One of the things I do every week is I read Roger Ebert and his movie reviews. I read pretty much everything he writes. Some of it I skim, if I’m in a hurry or if it’s about politics, which I find a little dreary. Most of the time I read all of his movie reviews, and then his blog, and I read the articles done by other reviewers on his blog, but mostly I just read Ebert.
I like the way he thinks and I like the way he writes. I don’t always agree with his opinions on movies; sometimes I’ll watch a movie he’s given a positive review to (like Pan’s Labyrinth) and come out feeling like I’ve been GOBsmacked. What he’s looking for in a movie is not always what I’m looking for. He’s seen it all, so he’s looking for style and subtle subtexts and he’s got his eye out for something really good. When all I want is a happy ending and a good laugh and a nice soundtrack. And if you throw in some orphans who get rescued, then I am there. His reviews alert me to what’s out there, what might be good, and from the content of his reviews, I can avoid those movies that I don’t want to watch. And he’s a damn good writer who is entertaining to read.
I really started noticing Ebert way back, when I was reading a review for a movie he didn’t like very much. I don’t remember the name of the movie, or who was in it, sadly. But I do remember Ebert interjecting with this “And there were Nazis!” comments every now and then, to poke fun at this movie which was so obviously bad that the only villains it could probably think of to put in there were Nazis, even though there aren’t any in the movie. It was so funny, I wished I’d saved it. (If you know which review this is, I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know.)
One of my favorite Ebert stories is about the time when a fellow reviewer by the name of Patrick Goldstein had some negative things to say about Rob Schneider’s movie Duce Bigalow: Male Gigolo that were less than glowing. Schneider, in turn, behaved in a less than professional way, and in the end Ebert stepped up and called Schneider on it, and the result was a very amazing review by Ebert of the same movie to support Goldstein. I remember thinking at the time how fun it must have been to stand up with balls of steel and say what he did.
In the meanwhile, my admiration for his writing grew, and when I grew up I wanted to be like him: smart, funny, insightful, and brave in his writing. This might be part of the reason I started writing reviews for pinkraygun.com. I’m not sure if I am or have any or all of those attributes that I admire in Ebert, but that’s my goal.
Three years since I started writing for pinkraygun.com, I’m pretty sure I’m still working on, and will have to continue working on, being smart, funny, insightful, and brave. (Not to mention being better at spelling and punctuation!) As to which of my reviews reflect any of those qualities, I honestly can’t tell you. When I think I’ve done a bang-up job and written something really amazing, I post it and hear crickets. On the other hand, when I write something hastily because real life is rearing its head and needs attention, I post it and people rave. If I think a review is particularly bland, then someone will take umbrage; if it’s an incendiary review (in my mind), then I get an entirely opposite response. I’ve learned, or at least I think I have, not to expect response A or response B, regardless. My readers and their responses always surprise me, which is part of the pleasure of writing.
So the point of all this is that long about April of this year, I hit a high water mark as far as number of hits my articles were getting. It was like 1,000 hits per article over a week’s time. That’s pretty good for a site like pinkraygun.com, and very nice for me to see. (All writers like readers, it’s a given!)
One time, I did a review of a Supernatural episode called Point of No Return. (My review was called Faith in the Atmosphere.) For various and sundry reasons (not all of them positive), this particular review got over 500 hits and 150 comments before noon on the first day. Which is amazing!
I was so pleased with myself, and my head was so swelled up that I needed Vaseline to get through doorways. Yeah, and I’m walking around, ta-da!, all puffed up, and then I go to Roger Ebert’s blog. He’d been doing a review of video games and had pronounced them to not be art. To what I’m sure was his surprise, people took umbrage, and the result was that he got lots of hits that day and lots of comments. (The rule of thumb is…one comment equals around 100 people who read you and didn’t comment.)
So how many comments did Ebert get on the very same day? Take a look….
Of course, his count was at the end of the day, but still! 2,343 comments!! And going by my rule of thumb, that meant he got over 200,000 hits. Needless to say, my balloon-shaped ego deflated in about two seconds flat. Poor me! Here I was the hotsty totsy thing, in my mind. If only he’d posted this review days earlier or days later! But who am I kidding. The man gets thousands of comments every single day. And he doesn’t get them by being nice or by holding back, he gets it by telling it like he sees it.
I know what my Dad would say. He’d say, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just do your best.
So I’m doing my best, trying to improve on what I do, but I still want to be Roger Ebert when I grow up. He is my comment-spiration.