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7 Episodes in: ‘Instant Hotel,’ Creativity and the Power of Critique

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It doesn’t take any special qualifications to be rated one of the top one percent of TripAdvisor raters. The only thing you really have to do is write a lot of reviews about places you’ve been. You don’t need to have any expertise in what you’re writing about, you don’t have to take into account anything but your own opinion. There are no other qualifications for being a reviewer.

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5 Episodes in: ‘Instant Hotel,’ Criticism and Creativity

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By the time the fifth episode has rolled around, everyone has drawn lines. It’s the fussy couple vs. the mother-daughter team. Who will win is really beside the point. Throughout the course of “Instant Hotel,” each team has received criticism about their hotel, and each has acted predictably. Criticism makes people defensive. It hurts even when it comes from a place of love, and it rarely makes people think about the actual problem.

It’s difficult to hear when people are raising valid concerns about the results of your passion, and it’s harder to tell the difference between genuine criticism and jealousy or gamesmanship. So, when the teams are facing the Instant Hotel owners, a lot of the criticisms are dismissed.

Some of the criticism deserves to be dismissed. A difference in taste or opinion is no reason for someone to change something. If the hotel is designed for quiet contemplation, and that’s not someone’s idea of a good time, then that hotel isn’t for him or her. It doesn’t mean the owner should change the hotel; it just means that the hotel needs to be marketed to those looking for that type of vacation.

However, there are other concerns that are justified. If the criticism is that there are no curtains on the bathroom windows, that probably needs to be taken care of. If people don’t like the number of mosquitoes, you should at least try to come up with a solution (citronella candles, bug killing light) because sometimes trying is more important than succeeding. If, instead, you decide that people are telling you these things so they can deduct points from your score and don’t take them as valid, then your real guests are going to have to face the issues, and probably won’t say anything.

“Instant Hotel” provides us all with a way to think about how we can deal better with criticism by taking what’s valid for us and using it to our advantage, even if it is said with malice, and leaving behind what won’t serve us or our vision. As a creative person, it’s the same thing. If someone doesn’t like your book because its science fiction and they don’t like westerns, well, you know, whatever. However, when they tell you about the typos they spotted or ask about a plot hole, it may be time to revisit the writing.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Roger Ebert and What I Learned from the Nostalgia Critic about Living a Better Life

In the Nostalgia Critic’s tribute video to Roger Ebert, the Nostalgia Critic unpacks a lot of wisdom and lays it out for the viewer. What he sees in Roger Ebert is amazing, and what the Nostalgia Critic sees should be what we all strive to be.

The Nostalgia Critic’s greatest point about Roger Ebert, and by extension Gene Siskel, is that Ebert had a passion for movies. From the classics to animated films to the dreck released by Hollywood, like “Leonard 6,” Ebert was passionate about movies. When they were bad, he got angry about it. When they were good, he experienced great joy. These feelings and his expression of them were all a part of his love for film as an art and cultural signpost. The passion for film was a large part of what made him and Siskel so successful at a job that many would say is inconsequential. After all, “it’s just a movie,” but to them both it never was.

Passion is what makes us successful at life. Unfortunately, everyday life and its responsibilities can sap your passion. It can take what you love and tie it to money until your passion is squeezed out and turns to drudgery. Everyday life carries debts, worries and obligations that stymie and steal energy from your passion. It can even make your passion seem inconsequential, like the movies.

If you find your life is devoid of passion, seek out what brings you joy again and grab at it. Hold onto it and rekindle your passion because that’s what the human experience is about. When you are doing what you’re passionate about, you become a more creative and happier you.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.