Everyone’s a critic. Myself included.
I have a reflexive habit of responding with a lot of negativity towards the media I consume. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily – Being negative is no more inherently a bad quality than being positive is inherently good – but it tends to dominate the conversation. Even coming out of movies or books that I really enjoy, there’s a reflex I feel to hedge that enjoyment by pointing out all the flaws. Whether I do this out of some unconcious, misplaced instinct to be “Fair”, or just because it’s easier for me to see and explain the isolated flaws in a work than to comprehend what made that work good to begin with. I just recently finished playing Hollow Knight, (an excellent Metroidvania that you should absolutely play,) and despite the fact that I enjoyed my time with the game so much that I played it to 107% completion, seeking out every bit of bonus content and every hidden area the game had to offer, when I talked about it with friends I was quick to bring up the isolated moments and small quirks that frustrated me.
This isn’t unique to myself, of course. Go on Youtube and look up video essays or think pieces about movies, you’ll find that most of them aren’t deconstructions of “Good” films, but are instead critical analyses of bad works, and this isn’t even taking into account the deluge of nitpick channels and riff-style comedy shows. (This isn’t a universal rule, of course – Bob Chipman (“Moviebob”) notably has an excellent series called ‘Really That Good’ where he exclusively talks about renowned or otherwise great works.)
Again, I want to stress that this isn’t a bad thing. Deconstructing a bad work of fiction can be incredibly illuminating and educational, not to mention cathartic and satisfying, and if you’ve never seen Lindsay Ellis or Dan Olson do a visceral autopsy or thorough takedown of a bad film, you’re really missing out. A lot of “Riff” humor is genuinely funny. (There’s a reason why Mystery Science Theater ran for twelve seasons and 211 episodes, and it occurs to me that if I keep up with this blog I’ll end up divulging my entire Youtube and Netflix playlists.)
However, even as I add another video to my ‘watch later’ with a title like “A Thorough Deconstruction of ‘Show Dogs’ (2018)”, I feel like there’s a point where too much of a good thing can start to cause problems. I don’t watch movies or read books because I want to see them lambasted, no matter how thoroughly or precisely an author can list all its flaws.
I watch movies because I like them. I read books because I enjoy them. When the chips are down, I like liking things a lot more than I like disliking them.
Criticism and deconstruction are valuable tools, but I don’t want that to be something I make a part of my identity, because as easy as it is for me to complain about a film, that’s not what I want to spend all my time thinking about. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world right now, and I think everyone could use a few more positive thoughts.
So… I’m going to make a stand, sort of. This blog won’t be a negativity-free zone, because like I said at the top, negativity can be important, but I’m going to try to make it a positivity-forward zone. If I’m going to take the time to talk about a subject, I’m going to pick something I like, and I’m not going to pick a subject that’s going to end on a downer note, because plenty of that already exists.
I wish I had a better mission statement or thesis here, but I really don’t. I’m still feeling this out, trying to find my style and my voice on this site, figuring out what I really want to write and who I want to be out here.
But while I’m figuring all that out, I might as well make it something fun.
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