May 8, 2007

The Art of Critiquing

There are nights when Dancing With the Stars judge Bruno Tolioni can't critique worth a damn. The three judges of Top Design usually fell woefully short of doing a good job, while Sally Hershberger from Shear Genius has a natural talent for judging what's good or not. Simon Cowell is rude but almost always right; and Paula is sweet but usually off the mark.

Constructive criticism is tough. Ask any teacher. There are so many pitfalls when critiquing a person's talent, and a thoughtless remark can truly hurt their feelings or scar a child for life.

During Dancing With the Stars last night, Bruno called Billy Ray Cyrus' attempt at the fox trot "crap." The moment that word left his mouth, Bruno realized he had made a faux pas, and clapped his hands to his mouth. Billy's response was one of hurt more than anger.

Sally Hershberger, on the other hand, strikes me as a particularly gifted judge. Critiquing the Meg Ryan shag the stylists had cut (her signature hairdo), she went down the line pointing out ways the stylists could improve their cut or remarking on something she liked. She was teaching as she was judging, and you could see the stylists lapping up her advice.

In blogging about Bravo shows, I've occasionally crossed the line from harmless fun to sounding nastier than I meant to. I'm still honing my craft of writing gentle satire, a skill that Tom & Lorenzo, the Project Rungay guys and Eric 3000 excel at.

Ah, perhaps some day! Meanwhile, I'll keep studying Sally and learning from Bruno's mistakes. Billy did not survive tonight's cut, but I think better of him for exiting with such grace tonight. You've got a new fan, mister, and you can dance for me any time.


jinxy said...

I think it is okay to be a harsh judge, but only if you are able to back up your harsh critique with suggestions of how it could be done better.

This is where Sally and team Nina MK from PR excel at being tough judges that command your respect. They are tough to please, and they let you know when you have missed the mark, but they are also quick to let you know how it could have been better.

Being harshly critiqued stings a lot less when you walk away from the experience having learned a lesson.

BigAssBelle said...

oh, poor billy ray.

what a lovely post, ms. place.

it probably behooves all of us to bring the standards of public discourse up a notch.

in keeping with that thought and inspired by you, i shall attempt to refrain from profanity. today. one day.

ArtfulSub said...

For gentle satire writing tips may I humbly suggest you review the classics:

1) Juvenal

2) Swift


Especially today's "IDOL THOUGHTS"

It's spelled Critiquing, btw.
Critique. Critiqued. Critiques.
But the "E" is removed for critiquing.


Ms. Place said...

I made the correction, dahling. My spelling is abysmal. I use spellchecker for the main body of the text but not the titles.

My bad.

Oh, and your post is divine.