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On the Passing of The Dissolve

Yet another appreciation piece on the Chicago-based film-themed website, which shuts its doors after two years

Today I found out one of my favorite websites would be no more. As of July 8th, after two years of providing smart content about cinema, Chicago-based gem The Dissolve shuts down operations “because of the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise”, according to their farewell post written by founder and Editorial Director Keith Phipps. Gone. Over. Kaput!

I may be exaggerating, of course. It’s not like Pitchfork Media, the owners of the site, are going to just delete the whole thing and auction off the domain name to some sort of Sand Mandala fetish site or paint thinner sales outfit. (Let’s hope the Internet Wayback Machine has backed it up recently, just to be safe.)

Mourning The Dissolve

Still, it is done, isn’t it? All the great film-themed articles by Phipps and his crew? No more new ones of those ever again. Scott Tobias’ reviews? Bu-bye! You Might Also Like? Unliked! Those Movie of the Week texts that linked together like something out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? ¡No más! Nathan Rabin’s Forgotbusters? Forgotten! The cultural impact deconstructions of One Year Later? Sorry, that’s all you get! Kitchen’s closed!

I doubt it’s the last we’ll hear of these guys. I followed both Rabin and Tobias from their A.V. Club days (I was particularly fond of Rabin’s My Year/World of Flops column/experiment), so surely they’ll soon find a new home. All the great Dissolve regulars will, but where and at what cost? As Matt Zoller Seitz put it on the Roger Ebert site’s Dissolve appreciation piece, it’s hard enough to earn a living lately “[s]taring at a blank page every day, or several times a day, and trying to fill it with words you’re proud of, on deadline, with few or no mistakes, and hopefully some wit and insight and humor…”, even worse considering the days of getting by “without a side gig that’s actually the ‘real’ job” seem to be gone.

It would seem the only paying forum left on the web for quote-unquote intelligent writers is, for better or worse, Cracked.com. Even they must resort to odious, click-friendly tricks like catchy double-take headlines, lists and such. Such is the nature of the beast, Daily, Huffing or otherwise.

As a lover of movies browed high and low, it would’ve been an honor to write for a site like it with values I respected, but that ship has sailed. Not since Microsoft discontinued Cinemania have I felt such a loss. (Sure, there’s IMDb, but it’s not the same, dammit!)

So I mourn. Farewell, The Dissolve. I will miss you and the wonderful crew who made you what you are. Here’s hoping, in the name of irony or serendipity, you get a sequel or spinoff soon. Fade to black. Curtain closed.

Visit The Dissolve’s official website at: thedissolve.com

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