5 Things I’ve Learned from 3 Years of Writing Reviews


Okay, so maybe it hasn’t been exactly three years, but this article effectively marks the beginning of something special nonetheless: my first post that doesn’t directly log my viewing habits or review a film. A bold move indeed, however I’ve been able to piece together certain details over the course of the past few months, due largely in part to the launch of Reel Time, that have shed some light on these issues. On that note, here’s a list of five realizations I’ve experienced throughout my short career as an aspiring self-proclaimed film critic.

5. Numerical Ratings are Bullshit

“Whoa! Did he just use profanity on a personal blog?” Yes, yes I did, and it’s because I so fervently stand by this one notion that said profanity is most definitely warranted. Of course a four or five-star rating system has been employed for as long as cinema’s been considered a noun, which is perfectly fine and moreover ideal for expressing how one feels about a particular film. What people fail to realize about this and its various offshoots, i.e. scores out of 10, 100 and so on, is that people like what they like because (SHOCKER!) they’re different from one another.

Not a revelatory truth, I know, but we’re all subject to our own personal tastes and will therefore prefer certain films over others because of them. Again, nothing revelatory, yet when a person approaches me at work and goes “OMG, YOU GAVE WANDERLUST A 6 OUT OF 10 AND THAT MOOBIE SUCKED!,” I semi-immediately respond with “Did you actually read the review?,” to which this particular individual will almost always reply (drum roll) “No.” Such an issue has been prevalent within the realm of both film and video game journalism since their respective births, and forgive me for beating a dead horse, but to blatantly disregard how much effort a particular author puts into each and every article he or she writes is borderline ignorant. As an example, I’ll usually put around 45 minutes to an hour into a typical 600+ word review, not taking into consideration how much post-publish editing takes place. Pair that with the 5 to 10 seconds it takes for someone to breeze through a review to glance at the barely visible score out of 10 I’ve given something, and it all becomes incredibly discouraging, yet I still continue to write because, well, I love writing.

4. Being Contrarian Isn’t Always Sinful

Oh, Rotten Tomatoes, how you never cease to amaze me. From the moment the first negative review for Christopher Nolan’s Inception surfaced, be damned the poor soul that dared to dislike the sci-fi epic, as a string of abusive comments almost immediately flooded in to merely berate the critic instead of just respecting his opinion. Sure, there are those who are considered contrarian for the sake of just being “that guy/girl,” and they’re certainly recognized for it. Unfortunately, people fail to be able to discern between those considered attention whores and those who genuinely want to express their obviously undervalued views on a particular film, regardless of the score they’ve given it. Once again, an issue that’s as old as time, but an important one to address nonetheless.

3. 50 Readers Can Be as Gratifying as 50,000

Nothing makes me happier than knowing that people have actually taken the time to read something I’ve written, let alone compliment me on my writing abilities if they so choose. I’ll always appreciate this, and there’s nothing more gratifying than hearing a close friend’s kind words pertaining to how much they’ve enjoyed reading whatever it is they’ve stumbled upon. Sure, everyone dreams of hosting that one site that nets a million-plus hits a week, but in reality, there are just too many sources out there dividing everyone’s attention. An inconvenient and unfortunate reality this certainly is, but just knowing that someone appreciates what you do is all you can ask for in this unforgiving digital age.

2. Discouragement is Inevitable

Let’s face it, not everyone can walk in off the street and be the next big thing, therefore they shouldn’t expect it in the first place. Most people have that undying desire to succeed in a self-made sense, and that definitely goes a long way. There’s something to be said for those with that kind of drive in this day and age, especially when the economic climate’s been in the shitter for as long as you or I can remember at this point. Getting to the actual point, discouragement is inevitable; not good, I agree, but to let something like that stop you from pursuing your dream job, realist or not, isn’t something to be particularly proud of. Do what makes you happy, even if it ends up being just a pastime.

1. Living “In the Now” is Better Than Not Living

It’s more so a personal existential grievance than something oozing with what one would call “wisdom,” but I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. I’m depressed more often than not, and I, like others, find it hard to simply get through the day, especially when working two or more dead end jobs just to make ends meet. This in mind, I’ve been wondering about the longevity of my writing in relation to how much it’ll matter once I’m gone. Morbid? Definitely, but to deny oneself of something you love is almost criminal. It goes without saying that I’ll continue to contribute to the realm of film criticism for as long as I live, because frankly, it’s one of the only things that makes me happy outside my true friends, my wonderful significant other and the occasional video game marathon.

In closing…

I’d like to thank those who’ve taken the time to read this post, as it’s quite easily one of the most personal things I’ve written in a long time. It feels good to get some things off my chest, even if those reading this disapprove. Also, I’d sincerely like to thank those who’ve ever taken the time to read just one of my musings on a particular film, as your readership is most definitely appreciated. I’ll continue to do this for as long as I can, because a life without passion isn’t a life worth living.


2 comments on “5 Things I’ve Learned from 3 Years of Writing Reviews

  1. Tom Stoup says:

    Excellent stuff, man. I relate to it so much. Thanks for sharing, so I know I’m not crazy!!

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