This started out as a response to How To Make A Video Essay by The Closer Look but it quickly became a screed against academia.
The problem that TCL identified in YouTube video essays is a tendency for people to just repeat what they heard in other YouTube video essays, that a lot of “research” reviewers of films would do for example, would be to just look at what other reviewers on youtube or major sites have said and to repeat the same points. The cure TCL prescribes to this trend is for people to pay thousands of pounds to go to university and then to repeat the words and jargon of academics rather than to repeat what other YouTubers say, because you see, you will gain some special esoteric “insights” into film reviewing by studying film theory or literary criticism.
It sounded to me like TCL was complaining that most youtube film reviews were made by people who liked watching other film reviewers on YouTube. You could apply the same complaints to other groups like the anime reviewing community on youtube. It’s not that I don’t understand his frustration at hearing the same things being repeated by people copying each other, but I don’t think that his suggested cure is a solution at all whatsoever.
In fact I would argue that academia is more of an echo chamber than even YouTube is. If he got his way, then people would still be repeating the same things, except they wouldn’t be the things which people are repeating now. In his view this might still be an improvement as people would be repeating the things said by supposedly superior academics and intellectuals.
Before, during and after I review an anime or any other kind of film, I do not shy away from looking at what others on Youtube/the Internet have to say about it, in fact I lean into it and watch as many reviews as I can to get as many different views as possible, both negative and positive.
Of course this will lead to me repeating many of their points but couldn’t this just be because those points are true and worth repeating rather than out of laziness? Would it be better if I said something untrue or even worse, something I do not believe in, or something that sounds complicated, or something with a complicated name for it, just so that I can be original to sound interesting? Maybe it would be, because after all if you’re boring, it doesn’t really matter what you have to say.
Is there a way out of this false conundrum? Of course there is, a tried and true one, rather than mindlessly repeating talking points from more obscure academic sources just to be unique or something, actually work with what you have and understand and try to respond and engage with what others are saying about the film, don’t look down on them just because they are not so-called intellectuals and experts anointed with academic credentials.
Look I am not saying there’s anything wrong with academics, though there is, and I am, but there is a reason you would rather listen to youtube than academics, of course those weak cowards that can only subsist while subsidised by the public purse, or using their hollow titles to appeal to authority, will say that youtube/the internet is more about presentation than substance, but that is just an excuse for their poor style and presentation skills - that people would only listen to them when forced to for academic credits for social points rather than any love of learning or thinking or writing or speaking should prove that.
Of course there are some fools who will drink TCL’s Kool Aid, who will worship at the altar of the Academy in the hopes that they will be initiated into some esoteric order of superior film critics, while their pockets get picked, leaving them no choice but to become shills.
Have some faith in your own judgement, otherwise why did you start making film reviews in the first place? Do not hide behind the wide shoulders of those who came before you under the guise of standing on the shoulders of giants, glorifying those who are gone to glorify yourself who is still here, like a politician trying to garnish the deaths of some soldiers for his own ends.
Never forget that the reason why you started your blog, podcast, or your YouTube channel (unless you are a shill) rather than settling with being on some anonymous discussion forum, was because you wanted to talk at others rather than with them, like some deranged (American) preacher who treats the pulpit like his stage.
Some cheap snobbery and “elitism” consisting of blowing air up each others’ asses and then smelling each others’ farts should not satisfy you. Or maybe you just wanted to talk about movies so don’t be discouraged by these half-witted idiots and don’t forget to have some fun making videos first of all, as Pewdiepie said in his 100 Subscriber special.
To go totally off-topic, I feel that this pompous attitude to youtube video making is caused by a delusion that you can impart some insight through a youtube video that will spur people into action and even if that may be true in a small proportion of cases, in the end never forget it is your actions which change you, abstract thought and contemplation can only carry you so far, in fact maybe not that far at all - anyone can think any thing.
There’s this beautiful idea among objectivists, it’s a Leonard Peikoff quote, that “Philosophy is the motor of history,” (btw note the use of the word “motor,” that should tell you what the true heart of that philosophy is, it’s awe at industrialisation), that the right ideas will spur us into action, but the way I see it lately, is almost the other way round, an action will spur any number of ideas.
The actions of American industrialists, uninformed of Rand’s philosophy, spurred Ayn Rand’s heart which in turn spurred her mind to weave together a justification for those historical acts, but this too on Rand’s part was a reaction, in this case before there was thought there was action.
I am not saying that an abstract idea has never led to an action but it’s more like a ladder in which more steps are actions than ideas, and the initial step needn’t be an abstract idea at all…. And needless to say an idea/action can give birth to a contradicting idea/action, however unlikely it may seem.
And so you cannot save those trapped in thoughts with your words, words are cheap as the adage goes, the more you try to sound convincing, the less you are (which explains why I probably sound less convincing now than I did at the start), only their own actions can do it. Against this claim stands a plethora of people who claim they have been “saved” by this or that cluster of ideas, but what does someone who claims to have been saved by “objectivism” have in common with one who claims that Christianity saved them? God only helps those who help themselves. I have been making a very obvious point all along, I know, so I am sure the likes of TCL will hate me for being so unsophisticated.
So don’t be fooled into thinking you are a priest healing the souls of the suffering or you will only be handing them a cheap, short-lasting, and paralysing anaesthetic.
The truth is that you as a film critic are not doing some sort of social service for which you are owed respect, you are doing it for yourself and at most for the films that you love, precisely because your love for them is greater than your desire for honour from other people. Do not mistake pity for love, nor trade the latter for the former.
There is nothing left but to accept it for what it is and carry on shamelessly, even with a privateers’ pride regardless of the consequences, it is unmanly to think of the consequences and the illusion that you can think of the consequences and still remain manly for long might be what has led us to the current predicament. No, be like a ship of fools, headed where? Nobody knows, but unmatched in heaven or earth, engraved with the hopes and dreams of our friends, turning infinite darkness into light.
By Otaking, or The Good Student