Saturday, December 04, 2004

Reviews

Before I do any actual reviewing I wanted to give a little background into why I am reviewing and my general philosopy of reviews. Some of this will repeat what I have posted previously, but hopefully there is enough new material to not bore anyone.

Now that I have declared that I will be reviewing movies, music, and books I begin to wonder why want to do it. Generally reviews are written when an art form has recently been released for general consumption. They are, in fact, designed to inform potential consumers of whether or not that particular art form is good enough to be consumed. Unfotunately, I am in France and rather poor, and thus cannot review newly released material. I do not have the cash to buy new cds, American movies are generally released weeks to months after their American release dates, and I never did buy newly released books. This means the material I will be reviewing will be outdated. This begs the questions of why am I bothering to review these materials and why should you, as a reader, care?

To answer the first question I respond that the answers are largely personal. With plenty of time off I need something productive to occupy my time. By actively watching, reading, listening to various art forms I am giving myself something to that seemingly does not waste my time. To ingest these medium in a way that I must review them to an audience means I cannot merely allow them to play in the background while I lounge in my pithiness. Likewise I have always had a minor dream of writing in some professional capacity. Writing reviews will help me sharpen my craft and allow me to see, if I have any ability that credibly be moved into the realm of professional writer. Likewise, if I ever do decide to try to be a professional reviewer I will have a portfolio of sorts to stand on.

Why should you, as a reader, care? Frankly, you don't have to. Personally, I find that I often seek out reviews of movies, books, music that I have recently consumed. I enjoy reading the opinions of other people and comparing them to my own personal views. Sometimes it is interesting to see if another soul found the same meaning in the same moments, or if they saw something that I may have missed. In time I will hopefully have a large body of work to which readers may delve into to see how I viewed certain material. Albeit if I actually do create a large body of work I will have to find a better way to organize it than this blogger does.

In general, reviewers have had to have journalistic integrity. That is to say they were held responsible in reviewing the reviewed material in a objective way. A journalist is bound to report the facts, to reveal the actions and events as they occured without subjective date, without relaying personal feelings and ideas into the report (I will not comment on whether or not this actual happens, but that is the journalistic ideal). Art forms are in large part a subjective medium. There are no yardsticks to measure, quantitatively, an actors performance. There are no measuring cups to qualify the use of lighting in a film. Yet a reviewer was devised to do his/her best to objectively review the material.

The new internet reviewers, best exemplified by Harry Knowles and Aint It Cool News scoffs at objectivity and revels in their subjective reviewing methods. They believe that since it is impossibly to be wholly objective while reviewing an art form it is best to allow the reader to understand their subjective stances. They therefore allow the reader to know of any preconceived notions they had before they had consumed the art. For example for over a decade fans hoped, dreamed, and prayed for the Star Wars prequels to be released. When the Phantom Menace finally was realeased there was no way it could have not been dissapointing (that in fact it was not very good, also added to the dissapointment). These fans had preconceived fantasies in their minds of what the film should have been, and thus when the reality was not the fantasy, these fans were then disapointed. The new version of reviewers informs the reader of these notions. Also, they believe that external and internal forces effect they way they consume the media. If the revier is having a bad day because their dog just died, or they dinner was cold these things can effect their perception of the art form. Just as the mood of the day can. If a reviewer is not in the mood for a comedy this will effect their opinion of the slapstick they have to review that day. Unfortunately, these fans often slide into long segues of personality and do little actual reviewing of the material.

My philosophy of reviewing lies somewhere between these two versions. I believe their are some things you can objectively quantify. If a director uses a camera technique that has never been used before you can not this. If a singers lyrics are cliched and trite this also can be noted. However, I also believe in the impossiblity of being completely objective and that some points of personality must come across. When someone tells me they really liked a movie, but I do not know any other movies that they enjoyed I pay them no mind. However, if they also enjoyed many of the movies that I enjoyed, then I will listen to them explicitly. This is why I hope to create a large selection of reviews so that the reader may have an understanding of the variety of material I enjoy and don't enjoy.

Well, that was long. If you've made it this far, thanks for listening.

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