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Advice Crush: Dear Boogie

January 19, 2011
Disclaimer: the advice provided by Brendan Boogie does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Boston Band Crush management. Following may lead to an increase in both the amount and intensity of the daily wedgies you may or may not already be receiving.

Dear Boogie,
I was reading the comments of last week’s Dear Boogie and an anonymous poster wrote in response to your column: “I usually detest the forced humor and gee-look-how-funny-quirky-WACKY-I-am quality of this column, but I have to admit, he’s got a good point this time.”
As a musician and writer, you probably get your share of criticism. How do you deal with it without weeping or strangling someone? Because I suck at it.
Sincerely,
Thin Skin and the Bad Ows

Dear TSATBO,
“Detest.” The writer used the word “detest.” Man oh man. Well, it helps to keep in mind that Anonymous is actually not hating on me, but is secretly angry about his tiny tiny penis. (I kid, of course. I’m sure he or she has a gargantuan cock.)

No matter how much confidence you have, criticism always stings. As a writer, I want every Dear Boogie to engender deep-gullet laughs, soulful tears, and meaningful long-lasting life changes in all of my readers. Anything short of that is a personal failure on my part. So when I get a negative comment like that about my writing or my music, I conclude that the only honorable thing to do is to fall gut-first on my katana blade.

Then, I take a deep breath. And I remember a few important facts about taking criticism:

– It’s not personal. It is unlikely that Anonymous has met me personally (unless she has dated me which would explain the vitriol quite nicely), but even if he/she had, the comment is about my writing, not me as a person. I could pour every bit of myself into a column or a song, but it is still just that: a column or a song. A thing to be liked or not liked by others. It’s not a part of my body.

– It’s probably at least a little bit right. You know, I probably DO force the humor. And maybe my jokes are a little bit “gee-look-how-funny-quirky-WACKY-I-am” for some tastes. These are perfectly fair points. Just because it came from that magical space between my ears doesn’t mean it is automatically good. I write the occasional shitty song just like anyone else. Everyone has the right to think so.

– It’s the internet. The internet is entirely fueled by anonymous hatred and old guy boners. Without a steady supply of either of those things, the series of tubes would dry up and shrivel. And then how would you get your football scores, smart guy? Not from a pruned-up flaccid ol’ internet, you wouldn’t. There’s no point resisting the hatred. Embrace it. You’re nobody in this town if you haven’t had someone on a message board call you a chubby pedophile.

– It’s supposed to hurt. Getting ripped by someone, deserved or not, sucks. I could pretend to be cool and not give a shit, but that’s being dishonest with myself. Beyond just the direct criticism of internet commenters, I feel every other tiny perceived sleight or injustice. Every laugh I don’t get, every radio snub, every disinterested audience member, every year-end top ten list I’m not on. I feel it all. Denying it just makes it harder with which to deal.

– It doesn’t matter. This is what I do. Try as I may to change, this is the one and only way I know how to write a humorous advice column. I write, produce, and perform music in a style that makes sense to me and (maybe) me alone. Although I could theoretically learn a lot from criticism, let’s face it — I’m ultimately just going to do whatever the fuck I want to do anyway. All the criticism in the world isn’t going to deter me from fulfilling my selfish desire to make fun of people’s dicks. (Oh, and also make music.)

Whenever you do anything creative, you put yourself out there. You can’t have the rewards (adulation, respect of your peers, handjobs you don’t deserve) without the risks (anonymous web hatred, handjobs that NO one deserves). Every time you perform, you open yourself up to people going apeshit over your genius AND wanting to puncture their eardrums with a knitting needle. And everything in between. Or worse, saying “Looks like you had fun up there.” Shudder. As Omar from The Wire would say – it’s the game, son.

That said, there are some practical ways to minimize the chances of getting negative feedback. My advice? Don’t ask. At all. Remove the words “So… what did you think?” completely from your vocabulary. If someone tries to give you unsolicited feedback, stop them mid-sentence and say “Sorry, I’m only interested in hearing positive things about myself.” Ask around – I’ve pulled this shit for years. And it actually works. Sure, I come off like an unstable egomaniacal diva. But at least I don’t cry myself to sleep at night! Anymore!

Don’t open a door if you’re not ready to see what’s on the other side.

Soundtrack to your misery: Mr. Sister “Hard Love”

http://cache.reverbnation.com/widgets/swf/40/pro_widget.swf

So he says he doesn’t want feedback and now he’s asking for your letters? The irony. It is delicious. Drop Brendan a line at dearboogie@bostonbandcrush.com or fill-in the hateful anonymous submission form below:

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5 Comments
  1. Two criticisms: The Omar quote is actually "It's all in the game." And "harder with which to deal" is pretty awkward phrasing. Just say "harder to deal with" — it's OK to end a sentence with a preposition when the alternative makes you sound like a pretentious ESL student.

  2. Ha ha. I didn't ask. But thanks!

  3. Criticism about a column about criticism. Delicious.

  4. I usually detest the forced humor and gee-look-how-funny-quirky-WACKY-I-am quality of this column, but I have to admit, he's got a good point this time.

  5. I want to start sounding like a pretentious ESL student!

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