The Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic died at 70 today
Growing up, Siskel and Ebert was a huge part of my childhood. The thing is, I probably didn’t watch 90% of the movies that were discussed on that show. I don’t really have a good reason for why I tuned in almost religiously just to watch two adults arguing back and forth, but I remember being completely enraptured.
Maybe it’s a testament to their skill that they got a nerdy elementary school kid to listen to them? I like to think that I was being primed for my teenage years, which is when I started becoming truly obsessed with movies, television, and all things pop culture. For whatever reason, I enjoyed it – from their famous “two thumbs up” catchphrase to the very ’90s stylized intro.
Roger Ebert was always the one reviewer I would go to before watching a movie myself – or deciding that I’d rather skip it altogether. He’s the reason I didn’t watch Kick-Ass when it first came out, despite all of my friends telling me that they’d loved it; he’d written a particularly scathing review. Though I got around to watching it eventually, that’s how much I admired Roger Ebert (and still do).
Artists don’t like for their work to be criticized obviously, but there’s a power in reviewing and scrutinizing, and Roger Ebert was the first to show me that. I loved his prose, wit, and unique perspective.
Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, and complications from the surgery to remove the cancer ended up taking away his speech. But the great thing is that he never allowed this setback to define his latter years. He kept on writing, maintained his status as the one of the greatest film critics ever, and even made his presence known on Twitter. (He used the Internet to the fullest.)
Even if I didn’t always agree with him, I’m really going to miss reading Ebert’s reviews and finding out his perspective, not just on film, but on politics, current news, etc. He seemed like a genuinely great guy and I like to think he’s up there, somewhere in the cosmos, reuniting with Siskel.
May he rest in peace.