Seth Rogen Wants Film Critics to Know How Much They’ve Devastated Him
If everyone’s a critic, then we all owe Seth Rogen an apology.
The actor, screenwriter and comedian has had his share of critically panned projects such as The Interview and The Green Hornet, and on a recent episode of the Diary of a CEO podcast, Rogen explained how he’s carried those negative reviews with him over a decade after Roger Ebert’s ink dried. “I think if most critics knew how much it hurts the people that made the things that they are writing about, they would second guess the way they write these things,” Rogen explained, calling negative criticism “devastating.”
“I know people who have never recovered from it honestly,” Rogen said of the RottenTomatoes scores that carry that traumatic green splat symbol next to a middling number. “It’s very personal. … It is devastating when you are being institutionally told that your personal expression was bad, and that’s something that people carry with them, literally, their entire lives and I get why. It fucking sucks.”
When Diary of a CEO host Steven Bartlett brought up Rogen’s lukewarmly received 2011 superhero film The Green Hornet, Rogen lamented, “People hated it. People were taking joy in disliking it a lot. But it opened to like $35 million, which was the biggest opening weekend I’d ever been associated with at that point. It did pretty well.” Rogen seemed to take solace in the millions of dollars his movies have earned him despite the disparaging comments of some writer on the internet who is still paying off their student loans, saying, “That’s what is nice sometimes. You can grasp for some sense of success at times.”
On the topic of another highly publicized and widely panned project, Rogen said that the criticism of his near-apocalypse-causing 2014 comedy The Interview “felt far more personal,” saying, “People were taking joy in talking shit about it and questioning the types of people that would want to make a movie like that.”
It’s only human to feel insulted when criticism of one’s work spills over into criticism of one’s character, but there’s something immensely unrelatable about a widely celebrated and hugely successful artist complaining that some people didn’t like a movie nine years ago and clowned the creatives who made it. None of these negative reviews inhibited Rogen’s ability to do what he loves in any meaningful way — Rogen has written, produced and starred in literally dozens of acclaimed-to-reviled projects since Kim Jong-un and the rest of the world were unamused by The Interview.
You don’t have to read Oscar Wilde’s “The Critic as Artist” or study aesthetic philosophy to understand that criticism is a natural and important aspect of the artistic process — art is subjective, and its audience will express their subjective experience with it in order to contextualize a work in the wider culture. That’s the pretentious way of explaining the simple concept of, “If you ask people to consume your media, you can’t get mad when they have opinions about it.”
Rogen explained that his usual process for coping with bad reviews is to treat himself to a fancy dinner and take a trip to his beach house — basically just Woody Harrelson wiping away tears with stacks of money. The horror.