Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Balcony Is Closed

With the cancellation of At The Movies tv series and Roger Ebert's illness that has claimed his distinctive voice, many posts have hit the internet mourning the end of an era. And this post will be no different. I once aspired to be a movie critic after watching Siskel and Ebert for years, that is until I found out you had to become an actual journalist to do it.

The show that really made me a fan of Siskel and Ebert was Sneak Previews, the PBS tv series that popularized the thumb happy duo and their heated arguements. Like watching NASCAR racing, I watched Sneak Previews because of the wrecks. Viewing Siskel and Ebert intellectually evicerate the movies and each other actually gave me hope. It showed me there was a place in the world where intellectualism could have a place that's accepted in general society.

And the viciousness they would go after each other with in the early days was as intense as a hard hitting boxing match. Unfortunately, I couldn't locate one of their battles online from the Sneak Preview days but did find some from the At The Movies era. (a note, the second clip shows the two mocking each other and Protestants-just fyi to anyone who clicks on it that may be easily offended).

The end of the At The Movies tv show finalized the protracted finale to the Siskel and Ebert legacy. These two guys had a vast influence on modern media, they made it popular to criticize not just entertainment, but anything really. They didn't invent criticism, just made it seem cool. Is it telling that the best critical thought of Western civilization for the past 30 years has been directed at films and not national or international political policy? Maybe, but either way I'll see the movies.

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