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Despite how easy it is to criticize, critics (think Roger Ebert) have a hard job of it. They need to be objective in their assessments not just to gain and maintain credibility in their audience's eyes, but also because it can completely overshadow and ruin the review itself as a work. Granted, critics are (probably) human and have pet peeves or favorites, and good/bad performances and dialogue are certainly open to criticism, but when these feelings get out of hand and leak into the review, things get worse.

If the critic has a strong bias against or in favor of a genre, style, director, actor, or what have you, and he allows that acerbic vitriol or blind admiration fill his review, he's driving a Bias Steamroller. The review stops being about the work and becomes about the element that inspires the bias; essentially boiling down to "I hate or love A; since work B has A in it, I hate or love work B; therefore you should (not) watch it."

This may be because he hates a particular trope or just likes hating in general. Then again, he may be a fan of the series/franchise/creator who, out of loyalty, never fails to give the most glowing of praise. In any case, the damage to the review is such that it becomes too biased to be useful. (When a reviewer does this, people tend to ignore it, when fans often use it, it becomes a justified use of Don't Like, Don't Read)

In some of the worst cases, the reviewer may fixate on a particular thing they liked or disliked and give the implication that they might have not actually seen the work in question. And there are times where they actually haven't seen much of it.

This happens even in "Professional" reviews, too. It's all over the place in fan reviews, but many professional reviews seem a lot like they're afraid of offending the publishers who are paying them for advertisements.

Compare Fan Dumb, Hate Dumb, Caustic Critic, Opinion Myopia, Public Medium Ignorance.

Compare/Contrast Unpleasable Fanbase.

Often targets certain genres.

Note: This is not a way to complain about reviews or reviewers you don't like, unless there actually is a bias steamroller inherent in the reviews.

Examples (sorted by medium being reviewed):


Anime and Manga

  • The Nostalgia Critic has stated that this trope is the reason why he doesn't do Anime. He avoids running a Bias Steamroller over it by not reviewing any at all, instead leaving it to other people on his site.
  • Anime News Network has a number of reviewers who hate all things Moe with a burning passion and think it's killing the industry.
    • ANN's review of the Saiyuki anime was apparently done by a guy who hated it for not being Shonen.
    • Carl Kimlinger's coverage of first two episodes of The Remake of the Hunter X Hunter anime during the site's Fall 2011 Anime preview guide absolutely reeked of this trope. Almost all of his criticisms toward the show amount to him listing all of the ways it completely disgraces the original anime, without ever considering that as a remake, it should stand on it's own.
  • Daryl Surat of the Anime World Order podcast also crusades against the "Dread Spectre of Moe" at every opportunity, and voices his dislike of the concept of "neo-shonen" - Shonen manga that dares to pursue a wider audience than simply teenage boys, and either gain, or deliberately court a female following.
  • Some reviewers have also dismissed the otherwise high profile Studio Ghibli dubs out of bias against several or one of the actors participating in it, leading them to state they "ruin" the film instead of actually evaluating their performance in question or giving them a chance.
  • The question of whether Confused Matthew belongs in here or not is a matter of contention. In his review for Spirited Away, he admits outright that he dislikes anime, and he doesn't mean to persuade anyone who likes anime to share his opinion. He then proceeds to bash the crap out of it.

Fanfic

  • Nostalgia Critic-like fanfiction critic The Fic Critic (No, not that one, the text based one) has noted that he tends to be biased against fics that act meanly towards certain characters or treats them badly, especially ones he likes. One noteworthy example was when he went from distainful but amused at the stupidity of Web Of Shadows, a Spider-Man/X-Men Evolution crossover Mary Sue Parody fic, to outright anger and chain swearing after Carlie Cooper called Mary Jane Watson, whom he admitted is one of his, if not the, favourite Spider-Man supporting character, a slutty model who dresses like a street walker. His reaction to her calling Mary Jane this is one of the few times he went from snarky to outright pissed, and ended up giving that chapter a Fuck/10.

