Postcard from Los Angeles, by Mike Everleth
Frances (and the gang),
Yeah, if I had to, I’d call myself a “fan” over a “cinephile.”
(An aside: Does it mean anything when my spell-checker doesn’t even recognize the word “cinephile” and wants me to replace it with “acidophiles”?)
Like yourself and Neil, I meandered into this world of writing about film on the Internet. I never wanted to nor planned to write about film. My background is in film production and pre-Internet comic book zine publishing. As far as the comic scene in those days went, “fandom” was a positive, fun word and concept to throw around. Us fans banded together to publish each other’s articles in our self-published, photocopied zines to share ideas, history and our own amateur comics. Fandom meant togetherness in a world that didn’t appreciate our obsession.
Then, the Internet came along and pretty much killed the zine world. Writing about and sharing obsessions came out of the closet, so to speak, and now gets absorbed into the wider cultural discussion. Would we be seeing so many movies based on comic books these days if the Internet hadn’t drawn out so many fans into the open?
But, I digress…
I thought it was interesting that you brought up the term “underground” in your entry as I’ve branded my own website as “The Journal of Underground Film.” But, I’m not interested in a discussion of what’s mainstream vs. what’s underground. My goal has been to create a fan site devoted to under-appreciated films that also treats these films’ makers with the respect that are afforded to more well-recognized directors. In my world, the work of filmmakers such as Jeff Krulik, Usama Alshaibi, Bob Moricz, Aryan Kaganof and Carlos Atanes deserve as much serious analysis as Welles, Spielberg, Hawks, Coppola and Nolan.
Fans, cinephiles and critics all share one trait: They’re all fans of the medium they write about. Pre-Internet, the main distinction between them was that cinephiles and critics were more apt to be able to make a living at being a fan. Cinephiles could make money in academia while critics made a living through the newspapers and magazines that paid them to watch and write.
But now, the Internet is totally blurring that distinction. Fans can now make money with their own blogs, most likely if they’re writing about the most popular movies of the day. Critics are losing their jobs left and right as the print world downsizes. And cinephiles can publish academic-based articles and e-books without being supported by higher education. In that regard, the Internet has made these terms interchangeable. For those of us who love films — whether we write about them or not — we are all fans, we are all critics and we are all cinephiles.
One last question before I pass off to Mathieu: Can one be a cinephile and, you know, never go to the cinema? With the proliferation of every film imaginable on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming video, one can amass a wealth of knowledge about film without ever having to step into a theater, or a library to read about film for that matter. Is it cinephilia anymore or is it now all moving-imagesphilia?
Fight the power,
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