Artists, Actors, and Critics


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Ah, I love a good movie.  Movies are a form of art.  They tell stories.  They make us laugh, cry, and sometimes leave us hanging on the edge of our seats.   And if they are any good, they inspire us to think and apply the meaning to our own lives.  From the writers to the producers, actors and actresses, to the audiences themselves.  There are people who create, people who produce, people who consume, and people who criticize.

The question is what role do you want to play?  Will you be the writer, an actor or a critic? All three?  

What is it about today that makes being a critic so appealing?

Two words: it's easy.

It happens to you all the time.  You're at your desk slaving away at the masterpiece email or PowerPoint fretting over each word.  You start and stop no less than 10 times, each time finding a new font, color change, or image that has to be made.  When you finally hit SEND to get it out, you sigh a breath of relief.  Minutes, sometimes seconds later you get a response marked up on what you should change.  Someone else wants to tell you how to do it better.

Feedback is great and I love improvement but, friends,  I always consider the source.

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Do you remember Siskel and Ebert?  They were two film critics who often had divergent views on the flicks they reviewed.  Sadly they both died of cancer.  And while it was entertaining to hear them bicker and banter, I'm convinced being an artist or an actor is far more rewarding than being a critic.

Being a critic is easier than being an artist or an actor.


  • Critics don't have to put themselves out there, first.   Have you ever had a colleague say, "Hey why don't you start those slides, and I'll take a look at them and provide feedback."  That is typically code word for "I'm a coward.  I cannot create.  Please do the hard work for me."  My personal favorite is "Can you get a straw man together?"  I've never had a problem being the one to create or start something.  I do have a problem with people who say they "can't create".  Plain and simple it means they won't.
  • Artists and actors do the hard work of experimenting with different theories, techniques, and ideas.   They are willing to fail and try over again.   Artists fret over every last detail.  Actors and actresses do the daunting task of auditioning, practicing their lines, and getting into character.  In his lifetime, Picasso commissioned over 50,000 pieces of art including  1,885 paintings,  1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.  He took his passion and put himself out there, ALOT.  Tom Hanks, (aka Forrest Gump) is one of my favorite actors who consistently puts himself out there having played hero, the gay guy, the kid, and the castaway.
  • Critics are consuming vultures.  They are masters of the 'swoop and poop'.   They get the easy part of showing up to see the created piece but typically have no appreciation for what it took to pull the piece together.   They don't care about the journey.   They can't create because it requires an ongoing different way of thinking, behaving and responding.  I once had a consultant with a high-end firm join my team.  Instead of working with the artists and actors, she thought she was better than everyone else.  (Because she was, right?)  She swooped in, (pooped all over the work) and told us what needed to be fixed, and then wanted nothing to do with the solution.  Yeah, and I think the last time I read on LinkedIn she's looking for a job.  When you are better than everyone, you are a critic.

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Oscar Wilde said it right.

The critic has to educate the public and the artist has to educate the critic.

So, what's it going to be?  Artist, actor, or critic?  What role are you playing in your work and life?  How is it shaping your growth?   I'd love to hear your feedback.  Seriously.  It's your turn.  Be the critic.

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