When one is first toddling in to the salty waters of entertainment journalism, everything seems brand new: the door opens and there’s a room full of people who do what you want to do, and have been doing it for anywhere between one to forty years longer than you. There are high-end opinions published in hit magazines like Vanity Fair (a site that’s gotten at least sixty hits from me today, thanks to their gorgeous Star Wars: The Force Awakens coverage) and well-known bloggers, often thought leaders within their niche of pop culture, most of whom are well-respected enough thanks to impactful work from the past.
You’re a nobody in this room, and all of these somebodies have opinions that readers love enough to subscribe to. You start looking up to these somebodies, and for the most part, their solid walls of judgment generally break down over time if you’re not an actual insane person when asking for or providing feedback. Eventually, if you’re courteous, well-written, and intriguing, you’ll have a network of fellow writers that you respect and look up to. So, what do you do when all of those writers have contrary opinions to yours?
Let me preface this by saying that my points here are about entertainment, specifically in the realm of film reviews. Your opinion as a writer in reviews for movies, video games, comics, shows, books or anything else may contrast your peers. This might happen often. Debates may fuel, and you may even feel an overwhelming pressure to change your review, especially when a well-respected peer possesses a stark contrast in opinions. Not everyone experiences the social anxiety that leads to this kind of pressure, but it’s common for newcomers to feel as though their opinions aren’t as educated because they lack the mileage that their peers have.
To these writers, I say: Relax. Your opinions are valid, and you need to get them out there in order to establish yourself. Readers seek out like-minded writers to provide honest opinions, so while you may not be someone’s personal pick, you’ll find out where and how your audience exists eventually.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035). I enjoyed the movie and thought it was a fun superhero romp, but after the emotional impact of [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973) and the non-stop space cowboy adventure that was Guardians of the Galaxy, I felt that Age of Ultron lacks just a golfball-sized amount of heart that I’ve come to expect from Marvel.
There are people on other sites that disagree with my opinion - some to the point of criticizing others and saying that writers like myself are being too hard on the film - but isn’t that the point? Isn’t that the best thing about entertainment journalism and critique: that different opinions emerge and open our minds to new ideas; that these opinions help guide an audience to, or away from a new creative project; that these opinions also help shape Hollywood and the way movies are made?
This outlook may seem a little flowery and optimistic, but I see it as sticking to the very basics of this field. The reason film critics continue to thrive in an era where movie reviews can be summed up in 180 characters is because of the pillars of opinion they have built, and the huge audiences that still care enough to follow them. As long as you're doing the research needed to state facts and form a coherent opinion, you'll be fine.
While I’d never suggest limiting one's writing to reviews, it’s important to remember that there’s value in differing opinions, and hesitating on publishing your voice won’t gain you any favor from the colleagues you feel nervous around at the end of the day. Be bold, put your voice out there - every single one of us had to at some point - and be honest.