Monday, April 12, 2010

A Bucket o' Bile

Writing online can be frustrating, invigorating, exciting, demoralizing and rewarding all at once. I've probably wanted to quit and walk away from it a thousand times and still do at least once a week. I usually get drawn back in due to the excitement of seeing a little known movie and wanting to review it. Or going to see a much-discussed new release of which I want to be a part of the discussion. Or just the desire to take a general belief in some aspect of movie-making and put it into words. All of those would fall under the rewarding part of online writing.

But the frustrating parts are legion. In fact, they may be greater than the rewarding parts. Let's see, for starters, there's getting into fights with friends over movies, goddamn movies! Or avoiding fights! Yes, that's a big one too. I see some asinine opinion that I want to take down but know I risk my sanity if I get involved and so I avoid it and instead fume, quietly and impotently.

Or the feeling that the modus operandi of the online movie community is dull and getting duller. Specifically, take a movie or director not highly thought of and tout said movie or director as unappreciated and brilliant. Say things like, "One day this film/director will be revered, just you wait and see!" And then the comments say things like "I thought I was the only one" and everyone pats each other on the back for having the courage to recognize the artistry of some piece of shit low-budget craphole movie or some jackass talentless hack that the rest of us pay lip service to so as not to appear too cruel. "Well, yes," we say, "I can see your point but I just don't think Mike Mediocrity is that great a director," when what we really want to say is, "What in the fuck are you talking about? He sucks! His movies suck! And I've just lost what little respect I had for your taste with this latest salute to filmmaking half-assery!"

And then there's the homogeny of the responses, the trotting out of the same jokey phrases ("I love me some" - Guess what? I fucking hate me some of that stupid cliche!), the reliance on the same tired formats and the leaning on the same pantheonistic crutches that have propped up one worthless movie site after another. Christ, have you looked around lately at some of the movies sites out there? I mean the commercial ones, the ones overflowing with up to the millisecond news items concerning the world of film, the ones that release a top 100 this or that every few months that we all discuss and argue about like the stupid fucking lemmings that we are, driven to mass intellectual suicide every time some idiot with a "History of the Movies" book writes a list proclaiming La Regle de Jeu or Citizen Kane is overrated while at the same time trumpeting the efforts of that dick you never heard of because it turns out he only made three movies in the 1970s and when you finally got a chance to see them on Netflix they turned out to be stinking, festering piles of horseshit. You know, that guy! He's a genius, Welles is a hack.

Or how about the old switcheroo game we all play with director's credits. Boy, I love that game! You know, that's the game where someone sagely declares that, "Sure, I appreciate Vertigo and Psycho and Shadow of a Doubt but honestly I think I've come to view Topaz as Hitchcock's best work." Really? Then shut the fuck up and stop writing about movies because you have nothing important to add to the conversation. Or the reverse where someone declares that the director's most highly praised work really isn't that good. I love that game too! Love it!

So where's all this bitter bile leading? What's all this about? How should I know, I'm just writing it. I'm just spewing forth whatever comes to mind in a fit of frustration about all the things I have to do and all the things I have no time to do. I have to get paying work because this shit just isn't cutting it. I find myself reviewing CDs for the free CDs themselves, no money. Great! That's a pretty difficult transaction to make work at the local Trader Joe's, I can tell you. So there's that.

I also have to do things, lots of things, lots of random things around the house and around my life on a day to day basis, things that I enjoy doing and this online life cuts into the time needed for them. So the online life has to justify itself and more and more I see only the frustrations and fewer rewards. I'm trying to make short films and keep getting distracted from them by online activity. I'm trying to write a screenplay with a friend and can't focus on necessary plot details because of online activity. And I don't mind the online activity, the tweets and facebook status updates and blog posts, as long as at the end of the day they pay for their upkeep but lately, I'm not seeing significant returns on my investment if you know what I mean. I won't stop tweeting and facebooking but honestly, I cannot point to anything worthwhile I've done with them. I have enjoyed many conversations but in the end, it's just background noise, nothing else. Maybe I'm not imaginative enough with them but if that's the case at least I'm not alone because we all seem to be using them in the same way. I did start a joke group on Facebook, "If a million people join this group Larry Aydlette will get back online." A few people joined, I didn't advertise it, so you had to see it in my updates to even know about it. But then I started thinking, "Maybe Larry's got it right. Maybe Larry's smarter than all of us put together." I used to find it funny how Larry would go on and offline with such regularity but now I think I understand. It's all just background noise and it's up to us to search for the patterns in the static. If we find them, great! If we don't, or we get tired of the same patterns, we have to look deeper to find some meaning to what we're doing. I'm looking now but I also need to make some art and not just write about it. I'm not going anywhere, I think, or at least not yet, just trying to clear the air. The patterns are clear but the noise from the static is sometimes overwhelming and I just wanted to speak my peace before my voice got lost in the noise. Thanks.