Film.Music.Media Got Rid Of Reviews. Why?
By Kaya Savas
July 30, 2019
Opinions. The internet is filled with them. But, think about this. When was the last time someone else’s opinion actually changed yours? I’m sure it has happened, but rarely ever does someone else’s likes or dislikes have ever had an affect on your own. And they shouldn’t. You should be able to educate yourself and form your own opinions, and in doing so respect the opinions of others when it comes to entertainment and art.
But let’s cut to the point. Reviews are gone from Film.Music.Media. This wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction or a sudden decision. In fact, it’s an idea that has been mulling around in my head for the better part of a year. While reviews have been a big part of Film.Music.Media’s identity, it no longer defines what we want to do, and what we want to focus on. The goal was always to create a platform for composers and creatives to tell their stories in the most organic ways possible so that people could admire, appreciate, and learn.
While I do see the appeal of comparing one’s opinion to someone else’s and having a great discussion, it’s not what I’m seeing online these days. People aren't discussing but rather arguing, and in some cases bullying and attacking.
So here are the top 5 reasons why reviews are no longer a part of Film.Music.Media.
5. Music Is Subjective
Like any form of art or entertainment, music is purely subjective. At the end of the day, you either like something or you don’t. No amount of text will convince you to change your mind if you don’t connect with something. People really only read reviews to compare their opinion with the reviewer’s. And if they agree with the reviewer, they feel empowered. If they disagree, the reviewer is a piece-of-shit, know-nothing hack.
If someone doesn’t like a certain type of food, or a certain style of clothing. NO AMOUNT OF REVIEWS WILL CHANGE THEIR MIND. I respect people who enjoy boba, but man oh man do I not like the taste or feel of gelatin balls sliding down my throat like an alien impregnating me! I would never call anyone who enjoys boba "wrong" or "idiotic". It's purely a subjective opinion.
At the end of the day, critical reviews for something that is purely subjective have no value. And it really is just a way for the reviewer to fluff their feathers and feel like an authority on something.
Now, we could open up a can of worms and mention general consensus websites like Yelp, Google and Amazon. Customer reviews of products and services can certainly help weed out the cheap wastes of money, but you can't really compare that to entertainment or art reviews. What if there was a Yelp review for the color yellow? Art and entertainment are not designed for general consensus opinions (COUGH, Rotten Tomatoes, COUGH, COUGH). It only has turned into that because the film industry has shifted to studio tentpoles designed to be generically appealing in the hopes of making the most money possible. But that's a discussion for a different day.
4. We’re Not Professional Composers
You ever find it weird that we read reviews from people who could never do or make what they’re critiquing? That goes for every movie critic whose not a filmmaker, every food critic who can’t cook, and of course every music critic that can’t write or play music. It’s so easy to sit, watch a movie or listen to a score, and then decide if you like it or not. When in reality, you couldn’t compose a score like that if your life depended on it. Sure that "product" was designed to be consumed and we will have opinions about it. But if you've never made a film or worked with a composer, can you really say "well they SHOULD have done this?"
While I do have a film degree, have worked with composers on my own work, and I do work in production in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, I do not possess a milligram of the skills and talents of composers. At the end of the day, it’s completely unfair for me to judge something on a public platform that I cannot do myself. Especially when all a review is really doing is tossing gas on the fire of people arguing over whether a particular score or approach is good or not.
3. Soundtrack Fan/Review Culture Is Becoming Extremely Toxic
I refuse to partake in forums, groups, clubs, or any social media “discussion” about film music, simply because of all the people out there who find it okay to attack others simply because of differing opinions. Soundtrack and score aficionados have become more and more hostile over the years, and what I see online is extremely disheartening. It’s not a culture I want to contribute to anymore, even if it was just posting reviews online.
Film.Music.Media and myself have been the target of hate-threads and bashing over the years, which we truly don’t care about. But what is bad, is when I see an individual who expresses a thought or opinion online, and is immediately attacked for that opinion. I see it happen regularly from the same certain individuals, some who call themselves “critics” or “journalists” as well.
