The Set Up…
It’s been over a half of a year since one of these ugly dogs graced this here site. I kept writing and rewriting a farewell letter that never came. Part of it was because I felt there was a conflict of interest aspect I had to tiptoe around because I really don’t want to be one of those guys who bounces back and forth over the line as they see fit. The Internet and the film biz already have their share. Read below for such a case in my little Superman piece.
But I think it was burnout more than anything else. Eight or nine years of doing anything, whether it be a sales job, delivering pizza, or giving hard loads to loose women, is a lot without downtime. Devin was kicking ass, the site was doing well, and I really wasn’t all that vital anymore. Especially considering that blogs and rss feeds and podcasts were new things to me. I didn’t feel they were as genuine as what we’ve been doing since the web was a little wilder. Shit, the term Meta doesn’t feel like the Internet I’ve been a part of. It’s a weird time and I don’t exactly know if I like where it’s come to. MySpace? Come on…
Yeah, and maybe I felt like I’d graduated. But the more things change. These days I have a bunch of projects to work on and the intangible conflict of interest is no longer an issue to me. Whatever I do, the site is the reason I’m doing it. There’s too much fun still to be had. So, if you like The Steady Leak and you want it to stay, it will. Updated even.
I missed you jackasses anyways.
On with the Leak.
Does everyone else get like four emails a week from classmates.com? I’ve been out of high school for sixteen years and still this service sends me little notes when some fat and thrice divorced ex-classmate pops on and tries to rekindle lost allegiances to try to pinpoint where it all went wrong. Sadly, no updates on the status of the fingers of Mr. Rhymes, the industrial arts teacher whose digits took the loss back in 7th grade. Shit, that was MIDDLE school. Do they have their own classmates too?
For a sad group of people, high school is the best it ever got. For the rest of us, it was a fun time that was a good place to whittle time away while we tried on shitty hairstyles and fashion that’d make a billy goat puke (rest in Crenna, peace).
These guys are mercenary as it gets. I wouldn’t be surprised if the FBI could nab a few thousand of their most wanted simply by tracking how Terrorist X replies to his weekly missive. Here’s the thing: I liked high school, when I was there. I wasn’t there much but I liked it. I made some friends I still adore to this day. Heck, my wife was there roaming the halls with me even though I didn’t know her and she’d not be my wife if she knew me then.
All that said, I don’t get it. How are they so huge? I mean, there’s maybe two or three people from my past I haven’t been able to wrangle through my own means (and if we don’t make the effort, doesn’t it mean something?) but it’s not the kind of thing I lose sleep over. I mean, does this site cater to the lonely? People who feel they haven’t achieved in life until they get the nerve to ask Sally Wintertits out on a date? Sure, she’s 49 years old now but she may be waiting.
Classmates.com seems like a neat catalyst for a romantic comedy premise but otherwise it makes me angry. One positive thing: it gives the loonies an easy way to track down the people who pulled their pants down in the locker room.
In retrospect, it’s a GREAT site!
Peter, Pall and Scary.
I almost shat your pants when I popped onto IMDB a few weeks back and saw Peter Mayhew listed at #1 on their "STARmeter". It’s like waking up and realizing you’ve been eating Asschips instead of Cheerios with our morning coffee all your life. Like selling your family estate the day before oil comes shooting up through the toilets (at least you THINK it’s oil). It’s like ordering a gigolo who’s a dead ringer for Josh Hartnett and having Devin Faraci show up at the door.
Peter Mayhew. The guy who’s uglier than Ace Frehley. The guy best known for not being seen in Star Wars. I’m sure he’s a fine guy, but when your biggest moment of the year is when the Comic-Con check comes in, you shouldn’t be within Wilhelm screaming distance of a top spot on anyone’s chart.
Makes me wonder what’s worse about IMDB’s STARmeter; that dead people shoot up the charts with a bullet or that Peter Mayhew can make it WITHOUT DYING.
Get back to me on that, willya?
If CHUD.com Ran the Movies.
Bastardization by Nick Nunziata. All apologies to the makers of The Omen and Finding Nemo.
