We all have them. Whether we are in the spotlight as a celebrity, or a waitress in some sleepy old diner in the middle of nowhere, there’s always a critic around the corner, always someone who has a problem with your performance, attitude, appearance and whatever else. When my art first become known in Tarot reading circles, it received it’s fair share of criticism (praise too but the criticism has a tendency to stick with you more). There’s really not a great way of taking criticism, especially, i feel, when it’s something we’re responsible for solely. We could be criticised as a team effort, but when you are responsible for something solely of your own creation, performance etc, you have to take the brunt of that criticism.
Some things to keep in mind though before you take things to heart too much. Everyone receives criticism. That’s a fact of life. Tastes are subjective. We all like different things. I also believe that people have a tendency to voice their opinions about something they don’t like as opposed to something they do, though that trend is possibly changing.
I was watching a Youtube video of Old Crow Medicine’s Wagon Wheel. The video received over forty three thousand “likes”, while it received about two thousand dislikes. If you weren’t told how many people actually liked it, you’d think over two thousand dislikes was something significant. You’d think it must have been a pretty rubbish song or video...i’m sure it still is to those two thousand people. Putting things into perspective however, shows that less than five percent of the people didn't like it. It’s a pittance really.
I know creative people who hesitate to reveal their masterpiece for fear of how it will be received. Along the way i found someone who taught me to continually keep creating regardless of how it looks because your work is what it is at any given time, you’re always progressing, getting better. She was able to convince me that art is a process in which we build upon our skills over time. It was something i knew, but it does no harm to have a good woman at your side to tell you what's what ;)
Some works are loved, even if the artist or musician are dissatisfied with the piece years later. It’s about creating what you feel and releasing it to the world. It’s important to, as best as possible, ignore criticism, especially if it offers no constructive input.
Today, more so than any other time in history in my opinion, it is much easier for people to openly attack creative people and their work because anonymous, and sometimes non anonymous, comments can be made without anyone having to take responsibility for their words. It must be noted that those i refer to differ from genuine reviewers or critics of ones work. Most of these people wouldn't criticise a creative person to their face. The ability to hide behind a screen gives people the opportunity to say anything. Nowadays there is a name for those who love to ridicule people online for the sake of it. Known as Trolls, these people have little to do with their time but just generally be annoying. While they are usually talent-less with nothing to offer anyone, some can also be rival artists or musicians or authors who are so insecure about their own work that they try and sabotage “the competition”. Unfortunately it happens.
Another thing related to this is what’s known as “sock puppetry” (a term i recently discovered all of twenty minutes ago) where a person might create one or more persona’s to do their bidding. You can sometimes see this sort of thing happen in regards to amazon reviews, where an author might create a few personas to give his book critical praise and top stars, all the while ridiculing their rivals. Long before the internet, the author Walt Whitman was said to have used a pseudonym to give his work praise for example.
R J Ellory is a modern day example of such manipulation. He praised his own work while leaving negative reviews for others.
I think the moral of the story is to create what you feel compelled to and put criticism into perspective. Take from it what might make your overall performance better, but generally take it all with a pinch of salt.