Us young folks spend an exorbitant amount of time dedicated to bingeing mediocre videos online. I am just as guilty of this, spending my breakfasts rewatching videos about plane crash survivors and puppies born with three eyes, subsequently binging “How I Got Into (insert college here)” even though I’ve been entrenched in institutions for three years already and have a lot of trauma from that time in my life. I Just. Can’t. Stop. So, why do I keep watching these, sometimes more than once, while I get ready and eat meals, usually alone thanks to quarantine? I had asked myself this recently, as it was growing more and more concerning. As a film major I should have better “taste,” I thought.
Through my own introspection, I have come to the conclusion that an increase in an interest in film or media criticism, which is in itself the keen and subjective digestion of media and visuals, is through an influx of better mainstream content creators out there such as ContraPoints, Tee Noir, Lindsay Ellis, and Tiffany Ferg on YouTube and Tia Wood and Jax James on TikTok. Their content is aesthetically pleasing, palatable, culturally relevant, and thoughtful. These are the attributes that do indeed require viewers to expend more intellectual effort than watching gossip channels. But when they are presented beautifully, eloquently, and with character, you connect with the presenter, and they act as your generational tour guide into new ideas, references, et cetera. You learn from them, most importantly.
So, how does this relate to films? Similar to those YouTube videos I binge with every meal, “Netflix and chill” is an auxiliary verb for cinematic placation in the form of a dulled escape. Seeking what lies beyond Netflix is a bold move. Some of the content Netflix has coddled can be astounding, but other streaming services can be overlooked. The Criterion Collection is considered too ~ 60k a year film studies undergraduate degree ~ and lofty, and Shudder is apparently reserved for the “weirdos” or, as Saint Vincent once said, “the freaks like me.”
Ultimately, there’s no exclusive club you’ll be a part of if you lie and say you liked The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) when you really didn’t. That’s alright. Film criticism is solely the act of absorbing what it is you love, digesting it, regurgitating your own wild interpretations, and cultivating your own palate. This isn’t an exclusive club that orders clove cigarettes in bulk for every rooftop meeting. Despite the classist limitations which aim to control what we can and cannot digest, you are an individual with autonomy and control. We have free access to smart and educated people of our own demographic, and we need to encourage psychological self-sufficiency and, need I say the now cursed phrase, self-care.