Film

  • Critic Peter Bradshaw panned Peter Jackson's film trilogy of Lord of the Rings, largely over what he sees as the failures of the fantasy genre rather than any perceived deficiencies in the films themselves.
  • Critic Armond White repeatedly trashes of the films of Noah Baumbach, often with personal overtones. In this case the driving force of the Bias Steamroller seems to be personal: White had previously feuded with film critic Georgia Brown, who was Baumbach's mother. In addition, he has panned every Pixar movie to come out during his time as a reviewer, often spending half the review complaining about the company itself rather than the film. On the other side of the trope, there seems to be a very short list of directors that Armond will like no matter what: Steven Spielberg, Mike Leigh, Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, and The Coen Brothers.
  • The Film Atheist reviewer gives Ben-Hur a near scathing review due to the presence of Christian themes. Not to mention his reviews of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass. Two guesses on which one he liked.
  • The Nostalgia Critic also admittedly hates The Flintstones and his review of the Flintstones live-action adaptation starts off with non-stop bashing of the movie as if it's bad because it's The Flintstones and no other reason why.
    • He also drives one right over Doug. This is a totally character reason however, as people confusing him with the main is one of the many reasons why he got so badly bullied at school. Doug the real life person just finds it dull.
    • And then there's his problems with Matthew Broderick.
    • And Randy Newman.
  • The Agony Booth has an extreme bias against action films. No matter the quality of the movie, they'll always pan the film, the exception being Road House, but chalk that up to Agony Booth being fanboys of Riff Trax. Even when they give movies a rating of say, 8/10, they'll still pan it, and call it "bad" even though they gave it an above-average rating, which makes zero sense.
  • While its certainly up for debate on this matter, Michael Bay has been a victim of this many times. While its true that violent explosions, car chases, and Ms. Fanservice's are common in his films, he does work to have plot in the films and Character depth at least. However, as far as some people are concerned, if a film has Michael Bay as director, it's nothing but a stupid lowbrow wet dream.
    • Similarly, any film staring Shia LaBeouf, besides Holes, will be hated on the grounds that 'he can't act'. While he's certainly played some annoying characters, he himself isn't nearly as bad an actor as made out, again as seen by Holes.
    • And Megan Fox, and films based on a franchise aimed at children. Wow, Transformers never had a chance, did it?

Literature

  • An in-universe example in Brave Story (At least the book version), where one of Wataru's friends asks if a game has magic, and when he's told that it doesn't, he loses all interest in it.

Live-Action TV

  • While not quite reviewing, a Reality TV show article that rated the US version's "Big Brother winners" the author obviously had one of these. He praised Daniele and Will for playing the strategic game and knowing it; and despite saying the same for Maggie, trashed the hell out of her because he liked Janelle better. He also flat out refused to write anything positive about Mike Malin for the same reason (ie, he liked Janelle better). He also trashed the heck out of Dan and Drew saying they didn't really deserve to win their respective seasons because he disliked them and was unable to respect their gameplay.

Music

  • One of the most notorious examples of a bias steamroller in music criticism is Lester Bangs. A huge fan of free jazz and punk-related rock, if a musician was a virtuoso yet engaged in a genre that was outside of Bangs' tastes (including Progressive Rock, Led Zeppelin-styled hard rock) he would trash him/her with very little, if any, justification (at one point, comparing Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake and Palmer to a trained seal).
  • Christian Clemmensen of Filmtracks towards anything done by a young composer, done in a non-traditional style or done by Hans Zimmer. He also hates the Oscars and composers like Vangelis (whom Clemmensen claimed was a one-hit wonder, a major Critical Research Failure on his part) whom he claims are undeserving Oscar winners.
  • Piero Scaruffi's reviews are rather infamous for his seemingly biased (and mostly negative) opinion towards many popular musicians, most notably The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Radiohead and David Bowie.
  • Todd in the Shadows hates Chris Brown with the burning fury of a thousand suns, so much so that his review of turn up the music only has about 30 seconds of him reviewing the song itself, the rest of the review being taken up by a long rant against him.
    • In the same video, though, he admits that he does like a few of Chris Brown's songs, and wants to get past the main reason he hates him (the whole abuse debacle with Rihanna,) but that Chris Brown's massive ego and refusal to truely learn anything from his mistakes won't let him.
    • He's also heavily biased against the "White guy with acoustic guitar" genre.

