Last weekend I went to see the movie Chef. It originally premiered at the south by southwest festival in Austin Texas, but has since exploded at the box office raking in more than 22 million dollars. It’s a feel-good movie about finding your true passion in life, and just going for it. Not being afraid to fail, even when it feels like the world is against you. John Favreau plays a famous Chef in Los Angeles who gets totally blindsided when a popular food blogger writes a brutal review about his cooking. The review goes viral, and as a result Favreau’s character goes nuts. He decides the best way to respond is to just approach the nasty blogger the next time he comes to the restaurant.
As the story goes, it was pretty much over for him after that embarrassing episode. He hits rock bottom. So, what does he do with his life now? He knew he loved to cook, he knew he was good at it, and he didn’t need someone over his shoulder telling him what to do. With no money in the bank, and no one rooting for his success, he’s inspired to do something he never thought he would do. Open a food truck. At that point, what did he have to lose? And as any feel-good movie ends, taking that risk makes him incredibly successful doing what he loves.
As you walk out of the theater you can’t help but think about finding your own passion. You feel inspired to take on the world and you tell yourself that you’re going to go take that risk too. And then reality sets in and you go back to just dreaming about what could be.
That’s the main takeaway.
But there is something else I took from the film that’s not necessarily as obvious. The sad reality that we have become this society so willing to tear each other down. As a cable news host, often guilty of criticism myself, I say this with humility and self-awareness. There are certainly times to be tough, and to criticize. That’s part of many of our jobs. But we now live in this world where opinions on the blogosphere and the twitterverse dominate the bandwidth. And more times than not, it’s about tearing down not building up.
Just think about when the President nominates someone to serve in his cabinet. Within minutes, articles pop up listing all the reasons why that person may not be good enough, or may not make it through the process. It’s never a list of reasons why they might be good.
It’s sad to think about how many accomplished people aren’t willing to serve, simply because it’s not worth being dragged through the mud.
By the end of the 2016, Hillary Clinton will be so beaten up I’ll be surprised if she hangs on to any shred of self-respect. Yes, this is politics, this is the big leagues, but it doesn’t mean we have to destroy people’s dignity in the process. But sadly this happens in every industry.
It’s always easier to point out someone else’s deficiencies, but we should strive to also make a point to celebrate their strengths. It might not get as many re-tweets or favorites, but now that we all have a voice, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. One that can still point out the good, and value success.
So whether you’re a food critic, a political pundit, or just sitting in your basement blogging, we can all play a small role in raising the level of conversation. As that great philosopher Spider-Man reminds us, “With great power comes great responsibility.”