Those who enter the entertainment industry should be ready to take the heat

Photo by: Markus Winkler

Those who willingly pursue a life of fame should be ready to deal with the widespread criticism they might face because of it.

On The Diary of a CEO podcast, Seth Rogen opened up about the damaging effects that negative reviews from critics can have on people in the entertainment industry. He called them “devastating” and mentioned that he knows “people who have never recovered.”

This begs some interesting questions about the relationship between entertainment and criticism, and has led to much analysis and discussion over Rogen’s perspective. But rather than focussing specifically on his stance, I think it is important to dissect the purpose of criticism as a whole.

Everyone has a right to be upset by criticism. No one should be expected to face any and all criticism with a smile, especially when it begins shifting away from constructive criticism and turns into an exercise of insult-hurling. But in regards to constructive criticism, there is a level of which those who willingly enter the entertainment industry should be ready to handle, given this is the way the entertainment industry functions.

When you willingly put yourself on a pedestal for the world to watch — in this case, through blockbuster movies being shown in global theatres — criticism is simply a part of the gig. 

But this poses the question: what is the alternative? Should critics only post reviews when they enjoy a production? Should critics focus on only positive elements in reviews? Should critics simply lie when they don’t enjoy a product?

The primary purpose of a review is to let potential consumers of a product know whether that piece of media is worth checking out or not. Whether it be a film, a TV show, a book, a video game or any other piece of media, reviews are commonly considered a place for the unsure to begin to make a decision as to whether they should invest time and money into a product of entertainment.

Stripping away the capability to publish a negative review of a product removes this form of decision-making, and means many consumers will have a more difficult time choosing whether or not to engage with a product. Worse yet, this could lead consumers to waste money or time on a product they will end up absolutely despising, when a negative review could have been the determining factor that would have prevented them from engaging with the product in the first place.

The concept of a “review” isn’t perfect — because entertainment is subjective, every reviewer can have a differing taste as to what they look for in a product. This means one piece of entertainment can receive two completely different reviews from unique publishers, one positive and one negative — but this is part of what makes the critic industry interesting.

Reviews form a type of creative expression in which a writer can analyze what they like or dislike about a product, and share that opinion with the world. Even if one review ends up positive for a product and the next negative, a potential consumer might still be able to find the review that best aligns with their tastes and follow the advice of the reviewer that shares more of their interests or concerns.

Every person willingly entering the industry should be aware of the criticism that it opens them up to. If one wishes to act in a movie, for example, but they are not able to bear critics commenting negatively on their performance; then they have failed to consider all aspects of the acting profession before jumping into it. In other words, this means they entered the job for all of the “good parts,” but are unable to accept any of the downsides that come with it.

This isn’t to say that every kind of negative statement is acceptable, but most types of unacceptable comments fall outside the realm of legitimate criticism. Making a racist, sexist, homophobic or any other bigoted comment toward an individual simply because they are in the creative industry is never morally acceptable — no one should have to face discrimination in any field, including the entertainment industry.

When it comes to the pure quality of a product or performance, the people behind it should be mentally well-equipped with the knowledge that it might not be well-received by everyone. This is a risk that they must be willing to accept when they begin working on the project, and if the possibility of negative feedback is going to ruin their lives, then they probably shouldn’t have entered a field that comes with the risk of widespread public criticism.

This may seem like a harsh statement, but one in the entertainment industry cannot simply expect everyone’s opinions to conform to their “feelings,” and this starts with reviewers. Of course, not everyone is capable of dealing with widespread criticism, and this is entirely understandable and valid — but individuals in this group should reconsider entering a field in which negative feedback from critics is going to be a risk.

Besides, it’s worth mentioning that no one is forced to read criticism about their work, anyway. Those who wish to ignore feedback and focus solely on their craft in their own way are entirely valid as well. If someone wishes to scour the internet for reviews of their work, that is on their own volition.

At the end of the day, you can’t expect to live the high life without any potential downfalls. As President Harry Truman once put it, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

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