Some Thoughts On Movie Blogs

Come for the personal story, stay for the blog recommendations!

As many of you know, I have been writing for Word of the Nerd since last Summer, and just last week I was picked up to write for Heroic Hollywood. Writing for WOTN has been incredibly rewarding. Bryan Brown and the team over there gave me my first big break in online publishing and I couldn’t be more grateful. I learned how to work with an editorial team and had the opportunity to share my writing with a much larger audience than here on Tarpley Movie Talk.

Well, after just three short articles over at Heroic Hollywood, I’ve actually stepped down from writing for the site (subsequently, I have stepped down from writing for WOTN as well). “Heroic Hollywood has millions of views each month” you might be thinking. Why would I do such a thing? Honestly, being introduced to the fast paced world of “breaking movie news,” I was able to really think about my personal writing desires, but also process some thoughts on the internet as a whole.

Long story short, I’m think I’m going to take a break from devoting so much time to movie news/speculation/rumors. I’ve spent so much time looking ahead to these high-profile movies when I would rather develop my skills looking back and learning to appreciate movies that are already out. Now, this article is not meant to throw shade on Heroic Hollywood or Word of the Nerd. Let me perfectly clear, I loved my experience at Word of the Nerd and wish nothing for the best for them (you can support their Patreon here). Though writing for the site was a great experience, I have just come to terms with what I actually want to be writing about.

I’ve decided I’m going to spend my time building up Tarpley Movie Talk. I only have so much free time to devote to writing. If I’m going to write 2,500 words a week, I would rather them be about things I’m passionate about (movie reviews, my Oscar Column, ect…) rather than breaking down the new Doctor Strange posters (make no mistake, I’m still INCREDIBLY hyped for Doctor Strange, I’m just done analyzing trailers and Kevin Feige quotes). So for all of you that like my blog on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, thanks for sticking with me through this transition.

Josh’s Movie Blog Endorsements

In processing who I am and what I want to write, I really started to gain respect for the sites I was already reading, recognizing their commitment to quality content. I thought I would take the time to sing the praise of five of my favorite movie blogs. Below you will see links to articles and twitter handles, take the time to read and follow these guys. Whether it be critical thinking or simply promoting films that deserve the promotion, partaking in the movie blogosphere has been amazing and has only boosted my love for film.

*WARNING: Extremely personal recommendations to follow*

Slashfilm

Being the first movie blog I ever came in contact with, Slashfilm holds a special place in my heart. I remember opening the site in a browser anytime I was in front of a computer. Though Slashfilm “reports” the news, Peter Sciretta made it clear that the site is more blog than trade. “I became a blogger instead of a ‘journalist’ for the sole reason that I could mark out my fanboy passions, and help promote some of the projects and people that interest me.” The site is a good source for movie news, but Peter and company bring so much more content than just the news, making Slashfilm a great haven for film-related content in general.

  • I’ll never forget Peter’s epic anti-clickbait piece: 107 Reasons You Need to See Boyhood
  • The daily column Superhero Bits (currently headed by Ethan Anderton) illustrates something I love about Slashfilm. It is a daily gathering of trivia, cool pictures, new toys/merchandise, and news tidbits gathered together in one place. Regarding the news tidbits, these are pieces of “news” that don’t garner a full article, but you can click on over to Superhero Bits to find out about it anyway. Other outlets would take this miniscule pieces of trivia and make an article out of it, I’ve always liked that these stories were relegated to this location.
  • Take a look at Slashfilm’s article addressing some new Assassin’s Creed photos. What could have easily of been 250 words of BS leading up to the photos, the article (written by Jacob Hall) discusses both video game movies and the strange reality that this blockbuster is the spiritual sequel to 2015’s Macbeth. (Bonus Jacob Hall praise: you have to read his piece, How a Gay Sulu Gave Me The Courage To Come Out, it’s such a well written articles showing the power of diversity in film)
  • Yes, there are daily articles dealing with all things Marvel news/speculation, but you also have Angie Han giving us the RECEIPTS when it Kevin Feige was giving us every reason in the book why there wasn’t a female-lead Marvel film.

ScreenCrush

I know there are a lot of great writers at Screencrush, but remember, this is a very personal recap of my experience with these sites. That being said, my recommendation of ScreenCrush comes due to the fact that I’m a huge fan of Matt Singer. I remember seeing Matt talking about the Sundance Film Festival on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) over 10 years ago (as well as in the film This Film Is Not Yet Rated), so it was a huge surprise to me that this guy is involved in the real movie world (IFC was separate from us normal folks in my mind). Not only was he involved in the blogosphere, but I (!) was able to interact with him  on Twitter Dot Com?! (see this “fun” exchange where Dr. Doom’s genitalia is discussed)

All that being said, I am a big fan of ScreenCrush due to their Commitment to Longform writing. I encourage all of you to go and check out that section of the site, there is some of the best movie-related writing on the internet over there. Singer wrote for The Dissolve (R.I.P.) back in the day, and his Longform writing on ScreenCrush continues The Dissolve’s legacy. Almost the thematic opposite of longform essays, we have the other reason you have to stay connected to ScreenCrush…the food. I’ll let you click on over there yourself, but when you have the tag “Matt Singer is stupid,” you know you’re in for a good time.


