The Smug Critique

Added on by Chris WHITE.

I still wince thinking of the times I've sent unsolicited letters to artists telling them what they needed to do to improve.

A couple of years ago, I watched a guy's film. I didn't really like it that much...felt it was a little heavy-handed, pretentious.  But I liked the guy. A lot. And, all things considered, I liked his film far more than most of the work I was seeing at the time.

But I didn't say that, I corrected  him. 

He hadn't asked for my comments. He'd just made a movie. I found out about it, saw the film, and just assumed he wanted me to weigh in. 

I don't dare dig up that e-mail. There's nothing I hate worse that reading my own writing when it is smug, pious, self-righteous. 

Well this week, it happened to me.

Some "well-trained" stranger schooled me via Facebook message on filmmaking.  

The guy's comments were smug, pious, self-righteous...informed by his academic pursuit of film and prompted, no doubt, by his own career frustration.

The gist of his comments were: "you have a lot to learn...from me. " 

I was, at first, baffled. Who was this person? Why did they feel the need to comment? What, exactly, were they trying to say?

Then, I felt concerned, worried. Hey, maybe I do suck! I have very little academic training for what I do. His critiques are so off-base...maybe I'm the one on a different playing field.

And then I get all defensive. What does this guy know anyway? I'm actually working. He's not.

And then finally...I land on revenge. I happen to be writing a screenplay right now. The text of this fellow's Facebook messages will be used, verbatim, in the film...spoken by a truly horrible character.

So anyway...sorry artists I've smugly corrected in the past. It is me, who must learn from you...not the other way around. You are bold and you are brave. You are making.  And as you are, you are learning. You will improve without my counsel...and in spite of it.


Incidentally, I'm still too embarrassed to call or write that apology to you directly. So I hope you eventually see my tweet or this blog post.