True confessions: I look up my favorite books, movies, series, actors, and I find their worst reviews . . . and I read them.
So why would I do such a horrid thing?
Because it makes me feel better when I get a bad review. Rotten tomatoes for everyone!
Yup. If the best of the best (in my opinion) get terrible reviews then how can I feel bad when I get one? In fact, I should feel left out if I don’t.
It’s like wanting to hear how Einstein or Winston Churchill were losers in high school or how Bill Gates and Henry Ford failed their first businesses. I eat up stories about how Steven Spielberg got rejected by film schools and how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. You’ve heard these, right? After Elvis’s first performance, his manager told him to go back to driving trucks. Walt Disney got fired from a newspaper for not being original and creative enough. Edison was told by his teachers he was too stupid to learn anything. Seinfeld was booed off the stage. Some jerk at an audition told Fred Astair he couldn’t act, couldn’t sing AND he was balding. Yeah, seriously! And of course, you have Harrison Ford, Marilyn Monroe, Steven King, Sony, Socrates, Lincoln, and so many more . . .
Well, that’s what they get for trying. Failure. And success. Did these “failures” regroup and polish up their act or did they just find a more appreciative audience? They could’ve brainstormed different ideas and strategies. Practiced harder. Or just gritted their teeth and pushed themselves out for another round. Who knows? But just knowing that these guys and gals fell short in someone else’s eyes (sometimes they’re own) evens out the playing field a bit. It’s not so far to climb . . . or FALL—sometimes in the public eye. Ouch.
So, here’s the big question: can my pride take it? Can yours? Can my favorites take a low rating on the tomato-meter? Will they be okay when they get two thumbs down, three out of ten stars, and forums bashing their acting, writing, and directing skills? Sure. Welcome to the industry. It’s like making a ‘bad’ on the highway and someone road-rages on you. You can either blame yourself, road-rage back, or get tough skin. Here’s a hint: the last suggestion takes less energy.
Alright, that’s easy enough to say when you’re successful and looking back at your failures or at people sour-graping, but what about now? What about all those people who DO keep trying and keep failing—people you know and love? Maybe you? Well, c’mon, did you really fail? Think about it. Fame and appreciation does not equate success.
This is why:
All of my favorites got voted off American Idol or kicked off the island. The cult classics I love are scorned by some of my best friends. My favorite actors are obscure—they’re in Bollywood or BBC (though FINALLY some are getting recognized, yeah, Sherlock and Watson that’s you!). Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime and that was to his friend and at a discount. Monet’s paintings were mocked by the artistic elite.
So what is our moral? You need to die so you can be famous? No. And it isn’t that we’re asking everyone to play nice and like everything we’ve created either. What’s the fun in that? Archenemies are awesome; you can even go out to lunch with them. What it means is that we need to forget about being a carbon copy of what everyone wants and get to work on what we want.
Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Do what you love. Make it your art. Think of all the voices that have been silenced because of some perceived failure—it might’ve been because they didn’t fit into a supposed status quo or because they listened to the criticism of others (or their own).
We can’t give up.
I just found one of my favorite quotes from Thomas S. Monson. He talked about being our best and said, “. . . no failure ever need be final.”
So for all those out there who create, invent, and otherwise put their stuff out there for the world to see, use, and tear apart; pull yourself up by the straps of your boots and charge. Don’t stop for the road-rage.