Scratched in the Wall of a Cell in the Prison of Ideas

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If you want to know the future of online media, imagine a boot stomping a human face…forever.

Valleywag does some excellent commentary on the big cash influx into web content distributor Buzzfeed.

I’m just going to pull some key quotes which ought to concern you:

Already, most of BuzzFeed’s revenue is derived from BuzzFeed Creative, the company’s 75-person unit dedicated to creating for brands custom video and list-style advertising content that looks similar to its own editorial content.

It is not a content company—it is an attention company.

Social media accounts for 75 percent of BuzzFeed’s referral traffic, according to the company.

Here is what really gets me though – the seething contempt moguls like Marc Andreessen have for a media that actually does its job and acts as an amplifier of truth about power structures that permit the people impacted by those power structures to better understand them and make more informed choices about them.

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Writer Profile – Mike White

Mike White channels Godard. Photo credit: Stacey Walters

Mike White channels Godard. Photo credit: Stacey Walters

One of the things I want to do in order to inject some more positivity into this blog is to start talking with writers and commentators in the scene and letting people get to know a little more about the people whose work is helping inform their understanding of the cinema landscape. I am going to be shooting out questions to writers I know an writers who catch my eye so watch for it, I think this will be a fun series.

I think it’s fitting to start with Mike White, not because he was the guy who blew the whistle and told what he knew about Lianne Spiderbaby, not because he busted out Quentin Tarantino over a decade before for lifting influences for Reservior Dogs from the relatively obscure City on Fire, not because he’s been on the front lines of incredibly in-depth and knowledgeable commentary on film through his blog, his Cashiers du Cinemart ‘zine and his Projection Booth podcast.

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Fangoria Legends – Rob Zombie UPDATED

rob zombie legends

This week it was announced that the Fangoria Legends: Rob Zombie special issue was finally ready and shipping out. It had been expected to ship in May and many upset Fango readers have taken to Facebook and the comments on the Fangoria website to voice their discontent with the delays.

Well, fans can stop all their bitching and moaning because it’s finally ready!

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Real Talk

This is long and all over the map. I leave it exactly as I wrote it so forgive the fact that it is sloppily written. It’s just my thoughts directly on the page.

 

I’ve been meaning to write this I just didn’t really know how. It bothered me for so long I delayed writing anything here at all for a long time. I wanted to explain some things about myself that I think are important to understanding who I am and why I write this blog. So what didn’t I know how to do then? What hung me up? Fear.

All different kinds of fear. One of the strongest among them is the fear that if I were to be very open and honest about what is going on with me I’d be rejected and dismissed. I have so much internal conflict over what I share with people – I get a lot of anxiety over it. I sometimes feel like putting yourself out there too much is a low instinct. That there is some magical way to promote your work and engage the people around you that can’t be seen as shallow and insincere that I just haven’t discovered yet.

So this post is about confronting that fear by just getting it all out and hope people understand. I can’t continue otherwise. I’m going to say what is on my mind and it might not all make sense but I feel a need to do it because the record doesn’t feel straight to me.

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Fangoria Musick Presents – The Music of Chris Alexander, Editor of Fangoria

beyondthedarknessbig

In this posting from the spring, Fangoria announced a step into the music distribution game. It’s an interesting move and frankly I’m not going to hold it against any publication to look for alternate sources of revenue or ways to attract people to the brand. It’s tough out there folks and haven’t you heard print is dead yet? In a marketplace that keeps trying to convince the public you’re a relic of the past you need to fight tooth and nail sometimes to keep going. I get branching out and trying things like this.

Here is what I don’t get and it is the point at which I am off the Fangoria Musick bus:

Rather than use the auspicious occasion of the launch of the Fangoria Musick label to announce a release from either a classic master or a newly discovered talent deserving of the spotlight, Fangoria instead uses the moment to allow editor in chief Chris Alexander to pump his own personal brand. That’s right, the first release from Fangoria Musick will not be lost recordings of Fabio Frizzi or a bleeding edge wunderkind plucked from the basement – it will be the music of Chris Alexander. Of course.

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Nobody Else Is Going To Speak Up For Your Conscience For You

I posted this to Facebook recently and decided it should have a more permanent home here because it really accurately sums up where my mind is at these days.

