NEGATIVE FEEDBACK: HOW I HANDLE IT
My short documentary 'Waiting With a Killer' reached 20,000 views last week - making it my most watched documentary to date. Conversely, it's also the most polarising - attracting praise, applaud, hostility and condemnation.
In May 2020, I wrote an article titled Why Is My Most Watched Documentary Attracting The Most Outrage? , but in that article, I overlooked a more necessary question: how do I handle hostile feedback?
I showed you the hostile comments in my previous article, but here are some fresh gems:
[NOTE: I have an admission to make. The first comment about my appearance..... honestly, after reading it, it took a good two minutes for the laughter to subside. "Ive seen better heads with hooks in them." - I'm sorry, but whichever way you cut it, that is funny]
I am, however, human, so of course artistic critique stings. Thankfully, I have a technique that I rely on each time I'm faced with feedback of an unfavourable nature, a technique that instantly lifts my mood and brings beautiful perspective to my day. Let me share it with you, but first, here are 3 timeless responses to negative feedback (typically used by my fellow creatives) that I loathe:
"If you like my work, great, but if you don't, fuck you."
Why "fuck you", though? Truthfully, I find the arrogance of this riposte sickening, I always have. To suggest that only advocates of your work deserve a voice is beyond contemptible to me.
"They clearly don't understand what I was going for!"
Really? Isn't it possible that they understood exactly what you were going for but nevertheless still think it's garbage?
"It's just a pathetic troll hiding behind a computer screen."
Oh, interesting how positive comments posted by people hiding behind a computer screen are okay, though.
Do not expect earth-shattering wisdom here, because in truth, my technique for overcoming critique is as simple as it is common sense. Ultimately, I reflect on the day I watched 'A Quiet Place' - a 2018 horror movie starring Emily Blunt. Before watching it, I asked my Twitter followers if it's any good, and universally, they gushed over its brilliance. Read the glowing replies to my tweet here
Two hours later, having watched the film, I was mortified, underwhelmed and mildly indignant by the glaring disparity between my experience of the film and that of the wider world. I didn't like the film at all. So, the question is, who's the idiot here... them or me? The idiot, surely, is the person who expects uniformity of opinion. Crazy. Given the breadth of personal taste, how can it be reasonable to expect 7 billion earthlings to feel the same about any given piece of art?
So, with my divergent opinion of 'A Quiet Place' permanently burnt into my memory, how arrogant would it be to expect all opinions of my own art to be universally favourable? When someone publicly denounces my art, the sting is instant, but the hurt is soothed quicker still once I ask myself, "Hang-on, dickhead, do you like everything?" No, so climb out of your arse, respect their view and move on." Works every time.
Can you think of a piece of art that is universally lauded, but you just don't like it? Among my many is 'A Quiet Place', but what's yours? Next time someone offers an unfavourable view of your art, reflect on your 'A Quiet Place' equivalent, because I promise, as an artist, the feeling of creative rejection soon lifts (unless you're a narcissistic sociopath, of course).