Misguided Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove A Less-Than-Wonderful Review Under Right To Be Forgotten

from the can't-forget-it-now dept

There are all sorts of issues with the whole “right to be forgotten” ruling in Europe from a few months back. However, some of the confusion around it has resulted in people thinking it’s something that it totally isn’t — leading to some rather public revelations of astoundingly thin skins. Take the case of pianist Dejan Lazic who apparently was not pleased with a less than sparkling review the Washington Post gave him four years ago. The review really isn’t that bad. It basically just says the performance didn’t quite live up to expectations, and someone as talented as Lazic should be able to do better. Lazic’s response? Send the Washington Post (not Google) a demand to take down that review under the right to be forgotten ruling. Let’s count the ways that this is profoundly mistaken:

  1. The ruling only applies to “data controllers” — i.e., search engines in this context — and not the publishers themselves. That was clear from the ruling.
  2. The ruling applies to search engines in Europe, not newspapers in the US.
  3. The ruling is not supposed to apply to people in the public eye, so famous world-traveling musicians don’t count.
  4. The purpose is to remove outdated information, not things like a review of a performance.
  5. It most certainly is not, despite Lazic’s stated belief, supposed to be about letting someone control “the truth” about themselves.
  6. Because of all of this, the lukewarm review of Lazic’s performance from 2010 is getting lots of new attention.
  7. Because of all of this, Lazic’s views on censorship, free speech and his own personal reviews is now widely known.

Lazic, however, is big on this “truth” thing — and apparently, negative reviews are not the truth, and thus should be removed:

?I so often listen to a concert, and then the next day read about it in the newspapers ? read something that is simply too far from the truth,? Lazic complained. ?This is something I, as an artist, am seeking and looking for my whole life: the truth.?

There’s a simple way to avoid that: don’t read your own reviews. Or, recognize that people have opinions and not everyone is going to like everything you do. But Lazic, apparently, thinks that an individual should have the right to edit others opinions of him or herself:

We ought to live in a world, Lazic argues, where everyone ? not only artists and performers but also politicians and public officials ? should be able to edit the record according to their personal opinions and tastes. (?Politicians are people just like you and me,? he explains.) This is all in pursuit of some higher, objective truth.

Not only that, but apparently a negative opinion, according to Lazic, is “defamatory.” That’s a rather interesting definition of defamatory that few legal statutes would agree with, because it’s wrong.

?Defamatory, mean-spirited, opinionated, one-sided, offensive [and] simply irrelevant for the arts,? is how he put it.

The review itself doesn’t appear to be, well, any of those things necessarily. But that’s Lazic’s opinion, which he’s entitled to. Well, except, based on Lazic’s own “rules” for truth, it certainly seems like the author of his original review, Anne Midgette, should now have the right to claim that Lazic’s opinion of her opinion is “offensive” and have it deleted as well.

Except that’s’ not how it works.

And it’s especially bizarre in the world of the arts, where reviews and criticism are quite common. Living in a world where people can delete negative reviews may feel good, but it makes no sense at all. It’s a world in which the worst performers are never driven to improve because just about anyone can just disappear a negative review because they disagree with it.

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Comments on “Misguided Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove A Less-Than-Wonderful Review Under Right To Be Forgotten”

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27 Comments
John Fenderson (profile) says:

That's logic

Defamatory, mean-spirited, opinionated, one-sided, offensive [and] simply irrelevant for the arts,” is how he put it.

Reviews are by definition opinions and therefore are opinionated. They are also one-sided as they typically reflect only the opinion of the reviewer. So, logically, he’s saying that there should should be no such thing as reviews.

S. T. Stone (profile) says:

A man who believes they should have the right to edit the views of others is asking for censorship—and he is doing so only so he can comfort his own ignorance.

I would rather read ten bad reviews of anything I’ve ever created than a single “edited” good review; at least the bad ones would tell me how I fucked up and give me ideas of how to improve in the future.

Dejan Lazic would rather tell other people what to think about him than hear honest opinions about his work. That alone says more about why this man should not be called an ‘artist’ than any other work he has ever produced.

Anonymous Coward says:

We ought to live in a world, Lazic argues, where everyone — not only artists and performers but also politicians and public officials — should be able to edit the record according to their personal opinions and tastes.

Apart from destroying any trust anybody could have in anybody else, that is a recipe for a totalitarian government to impose thought control at a level to make 1984 look like a recipe for a free society.

gnudist says:

“We ought to live in a world, Lazic argues, where everyone — not only artists and performers but also politicians and public officials — should be able to edit the record according to their personal opinions and tastes.”

This is the most stupid insane bullshit I’ve read all week.

How can you say something like this in complete seriousness?

Do we really want a world where not only can politicians can hide every bad thing they’ve done but hold that up as a moral right? What the fucking fuck man.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do we really want a world where not only can politicians can hide every bad thing they’ve done but hold that up as a moral right? What the fucking fuck man.

I agree with you, but I am afraid we are already there.
“We do torture, massive surveillance and lawbreaking because terrorists, pedophiles and for the children… but you can’t know about it”

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

and the right to exert control over everyone else keeps growing. Who cares if the law doesn’t say what you want, you can still demand that they cater to your demands.

Perhaps if he focused more on his performances, rather than ancient reviews he might get better reviews… I’m guessing he spends far to much time on trying to curate his “image” instead of practicing.

Lord Binky says:

Ugh. This view is either very insulting suggesting a limited mental capacity for readers (because they can’t think past what was read as fact), or just doesn’t seem to be able to comprehend or understand other people get more from writing than what is explicitly written(which is REALLY sad for an ARTIST to have this perspective).

Having people’s opinions are GOOD if you are smart enough to use that feedback, both good and bad. Just because you present something one way, is not a failure wholly on the part of the other person for not getting a complete understanding. Figure out WHY the person interpreted your efforts as different than you wanted them to be interpreted, then use that information to change your efforts to cause the desired interpretation. I suppose it could also be he doesn’t want to have to improve anymore too. If there’s no negative views, then he’s perfect right?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Indeed. I don’t think that Lazic understand how reviews work. Everyone knows they’re opinion pieces, and that’s why people tend to have specific reviewers that they pay attention to and others that they ignore. Readers learn which reviewers have tastes that are similar to their own, and pay attention to those. As an audience member, bad review from someone who I know has different sensibilities than my own has no effect on me.

That One Guy (profile) says:

No quicker way

There is no quicker way to tell people, loudly and clearly, ‘I really suck at my job’, than to try and squash any potential negative reviews of it.

Whether from restrictive ‘contracts’ where the customer is forbidden from saying anything bad about a company/service/product, or a case like this, where a negative review is being attacked, attempting to eliminate negative reviews is an admission that you believe what you are offering is terrible, know it, and are trying to hide this fact.

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