December marks the sixth month of my blogging on Cinema Styles. My profile says I've been on Blogger since March 2007 but Cinema Styles did not begin until July. That's because when I first started on Blogger I ran a couple of other blogs that eventually became one blog, Cinema Styles. I wrote about politics, religion, science and whatever else piqued my interest or ire, including movies. By June it was becoming increasingly difficult with my workload to maintain a focus for my blogs and they became disjointed and confused. The main thing I wrote about was politics. The reason, as some of you may have discerned from my comments on other blogs, was because I have a feverish and intense dislike and distrust of government and politicians and so used blogging as a way of venting my frustrations.
After two months of blogging it seemed I had found a niche. Chris Weigant, a fine political writer who writes for The Huffington Post as well as his own page ChrisWeigant.com, commented on a post I had done on the "Bong Hits for Jesus" decision. After that we commented on each other's sites and he linked a post I had done on President Bush's capital punishment record while Governor of Texas in a post of his own. It wasn't long before I was getting combative comments from right-wing bloggers looking for a fight. I tried to be kind and conciliatory in my responses but it became clear that none of them were looking for a middle ground. And frankly, I just didn't have the time or energy for the fights they wanted to engage in. I don't know if any of you have ever been involved in an online clash of political ideologies with someone before but I can tell you from experience, it's pointless. No one concedes a point, no one budges an inch. Flames fly back and forth. It's draining and futile. And absolutely no fun. So I decided to make a change.
In my original blog I had posted articles on Oscars picks and the occasional performance or moment in a film. I decided in July to create a new blog, Cinema Styles, and put all the movie posts there. As for the other blogs, they're still there but there's nothing on them. I use them now to test new templates, design ideas and format posts that will be transferred here. As for the name, Cinema Styles, it's dull. I know that. My other blogs (there are ten in all) have much more creative and fun names. They include Magnificent Bile, Like a Sinner on the Wet, Toys of Desperation, Plastic Spiders, Treacherous Guile, The Synchronicity of Fish and a personal favorite, Screaming Electric Genitals on Fire. But when I started my movie blog I wanted the content to be memorable, not the name. So I purposely chose something generic. I knew I wanted the word "Cinema" in there, and since almost every variation of cinema phrases had been taken for blog titles already, I came up with Cinema Styles and never looked back.
Luckily my first comment on Cinema Styles came from Dennis Cozzalio. Why is that lucky? Well, certainly not because he's a mischievous leprechaun (although I have my suspicions), but because in a post like this one, looking back over the first five months, it just wouldn't be impressive to write, "And that's when I got my first comment from some guy named Fred in Missouri." Anyway, he commented on my Birth of a Nation analysis and I was thrilled. It inspired me to keep going because frankly I wasn't sure if I wanted to. I had gotten used to comments on Magnificent Bile for my political posts and it was feeling kind of lonely on Cinema Styles. But it also let me know that there were others out there interested in dissecting film and film history. Right now on Scanners, Jim Emerson's terrific blog with the Chicago Sun Times, there is a discussion about separating style from substance, technique from content. The very ideas I discuss in my piece on Birth of a Nation. As I said there, and on Scanners in agreement with Jim, I don't see the two as being separate. One works with the other.
But as much as I love dissecting film and film history, and debating the state of film criticism (a very popular topic of discourse on the Internet film-blogging community), one thing I don't care a lick for is discussing the state of film blogging. In fact, my first reaction is usually, "You're joking, right? The state of film blogging?" The state of film-blogging is pretty simple to sum up: It's in its infancy. There's nothing to discuss. In ten or twenty years maybe. But right now, no. We're all getting our feet wet at this point and I'm not going to worry about whether or not we're all the best writers in the world or who's better than whom. Do you know what I do here on this blog? I write reviews of classic movies, write up performances, scenes, do the occasional list and parody post. You know how that separates me from most other film bloggers? It doesn't! That's what we all do! Reviews, lists, recommendations, debate starters, etc. And what's wrong with that? For one thing, it provides a wonderful alternative to the Mainstream Media Critics. And that's great! Before I started blogging I read all of their stuff. Since I've been blogging I get reviews and reactions to current and older films almost entirely from the bloggers. I still read Ebert and Rosenbaum occasionally but I'll be honest with you: Since I know how Dennis, Kimberly, Ken, Brian, Neil, Rick, the Shamus, Jim, Ed, the Siren, Peter, Eddie, Ray, Justine, Kim, Hedwig, the whole gang at The House Next Door, TCM's Movie Morlocks (and so many more I'm probably leaving out) feel about movies, because of the intimate personal atmosphere blogging provides, I'm much more trusting of their reactions to films than anything I could get by reading the latest Tomatometer on a movie in current release. And if Bill had a blog, I'd read his reviews too.