Don’t Trust Internet Movie Reviews.
as if we’ve learned nothing from a decade of experiences good, bad, and
hideous. The concept of legitimate online film criticism was never the kind of
idea that really sat well with many due to the anonymity and overall lack of
fact checking associated with the web. Add to that a few cases where such fears
were proven and the fact that everyone with rudimentary computer skills and a
few minutes to kill can start up a blogger account and join the ranks and you
have something that makes a clusterfuck look like the innocent heavy petting of
criticism on the web is a sham. A scam. For every one site or entity (and I
consider this site one of the good guys, my Equilibrium love and
Devin’s Aja fascination included) that flies as close to the straight and
narrow as can be expected without shareholders, editors, and some time tested
literary cabal watching from the rafters there’s thousands of them just
spouting away to all who’d hear with ulterior motives, the quest for a blurb,
or just plain ignorance guiding them. Forget all expenses paid trips to sets
and junkets, that’s the necessity of the business and it’s barely a footnote in
the ledger for studios. Forget the friendships some online folks build with
“the talent”. Forget even the annoying trend where someone goes to an extreme
in their opinion simply because they were able to see a film early. You’d be
amazed how many crackpots are born onto the internet and given credence simply
because they happened to be in an early screening and felt the need to draw
attention to themselves. Here’s a safe
rule of thumb: If it’s a real early review, there’s a reason.
no real qualification anymore. You’re a member of the press if you know where a
Kinko’s is and old dinosaurs like CHUD.com find themselves on the same playing
field. Other than “legit” trade publications like Variety and The Hollywood
Reporter, organizations which require their own set of learning curves and
grains of salt to be taken by people outside of the inside, very few online
resources are functioning as places to be given intelligent and honest criticism.
Of course, most of the people out there could care less. Entertainment is job
one and if a site is able to balance reviews with links to the latest YouTube
clip or a really juicy blog, it’s moot. Even old reliable sources are often
populated with whomever they could find for free or cheap or just to fill the
required column space to appease the advertisers. Don’t get me wrong, if it
weren’t for folks who are able to do this for the fun and occasional rewards,
this site would be a desert but the fact remains: The web’s effectiveness is
moving away from the text and towards the guttural. Bandwidth no longer an
issue, we have podcasts and vidcasts, and flashy other technologies people with
Bluetooth Lobot Headgear (B.L.H.) ruling the day. Yes, there’s Rotten Tomatoes
and their trusty (and apparently valuable) networking tools. There’s
Metacritic. There’s ol’ Google and IMDB’s hilariously uneven bits of
communiqué. There’s no shortage. It’s just that the really pure voices out
there who choose to exist in this medium are few and a lot of the ones who are
beloved are more corrupt than the newbies.
isn’t a name naming piece. Shit, I’m too out of the loop to know all the names.
What I do know is how many people are tainted by their knowledge. By their
connections. By the gigs they lost and by how they got railroaded for something
they’d previously said. There are so many out there who have agendas that the
idea of legitimate film criticism becomes a Holy Grail or more likely a
Fountain of Youth, wished for but never attained. In many ways the internet has
been and will always be the minor leagues; the place to start before you’re
discovered. The training grounds. It’s not true, but it’s perceived. A jaded
old cock like me, I can’t read a review on some sites without ticking away what
I forsee to be different agendas interfering with the content. Knowing some
studio reps like I do, it’s obvious that there’s a more intimate relationship
than appears on the surface. Heck, I have situations all the time where friends
of mine have tried to sway our coverage. Not in a mean way, mind you, but just
in a way to help keep the vibe positive. What I’ve done in my limited instances
has been to either not cover the film at all or pass it on to an untainted
someone. I kind of got snobbish for a while about the webs, somewhat embracing
the minor league paradigm. Then I looked at it from my current perspective, one
which I consider to be more than the layperson’s.
The Information Age. It’s not just a
catchphrase. It’s as real as the Age of
Reason, The Age of Enlightenment,
The Bronze Age, or faded copies of The
Stoned Age on VHS. It’s a weird evolution that is changing us so
drastically that we often don’t see it. We realize it when we discover a hotel
only has dialup or we think back to when a BBS was cutting fucking edge. When
we think about having to wait for the newspaper to be delivered. It’s upon us
like a virus, and it may be the first step towards the end of us but it’s
tangible and transcendent. This age is redefining whatever it touches and in
our mostly insignificant and somewhat self serving little niche of film
criticism and discussion it’s creating something akin to Frankenstein’s
Monster. It has millions of eyes, an undying hunger to feed itself, and no
soul. No allegiance. No mercy.
words later, I say this: We had our chance. We blew it. Now it’s just a matter
of finding the lone beacons of light and clinging to them.
preaching to the choir, I know. CHUD.com’s readers tend to believe they’re the
ones who should deliver the news of a film’s fortune or failure on the masses.
The experts. The ones who are deep in heated debate before the theater door
closes behind them. I’m telling you nothing you don’t know. I just say it from
the perspective of having seen it rot from within like a kid’s tooth on
shouldn’t, but I will give a few vague examples from recent events that chafed
You want a film that divides people before the film even peeks into theaters?
