Thursday, August 21, 2008


In general I'm a pretty squeamish person. I'm not generally one to fearlessly expose me to stuff that I don't like, whether it's people, ideologies, or music. For some reason though, this doesn't extent to every area of my life. Because, whilst I abhor the rantings of bigots and idiots, I always find there to be something strangely fascinating about them when I encounter these rantings in written form.

In the past my compulsion to read the views of idiots has led me to read page after page of moronic ranting on the 'have your say' section of the BBC website, even, on the worst days, to deliberately subject myself to the comments underneath youtube videos. At the moment though, it takes a slightly (but not greatly) more sane form. I've been reading a lot of reviews on Amazon-US recently, for reasons to do with work, and I've found myself gravitating towards the one star reviews.

I've found that regardless of whether they are saying things I agree with or not, the negative ones always seem more passionate than the positive. I relish it when I find a book with 10 reviews and an average customer rating of 2 stars.

Today though, I started to go that little bit further. I'd find reviewers whose output appeared to be particularly hateful or stupid, then I'd go to their profile page and read all the reviews they'd written. Sometimes this led to amusing little snippets of life, such as the woman who wrote a disparaging review of a self-help book on erectile dysfunction, but then a glowing positive review of a vibrator a few weeks later (yes, Amazon sell pretty much anything). Other times though it provides you with a fascinating character study.

Take, for example, this person - whose reviews display a charming mixture of strongly conservative views, and hints of just about every flavour of bigotry you can name. All coupled with a tendency to make things up, exaggerate, and launch off-topic personal attacks. I'm pretty sure that the books he writes positive reviews of are ones that he's actually read, but I'm not sure whether his vast number of reviews of books that he finds disgusting indicate that he's good at creative reviewing, or that he's a masochist.

I'm assuming it's a he. It seems like a fair thing to assume, when you read the reviews.


On an entirely unrelated note, Man Man are rather good. Certainly the creepiest use of xylophone I'd heard in a long time. And "It Overtakes Me" by the Flaming Lips has one of the coolest bass riffs I've heard in a while (cool partly for the riff itself, and partly for the crunchy and delicious bass sound). The video there is a little weird, but the recording is sound.