Everyone’s A Critic

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

~Theodore Roosevelt


I honestly don’t care about Miley Cyrus’ newest tattoo, but it did get me thinking about Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena speech and how incredibly easy it is to criticize.  Pointing out others’ flaws and shortcomings – in their personal lives, in their ministries, in their art. With online social media expanding, anybody can be a critic. In fact, most people are. Including me.

The problem with criticism is exactly as Mr. Roosevelt says: many critics aren’t actually out there making their own mistakes … just criticizing the people who are brave enough to go out and try, come what may.

With almost every film I analyze, I analyze in terms of how it deals with gender. (Just go look at our Artist’s Picks and you’ll see what I’m talking about).  Most of the film theory classes  I took in college dealt with gender on some level, but it was always from a humanist perspective. At the same time, God was dealing with me personally on His ideas about gender, and I became extremely dissatisfied with how men and women are portrayed in movies. I genuinely believe there is reason to be concerned with these portrayals.

However, if you watch the movies I’ve made, none of them address gender issues. I have a lot of thoughts on how I would approach gender in my movies, but I haven’t actually put them into practice yet. That has to change.

I’m really excited about the launch of FortyOne20 Ministries’ Video Production division because I’m really hoping to change not just the way we analyze movies, but how movies are made. After our introductory project we have plans to produce a fiction miniseries for the Internet that will address some of these gender issues. Maybe once I’m in the trenches I’ll have a different perspective, not to mention critics of my own.

Now I’m not suggesting we don’t need to be analytical of the art we’re observing, because we should be. We should consider it through the lens of God’s Word and be discerning about the art we’re consuming. Additionally, God tells us to “think about how we can spur each other on to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24), and I believe this includes art consumption.

We also need to be practicing the standards we apply to others’ art when creating our own art. We need to have grace with other artists who maybe do things a little bit differently than we think we would in their situations. And as artists, we should put ourselves out there, even when it means opening ourselves up to the critics.


Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Texas where she studied film theory and video production. She is passionate about reaching and equipping artists for Jesus Christ.


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