February 18, 2009
In the GhettoIf you're reading this now, be sure to link to it on your film blog. I'm only slightly kidding, because even if not all of you write about movies in some capacity, sometimes it surely feels like we who do are only doing so for the benefit of one another. So for the sake of argument (read: ineffectual meta-exercise), let's assume that even if you don't have a blog, you're planning to start one this weekend, and let me ask: how do we make a difference, folks? The tectonic shift in journalism—specifically the firing, laying-off, buying-out, et al. of established print critics—has both strengthened the contention against online film writers (we need the big guns now more than ever!) and considerably weakened it (it's no longer a viable career; or, said big guns have begun their own blogs), thus that's not really on my mind. I haven't been in the game as long as many (my first gig, a DVD review for Premiere Magazine, only happened in 2002), so I've always felt like I straddled the chasm between old- and new-media, and fully understand why we should try to get along in the same sinking ship. I believe the editorial process is crucial for the sake of accuracy, clarity, professionalism and upholding the integrity of language, but I'm also incredibly thankful that so many fellow cinema obsessives are willing to share their writings for free online; their passion is contagious. It's online, in fact, where my colleague and pal Michael Tully recently reviewed a micro-budgeted documentary entitled Indie Film Blogger Road Trip, a seemingly self-important film that I avoided for its subject alone. For me, I wondered what else there is to know about a hodgepodge of opinionated film buffs who already use their forum to project their personalities. As expansive as the web is, online film writers tend to flock together (in real life, on social networks, comments sections), and if David Hudson's indefatigable linkage is any gauge, there really are new sites being created, well, daily. (Related note: Check out IFC.com today for their spiffy new redesign!) We are many, so many that I can no longer keep up with it all. My RSS feed runneth over with raw streaming data, so on a day like today when I'm scouring for newsworthy or other potentially engrossing topics, the headlines start to melt together into meaninglessness. In trying to stay on the increasingly erratic pulse of it all, I'm spending more time thinking or reading about film than I am actually watching it, and then what about the rest of my being? How do I maintain a healthy, well-rounded life, plus a freelance career that includes this website—which I hope is useful and entertaining for my readers—when the absorbing and filtering of film news begins to take up far more time than the actual processing and writing? I never believed in cultural gatekeepers until the floodgates opened and invited this tsunami of information to drown us, and I don't think it's terribly cynical to say we've become the foamy crest on that tidal wave. Are we merely the 'zine equivalent of trade magazines? Do we reach readers outside of our insular circle of hobbyists and industry pros? Should we be trying? How do we make our collective voice louder and sharper in a world whose distractions multiply with each new viral fad?
Posted by ahillis at February 18, 2009 10:40 PM