It’s a sad day here at Grierson & Leitch: After nearly four years of confusing you with movie reviews featuring seemingly arbitrary letter grades and inexplicable paragraph numbering, today is our last day at Deadspin. In two weeks, you can find us at our new home at The New Republic. But we want to say goodbye first.
Grierson & Leitch came to Deadspin in need of refuge. We had been working together on a big ambitious movie blog for Yahoo—the comedy and collapse of which was detailed by Chris Lehmann at The Baffler—for our friend Mark Lisanti, who would go through a similar corporate nightmare, albeit a far more public one, at Grantland four years later. As for the two of us, we’ve been best friends since high school, watching Siskel & Ebert the way most kids watched Beverly Hills 90210, but the Yahoo gig was the first time we’d ever actually worked together. We loved it, and were not ready to let go. So Tommy Craggs and A.J. Daulerio—at the time editors of Deadspin and Gawker, respectively—extended a hand: Would we write reviews for Deadspin and crosspost them to Gawker? We accepted in about half a second.
It was a strange fit. Deadspin had never really done much cultural coverage, and the move was widely seen, not entirely without justification, as a bit of charity toward the guy who had founded the place. Some readers were confused: Why wouldn’t these guys stick to sports? But it wasn’t just that we were writing about movies on Deadspin—we tend to write with an admittedly sometimes-hokey earnestness that may have initially seemed a little out of place. We couldn’t help ourselves: We are unable to see movies at an arch, meta distance. They transport us to a whole different universe, every time—even the bad ones—and each review was an attempt to accurately document that journey.
That approach can create a strange disconnect for readers who have long loved a site that does such a terrific job of calling out such earnestness and self-righteousness. But over time we made it work, in large part because we began to understand our readers, and our place here, that much better—and, we hope, you began to understand us. (Other than the letter grades, anyway.) And reading the responses to our pieces, with readers having their own debates, elevated our own discussion. You made us smarter. By the end, particularly with the great work Rob Harvilla and Puja Patel were doing elsewhere at the Concourse, Deadspin felt comfortable and perfect. It felt like home.
Plus: There’s nowhere else more fun to rip into Seth MacFarlane.
But you know how it goes: The world shifts, whether we shift with it or not. Thus, we shuffle off to The New Republic, a terrific publication we’ve been reading for years, in all its incarnations. We almost made it to four years at Deadspin, which is a pretty amazing run in one place for film critics, that’s for sure.
As for Will, the half of this duo who used to work full-time at Deadspin, getting to be a part of the site on a regular basis—a site that has changed so much since I’ve been here, that has only expanded in scope and ambition and influence—has been an honor, and personally fulfilling. I remain in awe of the work Tim Marchman and the crew do every day. There’s still considerable professional cachet to being the guy who founded Deadspin, even though I left more than seven years ago, and that cache exists solely because the site is so good and urgently relevant today. So thank you, to Marchman and the Deadspin staff, not just for having us, but for producing such amazing work. It has been an honor to sit beside you. And thanks to Craggs (who remains personally responsible for a shockingly large percentage of the greatness you read on the internet) and Daulerio for bringing us in, and Marchman for letting us stay, and Puja and particularly Rob for editing us. There wasn’t a single piece that wasn’t better after Rob edited it.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t specifically call out Jim Cooke and his art staff for their oft-brilliant renderings of the Grierson & Leitch logo. Our favorites remain Django Unchained and Room 237. We honestly don’t know anyone better at his or her job than Jim Cooke.
And now we shuffle off. We’ve got a fortnight off before debuting at The New Republic with a review of a little space-opera movie you might have heard of. (We’ll also be doing a weekly podcast there.) Until then, you can follow us on Twitter @griersonleitch, and you can even bookmark our new, under-construction personal Website Griersonleitch.com. Otherwise, thank you for having us. We had a blast. If you’ll forgive the indulgence, the balcony is now closed.
Illustration by Jim Cooke.