Not to sound egoistical, but I find that outside influences can be especially poisonous to one's viewpoints. Much of my view about the films one is meant to like is due to my insecurities being influenced and swayed by outside influences, by people who supposedly know better than me and telling me the kind of films that are the best of the best (The Godfather and Akira come to mind).
If anything, I've never sounded more sincere over the past few days specifically because I've flushed that poison outta me and focused more on my own raw feelings.
I'm not calling for you to bow down to outside sources. In fact, I'm only really arguing that we should feel empowered to pull in outside sources to support
our own ideas and thoughts about a particular subject. I admit to being frustrated at seeing you change your mind when it comes to your own opinion on a film just because you read other people's thoughts on it. It felt like you were trying to assimilate yourself into the critical consensus rather than building your own point of view. In that way, I definitely agree that these more recent reviews have been better for foregrounding your opinions in them. That's the jam. I'm just saying that if I know somebody else has said something that I want to say (an opinion I have developed independently from them, or in conjunction, but never just taking theirs without carefully considering it) and has said it better than my writing will say it, I'm going to use that because it saves time and effort. With that in mind...
Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this?
I'm okay with it if the person is willing to vouch for, stand by, justify, and defend every word written as if it were their own. But that's a rather unreasonable thing to expect. And if you make the mistake of assuming it is the case you will very often find that when you go to pin the person down on a particular point, they will slide out from under it. "oh, well I don't agree with that bit" or "hey, it's not my opinion" or "you'd have to ask them". That's what I mean about not being able to have a conversation with a piece of writing, and why I don't support the practice. And what if there's a follow-up question? Who am I speaking to now?
Forums, I find, are an inherently difficult place to make conversations work at the best of times. The uncertainty of eliciting a response to a question posed to nobody in particular fosters a tendency to just go ahead and answer the response you presume you would have gotten in the very same post. I've done that loads of times. Questions posed to nobody in particular rarely come back your way, while questions directed at someone can often be regarded with suspicion, some trap to be avoided, and don't get answered at all (responded to sure, but not answered). Taking the conversation out of the ring and into the crowd, to me, is just another thing that trips up the discussion (or can).
If I use an outside source here (specifying here as opposed to in a school paper or something), it's probably because I agree with it for the most part. As such, if you've got questions, I've got answers. I can back it up, give me that much credit. I'm not going to weasel my way out of something, I'm going to keep it going because these are still just supplemental.
Sure, taking bringing stuff from the outside can mess with the flow. But can it not also enhance it? Might we develop a deeper understanding of both of our positions through the use of outside sources? Is that such a hard thing to envision?
Sometimes other people said it better. I'm acutely aware of when I'm just saying something I know somebody else has said, especially when I'm not doing as good a job as they do at explaining my position or point of view on a subject. I don't have a big enough ego to think that I'm the only person who can think in a certain way, so when I know, for example, that somebody else has explained the way that Spielberg has his fingerprints all over AI, I'm going to just point people in that direction so that they can say it for me.
When faced with incredulity, particularly regarding something subjective like film, I find what fuels it is often the absence of the process. How did you get there? You can cite supporting, like-minded sources till you're blue in the face, but it will all look the same to the incredulous individual who obviously did not have that experience. It's not a matter of how eloquently you describe the experience you had, it's describing how you had that experience that counts. At least for those mystified by your reaction.
Remember math class and having the teacher telling you to "show your work!" It's a bit like that. I know you have the answer, I want to know how you came by it.
I'm a little confused here. As much as I liked Hermit's interesting and drawn out process piece about Ex Machina, I don't really think that I do that in my reviews, nor am I entirely compelled to. If you want to ask me about how I reached a conclusion that I reach in a review, you can do that and I'll probably ignore you because I'm busy, but ideally I'd answer it and fill you in. How, then, is the outside source not doing a similar thing. It might take an extra step here or there, but you can always ask clarifying questions and I can always clarify. Bringing in the outside source doesn't cut me out of the conversation, it enhances my point if used correctly, and then I'll jump back in for myself.
Kenneth Burke has a really great way of putting this. He likens intellectual discussion to a cocktail party where you go up to a group and the following happens: "Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress." In this vision, it becomes clear that outside sources are just other people at the party whose opinions are equally valid and, most importantly, also a part of the conversation. You and I could talk back and forth at each other for a long time, I'm sure, but we would, sooner or later, reach a point where we've said all we have to say. The conversation ends. In the conversation with other people involved you can draw on what others have to say for support, or to argue against, or to agree with a difference. I'll repeat the key phrase here, "you put in your oar." Your oar is crucial. You steer, but in waters also touched by many other oars.
And yes, I recognize the irony of bringing in an outside source on this subject.
I think the writing itself isn't that different from painting. There's just something off about a piece of writing that didn't come from your heart. Often, in a first draft, the advice is to let all your feelings pour out onto the page, as messily as possible. Only until later drafts do you edit and correct, not before. That way, one could insert an individuality into the conversation. Isn't that's what makes life interesting? To have different and unique individuality clash together in a conversation based on one's own perspective rather than others? I mean, isn't the common agreed notion that the individuality in us is an important ingredient in life rather than everyone agreeing on the same notion that nothing could triumph The Godfather?
Please do not think that I'm advocating any of this kind of stuff. I'm super for individuality, I don't want to hear you parroting anybody else, but I also don't want you to just think in a vacuum. Firstly, it's disingenuous. Of course you're influenced by outside forces. That's a condition of living in a society. Welcome to it. Every review of The Godfather will reference its legacy or place in the culture in one way or another. Secondly, I only grow half as much if I only listen to myself think. I just read this super spectacular essay about the way that language forces us to categorize everything into groups so that we can function as a society and have the same name for stuff. The article then went on to discuss how the thing in The Thing broke down those barriers (outside and inside, human and not human) through its mercurial nature. It changes form, it oozes and melts and replicates and mutates and that causes a breakdown of the little society they had there in wherever they were. I admit that some of this stuff had been rattling around in my head, but it wasn't until I read this article that I could see exactly how and why it all worked. Might I have worked that out on my own? Yes, in time. But now that I have it, I can (and did) use it to talk about I Am Legend (the book, not the movies) and the way that the model set up in The Thing might work or not work in I Am Legend. Without that article, my understanding of The Thing and I Am Legend would be more shallow than they currently are. Why keep that from you? Why keep it from myself?