Apr 26, 2013

I Come to Praise The A.V. Club, Not to Bury It

By Josh Oakley

This is not in mourning. Much of the discussion of the recent departures at The A.V. Club has sounded similar to a death knell, and that is nowhere near the truth. Those staying with the publication are working to assuage fears, and I fully trust them. But, as many, even the optimistic, have said, The A.V. Club will be different. It will still contain brilliant television reviews, For Your Considerations, and I have faith in continuing great film coverage (the writers still contributing are really quite great). So I guess I was mistaken at the top of this paragraph. This is in mourning. Not for The A.V. Club as a whole. It is in mourning for the specific group of writers that took what Roger Ebert had started in me, and created who I am today.

It is safe to say that are few similarities between this writer and the version of me that resides in the cruel alternate universe absent of The A.V. Club. My flesh and blood high school friends, great as they were (and continue to be) never held the torch for pop culture in the way that I did and continue to do. We occasionally went to the movies, would share a love of certain pop songs, or discuss, briefly, our favorite television shows. I needed something more.

I cannot recall how I stumbled upon The A.V. Club, though I do remember the first smattering of articles that I found. My first introduction to the site was experienced through a shared experienced, between myself and Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski, of staying up through the nightto finish the final Harry Potter book. I remember the breaks I would take in my own reading to catch up on their thoughts. About a month later I read Noel Murray’sfantastic piece on Rain Man. The former article taught me of dedication to the craft of writing. The latter piece helped me to discover how autobiography could inform criticism in powerful ways.

One of the greatest experiences I’ve had regarding my relationship with The A.V. Club came at a book signing for Nathan Rabin’s Year of Flops. I was allowed to tell him in person what I am now writing here: I am who I am because of these people. I now wish to spend my life writing on culture. I learned the ability to love both the popular side of said culture, and the more cultish aspects. I can hold my own in conversations with college friends because of these lessons. It may sound silly, or exaggerated. It is the truth.

The fact that these great writers have departed leaves a whole in the hearts of all A.V. Club readers. But that whole will not last for long, I feel. They are departing on a collaborative effort, which, knowing these minds will be one of the greatest treats imaginable. And back at The A.V. Club, there remains a tremendous team. I would continue to gush and praise, but I have to get caught up on Happy Endings so I can read David Sims’ review tonight. Some writers may change, but my homepage never will.

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