I was once a film snob, full of it, and proud of it - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

I was once a film snob, full of it, and proud of it

Oh yeah – saw that film – don’t bother.

Hate that film.

Whoever said he could act was seriously disturbed?

You call that directing?

Well, the acting was good given that the writing was atrocious.

I was a film snob at Syracuse University.

Just a quick window into my 19-year-old and newly trained acting self.  Going to school in Syracuse meant skating over ice to class and never having a snow day.  It also meant spending a lot of time on indoor activities.  For some this meant racketball.  For the drama geeks like me, it meant going to the cinema.

My film snobbery was born.

I hated everything I saw.  I critiqued a film the entire way through and rarely found something more positive than, “I liked the soundtrack” to say.  I was a jerk, but I relished in my pride – not noticing the arrogant turn it had taken from impartial acting evaluator to evil film obliterator.  It got so bad my childhood friends refused to watch films with me, claiming I had “changed.” Years later, looking back, I can see their point.  I was full of it and proud of it.  It is now safe to watch movies with me now by the way. I bring all of this up because we all have an ego in some aspect of our lives.  It usually has to do with our careers.  We seem to think we’re heroes for going into battles, saving patients’ lives, or making stories into truthful, thought-provoking films.

And while these actions may have their heroic elements and make us heroes for a moment, at the end of the day, they’re our jobs.  We get paid to do them.  So being a soldier, doctor or actor does not automatically equate one to being a hero.  We’re doing our jobs.  That by itself is not heroic. I spent the last seven months co-writing a play about the actor’s life in New York.  We called it,  “I Happen to Like New York: The ups and downs of post grad life and the lies that Sex and the City told to us.”
I sent this play to anyone I knew who might read it.  One bit of valuable feedback came from a former director who pointed out we, as the writers, didn’t really give a reason for the audience to sympathize with our characters.  Yeah, we were in New York where it was hard to live and work and make end’s meet, but this was our job and we chose it.  Yeah it is hard, but we decided to do it.  Yeah it is hard, but, So what?  Who cares?  It’s hard for everyone.

This really resonates even months later as I contemplate generational pride and ego – we think we’re good at something, we think we’re automatically heroic because we’re good at that, and then we think we deserve something because we’re “heroes.”

If I think about it, I find I’m always so much more delighted when I get to discover how great or heroic someone is before they take it on themselves to prove it to me or how me.

So if you’re an egotistical jerk, don’t be hard on yourself.  Remember we all go through film snob phases from time to time in our life.  Let people discover your inner film expert instead of shoving your opinion of The Devil Wears Prada (Great film by the way) down their throats.

And if you can’t identify that you’re an egotistical jerk, surround yourself with friends who can and who can ask you after you talk about running a marathon up hill through sleet for the 50th time.

“So what?  Who cares?  It’s hard for everyone else, too.”


About the author

Jana Stambaugh

Jana (it rhymes with “banana” or “anna”) is an artist from Clarksville, Maryland. Growing up her parents always told her to “be whatever you want to be.” Seeing as she has come from three generations of doctors, she obviously became an artist. As an actor, she has performed internationally Off-Broadway, and locally to the Baltimore/DC area. Favorite roles include Juliet, Ariel, and Caliban. Jana is the Founder of Red Connect Online, a social media marketing company that creates customized advertising campaigns for small businesses. You can listen to her podcast, Confessions of a Closet Christian, on the E-Squared Media Network. You can also follow her on Twitter (@Jana_Stambaugh) and friend her on Facebook. Contact the author.
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