Disclaimer: This could have been written by any film critic in the world and is addressed to every critic of theirs. So please don’t read this as a personal expression directed at you if you hate me/opinion. Best read with a little distance – like a party watching the fight from the best seat in the house.
You don’t hate your milkman, postman or watchman. In fact, you tip them once in a while. Or your family doctor or the architect who designed your house. You pay them for consultation. You probably hate a few celebrities, film and sport-based, and of course, politicians. Over the last decade, journalists, especially critics, commentators and analysts have joined the most hated club.
It’s understandable that you don’t like sportsmen or entertainers when they don’t perform or politicians when they don’t deliver what they promised and extending the same logic to commentators, analysts and critics, you could say you don’t like the way they do their job… which is to say you don’t always like the points they make. They all have opinions that somehow don’t always match with yours.
Let’s forget all the work experience, educational qualifications or specialised courses that got them these jobs, just like they got you yours, for a moment. Because once we bring that up, there is no further debate once you accept that just like doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects, these are professionals paid for their expertise in a certain area.
You don’t even pay them personally (unless you want to include your cable and newspaper bill which put together per month will be way less than what you pay your doctor per sitting or what you would spend on a single trip to the movie theatre with friends) yet you find this dislike surface every now and then. Why?
Here’s ten things you hate about them.
1. You want their job. Or you wish you had their job. You just can’t come to terms with the fact that you are stuck doing something else while someone there is bumming around on TV or typing away on a computer to make a living, watching cricket matches, interviewing influential people or just watching movies. And probably making more money than you.
2. You think you are always right. You may decide to resolve an argument with friends with the usual “Let’s agree to disagree” or by calling them names before changing the topic… Or sometimes, by producing proof that you are right by quoting from a person of some authority. And these critics sometimes happen to be those very people quoted back to you. From there on, it’s just your opinion versus theirs. Your hubris will never let you believe you are wrong, even if you deep down know that you don’t know enough.
3. You have an axe to grind. This usually happens when you or something you are associated with, has been at the receiving end of criticism in the past – either a long string of bad reviews as an established filmmaker/producer/affiliate or negative feedback as someone starting out. Imagine this. You want them to give you a line you can put on the cover of your DVD. They don’t find anything positive to say and politely decline. The next thing they know you are either going around town crying how they were mean and that they think too much of themselves. Or worse, you mail back saying that you understand, thank them for their honest feedback and then go on a hate campaign.
4. You want their attention. It’s probably cathartic to get it all out and have some closure but very rarely are you able to get them to hear all about what you think. How long can you handle this one-way communication? At some point you want them to know how you feel. Most troll behaviour on the internet is about attracting attention.
5. You hate their success. Schadenfreude. You derive immense pleasure watching someone slip-up, however minor. As Green Goblin told Spiderman: “The one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail.” Underdogs make news when they succeed while the successful make news when they fail. Your Schadenfreude is validation of their success.
6. You like to sail against the wind. You don’t want to be just another person agreeing with the majority. You don’t want to be ordinary. You want to be a rebel, cause or not, and would do anything to stand out. You can always say you are too intelligent to agree with a majority. Whatever floats your boat!
7. You have nothing else to do. As civil right activist, Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” With Twitter, Facebook, blogs and many more avenues to do absolutely nothing, you feel the need to discuss but are unable to go beyond people.
8. You know it’s easier said than done. You are the types who could give Mahendra Singh Dhoni advice on whether he should bat or bowl first. Or tell Dravid when to change gears between offense and defense. As singer Helen Reddy says, “Hindsight is wonderful. It’s always very easy to second guess after the fact.”
9. You forget it’s just one person’s opinion. As a fellow film critic, Mayank Shekhar says: “If you go to Australia and come back and write that you didn’t have a good time there, it does not mean Australia is a bad place. It just means you didn’t like it.” But here’s a thought. Would you take travel advice from someone who has just been to one part of Australia or someone who has been to more places there than you have?
10. You don’t see the futility. Do you criticise someone saying they cannot take criticism because they criticised your criticism of their criticism? If all criticism can be criticised, then every counter-criticism becomes the subject of further-criticism between all parties involved in an argument and if everybody has a right to their opinion, what is the point of it all? It’s like a Mexican stand-off with a bunch of people saying Fuck You to each other. Forever.