Everybody’s A Critic

Nowadays, everybody is a critic. If there’s anything the Oscars showed, it was this.

The Academy Awards are probably the most watched celebration of art out there. But like everything these days, it welcomes a whole host of people with opinions.

Anybody with a blog or a Twitter account can suddenly be Roger Ebert.

Like an addict, I was reading the variety of tweets being written about the Oscars. Some prompted laughs. A lot of others made me feel like I should avoid Twitter all together.

I’ve said some of these things before, but I’ll say them again.

It’s easy to criticize. It’s hard to create.

It’s painless to cut down. It’s painful to be cut.

It’s simple to critique. It’s strenuous to concoct.

It takes little effort to be cynical, and cynicism can often be comical. Yet it takes more effort to be constructive, because construction takes creativity.

Sarcasm is easy. I know because sarcastic thoughts plague my mind all the time. What’s more difficult is restraint. Restraining from mockery.

I spent years feeding a cynical and sarcastic beast. What I didn’t realize is that those two things were crutches I used for my own insecurities.

I appreciate thoughtful reviews, ones that show where a work of art fails or that tastefully add to the discussion and appreciation of film, books, and music. But it takes a talent to be able to write thoughtful commentary.

Nowadays, everybody is a second away from a critical tweet.

Some are funny. Some are even hilarious.

Most are easy.

I try to use restraint, not because of some high-and-mighty feeling I’ve got going deep inside or because I’m trying to make up for years when I didn’t use restraint.

I do it for my own good.

Mocking someone I don’t know who spent time and energy creating something only serves to discredit what I do every day.

I come to the conclusion at the end of every day that it is far more difficult to create than it is to criticize.

I don’t say that because I’m angry at some critic or because I’m trying to be a champion of all things ARTSY.

I say that to remind myself.

It might be easy to condemn the bestselling author that is going through the motions. I’ve done that time and time again. It might be easy to complain about the blockbuster movie that has absolutely no original plot at all. It might be easy to chastise a new album by an artist that sounds exactly like their mega-selling last album.

Sure, yeah, that’s easy, and I’ve done all those things. But usually I’m just critical because I haven’t had a bestseller or a blockbuster or a mega-anything.

I tell myself not to disparage because that’s the easy way out. All I’d be is another voice in a big room full of voices saying the same thing over and over again.

I want to applaud those who create. I want to add, not subtract. And when something is there that I think is absolutely awful . . .

Then I try to shut up.


  1. Great post, Travis, and a painful reminder. We've all done exactly the same thing — and it's not pretty, no matter how cool we think it is.

  2. Travis, thanks for the shot in the eye. I cannot count the number of times I've retracted an email before sending, or pulled back up a survey before submitting, or just kept my mouth shut before speaking. Unfortunately, I had to 'look the fool' a few times to recognize that cheap shots are, well, cheap. Nice post.

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