This isn’t goodbye yet. I still have two more months with you, here in print. Thank yous come next month, goodbyes the month after. For now, I just have a question: Should I keep doing this?
My answer to how long I’d be a film critic has always been “As long as The Reader will have me.” That sincere-but-flippant reply is now out of gas. Although the print edition is riding off into the sunset, I have been told that thereader.com will keep on keeping on, at least for the foreseeable future, as a functional URL I can use to post reviews.
To be clear, this isn’t rhetorical. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and it still will be. Or go on Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you want to respond. This is like the time DC asked readers whether or not they should kill Robin, and Batman had to watch as the Boy Wonder done got blowed up because fans more or less wanted to see what would happen. Nobody is gonna go boom here, and I’m not going to tally votes.
I just need to know if this is still worth it.
In the 21 years since I started, criticism has exploded from blogs to YouTube videos to podcasts to TikToks. We do not have a shortage of opinion sharing, despite folks continuing to assert the utter uselessness of movie critics. Specifically, my perspective as a white cis-hetero dude isn’t exactly a cry from the wilderness. I’d say my thoughts are a dime a dozen, but inflation, you know?
Another caveat: This isn’t me begging for praise. This isn’t me asking, “Tell me nice things.” I have tried to be in a dialogue about cinema, leading the conversation due to the one-sided nature of writing about movies. Hopefully, I’ve made you giggle a few times while doing it. But I never saw it as a performance but a starting point for folks to engage with the context and undercurrents of film. So the real question is whether the other side of the discussion, your side, wants the dialogue to continue.
For now, my plan is to keep going. Weekly reviews, as usual, posted on Fridays at thereader.com/culture/movies/. However, without a print publication driving it, the only reason to do so is because you want me to. If you don’t, totally cool. Drop a line and say, “Time to move along.” It would not only not hurt my feelings, but it would help. If you want me to persist, you do have to Tinkerbell this for me. Don’t clap, but message somehow to let me know this won’t be some egotistical delusion, wherein I put out my thoughts because they “should be heard.” I suffer no such narcissism. I’m here, or not here, at your pleasure. Always have been.
Tinkerbell or Robin: I leave the choice to you.