 

Even when you know so much of the shit around creative success is a grand illusion woven together with the fear and insecurity of your fellows, even when you have seen how fraudulent, ugly and fucked up it can be first hand, you have to constantly be on guard about it because you can forget really fast. That’s the power of this stuff, that’s how seductive it can be. Even with your eyes wide open the game manages to talk to a part of you that you want to pretend doesn’t exist – that vain, ego-driven motherfucker, that guy who just wants to be accepted somewhere finally, the guy that wants attention more than to be skilled at what he does.

You forget you know the game counts on you to be that guy so it can take advantage of you for one second and the hooks can get in you. Next thing you know you can’t trust yourself, rationalizing motherfucker that you are. Things start to become blurry, your motives start to be become questionable but the success starts coming. People start wanting you to do things, you start to get opportunities, you watch your peers get swept up in it all too and goddamn if it doesn’t look like fun. Suddenly a life you didn’t really think was possible for yourself seems much less far away and the things that might bridge the gap suddenly seem much less distasteful. That’s the point I think you give in to that part of yourself or you have what is probably an extended nervous breakdown.

So in my own small way I think this sums up where I’m at right now. I didn’t like who I was when I had those stars in my eyes, when people filled my head with grand illusions. Those same people call me a hack and a failure today. So never forget that people in this media business know how to talk dirty to your inner egomaniac asshole so you’ll always be ready to compromise yourself. Just do good work and listen to your conscience because out there, you’re the only person who is going to want to hear from your conscience. Nobody else is going to speak up for it for you.

Rue Morgue Magazine Completes Transparency Survey

Recently I announced that LPP would be conducting a survey of the top North American genre print publications. We asked the following magazines 25 questions about their business so we can better understand how they operate:

Fangoria

Rue Morgue

Horror Hound

Famous Monsters of Filmland

Video Watchdog

Today I am pleased to report that Rue Morgue is officially the first outlet to return their results and return they did, answering all 25 questions which qualifies them for the Gold level recognition. From now until the end of the year I will be using this data to build stories that should shed light on various aspects of the horror mag business – from diversity in the workplace to revenue breakdowns to placement rates for internships. The goal is to use this data to do a kind of reporting on the industry that I don’t believe has ever been done before and that’s exciting.

At the end of the year I commit to publishing the raw results for all to see and dissect. By then we should have explored at least a story or two on every question on the survey.

It’s important to note that the results are self-reported and must be evaluated with a critical eye – LPP will attempt to validate the information gathered but it must be kept in mind that there is an element of an honour system in place here. Pack your grains of salt when reading and always ask questions.

That said, our sincere thanks to the team at Rue Morgue who compiled this info for us and did so in a very timely fashion. I happen to believe that it says a lot about a company if they are willing to be open with the public and critics alike. In this day and age the model is so much more about obfuscation and spin or flat out freezing out people who aren’t willing to play the PR game. To have one of the biggest players in the game participate in our first go-around with this idea is very encouraging.

To the other companies who received the survey and haven’t responded yet: The bar has been set at Gold. Your move.

 

xray vision GOLD

 

* In the interest of full disclosure I have a couple of story pitches and a news item in with Rue Morgue currently. More on that soon.

The Legend of the Overfiend

overfiend

It’s 11:30 PM EST on Friday May 23rd 2014 and I am in a crowded hotel conference room packed with fans attending a panel on one of the most infamous anime films of all time. I’m not really sure what I expected the experience to be like but it is dark and humid. I am seated next to a giant fan that is basically just circulating this miasma of boy-sweat around the room. I am surprised to see a fair contingent of women here, people keep stealing glances at them whenever possible.

A beanpole of a kid begins to introduce the panel. I wasn’t sure what we’d talk about when it came to this movie and as it turns out, there isn’t any discussion happening. Instead of an expert panel Q&A or just a fan talk about the film we are just going to settle in and watch the complete uncensored version. Without further spectacle the remaining lights are shut off and the crowd settles in for a few hours of demons tentacle-raping schoolgirls to gory deaths.

Not really what I expected but I’m in for the long haul.

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The 2014 LPP X-Ray Vision Publisher Survey

I believe transparency matters. It’s how the public gets to hold its institutions accountable, how we get a chance to really understand the inner workings of media. It serves the immediate interest of accountability and the longer term interest of history. There is a pact that is fulfilled with audiences when their media is open with them about who they are and how they operate – it lets readers make a choice, not just about who appeals to them in terms of content but also who appeals to their values as people.

