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Critics Swear They're Not as Jerky As They Could Be

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If you thought that American restaurant critics were sometimes a little bit mean, well sure, but suck it up because they're here to tell you it could be a lot worse. Eatocracy interviewed a few critics for a piece about "the art of the bad review" — and the delicate balance of being nice enough to not be a jerk and being mean enough to satisfy your jerky readers.

Because, of course, people love to read takedowns. As Seattle Weekly critic Hanna Raskin explains, "Almost every time I wrote something negative, I get the feedback, 'I'm so glad you're telling it like it is. I'm so glad you said that.' And nobody ever says that when I write a good review." But apparently she's been holding back on those reader-favorite slams, telling Eatocracy that "in her negative reviews, the reader should infer 'that it was probably even worse.'"

Meanwhile, Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic John Kessler says critics "don't want to sound like the disgruntled Yelper." But he does know where you can find some good old-fashioned critic assholery:

The English people are great because they take such glee in their snarky locution. Americans will never do that. We just can't. It's not in our culture to be poetic a**holes.

So there you go. When in need of a good takedown, look to the UK and not these punch-pulling American critics. There's a lot more to the piece — including a bit about British critic Jay Rayner — so do go read.

· Written in the Stars: The Art of the Bad Review [CNN/Eatocracy]
· All Critics Coverage on Eater [-E-]