Ah, remember Glass? I wasn’t too big a fan of it, as you can tell from my review of the film for this very website. Apparently, I contributed to writer-director M. Night Shyamalan getting quite upset, because the filmmaker recently admitted to crying upon learning about the negative reviews. Don’t take it as an opportunity for schadenfreude, as Shyamalan instead offered a lesson on how to handle negativity.
The filmmaker offered his story to NYU’s Stern School of Business:
“I was in London when I heard the U.S. reviews for Glass were poor. I was in a makeup chair for a TV show, and I cried. … We’d just come back from the London screenings, which were through the roof. We had only great screenings of the movie around the world. So essentially I wasn’t prepared. I had this false sense of being a part of the group in a safe way. But boy, did I feel distraught that day.”
A natural response to any artist whose work is criticized, though in his lecture titled” The Struggle to Find Your Voice,” Shyamalan also offered some words of wisdom. One significant moment was when a student who identified as Mexican stated that he wanted to be a director, but believed that it would be too difficult to accomplish. A firey Shyamalan responded:
“Dude, I don’t like the way you talk, bro. How can you tell me that it’s going to be hard? Do you see a lot of people like you writing stories? Give me a break, bro. That’s your strength, that you’re not like us. Go out there and tell your stories. Don’t go out there and try to be like Quentin or me or anybody else. We need you. Tell me what makes you angry, why you’re arrogant, or fearful, whatever it is. Don’t hide anything. Be honest. What is that thing that bothers you and makes you distinct? Everyone’s looking for you. A Mexican point of view to tell a story right now? I’m telling you, everybody wants that right now.
I desperately need you to tell your story in your way. You are essential.”
Of course, Shyamalan is no stranger to negative reviews—after signs, his work on The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening were heavily criticized. Shyamalan stated his regret on The Last Airbender and After Earth, two flops that were considered to be career-ending until the filmmaker bounced back with The Visit and Split. The fact that Shyamalan won’t stop might be inspiring to younger, aspiring filmmakers—though keep in mind that Shyamalan does have some pull in the film industry that independent filmmakers don’t quite have.
And in the end, Glass made a lot of money, and I’ve seen many casual moviegoers who swear by the movie. Heck, some of my colleagues at Flixist are disappointed in my lukewarm review of Glass. So the lesson might be that if you’re passionate about your craft, look for moviegoers’ approval rather than that of the critics.
I still think Glass isn’t good, but whatever.