October 20, 2019

What We Talk About When We Talk About Movies

“For me, Star Wars movies are a lot like dental appointments: I feel obligated to go at regular intervals, but I always get a little nervous as the date looms. The series is a cultural juggernaut, especially on the internet. You can’t escape the opinions about it. Problem is, I’ve never been invested enough in the story or characters to feel much about them one way or the other. So I’ll do what anyone in the digital age does when they want to learn more about something: go watch an hour-long video of people talking about it on YouTube.

As it has almost everything else, the internet has democratized critique. Anyone can set up a camera or microphone and record themselves talking about movies or shows—a few people around a table or on a couch, sitting perhaps in substitution for IRL interactions and discussions. It’s a format that owes as much to Siskel & Ebert and Mystery Science Theater as it does to the postgame analysis panels on ESPN. Podcasts and videos in this vein can garner hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views.

I got into shows like this a couple years ago when I had a job digitizing thousands of pages of paperwork at the corporate headquarters of a now-defunct retail chain. Wedged into the file room, isolated from any other people, I sat hunched over an ever-churning scanner for eight hours a day. To keep my brain from melting, I listened to podcasts and streamed YouTube videos in the background. It was a way to keep myself company as I slowly bled out from the papercuts.”

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