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.
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.
* 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.
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.
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:
Famous Monsters of Filmland
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!
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.
If you aren’t watching this today there is something wrong with you.
LPP returns this week.
Let’s celebrate with a very rare interview I did with Astron-6 on the subject of making FATHER’S DAY. This was originally only ever published in local Hamilton Ontario ‘zine SCREAM SCENE in June of 2012, published by fan group Horror in the Hammer. I have no idea how many of these are in circulation but I’d guess it wouldn’t be more than a hundred.
Could have been posted by anyone really. Notice how the post is designed specifically to make you think it was something “found” spontaneously and shared with other fans. Notice the clear separation between the authour of the post and Full Moon.
I found out on their facebook. I guess they have lot of unreleased stuff from the past they wanna compile into a magazine.
Taking the post at face value you’d be forced to say the person writing it was not associated with Full Moon or Delirium. It clearly looks like a post from a fan sharing news with other fans. Full Moon is hugely popular in the horror fandom and news of them starting a magazine could be seen as cause for a fan to make a posting like this to spread the word or spark discussion.
“The junk merchant doesn’t sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client.”
William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Fandom, for many, is an escape from the everyday banalities life serves up to us with numbing regularity. The world is an ugly place full of uncertainty and deception, a place we are never sure we are being told the truth about anything. Dirty wars. Dirty cops. Politicians who lie with such frequency their lies aren’t even news anymore – we all just cynically assume all politicians and media are liars and pretend this is an enlightened state of mind. The idea of “truth” starts to become relative or worse, it becomes talismanic, a religious concept, something possibly un-knowable without an element of faith.
“I don’t read horror mags for the politics. I don’t care about politics, I turn to horror mags to get away from politics.”
This is an example of some of the feedback I’ve gotten on the work we’ve done with LPP to date. We dedicate this piece then to the apolitical. For you this is Naked Lunch time.
Apocryphally, Jack Kerouac is acknowledged to have given Burroughs the title for his classic novel Naked Lunch. He told old Bull Lee that it represented the moment when people saw what was really on the end of their forks. It’s a moment where people have the layers stripped away and all the spin, deception, self-deception, PR, politics, mystery and uncertainty hosed off until all that remains is reality and that kind of big “T” Truth we fetishise more than really pursue.
Horror Nation – today the challenge is to try and catch a glimpse of what is really at the end of your fork. What have you been putting in your mouth all this time?
An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I tried. Honest to Nyarlathotep I tried. There were ambitious plans to start the new year with a different focus which are now rendered useless as I can no more resist reporting on this story than a twisted meth-head can resist scratching at the bugs he feels devouring his flesh. The primary difference is that meth-bugs are horrific hallucinations and Chris Alexander’s ongoing success is very much a reality.
It was announced recently that Charles Band venture Full Moon will be getting into the magazine game with a publication entitled DELIRIUM:
A Brand New, Bi-Monthly, FULL COLOR Cult, Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy PRINT Magazine that scours true tales from the legendary Full Moon archives…and beyond.
They have chosen Fangoria and GoreZone editor-in-chief Chris Alexander to helm the ship:
Published by Band, produced by the Full Moon Features team and edited by filmmaker, film journalist and FANGORIA Magazine EIC Chris Alexander, DELIRIUM is a passionate work of lurid wonder, jam-packed with exclusive interviews, bizarre stories, garish photos from Band’s expansive and foreboding vaults (many of which have never, ever, EVER been seen before), posters, retrospectives, special FX make-up secrets, laughs, shocks, thrills and chills. DELIRIUM aims to chart indie horror and fantasy’s secret history using the Empire/Full Moon/Band legacy as the foundation but then careening madly into unexpected directions.
Is criticism disloyalty? Honesty a betrayal? Can you ask the questions and tell the stories that need to be told without being some treasonous disrupter?
Alan Rusbridger, editor of UK newspaper The Guardian, is facing these exact questions from his own government after publishing explosive revelations about US National Security Agency internet surveillance. The stories, obtained from ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden by journalist Glenn Greenwald, paint a disturbing and far more extensive portrait of the nature and dimensions of State surveillance on its own citizens and on the citizens and dignitaries of other countries.
Recently the Washington Post reported that Rusbringer had been brought before the UK Home Affairs Select Committee to be questioned about the newspapers decision to print these stories and whether it endangered national security. During the course of these proceedings Labour MP Keith Vaz bluntly asked Rusbringer:
“Do you love this country?”
Is a country more than lines on a map – a delineation of space owned by us and space owned by them? What is it that makes us, us?