hit back in the way he wanted to. Writer and ac­tor James Mil­lar — him­self a cre­ator of mu­si­cal theatre — weighed in with a piece sup­port­ing the critic’s right to write, and the thing took off in­ter­na­tion­ally. I doubt any piece I’ve pro­duced has been as widely dis­sem­i­nated as this (you can still read it all on­line if you wish). But had I writ­ten a rave and Ste­wart writ­ten in to con­grat­u­late me on my pow­ers of per­cep­tion, this ex­change of views would have gone ab­so­lutely nowhere. In­ter­est­ingly, one com­men­ta­tor sug­gested The Aus­tralian wanted to cre­ate a stir by pub­lish­ing Ste­wart’s let­ter: is it that hard to be­lieve some­one may sim­ply be say­ing what they think, with no ul­te­rior mo­tive? But what­ever mo­tives were as­cribed to me, the fact re­mains that a strongly neg­a­tive re­view was de­voured avidly while pos­i­tive views tend to end up as a brief quote in a com­pany’s ad­ver­tis­ing. I’d be in­ter­ested to hear your views on this.

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