A friend of mine recently asked me my advice on a song he’d written. The song wasn’t great and I’ve definitely heard worse, but it just wasn’t right for the market he was after. The hard part was putting together my reply. Do I wuss out and give a vague “yeah man, cool” response, or do I sweat the details and provide a proper reply complete with detailed constructive criticism?

I tried to be helpful and constructive in my response, but I couldn’t help but recall a great piece by Josh Olson entitled, “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script” for the Village Voice. Josh is best known for writing the screenplay for A History of Violence and I suppose he get’s asked his opinion quite a bit. Josh’s default answer when asked if he would read someone’s script, is a very colorful “No.”

Josh’s reason for saying “No” upfront is that in his experience he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. If he does agree to read the script and offers criticism then the writer will think he’s a jerk, but if he says no upfront, he’ll still be thought of as a jerk. Might as well save the time and energy and just be a jerk from the start.

Well, I chose the latter. I provided a lot of feedback and detail and I suppose time will tell wether or not I made the right decision. I really like this person and respect his work, so I hope it turns out well.