If you’re reading this, you probably already know about this week’s closing of one of the most prominent sites for Film Criticism – The Dissolve. To say that news was sobering would be putting it mildly.
That a site like The Dissolve could close up shop wasn’t the shock to the system; That a site like The Dissolve cloud close up shop so quickly considering the backing they had and the talent assembled is what’s astonishing. Two years – that’s how long these highbrow Avengers had assembled. Now sure, on the internet two years is actually more like five years, but it’s still just a blip. It’s long enough to make a deep impact, but not nearly long enough to say it fulfilled its potential.
So what does it mean? Well, as is often the case, Matthew Brown put it best (and let this double as the Tweet of The Week):
If I’m a betting man, at least half of the people writing about film online want to write about film online and make a decent wage doing it. What’s more, you could probably say the same for those writing about music, art, fashion, food, social issues, and all sorts of other topics that don’t have an immediate impact on the average person’s day-to-day. So many people – myself included – want to believe that there is much in this world that deserves clarity and consideration…and that “much in this world” goes beyond our traffic reports, our politicians’ decisions, and our sports team’s game results.
However, with every passing week, we hear of more news like this; where a beacon that all of us ‘would-be’s’ were following is suddenly extinguished.
Where The Dissolve in particular is concerned, it’s a reminder that those who DO want to cover a mix of art and commerce have to prioritize the commerce…and if, like me, you’re far more interested in the art, that’s shitty news. Truthfully, it’s not even news. When my podcast began in 2010, I dedicated episodes to movies like ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TRON:LEGACY, and SALT. This year, I’ve shifted focus to smaller titles like SLOW WEST, ’71, and GIRLHOOD. Wanna guess which series got more listens?
Get a scoop and learn who’s going to direct BLACK PANTHER? Better make sure your servers can handle the traffic. Want to extol 2000 words on TANGERINE, feel free to make plans that night – business will be slow.
That’s a problem. I’m as excited as the next chap for ANT-MAN next weekend, but if I don’t have a place to go to that can viably act as curators and point me towards the next series of smaller selections that will inspire and enlighten me, then this entire virtual landscape has just become more bleak.
The 24-hour new network I turn on in the morning looking for transit delays does full features on movies like MINIONS – I don’t need sites like The Dissolve for that. But if the next round of talent in the vein of Ava DuVervay, J.C. Chandor, Kelly Reichardt, and Ryan Coogler don’t have a media outlet, then the end of film as an art form may be a lot closer than we thought.
The end lesson is that in the digital age, so much of what we once believed was valuable and viable have become commodities. So while people like me aren’t about to stop writing anytime soon, it’s about time we took a deep breath and realized just how little this matters to the greater population.
Not that I’d ever recommend stopping, or have plans to myself. It’s just to suggest that the customer base has dried up. Precious few of us will ever be the act who gets big bucks to step on stage at Carnegie Hall…but that shouldn’t stop us from being the clerk who gets a few bucks to play at the local tavern on a Sunday night.
For your reading fulfillment, I give you clerks playing the local tavern…
As I type, an Ernst Lubitsch film is playing on my TV in all its charm and whimsy (HEAVEN CAN WAIT). This week, Rich Watson did some Lubitsch reading and has turned in his book report on “Laughter in Paradise”…which reminds me, I should get back to hitting the books myself!
I find myself deeply curious about a new film created entirely on Apple gizmos titled TANGERINE. So has posted her video post about the film, which only makes me that much more curious.
I find myself mildly curious about seeing MAGIC MIKE XXL, but since Lindsay has no interest in it, I risk being the weird single straight guy at the male strip show. For now, perhaps I’ll commiserate with Alex’s look back at the original MAGIC MIKE with one of his splendid visual essays.
Fandango takes a look at Kyle Reese’s role in the original TERMINATOR film and pondered what has become of it in light of the latest entry in the series. Central to his theory; the nature of sacrifice and fate.
An wouldn’t you know it, GMan is back in the groove of writing…and his look back at some classic Ingmar Bergman is prompting me to finally libreate some of the master’s classics from the prison of my PVR.