Adapt or Die?


Hanna Movie - Adapt or DieIf you’ve ever seen the movie Hanna, you’ll remember the phrase, “Adapt or Die.” Hanna’s father, played by Eric Bana, teaches his daughter to live by these words.

Since I’ve seen that movie, I’ve whispered that phrase to myself on a few occasions. No, not because I need to worry about honing my assassin abilities when the bad guys come, but because making a living with content does require that you adapt or you’ll quite likely meet your virtual demise.

Last night I followed a link on Facebook and read an article by a film critic, someone who makes their living with content, refusing to adapt. What’s worse is that the author, Kieran Turner-Dave, not only seems to refuse to adapt…he seems to want his audience and the whole filmmaking industry to adapt to him.

In his article, he laments that social media is drowning out the voices of true experts…professional movie critics. He even blasted Ben Affleck’s crew for using tweets about Argo from every day Twitter users. It seems that instead of using the standard praise from well-known critics, they thought they’d share positive tweets from the movie from any old Joe with a Twitter account.

Now, I am a firm believer in carving out an audience that is drawn to what you have to offer (in fact, I wrote something to that effect last week), but if your once faithful audience is evolving and demanding something different you better do as Eric Bana says!

There are two important things I need to address here:

1. You’re only an expert if your audience thinks you’re an expert. If your audience is now turning to friends or other Internet users for what you used to provide…perhaps you need to see your role with your audience in a different light.

2. When influence starts to change, perhaps it’s time to be more inclusive…rather than try to put your own abilities up on a pedestal.  Here’s what I wrote when my friend and fellow writer Courtney Ramirez posted a link to the article on Facebook.

Facebook Comment

If everyday moviegoers are getting noticed  by other moviegoers and are a source of information for your audience, it might be a smart idea to give those people a voice. Hmmm…kind of like Argo promoters did it. Maybe they WERE onto something.

As a big movie lover, I watch a good number of new movies each month, but I don’t seek out the opinions of critics. I go to sites like (Alexa rank: 47) or to (a Canadian movie info site). These sites incorporate user opinions and give movie goers a voice, making them quite successful. They also provide plenty of other useful information about movies.  There are also sites like Rotten Tomatoes, (Alexa rank: 739), that showcase and score the reviews from critics, also collect and display opinions from users.

Now does a movie critic who’s feeling the effects of change need to go into a full-blown movie database? No, probably not…but perhaps it’s time to do things a little differently. You can’t simply yell from your cyber-rooftop and demand that people see you as an expert and shun everyone else.

The world is changing rapidly when it comes to the dissemination of information. And it’s not just in the area of movie reviews. We’ve seen similar lamenting by journalists angry that bloggers are polluting their craft. Or professional authors who feel they’ve been overrun by independent writers on Kindle. Sure, it sucks when change come along, but you’ve got a choice and that choice is…

Adapt or Die.

Which will you take?

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About the Author

Alice Seba
Alice Seba is the owner and creator of With a focus on using content to create relationships, loyalty and results from writing, she loves helping online business owners get more bang out of their content.

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  • askarnett

    I totally agree with you. I will listen to what a film critic may have to say but I will not let that be my only source of information about the movie. Whenever I have used there opinion I have found that I enjoyed a movie and did not agree with them at all. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and an actual movie goer who is spending money because they want to see a film holds more credence with me.

    • Alice Seba

      My friend actually used to tell me the rating her favorite critic gave before we’d see a movie. If the rating was low, I almost always said, “Yeah, let’s go see it.” ;-)

      That was back when she read the newspaper. I haven’t heard any ratings recently, so I assumed she stopped reading the newspaper.

  • Marya Miller

    It makes me shudder when I realize you’ve hit the nail on the head, Alice; that the critic wants the world to adapt *to him*. How arrogant.

    I also think he’s mourning a decline in quality and standards, however: I can totally see lamenting integrity as disappearing from online writing research — there is so much not-checking-sources-and-facts, taking site information verbatim and downright plagiarizing, thanks to the ease of internet access. But this is a movie *critic* talking here — when all is said and done, it’s all just opinion. No research needed, other than watching the movie. It doesn’t matter to the average Joe whether or not Mr. Critic knows all about the director’s Life Theme or not.

