I've had some whiskey, and I've been thinkin'.

Roger and Me

Wherein I eulogize one of my favorite people.

A couple of years back I wrote a review of a movie that had been the biggest box office smash that year and had won zillions of awards.

I hated it. I hated every moment of it with a passion and fury that outmatched the heat of a thousand fiery suns.

One day, a famous film critic found it and read it. He then tweeted out a link to this review to his thousands and thousands of followers, with the words “THAT’S what I’m talking about!”

Roger had a thing for “citizen criticism”. He used me as an example of how, in the wake of the death of print journalism, that the job of being a “film critic” was granted to everyone in the age of self-publication.

I was terribly flattered at this.

And then this happened:

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 7.39.07 PM

Well, shit. “I guess I’d better be interesting,” I thought.

So within the next week I wrote a post about how he was both wrong and right about videogames.

I always liked Roger’s reviews. I liked how he was down to earth, and how abnormally fair his reviews were. He did not compare “Halloween” against “Citizen Kane”; he compared it to “Friday the 13th.” It was fair. He did not believe that you had to have gone to film school in order to understand movies; nay, you simply had to enjoy them.

I like that perspective.

When he got cancer – and moreso after he lost his jaw – something changed within his being. I like to think that he took a long, hard look at his life, what he was doing, what he believed, and what he felt was important – and decided to become a voice for that. His posts took on a humanist, compassionate stance. He was always a bold speaker but now he was boldly standing up for things that were classically outside of the purview of a “mere” film critic.

He was a man filled with truth and righteousness and empathy and courage.

I admire him for that.

And I already miss him.

Comments on Roger and Me

  1. What an awesome story, Brandon. Compassion, humanity, authenticity, courage — those are the things that matter at the end of the day. What was amazing about Ebert was how true he seemed to stay to these principles, despite his tremendous fame. The scale of outpouring reflects that on some level, but stories like this reinforce this thing that millions of people are feeling right now.

    And I do mean millions. Amazing what an impact a fat guy with half a jaw can have on the world. “All” he had to do love something passionately and speak his truth consistently and beautifully.

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