What you think doesn’t matter unless I know who you are

Roger Ebert died yesterday.

Everyone and their cousin, it seems, is writing about what he and his work meant. He genuinely touched so many people, mattered so much.

Roger Ebert taught me the most basic principle of reviewing anything — that it doesn’t matter what a reviewer says if you don’t know what they care about.

Reviews of things do not, and should not, attempt to take place in a sterile vacuum of objectivity. They come from people and they ought to provide meaning to people. Why do you care whether I like a film or not, unless I can explain why it matters to me? If I can explain why it matters to me, then you can translate whether it matters to you.

Ebert taught me this first, then Kael. I thank them both for it.

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