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While Ebert openly described himself as a liberal, he also commented that many of his peers had ended up labeled as conservative. Sheehan summed up Ebert's position: The list of films that Ebert and Richard Roeper both dislike but that are not bad movies "provides a picture of how carefully the motion picture reviewer must wade through the politics of the 1960s". In terms of political convictions, he said that Ebert was not a "woo-woo Communist" or an "amiable liberal". He believed that the fictional character of an avowed liberal is not a comfortable role for many people. Ebert's inconsistencies may have arisen partly because his upbringing -- which included conservative Southern parents -- caused him to disavow certain traits of his upbringing, such as liberalism and a dislike of racial groups like African Americans and Native Americans. Moreover, in the 1980s, the availability of more independent films changed the nature of the film community, which led to a seasoned critic like Ebert accepting ideas that he had previously written off. His arguments against students leaning too heavily on the MPAA's ratings system contributed to the rise of film-specific websites and online submission sites, which in turn helped to increase the influence of critics such as Ebert. During the late 1970s, Ebert argued that people who criticized his work were "self-righteous", "hysterical", and other unflattering terms.
Ebert frequently encouraged people to watch films that they would not ordinarily see, especially indie and foreign films. As a result, he became a champion of independent cinema and was one of its most aggressive critics. Ebert gave "moral support" to independent filmmakers such as Sidney Poitier and Spike Lee by reviewing their films, encouraging movie distributors to release more of the films, and by publicly backing their views and choices. An oft-made observation that Ebert had a wide range of tastes was true, but he and his films attracted many viewers who were interested in or had heard of his reviews. According to Don De Vito, the "lack of a rigidly defined and classifiable canon- like structure" to his work led to its wide appeal. Ebert was one of the few movie critics whose whose ability to write about movies was not tied to the availability of commercially distributed films. His reviews were not tied to seasons, and they could be written for venues other than major networks or film festivals. d2c66b5586