Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment

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Peace and love is here to stay and now I can wake up and face the day
Happy-happy-happy all the time, shock treatment, I’m doing fine

Gimme-gimme shock treatment
Gimme-gimme shock treatment
Gimme-gimme shock treatment
I wanna-wanna shock treatment

 – The Ramones Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment

After Chris Alexander’s storied tenure at Fangoria we were left briefly wondering what he might get up to next besides his Peter Murphy vampire flick. One might expect, with his credentials, he’d find a soft landing somewhere and so it was no surprise when the announcement quickly followed that he’d been picked up as the editor of cult movie website Shock Till You Drop – part of the CraveOnline conglomerate of “male interest” internet media properties.

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The details of Alexander’s departure from Fangoria are still unknown to the public at large and likely will remain so until the end of time. I don’t think anybody wants those cats out of their bags. We can definitely see the contours of some of the problems that marred Alexander’s watch over the historic magazine however.

Exhibit A, of course, is the infamous Lianne Spiderbaby story. Chris Alexander was among her chief enablers, publishing her work without batting an eye at the disjointed copy she kept turning in because she was “popular”. When the game was up and she was busted he didn’t come forward and take any sort of stand, he kept his head down and waited for Mike White to publish the story. When it came time for accountability he posted a rambling Facebook rebuttal that didn’t even mention her by name. In the magazine? There was no mention of the scandal. In fact, they went on to publish her plagiarized work in that month’s issue without so much as a retraction on their website.

Exhibit B is no doubt the Ben Cortman scandal. Chris was caught writing a gushing preview of his own movie under a pseudonym in Fangoria #314. With some sleuthing we were able to connect Chris Alexander to Ben Cortman definitely and prove he was abusing a nom de guerre for his own benefit under the noses of the publisher of the magazine he was fronting. It was a scandalous moment made more so when Alexander responded with bitter Facebook rants and using fake online profiles to attack me.

With a colourful past like this, who could blame people for keeping one eye on his ever-morphing career?

So the question is, how’s our boy been doing since he got off the Fangoria bus?

Let’s take a look at a recent sample.

Interview: Charles Band Remembers Klaus Kinski in CRAWLSPACE

Archival link

Sounds like a great interview, right? Fuck yeah it does! Klaus Kinski! Charles Band! Alright Chris, I’m reading.

Everything is looking good up until paragraph four. Then something weird happens.

SHOCK figured the time was right to stroll down the hall and knock on our boss’s door to pick his brain about one of cinema’s most notorious performers.

Wait, what?

I know Chris is talking metaphorical offices here, but I have to wonder just what the hell Chris Alexander’s boss at CraveOnline media knows about Klaus Kinski in CRAWLSPACE! Wasn’t the title of the article I clicked on about Charles Band remembering Klaus Kinski? Didn’t the first three paragraphs leading up to this point reference talking to Charles Band?

Why would Chris Alexander be calling Charles Band his boss? Is Charles Band some kind of shareholder in Crave? Does Band work in the SHOCK offices? Does he work in the metaphorical SHOCK offices? I’m really confused here.

From http://www.chris-alexander.ca/delirium/

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Oh. That doesn’t look good. So while working as editor of Shock, Chris has also been working as the editor of Delirium, a magazine put out by none other than the B-movie master Charles Band. I recall something about serving two masters? In any case though, him editing two mags isn’t a problem in itself. No, the problem unfolds later.

So I guess maybe he was just confused because he has a couple different bosses, right?

I mean, he didn’t just take this interview he did with Charles Band for Delirium Magazine and switch out Delirium for Shock and copy and paste it into this piece for Shock, did he?

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Oh. He did. Right there on the cover of Delirium issue #6 you have Kinski himself and then a call out for, you guessed it, an interview with Charles Band about the time he worked with Klaus Kinski on the movie CRAWLSPACE. Alexander just copied this interview and pasted it right into the pages of Shock Till You Drop and didn’t bother letting anyone know it was a reprint.

But wait! Surely that kind of mistake couldn’t happen because somebody at Shock would catch it! Somebody whose job it was to review all the text and make sure it makes sense and reads nicely and isn’t going to get anybody sued. You know, like an editor or something?

