Want some weird advice?

2 months ago | AdamBolander (Member)

You want some weird advice? Go to YouTube and watch Cinemasins. They're a comedy channel that nitpicks (or "sins") popular movies. A lot of the sins are jokes, but just as many are pointing out real problems the movie has. If a character does or says something stupid, they'll bring it up. If they're relying too heavily on cliches, they'll say so. One of their most popular running gags is when people run away from something rather than running to the side and out of its way, to which they say "Looks like ____ went to the Prometheus School of Running Away from Things." How does this help you? I've been watching them for years, and now whenever I write I find myself thinking "If this were a movie, what would Cinemasins say about this part?" That helps me weed out the little nitpicky problems they like to complain about. It doesn't help fill in plot holes or fix my characters, but if you fix enough little things it can still feel like a big thing, you know?

Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com

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Responses

  1. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Personally, I would hesitate to use CinemaSins as a bar for helpful criticism.

    You want some real nitpickery, see the Everything Wrong With Everything Wrong With videos. :P

  2. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    The channels that get their knickers in a twist over Cinemasins crack me up. Cinemasins isn't a review channel, it's a comedy channel, and they're very up front about it. Trying to discredit them is like trying to discredit MST3K or South Park.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  3. LadyAnder (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    I don't like CinemaSins personally. I'm not a fan of that style of videos.
    I like criticisms in the form of video essays. I've found Lindsay Ellis quite the darling to watch when it comes to film.

    A cross-genre fantasy stories about elves-->http://brotherhoodarchive.com
  4. Rhodeworks (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Honestly, I can't think of a worse place to look for writing advice than CinemaSins.

    It'd be one thing if CinemaSins just pointed out goofs or inconsistencies or plot holes. It's another when they misinterpret films, forget basic things, actively contradict what is being said or shown, and/or deliberately engage with a text in what amounts to bad faith. It's worse when they mix legitimate issues in with issues that they make up on the spot.

    In fact, given that CinemaSins is generally based around a sort of willful blindness to the conventions of film, I feel it'd be an easy enough argument that, in fact, looking to their methodology would make anyone a /worse/ writer as it erodes the critical thinking processes that allows someone to understand and comprehend metaphor, subtext, allusions, thematics... I could go on.

    I'm a relentless critic, but constant criticism doesn't necessarily prove anything and, more to the point, there's an art to critique. You need to stand by it, you need to be sincere. Now, of course, we live in an age where the reigning zeitgeist is a sort of ironic detachment, which CinemaSins embodies: the fact the creator backpedals and goes straight to 'actually, we're a comedy channel' (they're not) when confronted is proof of that.

    For example, imagine if someone questioned my reveiws here and I immediately went to, say, 'oh, come on, I'm just playing a character of a nitpicky serial reader, I'm doing this for comedy, I'm not actually reviewing...' And then I just kept doing it.

    For example, what's wrong with a character saying or doing something stupid? What're the criteria? What if the character is /supposed/ to say or do something stupid and it is, in fact, intentional? What's wrong with cliches? They're unoriginal, of course, but originality is a matter of perspective. A cliche is a tool, it can be used well or it can be used poorly.

  5. Rhodeworks (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    On reflection, I suppose I should say that it's good to get writing advice where you can get it, and if it helps you it helps you, but you also need to be careful about the mindset the advice cultivates. What is the sort of film that CinemaSins would say is good? The answer is, of course, none of them - and that's the problem.

  6. Dary (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Well, if you want a YouTube channel that presents writing advice/critique in a humorous way, you could do worse than this one.

  7. Tintenteufel (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    I'd also add that CinemaSins for all it's fun quite frequently picks apart very well written and well structured movies for not adhering to a very specific point of view. Taking writing advice from that is like looking at cracked to find out what your political leanings should be. Or indeed taking your common sense from South Park.
    Which isn't so much discrediting it as saying that a comedic channel, as you so rightfully point out, isn't exactly a critique or review channel.

    Terrible Writing Advice however, is indeed quite terrible. In a good way. Which I guess makes it un-terrible?

