When I started seriously reviewing movies for my high-school paper, I had friends tell me I was being negative because I didn’t like certain films.
“Why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do you have to think about?”
That’s an argument I’ve defended myself against numerous times, even then. What I took away from those interactions, however, was that thinking somehow made me cynical.
But now, after four years of writing reviews in my blog, agonizing about my column, editing stories in WEEKEND and devouring the work of professional critics, I’ve come to realize there are people much more cynical than I am.
When people first gave me the idea that I hated things, I branded myself that way. I was the guy who had better taste than you and hung my head in shame at how awful things in Hollywood had become.
However, I don’t think my column has ever been so bitter that I wanted to give up on the movies or that I was too much of a pessimist to find anything I actually liked.
Sure, I’ve played devil’s advocate before, such as when I said it’s about time for the Harry Potter franchise to end (around the release of the actually quite good seventh film) or when I thought we should stop buzzing about “The Hobbit” when Guillermo del Toro dropped from directing (it’s probably still one of the films I’m looking forward to the most this year).
If anything, watching more movies has only made me want to watch even more, not fewer.
In the process, I’ve discovered directors and entire genres that never would have been on my radar four years ago. The films I didn’t understand before have become the films I love the most, not because I finally did my homework but because I grew up and became aware of how many new ideas these films spark.
It’s easy to say how terrible things are in the movies today. There are bad films, bad actors, bad franchises, bad theaters, bad technology, bad directors and bad attempts at making the movies more interesting and popular than television.
What’s hard, and thus much more rewarding, is showing people that there are great things worth seeking out.
Critics have always made an effort to encourage their readers to try something new. But now, more than ever, the purpose of criticism should be to enlighten people to all the fantastic movies worth watching. Shouting to make your “yay” or “nay” opinion the loudest gets us nowhere.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin said, “The great thing about the Internet is everyone hates everything, so you might as well just go on and do what you want.”
Why add to that hatred? I love the movies, and I love talking about them, debating them and coming up with ideas that will push the movies forward. What I want to do is share that with as many people as possible.
That’s not cynical at all.
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