Leave it to Kevin Smith, likely one of the most unassuming guys in any room, much less at a film screening, to set precedent on how to deal with criticism, even when it’s right in your face and in front of a crowd.
The mind behind Mall Rats and Clerks is back at touring to promote a new film called ‘Yoga Hosers’, and as is typical of the screening tours hosts a Q&A afterward. Of course, doing so is sort of an invitation for conflict in the off-chance someone speaks up in a challenging or ‘vitriolic’ manner, or even one of simple disappointment.
Such was the case when one audience member spoke up about his feelings of dislike for the film, and as with any nail that sticks out, gets hammered. Except he wasn’t met with brute force or overpowering arguments from a man with a mic, as much as his voiced concerns were dismantled.
How Kevin disarms the scenario provides a learning opportunity for just about any creative. In summary, Kevin greets the criticism less as a point of invalidation as much as simply an opinion, and therefore accepts it. There is no effort expended to sway the opinion in another direction, nor to discredit it, but simply to accept it with the full understanding that opinions will vary. He doesn’t tar and feather the man even with majority audience appreciation.
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What Kevin really is doing here is highlighting the two key points all creatives would do well to internalize: a) the work is autotelic if it means something to you b) not everyone will like what you do and that’s entirely ok.
This is tough for creatives given that the very nature of creating is a personal one, but the ability to see the forest through the wood, the bigger picture, is critical. It’s critical to understand that not everyone will like nor needs to like what you’ve got on tap. It’s tempting to say here that some you win and some you learn, and while that’s a truism (and platitude), Smith basically is saying, you may not need to learn anything if people don’t like what you do, especially if you’re going out on a limb and being different – the first guy through the wall always gets bloodied.
Check it out here, and you can see the trailer for the film (vehement expletives included), Yoga Hosers, below that.