If someone asks your opinion of something they made, and you think it’s awful, should you say so? Is it cowardly not to? Is it rude to diss someone else’s work? Even if they asked you to critique it? Or is there some polite way to answer, but avoid offending them?
I wish I knew.
The other day, a fellow member of an online discussion group posted a link to a promo video about his company, remarking he thought it had turned out rather well, and he asked other group members to tell him if it got to the point quickly enough.
Remember the “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry and the gang visit a couple with a new baby? The mother, leaning over the crib, keeps saying, “Isn’t he bee-YOO-tee-ful?” You don’t see the baby, but from the horrified faces of Jerry and friends, you can tell they’re thinking, “Ye gods, is that a BABY?”
Well, to me, as a producer, that video was like the ugly baby. To start with, it lacked any element of engaging story-telling. Furthermore, it was too long by half, the voiceover was written like print copy, and the delivery was flat. And so was the video of the obviously staged “team meeting,” which was dulled to low-contrast black and white, for no apparent reason. The team members were shown passing papers around a conference table. Talk about your raw excitement.
The piece was actually so boring I couldn’t keep my mind on it for the whole 2 1/2 minutes. The problem was not that it took too long to get to the point, but that it was pointless in every imaginable way. It didn’t inform, it didn’t entertain, it just sucked up 2 1/2 minutes of my life. It actually made me mad! Heck, if they’d hired ME to write and produce the thing…
I spent the next half-hour rattling out my excruciatingly detailed, pointedly negative opinion of this thing its creator was so proud of (Dr. Frankenstein was proud of his creation, too!). Then I spent another half-hour trying to make it sound civilized. In the end, I decided not to post anything. Life minutes wasted: 62 1/2. Actually, 65 because I watched the video again to make sure I hadn’t spaced out and missed something good. I hadn’t.
Honesty is a value I admire and try to practice. But let’s face it: there are times when it’s best to keep your tater trap shut.
If someone asks for my opinion, and it will help them, I will offer it. But in this case, the project was done, so my opinion was irrelevant. Good thing I vented my spleen privately, on my computer, where it couldn’t hurt anyone. Well, unless that person reads this and connects the dots.
So in re sharing negative opinions, I think, “When in doubt, leave it out.” What do you think?