Where do I fit in?

There has been a lot of talk around the interweb over the last few months surrounding the firing/letting go of various "prominent" and not so prominent traditional movie critics (by traditional I mean traditional media). Some folks snapped out against bloggers, others against the papers themselves and other still managed to understand that we're in the midst of technological changes that will affect our lives and the lives of generations to come - yes, even things like the way we see film and how/what we read about it. To some, that may be one of the most unimportant aspects of the day to day but to others, myself included, film is a huge part of our lives. Even if I didn't "write" about it, for me movies provide an escape, a learning experience and sometimes even the motivation and inspiration to do something.

I had read a few of these various commentaries but it took Armond White of the New York Press and his essay to really make me question what my place is in my pseudo role as "film critic".

Reading the first few paragraphs I was angry and to an extent, I can't overlook White's dismissal of some of last year's best films but reading on, sleeping on it and re-reading the piece this morning, I also can't help but wonder if White doesn't have a point. With the ever growing number of bloggers out there, everyone has their say and I wouldn't want it any other way but are we missing something in our culture which critics used to provide that is now "apparently" provided by bloggers? If that's indeed the case, how come I don't stumble on these great criticisms on a regular basis?

It's been a hard admission but I'm guilty of White's charges. I don't have a PhD in film, English, art, music or even life but that also doesn't mean that my experiences and personal learning doesn't influence how I interact with film and what I take from it. My life is enriched by more than just movies. I read, I listen to music, I write, I talk to people, I learn from them. What I don't always do, and what I've decided to make an effort to change, is how I share my experiences interacting with film and vice versa. White's point that we need to look and engage beyond what's on the screen and whether it's good or bad and examine, question and argue the merits of the message is a well made point. I'm lucky enough to be involved with a group of people that feel the same way and that want to share, enjoy and discuss more than what's up on screen so I don't have huge steps to take to make my change - I just have to do it.

When I started this movie blogging thing, I never imagined I'd be here 3 years later, having moved from running my own site to contributing to what is shaping into a fantastic site yet - here I am. I'll admit that I have secret dreams of being discovered and becoming famous. I'll also admit that I know very well that it's wishful thinking. What I do want to gain from all of this is the opportunity to share my thoughts on one of the things that brings me great joy in life, film, with others and if one day I can do so and be able to support myself doing it, that would be a huge bonus.

In this recent interview, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg touches a little on publishing and how everyone's famous to 15 people but what struck me most was his comment of RSS feeds as personalized newspapers. What this suggests to me is that there's room for all of us out there on the bloggosphere. Traditional critics don't have to go silent, they simply need to move beyond lamenting on the loss of their daily/weekly/monthly regular readers and keep providing their thoughts and ideas on the web. I do this for free, because I love film. Yes, I understand that everyone needs to earn a living but life is hard for everyone. Critics aren't the only ones losing their jobs and sometimes, one needs to make sacrifices. Perhaps these great critics can't make a living from doing what they love but how many of us really can? Bottom line: if you love something enough, you should do it regardless of what it pays or even how many people are reading it.

Overall, I think Mr. White was a bit harsh in his commentary but it certainly struck a cord with me and for that, I thank him.


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