    Movie criticism reminds me of art. You may have a fine arts degree and be able to see symbolism and other technical nuances in paintings that the average Joe on the street isn’t trained to see. But I like to think of the average Joe as kinda like the kid in the crowd who points out “The emperor has no clothes”.

    What often gets lost with experts is — ironically — honesty.

    What the critic lost track of in the source article: That it’s all about communication.

    And communication is a two-way street.

    • Alice Seba

      Well yes, that’s a good point. There is definitely a decline in quality in many areas. That’s why the journalists and professional book authors are annoyed as well. Sometimes I read the blogs on newspaper sites and shudder at the people they’ve decided to let them write for them. But, as you obviously know, people will make their own decisions on the content they want to consume…we can’t make those decisions for them.

      • Marya Miller

        That’s the bottom line. <:)

  • Tiffany

    Movie buff here too. I would MUCH rather read reviews from regular folk and not critics who try to wax poetic. Content marketers should be used to adapting by now because everything changes regularly with SEO, social media, etc. It is critical to be able to adapt. Great article!

    • Alice Seba

      Yes, I think many people who see themselves as content marketers are prepared to adapt. I think it’s the writers who have enjoyed previous prestige in their positions who have a harder time swallowing change. However, as the idea of content marketing becomes more mainstream, we’d better keep reminding ourselves that we can’t rest on our laurels either.

  • Ken

    Some people are unable to adapt. I have seen this in my own family.They have made a tremendous effort to get where they are and they find it practically impossible to adapt. The sadness is, that they rather die. Figuratively speaking of course. In reality they don´t have the enthusiasm to carry on. It is important to understand the background circumstances of the people concerned. We are seeing human evolution in motion and it is do or die for many and the interesting thing is that it will happen to you Alice one day and to me and to everyone. A day will come when in some way or another you will give in and you will rest your laurels.Interesting stuff.

    • Alice Seba

      Quite possible Ken…I actually look forward to a day when I can afford to do that. Funny, I didn’t read your comment before I replied to Tiffany…I chose the phrase “rest on your laurels” as well. It fits perfectly.

  • Wanda Baader


    I most definitely agree with you. I love going to the movies and when I go I look at what other movie goers say and the trailers. I rarely look at what the critics say because I generally do not always agree with what they like or dislike. We as the audience determine with our dollars which movies are financial successes.

    Social media is part of our culture and “yes” you need to adapt or become irrelevant. I don’t see it going away any time soon.

    • Alice Seba

      This is absolutely true. Critics may have had more influence on the success of movies in the past, but it’s us commoners who have the control now. I actually do remember watching Siskel (R.I.P) and Ebert as a teenager, but that’s because it was one of the easiest ways to get information on new movies…we didn’t have so many other options back then.

  • Sharyn Sheldon

    Alice, I know exactly what you mean! The only time I look at what critics say now is when the user vs. critics ratings are close. If the critics say “nay” and the viewers say “yay”, you know it’s a movie you just have to see ;).

    On the content side, I find it tough to balance what I THINK people should learn vs. what they WANT to learn. People don’t always know the right questions to ask. And just because I like to write doesn’t mean it’s the right medium for the answer.

    Hey, if you’re not willing to adapt and change, just remember what happened to the dinosaurs. Don’t see too many of those around.

    • Alice Seba

      It is a tough balance, but it is possible to share with an audience what you THINK they should know. You just have to sell it well and convince they need to know it. I feel that way sometimes in my B2B stuff…people want the quick fix, but I give a dose of tough love, even though they may not want it.

  • Courtney Ramirez

    Alice – This was a great post and I’m glad you found my share interesting. As an introvert, it’s been difficult for me to engage on social media more often, but it is absolutely necessary to my business to “get out there” more – and I wouldn’t be as haughty as this critic to demand that everyone conform to me, because I’d get left behind in the dust.

    This is a case of either/or instead of both. Why not embrace social and blogging as a “professional critic” and build an audience of film connoisseurs who appreciate his insights. Half the time professional critics are just jumping on a bandwagon or declaring something a hit or miss before they see it. If he cares about the craft of film, there are other ways to share it than criticizing the mass population about their movie watching habits.

    • Alice Seba

      Definitely agree…obviously. :-) On Facebook, wou mentioned that you studied film criticism in college, but understood that times were changing, so you adapted prior to that. I would actually love to take some courses like that, even though I have no interest in being a professional critic.

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