Film School Rejects

Film School Rejects is the movie site I’m most new to, it was added to my bookmarks tab over this past summer and I’m a huge fan. Headed up by Neil Miller, Film School Rejects very rarely wades into movie news, focusing more on reviews/essays about trends we see in film. Take a look at their Best of Summer section to see a collection of well written takes on what this Summer offered us.

In addition to more thoughtful writing, I think FSR is worthy of your time due to their clean design and pushback against clickbait. Over the past year they migrated over to Medium, which means the site’s setup is simple and elegant (their graphic designers do some great work too). One of the few (if only) film sites out there that relies on partners, FSR is an ad-free haven (you should consider become a partner simply on principle).

Regarding their take on clickbait, you have to check out Neil’s epic ranking of every single episode of Game of Thrones. First off, that is just ridiculous that someone can recollect their feelings for individual episodes, so kudos for that. Second off, the entire list is on one massive article, there’s no clicking through multiple pages or loading different ads on a slideshow here. Big fan of Film School Rejects!


Collider

Collider is my movie news source. Though they have tons of other content (see below), I go to them for news because they have carved out a section of the blogosphere that consistently writes in a professional tone. So many news sites rely on baity titles to lure you into clicking a link, only to give you a paragraph or two. I consider Collider setting the bar when it comes to a professionally run film blog. Steve “Frosty” Weintraub is a fanboy who genuinely loves movies, and luckily for us he runs a great site too.

In addition to being a great source for news, their company of writers provide some excellent content across the board. Matt Golberg is one of my must-read film critics, I’m always checking out his opinion. Allison Keene helped expand Collider to fully cover TV and her content is always top notch (check out her review of Luke Cage here). Proving the wide-ranging scope of Collider, Adam Chitwood’s Oscar Beat column is one of my go-to’s regarding Oscar coverage.


Birth.Movies.Death.

Guys, this site is ridiculous, and I absolutely love it. Birth.Movies.Death (formerly Badass Digest) covers movie news but will never shy away from a deep dive on any particular topic. Before I give some thoughts, we just need to breakdown their ridiculousness in bullet point form. At no other place on the internet will you find writing such as

As you can see, BMD really does not give a crap. They can range from 200 word articles making fun of a new poster (or much LONGER articles making fun of a new poster) to several thousand word articles breaking down themes from the latest film. You might think this would make BMD pandering, aren’t they trying to have it both ways? Not at all, whether it be short or long form, the company at BMD have a consistent voice, and that voice is “Guys, we get it, we all LOVE movies, film is really important and life changing and yada yada…but get over yourself, I mean, we ARE obsessing over a grown man in tights.

Almost as equal an endorsement for the site is my endorsement for the comments section over on BMD. In fact, this is the ONLY comments section I will wade into. Almost every other comment section is absolutely horrible, retroactively bringing down the quality of the article I just read, and that’s a shame. On the contrary, at BMD the comments only serve to enhance the conversation started in the article above. And yeah, there are some really smart comments that engage with the material, but mainly, they are just damn hilarious. I would bet the comment section on any BMD article is great.

Side-note about the comments section: After reading a funny comment and chuckling to yourself, you will NEVER be able to explain to another person what you are laughing at. “So this guy in the comments said this….well, ok, first you have to read the article, because then it sets up the comment…..you know what, just forget it, its hilarious to me and you just won’t understand!”


So there you have it, the five sites I have bookmarked in my browser. Just so we’re clear, this is an incredibly personal list and is not meant to be a comprehensive review of all blogs out there (if there’s any other you think I should check out definitely let me know). If there is one theme running through everything listed above, its this: cut the fluff and give me some quality content.

When processing these thoughts, I found it reflects what I’ve been experiencing in general over the past year. If you’re taking my recommendation of the sites above, let me recommend something else. The internet is mostly horrible, especially during an election year. Don’t indulge yourself with most of the crap that floats around as “news.” Read a newspaper (or at least the online version of a real paper). Turn off CNN (the channel), and read CNN (the website). Purge your social media feeds from folks who only form their political positions based on memes.

There is a reason not a single newspaper has endorsed Donald Trump. We are seeing that anybody who writes for a living can’t bring themselves to support someone who has no grasp on the English language. I understand “the media” gets a bad rap, but there is still some quality out there, and it is possible engage in critical thinking separate from arguing about a dank meme.


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