There is such a thing as “polite”

In my post rating the potential Mahalo Daily co-hosts, Veronica Belmont herself (presumably!) had this to say:

But on another note, geez… your comments are pretty jerky. These women are trying really hard to make a great show, cut them a little slack. It’s not the easiest thing in the world.

I couldn’t fit a reply nicely in a comment (as always, I am too verbose), and I figured that this was worth a separate post, since it applies to other things I write (and it’s not often that a tiny personal blog like this gets a comment from a celebrity – although if Sarah does win, then I guess it was four times today!).

Before I get to reviewing my own comments (blogging’s highest form, I suppose), comments in general: I don’t feel that it is my place to cut them any slack.  Calacanis asked for ratings with considered thoughts, and that’s what this was.  I have no doubt that it’s a challenging task (if it wasn’t, then they shouldn’t bother), nor that they are all making their best attempt, and I didn’t say either of those things.

When I teach, I give my students honest feedback about what they have done poorly, and what they have done well.  If I sugar-coated my responses (or cut them any slack), then I would be doing them a disfavour, as well as anyone that uses their eventual qualifications (e.g. employers).  It can be abrasive, but it also spurs development and improvement (and in general (but with exceptions) students rate my teaching highly, at least as far as I know).  I expect this feedback from my students, also: either the comments are valid and I endeavour to make changes so that future students benefit from my enhanced skills, or they’re not valid and I don’t worry about them.  I expect, give, and receive, this feedback in other work I do as well.

In the “real world”, people often consider me blunt, abrasive, or rude.  Some people get to know me, and then they realise that, yes, I am (well, not rude).  But it’s never malicious, unconsidered, or untruthful, and reciprocation is always welcome.  I have friends (and a wife of nearly five years), even given this personality trait.

My assumption (could be wrong, of course) is that the comment mostly applies to my comment about Sarah (personally, I think the comments about CommandN and Veronica were the least fair, since I didn’t elaborate on either).  My comments on Nadine, Leah, and Andrea’s episodes were nearly all positive, and the negative was something minor that could be worked on.

My criticism of Michelle – the hair flick is constructive criticism (it should go), the laugh perhaps unfair (but it bothered me personally, and this was a personal response), and I think my feeling about the enthusiasm has the same source as comments from other people about “professionalism”.  I didn’t say that it was fake (that would have been unfair), but that it came across that way.  My guess (personal response, remember) is that she could be more natural and it would be a better show, or that she’s just suited better elsewhere.

My criticism of Kristina echoes that of nearly everyone, including the official judges.  Considering that I’d (probably) watch her in some other show, I can’t see this as “jerky”.

So that leaves Sarah:

Easily the worst.  The comments talk a lot about “energy” (meaningless drivel, really).  There are three problems: (1) the interviewing skills are terrible (evident in the over-editing, if nowhere else), (2) the facial expressions are off-putting, and (3) frankly, she just isn’t ‘hot’ enough – realistically, the show needs an extremely attractive host (especially if co-hosting with Lon) and while Sarah is pretty, she’s not that hot.  Picking a “suck-up” topic doesn’t help.

Personally, the “energy” comments seem more “jerky” to me, since they’re too vague to be of use.  I could have elaborated on the interviewing skills, I suppose, but I already commented on her individual episode (which it’s logical to assume she read).  If I had said her face was off-putting, then that would have been “jerky”, but “facial expressions” is not; to me personally the expressions distracted from the content.

Beauty, as the cliché goes, is in the eye of the beholder.  This is my personal blog, so thankfully I don’t have to prefix IMO to everything I write.  However, IMO Sarah is pretty, but not hot.  Clearly many people disagree with that (possibly including some/all of the official judges).  Commenting on people’s attractiveness is often considered impolite (ironically, more so when the commentee may know of it), but realistically, it’s a huge factor here (and the judges opened the door on such comments in the earlier episodes).  To throw in another cliché, beauty is only skin deep: while I don’t find Sarah attractive, that says nothing about how I find her as a person (again, IMO, but vastly more important).

The topic really did seem chosen to insincerely ingratiate herself with the audience.  Reading her personal blog entry, which  I did after writing my post, it seems a little less so (but the audience can’t be expected to follow her elsewhere).  I think it was a poor choice in that regard.

Was I impolite?  Well, politeness is a cultural thing – I don’t feel I was, but perhaps in the Mahalo Vlog Idol culture, maybe I needed a “sorry Sarah” at the end to make it polite.  I guess the subtitle of this post is then, “but it’s not me”.  Personally, I would consider myself polite, even though (perhaps especially because) I am directly honest.

Bottom-line: if I offended Sarah (or Veronica, or Amber, or whoever is responsible for the quality (or lack thereof) of YouTube videos), then I apologise: such was not my intent.  However, I believe that my comments were appropriate, and not inherently offensive, demeaning, or “jerky”, and accurate (as a reflection on my personal opinion).

Footnote: the title of the post references a tweet from Veronica, which is quite possibly completely unrelated to this, but seemed appropriate.

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