by Anna Sugden
A couple of things happened recently - both during sporting events - which caused me to ask this question. In both cases, the team had performed poorly and their own fans were booing them off the field.
I've seen it happen before and each time it does, it makes me cross.
When I was young, I was told that you never booed. It was considered rude and poor sportsmanship. Even at the pantomime, you never booed the baddie - you hissed (don't ask me how that got started!). I don't remember much booing as a child, though I do remember people being told off for booing!
Slowly, I noticed that booing had begun to creep into our culture. Some of it I can understand and don't mind too much. Let's face it, that's better than a lot of the foul language we hear these days.
- Booing the villain.
- Booing the opposition *g*
- Booing a bad play, a foul or a bad refereeing decision.
- Booing the player who left your team to go to a deadly rival for more money (personally, I wouldn't give them the attention!)
More recently though I've noticed people booing their own team or representatives of their country. Now, admittedly, the people concerned had just played a stinker of a game and in both cases qualification for a major prize had been at stake.
But, was it right to boo? To boo the team you love?
In one instance, it was the end of a great season and the team concerned went out of the finals with a surprisingly poor performance. This was the last time the fans would see their team until the new season. There was no recognition of the great work that had got them so far, no acknowledgement that even though they'd played terribly their fans still supported them.
It was a disheartening moment. All I could think of was how much worse it made those players feel - players who were already distraught by their loss. And, I felt for the parents and families of those players who were seated in the stands. How awful to hear your child being booed.
I've heard people say that booing is the right of the fan - you pays your money, you have the right to boo if the product doesn't match up to expectations.
While I can appreciate the sentiment, I wonder how those people would feel if every time they had a bad day at work, the entire company booed them out the door? Or if everyone booed their child off the stage at the school play/dance recital/ concert.
In the midst of my thoughts about booing, something else happened that struck me the same way. A friend - a fabulous writer - got a nasty review on Amazon. Not just bad, but downright venomous! Worse, not only did the reviewer not like the book, the characters, the cover or presumably, the typeface it was printed in, but this person made the review personal and attacked the author. (oh, and told the whole story with spoilers to ruin it for everyone else).
I was shocked.
Now, no writer (or painter or actor etc etc) expects to get glowing reviews from everyone. We'd like to, obviously, but life isn't like that. People have different tastes ... much I hate to quote the French *g*, vive la difference!
If you don't like the book and feel the need to warn others off it, that's your preorogative. If you feel the need to do so publicly and in print, again, up to you - though I don't happen to agree. Equally, if you are so driven by what you've read to be brutally critical ... you get the picture. Some people thrive on that kind of acidic rhetoric. Some find it highly entertaining. Again ... nope can't quote them twice *g* ... let's just say, to each, his own.
But, to attack a person so vindictively? It beggars belief. And, in my opinion, totally wrong.
We've all heard (or, sadly, experienced) the tales of disgrunted fans and readers and the extremes they go to when expressing their displeasure ('Misery', anyone?!). The one that I always mention is the thriller writer (whose work I happen to love) who was villified by one reader because she'd got hold of one of her earlier novels - a *shock, horror, gasp* romantic suspense - and was disgusted. This person not only attacked the writer personally everywhere she could, she wrote to the publisher and all the people who'd given this writer quotes and lambasted them too! I think she also went into all the bookstores that stocked the book and waged a campaign to get it pulled off the shelves. This person needs to get a life.
What do you think? Is it okay to boo? Are there situations where booing is or isn't acceptable?
What about reviews? Are you a 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything' type of person or are you a 'tell the whole world and his dog what a load of drivel this is' or somewhere in-between? Do you find nasty reviews useful or do you ignore them?