2. It’s Increasingly Difficult To Watch Every Film So That Each Review Is Based On The Score And Not The Album
I will never for the life of me understand sites that review the soundtrack album, especially before seeing the film. It’s like writing a movie review having only watched the trailer and clips online. Many people think that just listening to the album, and then reviewing those tracks is actually reviewing the score. You’re not. What you’re listening to is an abridged version of the score limited by what can fit on a disc, and what the licensing/royalty fees would be based on album length.
Every effort was made to watch the film, series, or play the game before reviewing. But that’s not possible. Especially since Film.Music.Media is run in addition to my full-time career job, being the editor of an industry trade magazine, and all our contributors’ jobs and lives. And guaranteed, the other folks doing reviews or forming opinions are not watching what the scores were written for either.
Film.Music.Media always reviewed the score and not the soundtrack album, for which I was extremely proud of. We reviewed and analyzed each score as a piece of narrative storytelling, not whether the album was too long, or just suites, or too short. But even though we reviewed scores in context, at the end of the day they’re just more opinions you don’t need.
1. We Want To Dedicate More Time To True Film Music Journalism
Booking interviews, traveling to composers’ studios, filming, and editing all take tons of time. It’s a lot of work, and I’m a 1-man crew. I don’t have help, I don’t have assistants, I’m fully 100% self-financed minus some advertising income from YouTube. The video content I create for Film.Music.Media is the heart of what this platform should be. I want to evolve and develop new content, spend more time on video essays, get deeper with composers about their process, do more BTS, and just free up some time that otherwise would be taken up by reviews.
The world doesn’t need more opinions, especially from people sitting at their computer and punching out their own ideas of whats good or bad from their bedroom at the end of of a long work day. In short, you won’t miss what me or the other writers think. Plus, listening directly from the composers themselves is way more interesting, and then you can go form your own opinions after listening to the score and hopefully watching what the score was written for.
Now, with all that being said. I still want to shine a light on the extremely hard work all our friends do at the various soundtrack labels out there. These teams are dedicated and passionate in making sure we get our favorite music packaged and released for us to enjoy. So, instead of reviews, Film.Music.Media now has a monthly spotlight section where we will call to attention some soundtrack releases that deserve your attention. We will highlight film, TV and video games. Plus, archival releases as well. Something we never had time to cover on Film.Music.Media.
Since we still would like every opportunity to consume the films, TV and games these scores were written for, the month’s spotlights will be posted at the end of the month. So, we are starting with July’s spotlights, and those will remain up for the entire month of August. At the end of August, you will see August's spotlights posted. There will be no ratings and no commentary. We just want to bring your attention to whats out there, and hopefully help you discover something new and worthwhile.
Over 10 years, I have written well over 1,000 analytical reviews on Film.Music.Media, and while I always enjoyed putting my thoughts down in writing, I think this move will open up Film.Music.Media to truly be the premiere film music resource available. I want to thank every writer who has joined the team in the past for contributing their time and words. And thank you to everyone who visits the site, supports the content, and continues to help us grow.
For the future, F.M.M writer Leo Mayr will also be taking on a quarterly "Soundtrack Roundup", which will be posted sometime at the end of each season. It will be a great way to highlight scores that stood out with a little light commentary from him and myself on occasion. We’re still working out the format, but look for a Summer roundup sometime at the start of Fall.
Anyway, at the end of the day it’s about moving forward with positivity and productivity. Let’s have some discussions, but hopefully in a civil and adult manner. Film, music, TV and games are all reflections of ourselves. It’s storytelling meant to examine the human condition, which we all are going through. Any form of storytelling is meant to be discussed, that’s what makes it fun. Just don’t allow anyone pretending to be an “expert” to influence your own opinions. There are no such things as experts when it comes to something without a rule book. You can be knowledgable and passionate, but not an expert. Take it from me, I'm no expert. And if someone is being a royal ripe asshole to you online, don’t give in. Just ignore and let them scream to the tune of no one caring.
Now, you might agree or disagree with everything I just said. You also might agree or disagree with the decision to stop doing reviews. But in the end, that's just like, your opinion, man.