since my return to the Dallas Morning News in 2009 following my fellowship year, I have been a culture critic. Trading in my old title of movie critic formalized my interdisciplinary impulses and gives me more room to roam, to generate story ideas that cross disciplines and to explore culture as a whole.
For example, I was captivated by “Street Poison,” Justin Gifford’s biography of Iceberg Slim, the influential pimp-turned-author. The book was widely reviewed by critics, and I could have joined in. Instead I became interested in writing a piece that examines the troubling glamorization of the pimp figure in movies, music, and television.
In addition to looking for fresh angles on cultural icons, I have embraced a multimedia life. I collaborate with a friend at the local NPR affiliate on a weekly film segment. I host the newspaper’s culture podcast, “Mixed Media.” I’m on Dallas’s NBC affiliate most Fridays talking about new movies. I curate and host a repertory film series in conjunction with the Dallas Film Society and I moderate an increasing number of author Q&A events.
I don’t write as many reviews as I once did. I have to pick my spots with more care. Yet I’m probably working harder than I ever have, and the excitement of the new keeps me energized.
My strategy has been to diversify and adapt. The rewards for thinking bigger have been substantial. I am more connected to my audience. I feel less than ever like some critical voice pontificating from on high. And I’m tapping an extroverted side I never knew I had.