I've been enjoying the local SoCal band "Airborne Toxic Event" lately...especially their catchy single "Sometime Around Midnight."
When Pitchfork completely slammed their record, I didn't mind; I don't really read Pitchfork so I didn't even notice.
While most bands would simply shrugged and silently curse the reviewer, Airborne Toxic did something every artist kind of wants to do...they wrote a response.
Nearly every newspaper that published a review of "Quiet, Please" wrote favorable reviews, but there was two or three that wrote something a little less favorable. Writers always say they ignore reviews of their books, which sounds good on paper--but I know few that actually do; I've been reading all the great tributes to David Foster Wallace on McSweeney's, and one that stuck out was a guy who talk about him being upset at a bad review; I thought to myself, "man, there's one of the world's greatest writers, who has to know he's the best, and he even takes offense at a bad review." The fact is a bad review means there's someone out there who just doesn't understand you; we all want to be understood and it's frustrating, especially as a writer, when you're not.
But there's an unwritten rule about reviews...you tell everyone you don't take it personally, and you never respond to the bad review or reviewer directly. That makes you sound sort of like an arrogant jerk who can't take criticism.
That's why Airborne's response is so interesting. It's really quite ballsy on their part because they risk a great many people saying what a bunch of whiners. They are a quite unique band, and I applaud them for standing up against a reviewer who obviously doesn't know what he is talking about.
Mark Twain once said of critics, "Unless the bastards have the courage to give unqualified praise, I'd say ignore them." While I found it quite courageous of Airborne to write that response (and it was a very well written one), I'd prefer to take the Mark Twain wussy way out and ignore them...