Video Games

  • Game FAQs reviewers: It's not uncommon to find reviews that merely "This game sucks because it's an RPG", "This game sucks because it's an FPS", "This game rules because it's a point and click adventure game", "This game sucks and has shitty graphics", "This game sucks because it's a Nintendo game", or whatever steamroller that particular poster like to drive.
    • Or not to mention, people going in-depth with one bad experience and accentuating that entirely; even if they were blatantly doing something wrong.
  • Yahtzee is very up front about his bias against JRPGs and the Wii. His Wii Sports Resort review was clearly made with the "I hate it, everyone knows I'll hate it, let's just go nuts" mentality. He has the same feeling about fighting games - his later reviews of fighting games criticized the genre more than they criticized the games. Oddly, while he also dislike real time strategy games, he expresses that by simply never reviewing them at all.
    • Not to mention his hate for "Modern Shooters", constantly bashing "Chest-high walls", regenerating health, macho protagonists and grim & gritty settings.
    • Although in general its arguable if he belongs here, since by being biased against EVERYTHING (other than Silent Hill 2, Saints Row and that Spiderman game), it arguably stops being a bias and is more of an Unpleasable Critic type thing.
    • He also goes the other way sometimes; for one thing, he's a rabid Valve fanboy (to the extent that his rampant cynicism will allow). Portal got his only completely positive review ever, and his only significant complaint about the Half-Life series is that it takes too long for each game to come out. He does criticize Valve games a bit, but always gives more of a "friendly joshing" impression rather than the nuclear explosions of vitriol applied to games by pretty much anyone else.
  • Finnish games reviewer and columnist Niko Nirvi once took note of this effect in a column explaining the various ways in which a review score can be affected by outside factors, such as the "Wrong Guy" effect, where the game in question is a sequel to something that the reviewer previously loathed, the Ancestor effect, where the game is made by an established developer, so the score is based entirely on what the reviewer thinks of the developers, or the Genrebonus effect, where the reviewer is a fan of the IP the game is based on ("It's a Batman game! I love Batman! Have some Bat-points!"). There's also the Critic effect, where the reviewer can't admit to liking anything that isn't independent or artsy, and the exact opposite phenomenon, the Laddie effect.
  • GamePro would often disparage an RPG because it was an RPG or in the case of "politically important" games like Final Fantasy VIII', heaping a ton of cynicism into their reviews. ("Politically Important" in this case means "The publisher is paying us a lot to advertise in our magazine") This attitude also seeped into their coverage, wherein they would make all sorts of research flaws while making guides and showing other information about games that was blatantly wrong.
    • One particularly heinous review for Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force had the review bashing the related Star Trek: Voyager television series which had nothing to do with the review, before going on to admit that the game was good despite his bias. One wonders why they didn't have a reviewer who at least had a passing interest in the show review the game based on it.
    • Parodied in Homestuck by the magazine "Game Bro," whose review of SBURB, the game at the heart of the plot of the webcomic, was written by someone who didn't even play the game because it isn't a beat-'em-up or skateboarding game.
  • Game Informer tends to flat out trash whatever games are considered "casual" merely on basis of not being "Core" games. This was especially blatant in their review of Farmville, in which they don't find the game bad on its own merits - they find it bad because it's not like Mass Effect 2. They've admitted in the past that they have a bias steamroller for whatever they believe their readers' biases are.
    • Their review of Botkai: The Sun Is In Your Hands makes one question whether or not they actually played the game in question; since the bulk of the review was spent ranting about how the window wouldn't charge their sunlight, how the glare off the Game Boy Advance screen was giving them a headache, and said very little about what the game was actually about. You probably wouldn't even know what genre of game it is by reading the review.
    • Their review of Sonic Generations complained less about flaws in the game itself, but about the fact that SEGA celebrated the history of Sonic past 1994. They admit to enjoying the game, both Classic and Modern, up until the Sonic 3 and Knuckles part and loathing everything past that. This is particularly baffling when their review for Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was oddly positive (and got a better score) in the face of everyone else tearing it apart.
    • They loathe the Mario Party series. They have never given any of the games in the series a rating higher than 4/10, and whenever they preview a new entry they can barely hide their contempt.
  • Noah Antwiler, the maker of The Spoony Experiment, has admitted that he's biased against the central tropes of the JRPG genre, and knows that most of his criticism for the Final Fantasy series is about things that fans of the series love. However, he considers himself an entertainer first, and a critic second.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd does indeed have his biases. He often admits them, such as how he doesn't really do adventure games because he "Sucks at them" and doesn't really figure out how to get further in them. (Given the nature of many adventure games, especially at the timeframe he reviews games from, one can't really blame him too much.) He also admits this in his Castlevania reviews, admitting he found Symphony of the Night to be inferior to Super Castlevania IV. However, he also shows this Bias Steamroller towards the post Super Castlevania IV games in many other ways in the forms of some often critical research failures. Among these are confusing the plot of Aria of Sorrow with Dawn of Sorrow (which is pretty interesting he made this mistake seeing as he's shown playing Dawn of Sorrow) and getting some facts about Castlevania 64 wrong.[1] He also makes it pretty obvious that he's a fan of Nintendo and has a preference for it in his Console Wars videos as well as his "Pong consoles" videos. Part of the reason is also because that's what he was most familiar with.
  • X-Play has pretty huge biases against RPGs, World War II games and Koei's Warriors games. They also love to accentuate how much they hate doing escort missions, and this often seeps into their reviews where they may often trash World War II RPGs on basis of being sick of World War II/not liking RPGs, and in the case of the latter, severely not doing any bit of research in the game. That is; depending on whether or not it's Adam or Morgan doing the review and not just a writer.
    • When The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword won Game of the Year, the hosts said the only reason Skyward Sword won was because of angry Nintendo fans, and show an air of contempt.
    • Occasionally averted in the case of RPGs. They seem to like The Elder Scrolls series, having given Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim all 5/5 stars.
  • Jimquisition attempts to justify this trope in this video.

Web Original

  • Just about all Screw These Comics reviewers had personal biases against "Author characters" and "Ran Dies". Not to mention, a couple webcomics they liked they gave higher scores to, not entirely averaging the scores out. A couple times, they just flat out trashed the comics, sometimes they hated the author(s).

Western Animation

Notes

  1. To elaborate, he claims a "Fatal Flaw" of the game blocking his progress from placing the Nitro or Mandragora by the crack is in fact his own inability to realize that the game has an "interact" button. This is rather impressive that he didn't appear to know that; since he managed to get that far. He was trying to use the item from the item menu, which is for items that you use on yourself like food.
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