We developed a series of questions which were aimed at a few different aspects of the genre media business – things like ad practices, revenues, contributor pay, policies, internship programs, workplace diversity – things that are going to help give us a snapshot of the state of the industry during the 2013 calendar year. Then we sent the ensuing 25 questions to several of the top North American genre media outlets, asking them to answer as many as they could in whatever way they saw fit and that they would be rated based on number of questions answered. 2 to 8 will earn a Bronze, 9 to 16 Silver and 17 plus was good for a Gold.

The aim is to build stories based on this data which will help readers and future academics alike have a better understanding of the state of the industry and then fully publish all of the questions and answers.

We chose to ask the following outlets to participate:

Fangoria

Rue Morgue

Famous Monsters of Filmland

Video Watchdog

Horror Hound

Participants will receive a graphic for use in print and web certifying their ranking, the gratification of scoring higher than their competitors and the pride in helping pull back the curtain and let history in on how the sausage gets made. Non-participants get shamed like disobedient animals until they crumble before us.

Okay not really, but I encourage participation. This isn’t fishing for a “gotcha” moment – this is just about telling the story of the industry and I feel like that story is important, if only to a small and weird minority. I just want to tell that story.

The first part starts to get told next week as we reveal the first mag to participate in the survey and let you know how they ranked!

Let Them be Counted – A List of Writers Spiderbaby Stole From

I’ve been remiss in not posting this sooner but I believe that besides talking openly about things like plagiarism we also need to recognize the people who have had their work stolen. This is a list complied by user udar55 of the Latarnia Forums and I understand it to be the most comprehensive, although not all the work has been examined thoroughly.

Out of respect to these creators I publish this list. I challenge the publications that benefitted from her stolen work to publish this list as well. Please note any additions in the comments and I will update it.

1. John Berger – http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/Literary_Criticism/feminism/gaze.htm
2. Matt Deapo – https://twitter.com/mdeapo
3. Mary Ann Doane – film professor
4. M. Enois Duarte – http://www.highdefdigest.com/author/m-enois-duarte.html
5. Melissa Garza – http://www.scaredstiffreviews.com/
6. Robert Graysmith – true crime author
7. jhailey@hotmail.com – IMDb contributor
8. MaryAnn Johanson – http://www.flickfilosopher.com/
9. Shawn Levy – http://blog.oregonlive.com/madaboutmovies/index.html
10 Mike Massie – http://www.gonewiththetwins.com/moviepulse/index.php
11. Patrick McGilligan – Hitchcock biographer, http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/6508/Patrick_McGilligan/index.aspx
12. Monty Moonlight – reviewer at Amazon
13. Steve Pattee – http://www.horrortalk.com/contact-us/2-steve-pattee.html
14. Jason Pitt – http://www.critical-film.com/index.php
15. Richard Schieb – http://moria.co.nz/
16. Steven Jay Schneider – former BFI editor and current PARANORMAL ACTIVITY producer
17. Adam Smith – http://www.empireonline.com.au/reviews/films/2005/11/suspiria/review/
18. Joe Wawrzyniak – aka the prolific Woodyanders on IMDb, http://www.imdb.com/user/ur8239592/
19. Karl Williams – reviewer at Rovi
20. Christian Sellers – http://www.retroslashers.com
21. Lawrence P. Raffell – http://www.monstersatplay.com
22. Brian Eggert – http://www.deepfocusreview.com
23. Lisa Marie Bowman – http://unobtainium13.com/author/lisamariebowman/
24. Janet Maslin – The New York Times
25. Alex K. – http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/author/alex-k/
26. Eleanor Mannikka – The New York Times/Rovi
27. Matthew Tommey – www.thefilmpie.com
28. Bradley P. Guillory – http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue10/stainedlens.html
29. Laura Kipnis – http://laurakipnis.com/
30. Watergate.info
31. Allmovieguide (authors unknown)
32. Wikipedia (authors unknown)
33. The Origins of DEEP THROAT (author unknown)
34. Heather Boerner – Common Sense Media
35. Music Video Distribution – I DISMEMBER MAMA DVD (author unknown)