Who's Bill you ask? That's another thing I love about blogging. The interactions and connections you make with people that you would have never met otherwise. You see, I love commenting on other people's blogs. That probably comes as little surprise to anyone reading this. I love the interaction and discussion. Some blogs I stopped commenting on because they never provided a response. And that's fine. There's no hard fast rule on this kind of thing nor should there be. But for me I love the interaction. Whenever someone comments on my blog I always respond and I love it when a discussion gets started. Sometimes it goes off topic and I don't mind that either as long as everyone knows it's still okay to comment on the original topic. For instance, a couple of weeks ago Kimberly and I went off about World War II in the comments section of a post I did on racism in Hollywood. Then Jim came in and commented on the post itself instead of the WWII discussion. Terrific. I'm always worried when the discussion goes off topic that others will be dissuaded from commenting on the original post and I want everyone to know it's okay to ignore the discussion at hand and comment on the original topic to your heart's content. But what about Bill? Oh yeah, Bill.
So, a couple of months back I was reading Cozzalio's blog. Bill came on and disagreed with Dennis' views on Dazed and Confused. The two of them went back and forth, completely ignoring my "pay attention to me" wise-ass remarks in between. Then Sal, an old buddy of Dennis' and a fine regular commenter there, asked who this entity called Bill was. Well, Bill took offence to that and told him to "pack it full of walnuts." This amused me to no end so I commented that I wished I were an entity and asked how does one become one. Bill commented back about the annual dues and we were off to the races. Sal, being the great guy he is, apologized and then Bill and I just kept going on until Dennis finally stepped in and told everyone to get back to the topic at hand. Or was that the other post where Dennis and I started trading Steely Dan quotes to purposely bewilder Bill? I can't remember now. The point is Bill now comments here and I'm a better blogger for it.
So those are my views on blogging and commenting on blogs. I hope I never get spammed to the point where I have to hold comments for approval because I feel that interferes with the "of the moment" beauty of commenting. I understand that some blogs have to do it, but when there is no delay between commenting and seeing the comment posted there is no confusion of ideas. For instance, how many times have you commented on a delayed comment blog only to see that when the comment appears three other people agree and two others have radically different ideas. If only you could have seen their comments when they made them a much richer discussion of the agreements and disagreements could have taken place. But again, I understand it has to happen because of spamming and I personally despise that jerk who spammed the Shamus at Bad for the Glass (one of my favorite stops) and forced him into delayed commenting approval. It hasn't hurt the site at all as the Shamus is a great cultural blogger regardless of comment discussion, I just wish we could still see each other's comments as they were posted.
And one last thing about commenting. I love writing about movies and commenting on them. Sometimes my comments are a little too jokey, sometimes too dogmatic in tone, sometimes too bland ("Great Post") but I hope they are taken in the nature they are given: A love for movies and discussion of movies. I know I probably annoy some bloggers out there like Arbogast from time to time, but I enjoy commenting on Arbo's blog because he seems quite humorous and good natured and able to take any smart-ass remarks I can give him. And then give them back to me two-fold. And even though her blog has very little to do with film, The Sheila Variations is one of the most amazing cultural blogs in existence and Red herself is one of the most genial hosts and most timely comment responders out there and I'm very glad to have made her acquaintance.
Okay, I think I'm done except to say thanks to everyone I haven't mentioned and thanks to all those without blogs who visit here regularly. Now on to the plastic surgery.
You see, I bore easily with the look of things here on my blog. I've changed the sidebar a hundred times and I've never had a banner last longer than two weeks before changing it (the banner at the top of this post and the one to the right are the first and second banners I used). So now I've decided to change the whole damn look of the thing. New template (self-designed) and everything. Just a warning so the next time you come here in December you don't think you've clicked the wrong link and immediately back out. And the design's nothing special, just different. It will allow me to change the background more often so that the banner doesn't carry the whole weight of the look of the blog. Oh yeah, and the content will now be entirely concerned with toiletry products of a questionable nature. Okay, maybe not. It will still be all about movies (mainly from the teens through the seventies) with the occasional rant outside those perimeters. And I wouldn't want it any other way. I love writing about movies too much and I don't care that I'm not getting paid for it or read by millions. I didn't start this in the hope of winning the first-ever Pulitzer Prize awarded to a blogger. I started it because I loved it, and still do. As a wise man (Brian, the Cinephile of Bubblegum-Aesthetics) once said about blogging: "It's writing, not as obligation or propriety, but as bliss." Thanks for the summation Brian. I agree. Bliss, indeed.