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In a recent Huffington Post piece, Joni Edelman said “I can’t write with any real authority about Inside Out, because I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m pretty much 100 per cent positive that seeing the movie isn’t required to make this judgment.”

People have the right to express their opinions on what ever subject they choose, including books, movies, songs, paintings, or any other artistic medium. But there’s one trick to that, one little rule that everyone seems to forget about: You have to actually experience it.

It’s simply wrong to give a review, good or bad, about a movie you haven’t watched, or tear down a book that you haven’t read.

To go back to Edelman’s review of Inside Out, with limited knowledge about this movie, she criticizes how the film stereotypes sadness as “a short, chunky, sad-and-blue…person.”

I can’t speak to Edelman’s concerns about stereotypes since I haven’t seen Inside Out, but I can recommend watching the movie as an excellent starting point for resolving those issues.

In a case that hits closer to home, University of Ottawa sessional professor John Robson stars in a Rebel Media video about the anniversary of the publication date of Catcher in the Rye, despite having never read the book. In the video Robson talks about his love for books and then comments on Catcher in the Rye, explaining how the teen angst message of the book is irrelevant to a society that has gone through the social rebellion of the 1960’s and is now rebelling in relatively conformist ways.

If a professor and a journalist don’t feel the need to read, or watch, the elements they are critiquing, then what reason is there for anyone else? Both of these jobs require a lot of research from many different sources and the ability to talk knowledgeable about different points of view. Could you imagine introducing a paper with the fact you hadn’t done any readings on the subject you’re trying to establish an opinion on?

The most shocking thing about both instances isn’t that they didn’t actually do the research, but that they seem to have no qualms about their lack of credibility.

If you’re going to review something, you need to have some idea of what you’re talking about. Not only is leaping to judgements disrespectful to the people you’re criticizing, but it also isn’t fair to the audience of your review.

For their sake, before you write, read.