“My goal was to open up a window into my life and how I came to love movies. Hopefully you feel I’ve done that.”
Chances are that you’ve heard of CinemaSins. This is especially true if you’re interested in pop culture and YouTube surfing is one of your guilty pleasures. For those who don’t know, CinemaSins is a YouTube channel that produces a weekly video summarizing a particular movie while “sinning” it. The process of sinning involves the narrator, Jeremy Scott, pointing out all the flaws of the movie in a lighthearted, clever (and often crass) manner. A movie’s sins could be anything from continuity errors, to plot holes, to random details that Scott decides to mock. Although CinemaSins videos make fun of movies, they do so in a loving way, and it is easy to see that the creators love to dissect these movies for the pure joy and fun of it.
Original Sin: From Preacher’s Kid to the Creation of CinemaSin (2021) is Jeremy’s Scott’s story, complete with his memories of growing up as the son of a preacher in the Church of the Nazarene, how he developed his love of movies, the friends he made and adventures he had, and the career trajectory that resulted in his role as co-creator and narrator of CinemaSins. Along the way, Scott reflects on the relationship between his childhood in the Church of the Nazarene and his obsession with movies, making the case that, because most films were prohibited in his ultra-conservative upbringing, movies became all the more magical and exciting for him as an adult. Scott also provides anecdotes from his time as a movie theater employee in the days before movies went digital, as well as advice for career success via YouTube.
I found the sections about Scott’s upbringing particularly interesting, as they seem to explain a lot about his narration style. While watching CinemaSins, I’ve noticed that Scott makes a number of casual Biblical references–something I would only expect from someone who has grown up reading the Bible in a church setting. Furthermore, I’ve often thought that Scott’s style of speech is reflective of someone who has been involved in competitive debate. As it turns out, Scott was a champion in Bible Quizzing competitions all through high school, which perfectly explains both of my observations since the sport is a combination of debate and thorough Bible knowledge.
(As a brief aside, something I was hoping to learn, but did not find out, was how Scott met and married his wife. Jeremy Scott, if you are reading this, I hope you will follow up with me sometime.)
What I most appreciate about this book is that it is simply the story of how one man was able to turn his passion into a career. Making a hobby into a job is not something that everyone gets to do (or even that everyone wants to do). Furthermore, it’s a story about taking some gambles and getting lucky, which Scott admits is largely what accounts for the success of CinemaSins.
So much typical career advice is soulless and depressing. When I was wrapping up grad school, I attended a few online workshops on things like using LinkedIn, professional networking (as much as I hate this term), etc. The advice given seemed very outdated to me and out of touch with the way real people are. I felt that the person giving the presentation was instructing me to be artificial and opportunistic and to assume the same about others. The times that I tried to apply her advice, I felt stifled and somewhat dead inside (as a second aside, searching for a job in 2020 was a daunting task in and of itself). In the end, I found that, when I dropped the rules of the professional persona and reached out to people about topics and opportunities in which I was genuinely interested, I had much more success and a lot more fun. Being genuine in my career relationships and projects is a lifestyle which I strive to live, and it’s a philosophy that Original Sin advocates.
With Original Sin, Scott doesn’t try to teach meaningful life lessons or give lots of advice on career success. This book is a light-hearted read that lets you in on the life and mind of Jeremy Scott. It’s what I went in for, and it’s exactly what I got.