The empty page is a fascinating symbol, able to represent a multitude of conflicting ideas and feelings. Hope and wonder can be found within the limitless possibilities of what could fill that proverbial void. But limitless options can bring an equal amount of anxiety, let alone the potential pressure found when trying to create something great or meaningful. Even without trying to create the next masterpiece, there are now countless, proven ways to succeed in any artistic endeavor. Conversely, this means that an equally daunting number of ways to fail have also been documented. It’s as maddening as it sounds and imbues me with enough nervous energy to become my own Jobu Tupaki (ala The Daniels’ Everything, Everywhere All At Once).
This little fit of existential dread is something most creative types have dealt with at some point. Painters, writers, dancers, musicians, actors…they all will have to wrestle with their output and how it fits within the art that has already been brought into existence. Eventually, good (or great) artists will figure out a way to use this potentially anxiety-inducing dilemma to fuel their drive to keep creating. Some will dive headfirst into the data of what has and hasn’t worked in their medium and use that to produce something the audience maybe hasn’t been receiving. Hell, some will just create simply to create – no additional thought needed.
Fun Fact: The average human attention span has dropped to just under 8 seconds in recent years and a recent publication from Joseph McCormack indicates that 43% of users abandon lengthy emails within the first 30 seconds of reading them. These numbers, along with the rise and prevalence of video criticism and journalism definitely help to paint a harsh reality for written journalism in general.
All of these points help make a compelling reason not to write about movies in a longer format at all.
Honestly though, I might just be too dumb to call it quits. Not to mention, there really isn’t any other way that I know how to do this (this being overlong opinion pieces packed with excessive information and context). My intention isn’t to talk about movies masturbatorily (though I can do that quite well, thank you very much), but instead I hope this helps everything feel a bit less pretentious. I absolutely do not believe that I am more informed than anyone else nor do I believe my opinions carry any more weight than other opinions. If anything, I’m just someone who has always been passionate about movies and loves sharing their enthusiasm and passion with others – albeit in an antiquated and potentially alienating way.
So I will make the proclamation right here and right now – anything that you will ever read here is not a definitive take on anything. These are fluid thoughts meant to be used as jumping off points for discussions between friends, colleagues, or others (who or what those others may be…well, I have no idea). Opinions, mine included, are just that…nothing more. Some opinions you might agree with more or less, but opinions (when shared respectfully and inclusively) can be great empathy generators.
I’ve referenced Roger Ebert often in my life, because his views helped inform and shape how I watch movies and consume art in general. I didn’t always agree with his opinions on movies (his scathing 1 star review of Tommy Boy being one example), but I always appreciated how he talked about them, specifically in the latter half of his career. He was rarely dismissive and genuinely seemed to want to love every movie he saw. The 2014 documentary on Ebert’s legacy, Life Itself, opens with a quote that I think sums up his viewpoint perfectly…
“We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.” – Roger Ebert
If you’ve made it to this point, thank you so much for reading! I know what an enormous “ask” it is to actually read an article and not just the headlines. This is something I am acutely aware of and will continue to be conscious as to not waste the readers’ time – even if my wordy tendencies may beg to differ. I’m shaking off the dust as I go here, so expect more focused features moving forward. If you have feedback or suggestions for topics to cover in the future, I gladly welcome it all!
If you’re interested in more of my work, you can check out my Instagram (@umariffic) where I have an ongoing movie journal documenting every movie I watch in 2023 along with other movie and music related features!