Postulating & Pontificating: For the Love of a Blog!

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To write, or not to write?

Consider this a state of the blog address, or even a state of Bill Thompson the faux movie critic/blogger address. What do I mean by that sentence, well, I think the activity on this blog should answer that question. However, I’m sure it doesn’t so let me explain exactly what I’m talking about. And remember, this entry is about me, and no one else, just for clarification purposes.

I originally created Bill’s Movie Emporium in 2008 for me and only me. Along the way I picked up a lot of readers, far more than I ever thought would care to read what I have to say. Fast forward to 2011 and people stopped reading my blog. It never really bothered me, but I went from averaging four-five digit views a day to somewhere just South of five hundered a day. Again, this never bothered me much as the blog had always been, and remains, nothing more than a tool for me to express myself through my love of movies. As long as two people are reading my reviews and engaging with me in intelligent discourse then I’m a happy man.

I haven’t been a happy man when it comes to film for about a year now. Productivity at the blog slowed down, and eventually I stopped feeling the need to watch movies and write about them. It even got to the point where my beloved Splatter Time Fun Fest was shortened for the year of 2014 and I didn’t bother with the annual Bloody Machete Awards post that I had so much fun with. My passion to write about and discuss movies had waned, and so too had my interest in the blog (In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote every one of this year’s Splatter Time Fun Fest reviews much earlier in 2014 and thus all the reviews being posted in October does not represent a renewed interest in writing about film on my part).

It really comes back to the idea of discussion. To be frank, discussing movies became a draining matter. It seemed like I had to defend every opinion I put forth to levels that I found ludicrous. I couldn’t offer a take or an opinion anymore, whether here or at any number of message boards or groups. If I dared to say I liked a movie that someone else hated, or I was lukewarm on a “recognized” classic the onus fell on me to justify myself. I was fine with that position for many years, but eventually it wore me down. I no longer wanted to supply my opinion because I didn’t have the energy to defend myself for hours on end. What good is a film blog where the blogger no longer feels the desire to discuss his opinions?

To be clear, I am perfectly fine with others disagreeing with me. Disagreement is the lifeblood of discussion, and I love civil discussion. Which brings us to my second point, the lack of civil discussion I was/am encountering. I’d always dealt with people who attacked me with vitriol. In 2014 I’d had my fill, and really could have done without any number of the “You didn’t like Movie A; you’re a fucking idiot” comments that I sifted through on a weekly basis. We all like what we like and dislike what we dislike, I wish people would be more open to others having a different opinion from them. Alas, the majority of people online do not and all the personal attacks made it where I felt wary of entering the fray and thus stopped watching/writing about as many movies.

Another large hurdle for me is that outside of vitriolic comments I don’t receive many, if any, comments at the blog anymore. I write for myself, but I write because I love the discussions that can come about because of the subjective nature of film. Those discussions have died at Bill’s Movie Emporium, replaced instead by the sound of crickets and the occasional “You’re a shitty writer, you suck” comment. Needless to say, those reactions don’t exactly give me the itch to stroke the keyboard.

Lastly, I do feel I deserve some recognition as a decent writer/critic. This is very selfish, I am fully aware of that. And no, I don’t need people coming to my blog telling me that I’m awesome. I’m not talking about words of praise for my writing, or even being paid. Rather, I’m referring to my yearly failure to be recognized as a critic by the Online Film Critics Society. I know being rejected by them shouldn’t matter, but it does. When I see guys/gals who started writing about film at the same time as me being accepted into the ranks of the OFCS while I am denied, it matters. Scrolling through the list of OFCS members and realizing that I’m a better critic/writer than a number of them, that hurts. As I said, this is a selfish diatribe, but it’s my blog and I’m allowed to vent my selfish frustrations over the OFCS telling me year after year that I meet all their criteria, but I’m just not a good enough writer to be in their ranks.

Does all of this mean I am done writing at Bill’s Movie Emporium and closing up shop? Nope, that’s not happening, mainly because I am stubborn and refuse to quit. Don’t expect to read a slew of reviews from me, but reviews will trickle in from time to time. Maybe I’ll find enjoyment from writing about movies again, I sure hope I’m able to do as such. But, I don’t see much change coming in the online film community and that doesn’t leave me with much in the way of an incentive to come back to the world of online film discussion/blogging on a more full time basis. I’m still going to contribute to Sound on Sight and The Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema, albeit on a very limited basis. I’ll still be writing at Bill’s Movie Emporium every once in a great while. But, the enjoyment is no longer present, and that leaves me without a smile on my face, but such is life sometimes.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

8 responses to “Postulating & Pontificating: For the Love of a Blog!

  1. Bill,

    I understand where you are coming from. A lot of the time, the tenacity that it takes to continue a project for so long based around one concept or theme, and out of a love for that thing can be tiresome, in particular if it feels that the passion is being shuffled out into some great void that makes no discernible mark that you can point to. It gets exhausting. I can’t imagine how taxing that must be when it is a solo venture. In my case, I have Palcher to come along and kick me in the ass when I am getting a case of ennui.

    All of that said, I hope that you reconsider. I have always found your insights on film to be incredibly thought provoking, and such a treat to read. You are one of the few voices that I turn to when trying to get stable footing on a thought or idea related to a film, or even film genre or trope. You are a pretty damn smart dude when it comes to the field, and one hell of a writer. Exhaustion is understandable, but you leave a void in this thing we do. This thing that we have found ourselves in, a small little corner of the online world dedicated to film appreciation, fandom, non-elitist critique and the stewardship of civil discourse on the topic of taste and opinion. Do not underestimate how important a voice you are in that conversation. There are enough other voices out there saying stupid things about film without thinking it through. To lose yours is a shame.