Except Chris Alexander isn’t just the writer cheating his readership and publication with sloppy seconds passed off as original content, he’s also the editor who should have caught the mistake that tipped people off to his con job! He failed at BOTH of his jobs here in critical ways. It’s the kind of thing that happens when nobody is really watching what goes into the sausage machine. Just mash it and serve it up.

Like he did with his Blood Spattered Book. He mashed up his old Rue Morgue articles and served them up as a brand new book and never bothered to tell readers they were getting warmed-over seconds. You can see it for yourself right here.

Rue Morgue #63 came out in December of 2006, Chris Alexander’s Blood Spattered Book came out in January 2010.

Take a look at the contents of Rue Morgue #63, right from the Rue Morgue website:

SCHIZOID CINEPHILE:
Alice, Sweet Alice.

Now feel free to read the whole piece as copied here from Rue Morgue #63:

Alice, Sweet Alice – Chris Alexander

Now go have a look at the Amazon preview for Chris Alexander’s Blood Spattered Book, published in 2010.

Notice that the first chapter is devoted to none other than Alice, Sweet Alice. The text is virtually the same copy from Rue Morgue #63, with the key differences being the RM piece seems to have seen an editor and reads leaner as a result. He just reheated it and copy and pasted it and he got himself a book. Notice how the book description never mentions these are previously printed articles? Did Midnight Marquee know these were recycled pieces?

So we have an established method he has been using for years: recycle his old work for new credit with a new audience. He did it when transitioning from Rue Morgue to Fangoria and he is at it again when transitioning between Fangoria and Shock.

Is this the first time we’ve seen Chris recycle his own work for Shock? Not a chance.

Check this out. Here is a piece that Chris did for SHOCK in November 2015 on the film THE SHOUT. Archival link.

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Yet if you go back to October 2014 you can find the same piece again, this time at Fangoria. Archival link.

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What we have here is Chris using the same piece in Fangoria and then a year later recycling it in a copy and paste job for his new publisher, Shock Till You Drop. But we aren’t done yet! Take a closer look at that Fangoria post:

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The plot thickens! Now we discover he copy and pasted the Fangoria piece right out of his own book! So it was published once in his book, once by Fangoria and now once by Shock Till You Drop. Can we get one more out of this one?

Maybe we can. We’ve established much of Alexander’s Blood Spattered Book was columns from his Rue Morgue days recycled into a book. If that is true of this piece on THE SHOUT then it would have been published a whopping three times before ever seeing the light of day at Shock.

Want to find more examples? Get out your copy of CHRIS ALEXANDER’S BLOOD SPATTERED BOOK and play along at home! Or break out your old Rue Morgue collection and see how many recycled copy and paste stories are making second and third runs through the guts of trusting publishers eager for content.

He even recycled his music career in the exact same fashion. Consider his Music for Murder album.

From SHOCK in October of 2015 (Archive Link) the headline reads:

Watch Creepy Video for SHOCK Editor Chris Alexander’s new song ORGAN GRINDER

New song? New album?

Then what was this review from 2012 all about then? (Archive Link)

Particularly this passage which seems to suggest that Organ Grinder is anything but a new song:

The first time I slapped on Chris Alexander’s 2004 album BlackGloveKiller, I heard the track ‘Organ Grinder’ and gasped out a quick, “Holy hell.”

2004? This song goes back to 2004? And Music for Murder goes back to at least 2012? But Chris said it was new!

It seems even Chris is confused. His own website indicates Organ Grinder (Archive Link) was used in 2007 to score a film by Rue Morgue publisher Rodrigo Gudino. So here we are again with Chris recycling material everywhere he goes. He arrives at a new place and he dusts off his old work, reheats it in the old copy and paste machine and he is making magic.

I guess we come to some questions at this point.

Why does this matter? Why should we care that a writer is recycling his past work and passing it off as new material? Does authenticity really matter anymore? Why shouldn’t a guy like Alexander get what he can for his work anywhere he can?

