A New Chapter for ccpopculture

You might have noticed that ccpopculture hasn’t really been firing on all cylinders this year. Or you might not have – 2020 has been a shitshow of a year, after all, and I would understand if your interest in some mid-30s Australian dude’s film website has waned under the circumstances. This is my first post since July, a middling review of an over-praised Aussie film; admittedly, my antipathy towards the film is probably heavily influenced by my overarching antipathy towards, well, everything that happened this year.

For a long time I contemplating leaving that review as my final post, quietly shuttering the website and eventually allowing my website renewal fees to lapse and this site to drift off gently into that good night. But upon reflection I’ve decided upon a new direction for ccpopculture, a reimagining of sorts with the intent of boosting my – and, hopefully, your – enthusiasm for the site. In order to talk about where ccpopculture is going, though, I need to talk about where it’s come from.

This website – then called just Carbon Copy – ‘launched’ in late 2012. I had a few reasons for starting a blog, only some of which I could have clearly articulated at the time. For starters, I needed something else to focus on as my once-overarching obsession with Magic: the Gathering backslid into occasional interest. Magic – which, if you haven’t heard of it, is precisely as nerdy as it sounds – was an all-consuming hobby for me, but in the wake of a big win and trip overseas, I realised that reaching its idealised apex, that ‘going pro’, wasn’t realistically an option for me.

Writing took its place. I’d always been an avid writer; in early secondary school, it was my solitary career goal.So one of my goals in starting the website was to become a better, more focused writer; limiting myself to 200 words (a restriction that remained for a full year, and has been observed intermittently since) helped to achieve that. I also wanted an audience. Yes, of my peers – I posted frequently to Facebook in those early days – but also part of me had this inchoate urge to be (for want of a better word) an influencer. Not like an Instagram model, but someone like Roger Ebert whose opinion was held in high esteem.

Though I quickly gave up on that unwieldy ambition – turns out my opinions aren’t actually that interesting – I maintained the slightly less lofty goal of becoming a professional writer. We’ll get back to that in a moment. ccpopculture evolved through various phases. Initially, quantity was prioritised over quality; I’d post once every day – sometimes more often – about anything and everything. Videogames, concerts, television shows and, of course, movies. I quickly fell into the wider WordPress community, and my readership rocketed, frequently cracking five hundred visitors a day. I’m not convinced my content was particularly great at this stage, and the required engagement with dozens of other WordPress bloggers soon sapped my enthusiasm for this mode of writing, but I certainly miss the engagement the website commanded, with numerous comments on almost every new post.

That might have been the peak of ccpopculture by most metrics, but soon my dormant desire to become an honest-to-goodness writer had me spiralling in other directions. I volunteered for a number of websites – most of which have since been loss to the internet aether – and began to be offered media invites to film screenings or screeners for review. (I’d be lying if I said that “free stuff!” wasn’t a motivating factor throughout much of this phase.) Within time, volunteering turned to paid writing work, as considerate editors accepted my ungainly pitches. My first paid piece of writing was for Screen Education, then publications like The Big Issue, The Guardian, Metro Magazine, Junkee and an ongoing column for SBS Movies.

At some point in this phase of my writing “career”, ccpopculture began to feel less like an exciting opportunity to express myself and more like an obligation. An imposition. At times, I considered shuttering the site altogether and focusing on establishing myself as a film writer for hire. But without a consistent platform, it’d be hard to command media invites – which not only meant losing access to the aforementioned free stuff, but also keeping me a step behind the cultural conversation.

At times, I pivoted the other direction, trying to turn ccpopculture into an institution in its own right (with, let’s be clear, literally no idea of how that would be a profitable venture). I brought in other writers: thanks Simon, Harrison, Steph, David, Liam and Jonathan! I worked with other writers (like Alex Heeney and Kyle Turner) in my short-lived Critical Dissent column. Nothing quite stuck; as much as I think this era had good ideas and, often, good execution, my ambitions weren’t realistic when placed alongside the demands of a full-time job.

For the last two or three years, my writing – and, by extension, ccpopculture – has been in a holding pattern. Online film writing evolved into less reviews – my forte – towards attention-grabbing opinion pieces. Sure, I dabbled in those – I’m still quite proud of ‘The Slash Awakens: Why Finn And Poe Should Hook Up In The Next ‘Star Wars’ Movie’ or, more seriously, my two articles examining horror distribution in Australia – but it’s far from my strong suit as a writer. Instead, I’ve settled into almost exclusively writing for the Australian Teachers of Media; I might have the same reach, but it suits my wheelhouse and the pay is good. ccpopculture, meanwhile, has pottered along, running on fumes and outputting too many reviews where my heart just hasn’t really been it.

What I’ve allowed ccpopculture to become made sense when I was pitching all over the place. It was as much as a website as a résumé – a way of demonstrating my ability to output writing of consistent quality. It doesn’t help that my ability to share posts through Facebook has been significantly stymied, making it harder to share my writing with the friends and peers I should be writing for. I don’t need the site to operate as a curriculum vitae anymore. It’s time to either close the book on ccpopculture…or start a new chapter.

In order to go forwards, I’m going to go backwards. For a long time, my imagined ccpopculture audience has been editors, not readers. I’ve kept a personal perspective, but it’s hard to say that the last few years of ccpopculture have reflected Dave Crewe (a hangover of trying to formalise the site into something bigger with other writers, to a degree). The first couple years of the website are as much as personal blog – an insight into my interests, personality and lifestyle – as a review site, and that’s precisely what ccpopculture is going to be again.

No more reviewing films because I have a media invite and they seem ‘important.’ No more half-hearted reviews tossed together to meet an imagined deadline because that film’s about to come out. I’m going to review films where I have something to say – good or bad – whether they’re new (films like Wonder Woman and Promising Young Woman, which I’ll be covering shortly) or from decades prior. I’m going to worry less about word counts, conventional review structure and star ratings and more about what I want to say.

Not only that, but just as in the early days of ccpopculture I wrote about whatever struck my fancy, I’m not going to restrict myself to movies. Television shows, albums? Sure, let’s do it. I’ve increasingly stayed away from music because the popular mode of music writing is predominantly cultural criticism, but to be honest I hate that style of writing. So I don’t feel the need to emulate it nor stress about my lack of knowledge of the latest industry gossip.

Beyond that, I want the site to reflect my interests. While I don’t want to transform ccpopculture wholesale into Livejournal or whatever, I want the scope to share more of myself. That might be through reviews – say, of my latest quarantine-inspired obsession, board games – or, where appropriate, more personal posts. ccpopculture is dead. Long live ccpopculture.

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