This has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while now – like an itch I couldn’t quite scratch, but today it finally bubbled to the front of my brain. Something seems to have changed for me regarding Screen Rant, but it creeped up on me slowly so I didn’t really notice what was happening. I think I may have to thank my pal John from The Movie Blog for providing the trigger along with a post I read over at Dosh Dosh regarding shifting from being a writer to an editor in chief of a website.
John wrote a post titled 20 Tips For Starting Your Own Movie Blog which is really a great primer on starting up your own website (although he left out the fact that one actually needs some sort of writing skill). Now having run a movie site for almost 5 years, I didn’t really need the tips mentioned in the article, however the last couple of bullet points in his post jarred something loose in my head:
19) IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND FILM IS SUBJECTIVE, DON’T WRITE A SINGLE WORD UNTIL YOU DO
20) DON’T BE SPINELESS! HAVE AN OPINION AND EXPRESS IT REGARDLESS IF IT’S POPULAR OR NOT
I’ve found that it’s a hell of a lot different running a movie site that gets 50 visitors a day than one that gets 10,000. Of course when I started up this little enterprise I had no plan for it to grow at all or imagined anyone other than a few friends would read it. So what’s the difference? When you don’t have many readers, it’s easy to put your opinion out there since you won’t get much negative feedback – but as your site gets “out there” and more popular suddenly opinionated posts and reviews start getting a LOT more “blowback.”
As Screen Rant has grown and has garnered more readership, honestly I’ve started to think about what I write a lot more before I write it – perhaps too much. Over at Film School Rejects, one commentor ripped into that site calling them in effect sell-outs and pawns of the studios for their coverage of certain films. That got me thinking about how one’s perspective changes as a site grows from a “hole in the wall” to a moderate-sized movie news site.
There’s a sense of responsibility that creeps in when you cross a certain threshold and I believe that has been influencing my general writing and reviews lately. In the past I’ve never checked to see what the consensus was on a particular movie before writing a review, but lately I’ve been second-guessing myself, wondering how my opinion jives with other reviewers’. So when I review a movie that I think is awful like The Happening or You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I find myself asking “was it REALLY that bad or am I being too hard on it?” On the flip side, when I review movies like Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk I ask “am I being too easy on this movie because I’m a fan of superhero movies?”
Believe me, it’s not easy putting your opinion out there where thousands of people can read it and a certain percentage of those will come into your house and rip you a new one with no regard for civility. Just check out the comments on my Aliens vs Predator: Requiem review to see what I mean.
But you know what? While film is subjective, some movies clearly stink while others are clearly fantastic regardless of the context or genre. No, I am not the arbiter of what is good and what is bad when it comes to movies, but I’m not going to back down from my opinions. Sure, I can see how you can debate the merits of a movie like Wanted, and if you do it in an intelligent and respectful manner I’m all ears. But having 14 year olds show up on this site and screaming obscenities at me in some lame effort to argue the merits of AVP:R isn’t gonna sway me folks. Sometimes a movie just plain sucks. Period.
And speaking of a snarky attitude, I’ve seen a fair share of comments accusing us of being overly negative. Well I invite you to look at the upper left corner of this page and take note that the name of this site is Screen RANT. The reason I created this site was to vent my annoyance at idiotic decisions made when it comes to movies and TV. Believe me, we’ve mellowed folks. You should read some of the posts from three or four years ago.
Finally, the last issue involves having additional writers on the site. I’ve tried to gather a bunch of guys here who all share similar opinions on film so that we can present you with a single voice representing the Screen Rant point of view. We’ve been accused of being “late” bringing you stories, but the thing is, I’m the bottleneck as I review and edit every post before it goes live. Unlike some of my movie site brethren like Pete over at /Film, John at TheMovieBlog, Alex at FirstShowing and the majority of other popular movie sites, Screen Rant is a part time gig. Not only for me but for all the writers here. So I’ve been caught up lately in just trying to get as much movie news out to you as I can, but by necessity we have to pick and choose what we cover because we just don’t have the time to cover it all. Also, keep in mind we don’t just cut and paste movie news, we provide opinion on the news of the day.
So here’s the deal. I’m rebooting my attitude. I’ve gone back and fixed my rating of the movies I’ve mentioned above, and my Get Smart and Wanted reviews reflect my back to basics “call ’em like I see ’em” writing style. I’m not going to apologize for my point of view. We don’t write to appeal to everyone, heck, that’s a losing proposition – but if you don’t like our opinions, you have three choices:
1. Disagree in an intelligent, respectful manner.
2. Don’t read our site. There are plenty of others out there for ya.
3. As I’ve said many, many times before: Go start your OWN movie blog. Now you have no excuses because the article linked above gives you step by step instructions on how to do it.
And to all you folks who are regular readers: We love you guys (and gals)! Thanks for your support and for the occasional kick in the pants when we need it. :-)