    Here is hoping that a brief respite from writing will recharge your batteries, and allow you to come out more energized than before.

    -Sherlock

  2. Thanks for the kind words Adam, and I certainly hope I’ll be able to come back and write a lot after this break.🙂

  3. I can understand the feeling, luckily I haven’t had to deal with rude comments who disagree with my opinions vitriolically, and my stats have mostly been slowly growing, though I’ve only hit a 4 digit day once. I will say that while I haven’t been able to comment much on the film reviews, as I typically only comment on films that I’ve seen and don’t have as much time to read as I used to. But I do enjoy reading your podcast reviews which have turned me on to a few great podcasts that I still listen to.

  4. I’ve even had trouble finding the desire to write podcast reviews. I’m sure I’ll get to some more, Odin knows I have enough in my queue, but who knows when that will be.

  5. Bill, it’s funny that you wrote this just a few days after I posted a similar type of piece on my blog on Friday. While our reasons are different, I think we’re both dealing with a change in the landscape. I’ve come to the conclusion that there just aren’t as many people reading blogs. It’s changed a lot even in the nearly four years that I’ve had one. Communities that sprung up like the Filmspotting forums or the LAMB are basically gone, and people are talking about films more Twitter and other spots than anywhere else. I thought for a while that it had to do with how often I posted, but I didn’t see much difference.

    This doesn’t mean everyone should quit blogging. It just makes it tough when numbers stay flat or go down and comments are thin. As far as the OFCS, I think it’s a very strange process and so subjective. I’ll probably apply again but don’t expect to see a different result. The reasons given for my rejection were all over the map.

    I hope that you keep doing the blog when it feels right for you. That’s all that really matters in the long run. I’ll keep an eye out for future posts down the road.

  6. You are probably right on the blogs dying out issue. Again though, I’m not worried about gaining or retaining a lot of readers. But, from the readers I do have the level of discussion has died off, and as you pointed out that may be due to Twitter and things like Letterboxd.

    Thanks for the insight though, and keep on trucking yourself.🙂

  7. Hello former joint-marathon blogger,

    It was weird finding this article a few months after it was published. I was just thinking about this blog and how I hadn’t visited it in some time. I even surveyed SOS a bit and noticed you haven’t published anything in a bit. it got me thinking: where is Bill?

    I can’t say I blame you, Bill. I think Dan Heaton is right in estimating that the internet movie community landscape is different than a few years ago. It felt like in the last couple years of the aughts and into the first couple of the present decade everybody (including myself) needed a blog. It was a 3-4 year span during which there was this stupendously massive amount of movie blogs that I’d try to visit regularly (not always succeeding, mind you) and then in a matter of a year or so a good chunk of them either stopped publishing entirely or if they still did it was extremely infrequent.

    I think another potential explanation as to what happened to some of those blogs must have been what happened to me. SOS picked me up (just as they did you) and before I knew it, there really was only enough time in a week to publish at one site, not two. Exit my old blog left side of stage.

    While saying this might cause some feathers to bristle, when I realized that writing at the blog was no longer feasible, I didn’t really shed a tear. I was still a bit saddened because I had worked on it for about four years (if memory serves). There are comforting advantages to writing for a professional or semi-professional publication. The readership is much, much wider, therefore recognition comes much easier and in a variety of forms: I got to attend some press screenings (which incidentally got kind boring after a while!), I got to finally podcast for a couple years, I attended festivals as a member of the press, I flexed some interviewing muscles, etc. I’m not saying no one can get to that level sticking with their blog. I even know a person or two that have in fact made their blogs something really special, but when something like SOS comes calling, yeah, you go for it and you ditch the blog.

    There’s no shame in wanting to be told in some fashion that you’re writing is good and that you’re opinion is noteworthy. None of us wrote or currently write with the purpose of producing crummy material that wasn’t worth discussing. I can tell you that even though my time keeping up with all the bogs diminished dramatically over the past couple years, I did keep up with the Wide World of Horror column. I actually kind of miss it.

    You obviously needed some time to think about where you stand in the grander scheme of internet movie criticism/reviewing. It’s my hope that you won’t give it up entirely, especially at SOS. You’ve been a straight shooter for as long as I’ve read your work. That’s harder to find than you think in this day and age. There’s a lot of ‘group think’ among critics. If your opinions differ from the norm but come from a place of honesty, then that is a positive, not a negative.

    On one final note, I wouldn’t put too much weight into not being accepted into the OFCS. I was last summer and I haven’t the faintest clue how I’ve benefited. I received a mountain of DVD screeners in December which I didn’t have the time to watch, the links to my articles are buried in a sea of link bate and my votes in the end of the year awards didn’t count for shit because, as I mentioned above, there’s a heck of a lot of group think going on. I don’t even know how I would explain what the OFCS is to someone who read that on my CV and asked what it is. Oh, and I have a card with my name on it (no photo) that says OFCS 2014-2015. What the heck do I do with that? Who do I show that to? Who’s gonna know what that is?!?

    Anyways, this has gone on long enough. I really felt the need to chime in on the situation though. True, I hadn’t kept in touch but you’re still one of the rare old bloggers whose work I still think about sometimes as time goes by. I’m sure there are other blogs whose names you could rattle off and I wouldn’t even recognize them even though I may have actually read them. Best of luck in whatever internet movie related endeavour you take on.

    P.S. I still think a podcast would be fun.

    -Edgar Chaput

  8. Thanks for the words Edgar.🙂

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