NOTE: This entry is a transcript of a video announcing my 10th anniversary here. It has been edited slightly to adjust for the change in media.
This past week marked the tenth anniversary of “What I Watched Last Night.” I wouldn’t normally make a big deal out of such a thing. After all, I’ve contributed to YouTube for nearly 15 years, and to vimeo for close to 12. But this particular anniversary is so ripe with ironies that it seemed a worthwhile topic in itself.
Start with why I started the blog. Friends had suggested for years that I get into blogging, but it didn’t interest me much. When I did get around to doing it, I committed only to a weekly publication for a year. I figured that after that, I’d decide whether to continue. I didn’t want just to react to events, so I chose to write on something I know about, and what better subject than the movies?
After the first year I continued publishing, partly to keep my writing skills sharp. But also, by the time of my first anniversary, I had committed to producing a major project, which became Better than Wine, and I thought the blog might make a good way to generate interest in the video, although I ended up not using it that way.
Now, as some of you are aware, I have had a dual career as both a filmmaker and as a critic, and I believe in the cross-fertilization between them. But the fact that I would have enthusiastically joined YouTube and vimeo well before committing to a blog is just one example of my putting production first. That’s because my heart will always be more with the image than with the word, and that’s putting the preference mildly.
The truth is that I hate writing to a degree equaled only by my love of the image. It’s that simple. People are often surprised to hear that since I write so much and have enjoyed some publishing success. As paradoxical as it may sound, however, this hatred is one reason why I continue to publish at WordPress: the commitment forces me to write.
And yet ironically, as much as I may hate writing, this blog has been my most regular output. It also has my largest and most reliable audience. That audience isn’t huge, but its members are far more likely to read one of my reviews than any of my followers at YouTube or vimeo are to watch one of my videos. I take this as a life lesson: fight against things as much as we like, sometimes we don’t know ourselves as well as others.
On the other hand, much of my difficulty accepting these truths results from trying to bridge two hostile worlds. For example, a few years ago, I tried to augment this blog with video essays on related topics. They attracted so little attention that I pulled almost all of them. Readers here are clearly uninterested in videos; they prefer to read. My video viewers had no interest in criticism; they want to watch and listen.
So it will be interesting to see just how much attention this video gets. And in another expression of these unbridgeable prejudices, I cannot even publish the video here. The most I can do is link to it at either YouTube or vimeo. There may be technical reasons for that limitation, but that begs the issue. For if WordPress publishers hankered for the ability to express themselves in video, I’m sure the site developers could find a way to do it effectively and economically.
No, as its very name suggests, the “word” rules at WordPress. And so, in celebrating my tenth anniversary here, it is in recognition that no matter how much I desire otherwise, I have to live in two worlds.