An "American Blogger" Review
I said I wasn't going to purchase the film "American Blogger", but then it was released early, and the minute it was available I bought it. The fact that it was only $9.99 was a big factor, to be honest. I didn't want my criticism and speculation to continue unfounded because of a measly $10. So, here's my take...
There's an unusual amount of time spent focused on Chris Wiegand throughout the entire film. We love documentaries and watch them often, and the only time I see that much attention focused on the filmmaker is when the story is autobiographical. "First Comes Love" is a perfect example of this; the filmmaker is also the subject, and the roles intersect seamlessly. In "American Blogger", the attention paid to Chris and his airstream felt a bit narcissistic, and irrelevant. Chris isn't a blogger, therefor his life isn't pertinent to the subject matter. The airstream's role in the film is confusing. It's a detail being shared as an ego stroke, as far as I can tell.
Besides a strong focus on Chris Wiegand, his upbringing, his family, and his trailer, the first 35 minutes of movie are spent asking each blogger a question that we already know the answer to: "What is a blog?" The answers are similar, and more than once I was tempted to fast forward to avoid redundancy. As the movie continues, however, there are glimpses of real substance. While many of the women talk design and fashion, there are some who touch on loss, illness, real life and real emotion. You catch a bit of it and are hungry for more, but just when you start to relax and engage, the focus shifts back to frivolity.
I'm afraid Joy Prouty, the blogger who has been most frequently quoted by critics for saying, "If we're not sharing it, if we're just keeping it private, why are we experiencing it", doesn't redeem herself when the line is given context. We understand what she was trying to say, but the delivery takes what is a valid point and makes it comical. We enjoy learning about the human experience, and it benefits other people when we share our triumphs and our struggles. Melissa Jordan said this perfectly earlier in the movie. It would've been gracious of Chris to cut Joy's unfortunate, and again, redundant contribution out.
The discussion eventually turned to critics, and the women seemed surprised and confused by the idea of it. If you share your life, your craft, your talent, or your opinion with a large group of people, there will be just as much negative as positive reactions. While most of the negative opinions happen behind the scenes, some will reach you. That's life. That's blogging. Again, Melissa Jordan was the one to articulate reality best. I've never read her blog, but I may start.
The bottom line is, it took me hours to get through this movie, and not because the kids kept interrupting me. I had to walk away out of boredom, and frustration at an opportunity lost. I kept going back thinking, "the next section will be great, the next part will be the ah-ha moment, the last 1/3 will make it all worth it". That moment never came. In the end, I'm sorry to say, it wasn't worth it. Some of these women have such beautiful stories, and such wonderful blogs. This film does them no justice. If the film was intended for people who know nothing about blogs, I'm afraid the exclusion of all but one blog genre makes it impossible to use as an educational tool.
I want to end on a positive note: it's pretty. It's just very pretty...
Jessica @ MBB