The announcement of Roger Ebert's passing popped up in my Twitter feed today, coming as a total shock to the system, despite knowing it shouldn't be a huge surprise, given his ongoing health situation. Yet, it was a shock. I figured he'd keep kicking ass as he has magically done over the past few years since his first bout with cancer. But he tried, damnit. His determination to keep doing what he loved doing – talking about movies, no matter what obstacles loomed – has been a huge inspiration to many. He never gave up, and he never, ever stopped writing about film.
Roger Ebert was a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times for almost 46 years. In fact, his name is synonymous with Chicago all over the world. He's authored many entertaining books on film, has written screenplays and was the co-host of At the Movies, which brought faces to the names we'd only seen in passing. Thanks to the show, we learned that differences in opinion do not mean one is right over the other, just as long as each party can argue their point intelligently. Essentially, he along with Gene Siskel taught film fans how to talk about movies without sounding like assholes. Or at least try.
What I always admired most about Ebert was his refusal to give up on his passions; the things that drive one to get out of bed in the morning. I'm sure there were days he was in unfathomable pain, but he never let the disease block him from pushing forward. He went on criticizing films as normal, even when he was no longer able to speak. Interestingly, he wrote something about his own death a while back here.
"Never marry someone who doesn't love the movies you love. Sooner or later, that person will not love you." (Roger Ebert)
— Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) August 29, 2011
Back to Twitter. Ebert's influence was so large that he amassed hundreds of thousands of followers (842,164 at the time of this post!) at @ebertchicago. I truly believe he was the most powerful film critic alive. President Obama even made a statement about Roger's death. Whether or not you agreed with him, he always made valid points in his reviews, which were often enlightening and rather clever. He also seemed to have lightened up his feelings regarding horror films the last few years.
Ebert's death made a huge impact on many today, trending in three places on Twitter as fans, friends and celebrities tweeted their memories and tributes. (Example: @mon666ster: RIP @ebertchicago. His review of @ForksOverKnives pretty much led to me becoming a vegan.)
A gallery of tweets for Roger Ebert has been included below. Please be patient if a tweet needs a few seconds to load. I've included a diverse group of people to exemplify how strong Roger's influence was, because it's all for the love of movies. Ebertfest will go on as scheduled April 17-21.
Two Thumbs Up, Mr. Ebert. In our hearts, we'll see you at the movies.