What happens when you take a restaurant owner, place them in front of camera and read to them bad reviews from TripAdvisor? Well, the YouTube show, “Reading Bad Reviews” answers that question for us, and yes, it is the show we all needed.
We all know that review sites need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Anyone who has eaten beans could be a restaurant critic today; and that causes all sorts of problems. We know, a great review can make a restaurant and a bad one can lead to it’s demise.
And that’s the problem with TripAdvisor, or ShitAdvisor as Marina O’Laughlin so wonderfully put it not that long ago. Restaurant reviews have no standard bearer, and review sites perpetuate the idea that we can all sit back, and give our two cents about something we know little about. I mean, at the end of the day, why listen to experts like O’Laughlin or Rayner when you can be swayed by CareBear59, an obvious elite of the food scene.
The problem today is, a bad review can kill a restaurant and we’re no longer talking about those that have made a living by being a professional in the subject, but moreover, by those who turn to TripAdvisor. US economists have calculated the impact that half a star difference can make to an establishment, lots, and anti-tripadvisor sites have sprouted because the inaccurate and fictitious nature of the digital platform.
So welcome to a YouTube show that is a little different. Presented by a man, who is definitely not a Food Blogger, Matt White. The premise is simple, he goes on TripAdvisor, the standard bearer for the knuckle dragging, attention seeking food critic and in turn, finds the most cutting, most spiteful, most misleading reviews and, on camera, reads them to them out to the patrons.
“The idea came from Jimmy Kimmel’s, Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” he tells me, and not much unlike the late night show, the celebrities, or the chefs/patrons get to pass their own two cents back to the reviewer.
It’s wonderful. Partly because you see how real this is to them and partly because you can’t help but agree that those that have commented could be using their time a little bit better, like, you know, volunteering and doing something nice rather than becoming the digital version of Nigel Farage and embody everything that is loathsome in a senseless and uninformed drivel.
Guests so far have included Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut/Burnt Truffle/Hispi fame, Lyndon Higginson of Crazy Pedro and David Mooney of The Old Session House; each with their own unique response and take on the reviewers and the state of TripAdvisor.
From “instant diarrhea” to “staff touching each other” the range of stupidity and keyboard warrior upmanship is laid bare with varying results of anger, disillusionment and head in hands disgust.
“There is going to be another episode later this month, and then we’ll continue to make them as long as owners want to face their critics.”
White who presents the brilliant podcast Fodder has got the format working brilliantly with this YouTube show, deploying on numerous levels, but the reality is, it is simple. Take a bad comment and read it to person at whom it is directed, see carnage unfold.
In it’s own way it’s also a bit of a social look at what people are doing on the web with the food world, and it’s not nice; it’s the uncomfortable mirror we as food lovers need to see and maybe that is what makes it just that little bit different too.