All good things come to an end, and today, that means The Dissolve is shutting down. I remember rumors flying two years ago that Pitchfork was launching a movie site, and that they were gathering an impressive roster of talent. The site that emerged from those rumors didn’t disappoint and The Dissolve soon became one of my favorite movie sites, full of sharp and intelligent film writing.
I appreciated the fact that they were willing to write about “high” and “low” cinema with equal measure: they’d cover the latest cult film titles just as soon as the most recent arthouse fare. For example, their “Movie of the Week” column would find the site’s staff watching and discussing everything from Spirited Away and Days of Heaven to The Killer and Plan 9 From Outer Space. Such diverse coverage was an obvious sign of the site’s love of cinema, in all of its forms.
Sadly, that sort of love doesn’t pay the bills, not in today’s web publishing landscape anyway. As editorial director Keith Phipps puts it in the announcement:
For the past two years — well, two years this Friday — it’s been our pleasure to put up this site, a site founded on and driven by a love for movies, alongside a company with passion and talent for creating thoughtful, important work. Sadly, because of the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise, today is the last day we will be doing that.
Linda Holmes had an aptly bittersweet response on Twitter:
(That sound you hear with the end of The Dissolve is punctured fantasies that being talented enough and working hard enough means security.)— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) #
The Dissolve staff were certainly talented and they worked hard, generating a steady stream of thoughtful writing. But in today’s publishing climate, that’s not enough, not when silly listicles and viral quizzes to determine which Game of Thrones character you should marry get all the clicks. But that’s what we choose to read and share these days, which means that sites like The Dissolve — sites that don’t rely on such gimmicks, but instead, focus on delivering good, solid content — are almost marginalized by default.
Hopefully, The Dissolve’s editors and writers are quickly snatched up by other sites and the site’s archives stay online for some time to come. It’d only add insult to injury for that treasure trove of film writing to disappear into the ether forever.