***

Crave is the #1 male lifestyle content publisher in the world right now with sprawling digital properties growing all over the internet and creating built-in networks to sell advertising to a cherished 18 to 34 “millennial influencer” target market. To say they are kind of a big deal is an understatement. They work on big marketing campaigns for the biggest brands in the world.

So when we ask why the history of Chris Alexander’s interview here matters we can go right to Crave itself and see what they think, at least in theory, about the issue. Here’s a shot from the front page of their website:

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Exclusive and original content.

Let that gestate for a moment. Exclusive and original.

Why would Crave care about providing exclusive and original content? Well fortunately they are pretty open about it all, so much so that they have handily posted this study of their target demographic. We can actually learn quite a bit about the Crave strategy and what they value as a company by spending some time with this document and what we find is that Crave is all about a demographic called the “millennial influencer”.

From the study:

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What Crave has identified here is a marketing goldmine that it thinks will produce superior results for its advertising customers. Essentially Crave believes it’s audiences are better consumers.

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So what Crave is seeking is the attention of the Valuable Purchase Influencer. As you can see they feel like this cohort is very valuable but also that it has values of its own, which you see reflected in the Crave brand itself.

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Authentic voices! Clearly they believe the millennial influencer values authenticity. Why are influencers so valuable to Crave’s customer base of advertisers?

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The entire business model of Crave is to attract influencers as engaged readers of their media properties, thus exposing their customers ads to the most viable target customer base. The study points out that they are the early adopters that will help popularize a product, they spend more in key product categories and they are more likely than other segments of the population to share and evangelize for a product or brand. They are also, according to the study, more likely to visit enthusiast websites to get news about new products and brands and they identify strongly with the brands they care about.

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Millenial influencers are most likely to engage with online ads when they are on a site they “trust” where the ad is contextually relevant. See, there’s that word “trust” again, it keeps cropping up when they describe millennial influencers preferences.

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This slide lays it out nicely. Trust comes up again as something they have identified their target market values.

Which brings us right back to Chris Alexander, really.

Who cares about this guy reheating his own bathwater and soaking in it over and over again?

Well, his employers perhaps.

Is the guy who slagged off Rob Zombie’s Halloween without even seeing the damn thing really the “trusted” source of niche interest you want on your editorial team? The guy who can’t seem to stop ripping off his own work and passing it off as “original” and “exclusive”? The editor who employed a plagiarist for years? The guy who gave his own film a tug job in the pages of a magazine he was supposed to be editing? The guy who said this:

I use – LIKE EVERY SINGLE PROLIFIC JOURNO – pseudonyms when my own byline is already saturating an issue and I want to mix it up. Or when i want to adopt a different style for fun. Or when I discuss a title that I am too close to.

That’s an “authentic voice”?

If CraveOnline believes in its own content strategy then Chris Alexander as one of their tastemakers for the influencers poses a bit of a problem. Remember they are wanting original and exclusive content and that is what they are presumably paying Alexander for in the first place. Getting sloppy seconds and thirds and fourths is probably not what CraveOnline envisioned when they brought Alexander on and is way out of line with their brand.

Let’s say Chris made some kind of arrangement with his boss though – CraveOnline knows all about the provenance of these pieces and they don’t mind one bit if Chris uses this strategy.

We still have a problem because the advertisers who buy into the CraveOnline network have been assured that the content they are sponsoring is going to be original and exclusive and will engage the male millennial influencer who values things like integrity and originality – all the good stuff we saw in the above slides. If I were those advertisers I’d have some questions about the content being generated over at Shock Till You Drop. Advertisers are paying for niche content in a strictly defined marketplace and Alexander is defying the rules of that marketplace.

There is no good scenario here. No matter how you slice it, somebody is getting a raw deal. Readers? CraveOnline? Advertisers on the Crave network? Charles Band? Rue Morgue? Midnight Marquee? Delirium? The only guy who benefits here is the guy who doesn’t have to work for a living – he just copies and pastes and searches and replaces the old outlet for the new. Bingo bango. Everything old is new again. Welcome to the new journalism.

Gimme gimme shock treatment…Gimme gimme shock treatment…

 

 

 

 

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