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if you want to keep the level of film conversation online up at high level, you need to support me

It’s not me saying it. It’s reader and subscriber Rob “Jurgan” Dukes, who recently increased his monthly subscription from $5 to $10. He gave me permission to post the following, which he says refers to me “in third person because I plan to post it on my blog.”

I was stunned last year when Roger Ebert died, not a day after describing all of the great plans he had for the future. I’d been reading Ebert since about 2000, and he gave me a lot of new understanding about movies, helping me reconsider some of my favorites and pointing me to a number of greats I’d never heard of. He had a combination of passion for film and knowledge about film that made him an institution, but I think a lot of people forget he didn’t start that way. When he got started in the 60′s, he was a critic for one paper at a time when most cities had their own paid critics. Granted, most people would only read their local paper’s critic, so the diversity of voices didn’t reach the average moviegoer, but paid critics had the time to become experts. Now, thanks to the internet, we have more choices than ever, many of whom are very passionate but few of whom have the knowledge to really engage readers with in-depth analysis. A skilled critic can bring insight to readers, but it can’t be a part-time job.

If there’s going to be another flowering of debate on today’s art, it will have to come from the internet. Old print media has given up on individual voices in favor of cheaper syndication; ironically, Ebert’s success helped kill the vibrant intellectual scene he started in. We have the potential to create a true public forum far better than what there was in the past. Not only are there no gatekeepers to limit diversity (let’s face it, most of those past critics were white guys), but the ability to publish online means we can engage in debates with people all over the world. And it’s great that anyone can register a blog and publish opinions, but we need some experts to keep the level of debate high. As I said, the level of passion is higher than ever, but without some knowledgeable critics to inform the debate, it’s just a bunch of people shouting shallow opinions at each other. That’s why I support MaryAnn Johanson, and I encourage anyone else to do the same. She is able to get to the core of movies and see what makes them tick. I owe her for helping me understand what feminism is through observing how women are treated in movies. Unlike many other feminist review blogs, though, feminism is not a simple pass/fail test: she evaluates the whole movie and whether it works, rather than simply focusing on a couple aspects and ignoring the rest. She has a very clear persona and likes and dislikes, and doesn’t hide them, but she always gives every movie a fair chance. It’s fun to watch her rip into bad, hateful movies, but it’s just as fun to see her surprised by an unexpected gem. I may not always agree with her (I still can’t understand how anyone could dislike Avatar: The Last Airbender), but the community that has grown in the comments section is a great forum for discussion, and she’s always happy to debate with readers. I want to see this community thrive for years to come, and I want to prove to the world that we value independent, intelligent debate around art.

Another man — joining Bluejay — who says I’ve helped him understand feminism!

Please subscribe by clicking here.

Or click on the pageview counter in the bottom right corner. Or wait for the reminder popup that will appear after every couple of pageviews.

If you’re an existing subscriber and you’d like to increase the amount of your subscription, drop me an email and I’ll help you out. (It’s a little tricky because as far as Tinypass is concerned, you’re already a subscriber, so it won’t let you start a new subscription.)

But I’d really rather have a thousand people paying me five bucks per month than one person paying me five thousands bucks per month. Not that I want to discourage that one person — I won’t turn you away — but it’s better in the long run to have wider support.

Thank you.

posted in:
maryann buzz
  • Danielm80

    I raised my subscription level the other day, and I did it for one simple reason: I want to read MaryAnn’s reviews of Sherlock. A world in which she has to choose between writing about Sherlock and paying her rent is not a world I want to live in.

    But I also subscribe for another reason: I disagree with MaryAnn. At least once a month, she writes something I disagree with violently. I love the movies Superbad and Splice. MaryAnn hated both of them. But she wrote about them in a clever, funny way that made me think about the ways women are portrayed in those movies. I’m still thinking about it.

    I still think she’s wrong, but when I go to the movies, I pay more attention to the female characters, and spend more time rewriting the scripts in my head to give the women better roles.

    MaryAnn’s reviews are always provocative and funny, and they always come at the movie from an angle that’s completely unexpected. Also: The discussion threads underneath the reviews are intelligent and hilarious. It’s almost impossible to find intelligent discussion on the Internet, and I’d hate for this site to go away. So I keep sending money to FlickFilosopher every month, and every time I read a review on the site, I’m glad I did–even on the rare occasion when I agree with it.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    A world in which she has to choose between writing about Sherlock and paying her rent is not a world I want to live in.

    At this point, both are in danger of not happening.

  • Bluejay

    Another man — joining Bluejay — who says I’ve helped him understand feminism!

    To be clear, I like to think I wasn’t a complete ignoramus before I discovered your site. ;-) (And I’m sure Jurgan wasn’t either.) I knew what feminism was, I had a basic grasp of its textbook history, and I supported its principles and goals in a general way. I never thought it was a controversial idea that women should be treated fairly and equally as human beings.

    But your reviews and rants have helped me, as it were, connect theory to practice — by opening my eyes to exactly how pop culture (and culture in general) still treats women today, and making me reexamine some of my own assumptions and expectations, as a consumer of stories, that I previously hadn’t thought to question. It’s like the difference between knowing vaguely in my head that eating healthy is a good thing… and having Michael Pollan show me exactly how fucked-up the food industry is, exactly what’s wrong with the crap I’m putting into my own system, and what I can do to make things better.

    I couldn’t have explained the male gaze to my daughter the way I did, if I hadn’t read your series of posts on it. So, again, thank you. :-)

    SUBSCRIBE, people!

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    “And it’s great that anyone can register a blog and publish opinions, but we need some experts to keep the level of debate high.”

    Exactly how I feel and why I keep coming back to flickfilosopher.