First World Failure

By Trevor McKendrick 👋 - Have you read my free newsletter?

I Saw Cats

Over the break me and 3 of my siblings went to ironically watch the movie Cats.

It was horrific – just as bad as everyone said.

It wasn’t even one of those “so bad it was good” movies. It was empty and bottomlessly awful. The main cat breaking the 4th wall in the final scene (if you saw it you remember this moment as vividly as the day you got married) brought literal ROFL laughter in our theatre.

The whole time we were watching all I could think about was how did this get made?! They allegedly spent over $100M on it.

Who thought this was a good idea?

Who Made This?

So as soon as the credits start rolling I grab my phone to find out who directed Cats.

Turns out it’s a guy named Tom Hooper.

I’d never heard of him so I kept reading… what was his history? Was this his first actual movie and is that why it was so bad? What precise steps had he taken in his life to get to this terrible moment?

It took me all of 3 seconds to discover that our pal Tom Hooper won an Oscar for Best Director in 2011 because he also previously made one of my favorite movies of all time: The King’s Speech. [1]

What. The.

How did someone so good make something so bad? How did someone so bad make something so good?

This significantly reframed how I think about the movie.

The story changed from “Cats is an awful piece of content” to admiring someone for taking an enormous risk even though they failed spectacularly.

I mean, how many life lessons can we count from this single narrative?

1) Life has ups and downs. Enjoy the good and plow through the bad.

2) Keep taking at bats, you never know when you’ll succeed vs fail.

3) Always strive to be the “man in the arena”.

4) People who make things (vs those who opine on them) are the actual heroes

5) How bad really is “1st World Failure” really? Why not go for it?

Tom, this movie was not good but I salute you for trying. I hope your next movie is even wilder.

[1]: You can watch his acceptance speech here.


If you liked this essay....

Then consider signing up for my newsletter, How It Actually Works.

It contains the best material I find anywhere – this means books, articles, podcasts, research, videos, Twitter threads... the most interesting stuff that will give you something to say.

1,000s of Silicon Valley executives, investors, and leaders read it every week.

You're in!
Ack – that didnt work. Try again...