There’s No Such Thing as a Too Difficult Question for a Critic: A(nother) Manifestivus
When you gotta go...
In the early days of Patreon, when I set reward levels so ludicrous but well-intentioned, I consulted with a good local filmmaker friend of mine about how I should operate this new support page for my writing work. Straight-up, she asked, “Why is film criticism important?” While I thought of an answer, she took to the restroom, likely confident that I wouldn’t be able to properly respond.
She was right.
Upon her return, I rattled off my reasons for why I love writing about movies, from breaking out the family typewriter in elementary school to express my thoughts on Super Mario Bros to pitching a small-town newspaper on why Superman Returns was excellent. Super, but not enough. Why is film criticism important at all, sir?
I still think about how flabbergasted I was so many years ago by her question, especially in my more depressing moments. Today, movie reviewing is treated and almost seen as a niche gimmick part of the news cycle, relegated to Youtube entertainment and outlandish "hot takes,” viewed mostly (not necessarily “read”) by gamers and geek culturists alike. This is what it feels like at times, anyway.
Of course, reaching audiences where they’re at is not a bad thing at all. I’d love to Instagram and TikTok my work… if I could just figure out smartphone video editing and style. And what would be the publication title of such content? Would the username count? Do film critic organizations accept those? If the hits and views are big enough, maybe.
It’s not a young creator’s game, but it is a savvy producer’s one.
I just want to watch. I just want to read. I just want to type. I just want to write. Is there still an audience for what I want to do?
I believe so. I have to.
Why is film criticism important? When asked, my friend left to go to the restroom. To escape, if only for a limited amount of time. Is escapism not one of the main reasons for pressing play or sitting in front of a large screen in the first place? The bathroom stall is no screening room… unless you have a phone now. It can also be a place to think and write even. I should’ve thought more about her action of bodily relief - in the relevant query context, I mean.
Film criticism, I like to think, is important because it too, much like moviegoing and bathroom breaking, is an escape. A round trip escape into perspective, into heart, and into thought itself. Film criticism, like the movies, can be a mirror to the world, both in specific places and as a whole. Film criticism is important as it articulates and appreciates all that movies can do, and why. And how. It’s important because so is journalism. So are words. So is putting words out into the world.
I think my friend would’ve been happy to hear that. And would’ve countered it somehow with another question. When it rains, it pours on one’s parade.
So… where’s my manifestivus? What do I have planned for Moviegoing with Bill?
Going forward, this work in progress will attempt:
To cover more of the local and regional film scene in Hollywood South.
To publish more consistently and more often, maybe on specific days of the week.
To bring more fun into the writing.
To record audio versions of each and every future newsletter.
To engage with all subscribers at every opportunity, with an open line of dialogue.
To not overthink and hesitate too much. Again - this should be fun.
To read more and showcase highlighted passages from the film books that I’m reading.
To contribute more positively to the independent film community (even when giving a poor rating) and the film culture here at home.
If there’s anything I should add, please let me know at email@example.com.
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