The Dissolve Facebook group has now lasted longer than the Confederacy. Formed in the first few days after the loss of The Dissolve, known variously as “the mothership” and “the Old Country,” it was a response to the assembled grief of a large number of people who were heartbroken that one of the best sites for film criticism in the history of the internet had been taken away from us. The Solute comes out of that, one of a handful of remnants still floating around the internet.
I’m one of the people who initially heard of the site as “a bunch of AV Club people are going to have a website,” and it was intriguing. And for the first time in my life, I actually commented on a website. I had never done that before, and I did that because The Dissolve didn’t feel like a typical “don’t read the comments” site. I don’t even really remember moderation of the comments, though I suppose there must have been—getting rid of the spammers, for starters—but the community was nearly immediate and still exists.
I don’t read a lot on the internet, possibly because I am An Old. My film criticism standard is still Roger Ebert, who was so annoyed at the concept of clickbait that he barely wanted to give movies star ratings. I don’t want to read everything that’s wrong with a movie; I want to read seriously, intelligent thought about a movie or else really well-written snark. And one of the standards The Dissolve always had was “really well-written.” There remain all sorts of in-jokes from the funnier reviews of bad movies that the former Dissolve commentariat still reference. Our own Taco Break comes from the argument we had in the comments of an article telling us of a certain film critic telling us the right way to watch movies.
What I think kept the group together was that we knew that the right way to watch movies was with a love of the medium. Not necessarily any particular movie; all of us can quote any number of negative reviews, from Roger on out, and we’ve probably all written our own as well, if nowhere else but on Letterboxd. But even though one of the jokes we have is that All Movies Are Bad, we still have a love of the medium that brought us all to The Dissolve and kept us all together thereafter.
I don’t want to paint it as all cheerful and rosy; there is a lot said behind the scenes about at least one former Dissolve writer that isn’t exactly positive, and I remember the hubbub about whether we were going to be banning people from the Facebook group before it became apparent that we absolutely had to. And I can still tell you some of the people we banned and some of the reasons it was the right thing to do. People banned for all sorts of bigotry, for personal attacks, for lots of things. Any large group of people will have that. But I’m glad that we’ve held it together for five years.