Here’s your baby. In a year of utter boredom, where what is supposed to be the
most glorious installment in a very healthy franchise makes a ton of money but
garners no real emotion from pundits on either side (X-Men: The Last Stand,
which had plenty of discussion and debate from viewers but little in the way of
suspense), it’s about time we had a firecracker of a topic. Already, folks who
run sites like mine are dealing with a variety of pressures from the oddest
sources (advertising companies, independent reps) to do or say or cover one
thing or another. Stuff I’ve never seen happen before. Loads of planted reviews
both dramatically positive or violently negative. Threats over whether to cover
the flick and how. Emails, oh the emails. It was this situation that made me
wonder how different things will be a year from today. What the relationship
between sites like this and the studios. With each other. Some stuff has been
broken between some sites that can’t be fixed. There’s allegiances to studios
that defy logic and blacklists by studios that defy it stronger.
say this flat out. Don’t trust a goddamn single one of the Superman Returns reviews
on the web. Not a one. Make it your new barometer. Disregard the message board
frivolity and ignore the blogs and their take on it. See the movie and then go
back and read the far-flung text on the subject. Perhaps you’ll see what I
mean. I’m not saying the studio (Warner Bros. in this case) is up to no good.
They have their own work to do: making a hugely expensive film wrought in many
dead development processes come out and come out with big numbers. They’re in
the business of making movies and making movies that make money. I just think this
film in particular has changed the way this little corner of the film business
happens. Some folks may have overstepped their bounds. Others may have felt no
bounds ever existed.
me, I watched it from the cheap seats and have no idea what to make of it.
don’t put much weight into the reviews, even the tag team one myself, Devin, and Russ are doing. Some true colors may show themselves and we’ll
all feel better on the tail end.
Returns? I’m sure it’ll end up making plenty of money. I think it’s
also the beginning of the next age of online film criticism but I’ve been wrong
before. I thought Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was going to make a mint. I thought Napoleon
Dynamite was a pile of ass no one would want to see.
Comics Punched My Childhood.
Author’s Note: This is not a violent reaction to Speakeasy Comics shitting the bed and putting my books into the illustrated version of turnaround for a while. That violence has been replaced with vigor and determination. And some violence, but fuck it!
I have 30 long boxes of comics in my garage laughing at me. They sit there at night in the dark as a constant reminder of why youth is fleeting and how passion and pain are so viciously intertwined. I haven’t been to a comic shop in about four months, not counting a recent jaunt to Meltdown because, well it’s Meltdown. I haven’t been because I see just how fucking lame it is to see the same Marvel and DC heroes rebooted and reimagined by new writers and artists and how pointless it all seems. I have no doubts that I or many of this site’s readers could also steer these characters and franchises into fun new territory but what’s the point? So Wizard can ejaculate all over it and then a year later ejaculate all over how Brian Michael Bendis does it his way? And don’t look now, but here comes Warren Ellis with his seedworthy endeavor.
Ugh. And the manga continues its viral takeover of the graphic novel section of every bookstore this side of Laos.
Dave Davis and Sean Fahey have a pact about the fate of the comic book industry. They’re both wrong. It’s in dire straits and there’s not going to be a Knopfler solo to save it. The independents are still solid and there’s plenty of great material out there. The creative side is stronger than ever, but everyone is so into trends and treating their comics like PROPERTIES that it just makes all that reading and enjoying and bagging and boarding seem trivial. I didn’t collect comics to turn a profit, though I do have the variant cover for Stephen Platt’s Prophet. I collected them because you keep the stuff you love close to you. Now I feel like they’ve collected me, sneaking up into my marrow and guiding me like Chekov with the earworms.
I see those boxes and I see the shelves at my comic shop and it’s like two completely different representations of the medium. I walk the shelves and see the $2.99 price tags and realize what a sacrifice these are for kids today. Comics are a sacrifice. The really good stuff being done is literature. It ain’t funnybooks. Those fuckers should be put on bookshelves next to Bierce and Falkner and the master of all, Grisham.
The rest of it is cyclical junk food. It has its value I suppose but when the fifth-tier X-Book costs more than a Happy Meal all I see is a medium that losts its way and became a goddamn chore.
To quote Will Mason, That ain’t right!
Note from the Author: Valhalla, Left Turn, and Hell’s Garrison will be published by a yet-undetermined publishing house, making one wonder if the author isn’t full of shit.
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Send feedback on this noise. And that is the end of Steady Leak #114.
And that is the end of Steady Leak #114.