    Edit: What I sometimes find quite jarring about Lindsay Ellis (and I realize this is coming from me being strictly non-american) is her tendency to take many movies and contexts into account only insofar they are connected to US-traditions. She is good, no question about that, and has many interesting insights for topics that are quite complicated. But she tends to extrapolate a very specific american-centric-liberal view into a universal view. Which at least in her review of Shape of Water and Bright I found a bit disappointing. Worth arguing over, but disappointing nonetheless.

    Blut und Rost - German Webserial about the horror that is human interaction
  8. LadyAnder (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Terrible writing advice is the best.

    A cross-genre fantasy stories about elves-->http://brotherhoodarchive.com
  9. nippoten (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    lol cinema sins is the last place anyone should be getting advice

  10. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    I look at it this way: fixing the things Cinemasins complains about won't fix the book by any means. Just like ironing out a single wrinkle in a really wrinkled blanket won't make it look better. But if I iron this wrinkle, then that wrinkle, and those wrinkles, eventually the effect becomes noticeable. I'll still have to patch those big holes in the fabric eventually, but ironing out the wrinkles DOES still help make it look better.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  11. nippoten (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Attempting to 'fix' anything cinemasins would complain about would make even more of a mess, at best you end up with a bland boring product.

    https://twitter.com/vogtroberts/status/897507095632723969?lang=en

    That's the director of a movie CS did actually responding. He's a better source than I am as to why their videos don't really provide anything of actual value to film discourse and discussion. I never watched the movie myself, but I can understand the frustrations that must come from someone taking your work and start blatantly lying about the content in order to make a couple bucks off some ad revenue.

  12. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    @nippoten, that guy is a douche. Co.plaining about being featured on Cinemasins is like complaining about how you were depicted in SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy skit. It's all for fun and if you're actually offended by it then you're the one with a problem.

    And even if they're funny nitpicks, CS does still pick up on a lot of real, albeit minor issues. Like overuse of cliches, characters knowing things they shouldn't know, or hearing things they were too far away to hear. Things that sacrifice feeling like real character actions or interactions for the sake of pointless, unnecessary drama.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  13. nippoten (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    He wasn't complaining about being featured on CS, he's venting frustrations about the fact that they had gotten some if not many details wrong about the film, like no other scene having rain despite their claim that there were other key scenes that have rain, or actually mistaking the name of a character. They were reaches or cheap shots literally designed to pad out the video because the system YouTube has in place favors longer form content. And the farther you have to reach to get something, whatever you get back is proportionally lesser in value.

    Here's direct quotes from the director as well:

    'I love film criticism and I love reading negative reviews if the author makes compelling and well written arguments.'

    'To anyone who thinks this video makes me mad or hurts me. It doesn't. I just wanted to point out a few obvious examples that are just wrong.'

    Doesn't really sound like complaining to me.

    Humor is subjective, and so are nitpicks. Try to take out every one you perceive, and someone is going to find more that you think aren't conducive to improving the work, because didn't you just get them all? It's an downward spiral that no one wins and improves nothing.

  14. Tintenteufel (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Well, what now, AdamBolander? Is CinemaSins just a comedic channel or do they provide commentary on "real issues"? You can't have your cake and eat it.

    Not saying CinemaSins is not a nice channel or anything like that, they do funny videos and I do enjoy them, but they have a very, very narrow and specific focus. Kind of like people coming from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality to Worm and complaining about less than pitch-perfect-scientific treatment of the supernatural. Which is just plain useless. I don't watch Marvel Movies for their gritty realistic treatment of power struggles in society and I don't watch Star Wars for a realistic treatment on science and space.
    Realism is not the be all end all, or every movie would look like a Dogme 95 movie. And thank god they don't. Some stuff in stories and movies is there to set the focus somewhere else - and lots of that is "sinned" by CinemaSins who take a narrow and sometimes dogmatic view of realism which isn't necessarily productive for entertainment. Or even most kinds of movies. God, that would be boring.

    And just a friendly reminder: Please don't start name calling. You do you, and if you get something out of the channel, that's awesome. But don't go around calling people responding to criticism in a constructive way douches. Especially not if they are content creators.

    Blut und Rost - German Webserial about the horror that is human interaction

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