Dealing with Envy and Becoming a Movie Critic

Dear Brian,
How should I deal with the overwhelming envy I feel toward people whom I perceive as better than me in some way?

If I listen to a great musician, I become overwhelmed with envy. I realize that I will probably never be as great a musician, and it makes me feel almost sick with envy. Same thing happens when I watch a movie. If an actress is more beautiful than I am (and they almost always are), I feel envious, and that it’s incredibly unfair that I’m not as beautiful as they are, that I could never experience being that beautiful. I’m generally a very envious person, and I feel like it’s poisoning my life.
There’s a great Simpsons episode from years ago where Homer was envious of Thomas Edison’s inventions and accomplishments by the time they were the same age. After pursuing Thomas Edison incessantly and failing miserably (as Homer often does), he invents hinged legs on the back of a chair so when he leans back he wouldn’t fall anymore.

It turns out that was just another invention of Edison’s, but, since it wasn’t listed on his inventions list, Bart and Homer rushed to the Thomas Edison museum to destroy the hinged legs that managed to not be seen, despite being on public display, for hundreds of years.

As he’s about to use his electric hammer (one of many failed inventions, including a makeup shotgun that’s hilarious) to destroy the legs and take credit, he notices Thomas Jefferson had a similar chart to Homer’s, but instead comparing himself to Leonardo DaVinci.

He leaves the chair alone, where it’s discovered the next morning, along with the electric hammer, and both inventions are credited to Edison’s millionaire descendants.

Aside from the obvious lesson in there, here are a few other perspectives on envy:

Alexander the Great conquered the known world, and by the time we was my age, he had been dead for over two years.

One of the more memorable moments from my yoga training was when my yogi (an incredibly beautiful blonde woman in her 40’s) told me with the most sincere smile on her face about how she started practicing yoga because she was insecure about her body.

She followed it up by mentioning that there are advanced yoga poses she knows she’ll never be able to get her body into, and she’s fine with focusing on those she can. She wasn’t some yogic superhero – she was just a person like any other who happened to focus her time on the yoga business.

It’s difficult not to see people who are further along a path than you as being intimidating.

Think about when you’re turning onto a busy street without a light. No matter how many times you do it or how accustomed you get to it, it’s still probably one of the most dangerous things we do in our daily lives.

These vehicles weighing hundreds, sometimes over a thousand pounds are hurtling toward you at high speeds, and if you don’t turn at the right time, you’re going to cause a huge accident. It’s a nerve-wracking thought, yet we deal with it every day so it’s less and less scary each time.

Envy works in a similar manner. From far away, a person’s life can seem so great, but from up close, it’s likely not much different than yours. I’ve traveled to small towns and big cities for a large portion of  my life and met people in a lot of places that are doing much different things with their lives.

At the end of the day, we’re all dealing with being alive and facing death while finding ways to occupy our time. How you decide to spend your time is up to you, and in a world where every action has a consequence, there’s no shame in seeking the comfort of inaction.

Dear Brian,
How can I become a movie critic?

I consider myself a great movie fanatic and lover; I watch them as an art form. I have taken some classes on cinema studies also. How can I pursue more in this field as a profession?
Everyone’s a critic, and simply by watching a movie, you can be critical of it. If you’re looking to make money off it, focusing on great content is just the start. Formulating a strong opinion about a movie that touches upon the typical Oscar categories (it’s acting, directing, writing, music, art direction, timing, etc.) and comparing it to really anything that connects something a reader hasn’t seen to something they recognize helps the review be taken more seriously.

Of course, inputting a review helps, and to do that, there are several WordPress plugins that allow for ratings. You can choose stars, numeric scales, grades, or whatever. Submitting your blog with this required format to RSS feeds makes it visible to review aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes.

I’ve not reviewed many movies, but I have worked as a staff TV writer to produce content for Time Warner Cable as well as work as an editor for an Android review site. What matters most if you want to work as a professional critic isn’t just being able to critique a movie, but doing it quickly.

Nobody wants to read your review on Hot Tub Time Machine, because it’s too old. Reviews are meant for new products and services. You have to start studying Hollywood release schedules (along with film festival dates, etc.) so you know when to start looking out for trailers, possible media screener leaks, and more.

Hollywood is very much about timing, and you have to have your review out at least by the time something is released. For established film critics at established media outlets, the film studios show a special preview screener weeks in advance to allow time to write out a proper and professional quality review. It’s to the studios benefit to cater to these critics who are most visible.

You’re invisible, so you have to be quicker on the trigger like Perez Hilton was when he exploited the usage of media embargoes to scoop the major Hollywood publications.

Look for leaked movies. Often movies will leak online long before their theatrical release. Some examples I can think of off the top of my head were Snowpiercer, Authors Anonymous, and even Moulin Rouge. This usually happens overseas, where American copyright laws aren’t as stringent. When these pirated copies leak, rejoice, because it’s a chance for you, as a movie-critic-from-your-couch to compete with those VIP, high-profile critics who get an early look at the film.

This occurs on TV as well. Key and Peele, Game of Thrones, and Rick and Morty all suffered leaks prior to their season premieres. Watch the episodes early, and respect the media embargoes by waiting until the episode premieres to post your review, and you’ll be well on your way to cutting in front of line and gaining notoriety as the Internet’s next big film critic.

Or you can just post a troll movie list proclaiming to showcase the best films ever made and draw hundreds of thousands of hits within a few days from angry movie fans who can’t understand how you can possibly think Grandma’s Boy is better than Citizen Kane…

 50 Movies You Have to Watch Before You Die – Thought for Your Penny

Brian Penny High TimesBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, High Times, Fast Company, and Hardcore Droid.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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