Friday, February 17, 2012

A Critical Shift

I’ve enjoyed almost everything about this past year of doing full time pop-culture reviews; screening so many movies, getting my thoughts on the record, the Hollywood parties... and of course by “Hollywood parties”, I mean those Saturdays I throw a couple Hot Pockets in the microwave and chew through three consecutive Netflix offerings with just me and my meatball marinara.  My point is it’s been a great year, but if you traverse all the way back to the beginning of that first run on sentence you may notice the word “almost”. There is one thing I haven’t enjoyed about reviewing films and TV full time, and it’s being called a “critic”.

Now, it’s not that I don’t enjoy thinking critically about film.  I over process much of the world around me, entertainment and otherwise.  I am a classic over-thinker. It’s just that I don’t identify with the critic’s goal. Critics tear things apart to assign an objective rating, as if they can define the absolute worth of something through their own deliberations. I don't see that as within my purpose (or to be honest even my ability).  My goal is to offer the information you need to make sure you’re investing your time and money wisely.  Everyone has that person they know who watches WAY too many movies and WAY too much TV, but when they want an honest opinion on what’s good they seek them out.  That person that can give perspective on whether or not it’s worth the $20 and 120 minutes to see.  That person that even though you don’t always agree with on what’s good or not, you can gauge how you might feel by how they feel.

You know, a friend.

So today also becomes

I’ve always found reviews from friends to be so much more valuable than reviews from critics, for many reasons.

A friend is personal.

Critic reviews always seem to be cold assessments, but when I talk to a friend about a movie, I get a sense for how their own personality played into the experience. In journalism, you’re taught to avoid the words “I” and “me”.  That ain’t happening here.  Part of why we love movies is because they are so personal, not because some sort of abstract art math equation has deemed them valuable.

A friend is singular.

This hasn’t always been the case, but so much of modern movie criticism has become about averages.  Rotten Tomatoes percentages have become the go-to source for movie ratings. My cell gives me a viewer average and a critic average when I look up a movie.  But what does that mean?  It’s not that I don’t think it’s valuable, I often use Rot-Tom scores to get a general sense for a film’s buzz.  It’s just that it doesn’t give me a decent sense for how “I” will feel.  When I go to a friend, I know what they like, where we agree on things, and where we disagree. This allows me a level of confidence in how I process their opinions.

A friend is biased.

Wait? Isn’t bias a bad thing? Nope, it’s a life thing.  The way we see the world by necessity affects the way we see everything in it, and that includes entertainment. It’s not that objectivity is bad, it’s just dishonest.  We all have proclivities to love certain things and hate others.  Knowing those things is what allows us to honestly evaluate when a friend rants or raves about something.  When a critic represses those biases they are disallowing their reader/viewer the ability to fully understand their perspective.  We are all fanboys of something, let’s just get it on the table and take it into account.

A friend is selective.

There must be a list somewhere of all the aspects of a film you are supposed to cover as a critic.  A checklist I’m sure that includes cinematography, script, acting, directing, score, visual effects, and so on and so forth.  But not everyone of those things is necessarily important to every review.  Sometimes I feel like critics can spend time expounding on things that really have no impact on whether or not I will enjoy a movie.  But a friend eliminates those things.  They have a built-in idea economy that connects to the things about the movie that are interesting or of note.  

I want my reviews to be “friend reviews”, a place you can come and find personal pop culture opinions from a biased, selective, singular source.   At their most basic these “friend reviews” will answer three questions; “What is it about?”, “Did I like it?” and “Will you?”  My hope is that I can quickly give you my personal, specific take and the best shot at seeing only the things that are worth your valuable minutes and monies.

As “Your Movie Friend” my goal is simple: to record 2-4 minute unedited, unfiltered, takes on pop culture you might want to hear about from a friend...

not a critic.


Some anticipated FAQS:

Can you settle a movie dispute for me?

Why yes I can. As your friend you should have my cell for just such occasions. 828-414-1410. Feel free to text me to settle disputes, help choose a movie, or ask if a movie might be appropriate for your age kids. I'll get back to you with a quick personal answer.

Are you only reviewing movies now?

Nope, there will still be plenty of TV reviews and even the occasional Video Game or Tech review as well.  However, since the majority of the site will be dedicated to film reviews, made the most sense.

Are these Christian reviews?

Not really.  Granted, the fact that I love Jesus is bound to come up because it impacts how I see the world (the bias thing again), but my goal is not to tell you if a movie is “Christian enough”, “clean enough”, or “family friendly”.  My goal is to tell you if you might enjoy it.  We all have different convictions and thresholds for content appropriateness and there are already plenty of sites around that have the information needed to gauge those avenues.  Quality and Message will play the largest part in my assessment, with content only mentioned when it is worth noting.

Why videos?

I love to write, but just don’t have the time to invest in that creative process as often as I would like.  Occasionally I will develop an opinion I need to get down in print, but those posts will probably be few and far between.  I will also still write my TV previews and year end lists, but the heart of this blog will remain daily short video reviews of pop-culture items.

Can I use your reviews for my own site?

Yes, you can embed the videos on your own blog or site.  If it is a commercial site, I would appreciate you asking permission.  If you got here from seeing my reviews on or, welcome!  All content remains in my sole ownership and discretion, but you are more than welcome to ask to use it.

That’s it!  Thanks for letting me be “Your Movie Friend”!

Aaron Dicer

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