Thursday, April 04, 2013

Farewell Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert died today, at the age of seventy, after living pretty much exactly the life he wanted since he became an adult and after getting several unexpected years in after beginning a fight with cancer a decade ago.

It's still sad, of course. We want to read what Ebert would have written next month, next year -- about the next Michael Bay movie, or the second Hobbit, or (god forbid!) The Human Centipede III. We won't get any of that.

But we do have what he did write, and much of that is wonderful, in the way of journalism that's meant to inform and entertain at a particular time for a particular purpose but rises above that. I just started his third book of nasty reviews, A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length, and reading that is how I want to remember him.

(When people have asked me about my role models, I've usually been stumped: I don't like people enough to want to be like any of them. But now I think I wanted to be Roger Ebert when I grew up -- to find a way to write about things, to champion the good and make fun of the bad, and to make no excuses for taste.)

Here's a piece of Ebert's review of the horrible 1994 movie North, just because:

I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.
Ebert was a hell of lot of fun writing about things he hated, and we'll miss that. But thanks, Roger, for the things you did see and hate and tell us about. (And the ones you loved as well.)

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