Welcome to Normal Boots! I hope you guys dig it here. What better way to welcome you than share an inaugural post of some of my premature thoughts this week.
Preface: These are wacky and premature ideas that one would hope to never revisit a year later with complete regret. Mull over how disposable your next ten minutes are, should you decide to read the text below the break.
A Thorn in My Side
Technically, I spend a reasonable amount of time during my evenings working on “reviews and journalistic criticism.” I don’t phrase it that way to give it some sort of ascended merit. I’m not a journalist, but the resources for what I write very often point to or are birthed from journalistic posts and textbooks. It’s because of this that I feel funny talking about media reviews. I don’t trust or seek out media reviews very often. I don’t find any pride in it; I don’t believe that a stranger across the internet is ever going to be able to tell me what film or song will emotionally captivate me. Reviews in general are still helpful for technical, hardware, and health oriented purposes. But it seems at least recreationally fruitful to question how relevant media reviews will be in the future.
I’ll spare you the shock-jock journalism of another “This might be the death of” piece. I just needed a thesis to put you (the reader) in the right place. I promise I’m open to a great capacity of reason. I’m definitely not open to proper journalism because I’m using the first person way too often. Okay, enough LiveJournaling. Time to write like an adult.
The Internet & Independent Content
The internet has opened a substantial amount of doors, specifically pertaining to the independent market. Even with the internet, it is still a challenge to be noticed, but the internet allows individuals and companies with moderate merit to stand on their own two feet. Tons of independent music outlets have popped up, pushing content through browsers instead of alleyways in gentrified urban areas. The free-market internet has given gamers Steam, which has proven to be an (albeit not spotless) outlet for independent content that would otherwise go unnoticed. With regards to music, any weird, obscure, randomhaüs genre of music can be quickly searched with similar artists and suggestions.
And there in lies the problem. This is the reason why internet music reviews (and soon many other kinds of reviews) seem at least slightly ironic. We’re post-scarcity when it comes to entertainment. We no longer look to four big companies to tell us what music we’re going to like. There is an overabundance of high quality music for every niche, fusion interest out there. If I’m into watching coming of age dark comedies, Netflix has a library of 100 movies queued up for me. I don’t need a stranger on the internet to take a wild guess at telling me what will emotionally captivate me on a scale of 1 to 5. Now, games don’t seem to be there yet. And at $60 a pop, buyers guides will probably remain a relevant service simply because investing in a game is expensive. Further, there are many technical aspects to games that lend the medium over to a fair amount of objectivity. This legitimizes reviews in many ways. But let’s say I set that last point aside. If I’m realistic, lots of people love outlets of opinions. Right?
Opinions Vs. Reviews
There is a love for opinion. But why? I’m not entirely convinced that the populist opinion genuinely cares for a formal assessment of a film or album. A number of individuals who work in journalism or internet content production will most likely agree that content titled negatively, pessimistically – or associated with a personality that is largely negative or snarky – will usually get the majority of attention when it comes to reviews. This is the heart of a National Enquirer reader, not someone concerned with what media they invest their time and money being entertained by. There’s an intrinsic appeal for entertainment and drama. No one watched American Idol for Paula Abdul’s response. I rarely play retro games, but I will watch Continue? Show because Nick, Paul and Josh are admirable writers and improv comedians.
I can watch my favorite music reviewer exhaust his library of adjectives to tear down a 20-second movement or perceived intent of any given piece on an album. And I appreciate attention to the miniscule. But this is an incomplete perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of meticulous criticism and, in the moment, it feels deep, existential, and cool. But down here, on earth, where there are things that need to get done and I’m equipped with the internet, I’ll pull up a Google search bar and find what I want. There are algorithms for this now. We no longer operate off of a limelight system where a new record comes out and we need a planet’s worth of scrutiny to decide if the $10 that would go towards a fancy city coffee should be spent on it.
My Utopian Website
An idealistic review site, if one were to exist, would be one that wasn’t developed around the content it reviewed. For one, it would be subscription-oriented, very much like Giant Bomb, so that the true customers are the readers instead of the advertisers. The paramount feature of the site would be its construction around the personality of the reviewers. At any moment, a reader would have access to the reviewers technical inclinations, possibly Myers Briggs if it’s applicable, childhood/adulthood likes/dislikes of movies, games, and music, and journalistic tendencies. It seems more fruitful to be able to identify and even identify with a reviewer before entertaining their subjective assessment of something. Subjectivity is not inherently negative. This system could potentially give subjectivity the power it deserves. Subjectivity is often brought up as a detractor or defamer of opinion. Why? Speaking out of personal experience is one of the most intimate and uniquely human forms of communication available! Let’s capitalize off of it. I realize this idea is premature, unoriginal, and 80% fantasy. But a man can dream.