Wednesday, September 6, 2017

MIXED BAG BLOG #14: PAST FILM BLOGS REMEMBERED, TOO MANY ROTTEN TOMATOES ARTICLES, and WHAT IS THERE TO HATE ABOUT AWARD SHOWS, REALLY?

(Sigh) I've run into a bit of a busy time of year right now. I've got the Primetime Emmys to focus on, hell, the Creative Arts are Saturday, and I got predictions to make. On top of that, I've got a couple extensive blogs coming up, on top of reviews to write, and, that's not even counting, my real jobs, outside of this blog, and that will devote most of my time in the coming weeks, unfortunately. Oh, and as you've probably figured out already, based on the multiple Canon of Film posts, I've put up lately, I'm behind. So....

Every once in a while, when there's nothing going on in the entertainment world that seems important or relevant enough to garner a complete or full review, (Or I'm just swamped and behind and don't really have the time or energy to devote to doing the investigative work needed for my kind of extended posts) we do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where we take a couple quick looks at a few different subjects or events going on in the entertainment world, and we're gonna do one of those today. First, a more reflective look at, well, other film bloggers, or past film bloggers as it were, another piece on Rotten Tomatoes, this one about, just, fricking being tired on all the damn pieces on them, and since it is Emmy season, we're gonna look at, people who hate award shows, and why, I find that claim, confusing and I'm relatively unsympathetic to it.


REMEMBRANCE OF BLOGGERS PAST. 

So, I went after a particular Facebook Film group on one of my more recent posts, cause the leadership went after me, and in fact, I named names, about their behavior. The link is below:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-trial-of-david-baruffi-why-film.html

And by the way, after I posted that, I got a few smartass comments from Mr. Champion, and one from Robert Jones, about how my blog was poorly written, on the blog's Facebook page. He's somebody who I suspected but couldn't completely prove at the time was interwoven into Carl Champion, Jr.'s inner circle, he also followed my blog's Facebook page, so I'm sure he'll read this at some point. Nobody's taken up on my offer to send me their similar experiences through my private e-mail, but I've had my post shared with several groups, including some that I don't traditionally post in for one reason or another, and I've had others comment about their shared experiences with Mr. Champion's Film Club and shared some of their stories, and they by far outnumbered the positive posts about him and his group, and for that matter their threatenings of me. I'm still keeping my promise, and as sure as Hell, not backing down, and if I ever hear anything else about them, I'm damn-well gonna mention it and post it here, 'cause fuck them. I'll tell you this though, the thing that truly got me thinking most about that damn trial, on top of all the big fish small pond cowardice-disguised-as-strength that Mr. Champion likes to practice, was the notion that he couldn't that I, of all people would be the one to go up against him and challenge his authority.

I don't normally use the phrase, "Bitch, please", but, "Bitch, please!" Yeah, if they didn't know my name and reputation they probably know it now, but secretly like to pretend like I was some runaway drone, but yeah, if you've read me or known me long enough, you know that this shouldn't have been a surprise to him.

It got me thinking about a few of those times, I've gotten in trouble. Sometimes, calling out fans, sometimes calling out things fans like, sometimes calling out popular critics, in fact, I've gone after other bloggers on several occasions.

Some of my older readers might remember my infamous blogpost on the LAMMY Awards.

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-lammys-ballot-yeah-yeah-more-time.html

Technically, I'm still a member of them and they also still exist, I'm LAMB #1523, and I have nothing against them, but they don't seem to be as active an organization as they used to be. They're the Large Association of Movie Blogs, you can find their website here:

largeassmovieblogs.com

I should have a link on my site for them, I don't know where that went, but somebody remind me and I'll put it on again later. Anyway, they gave out yearly awards for their members, the Lammys. When I first started blogging here, I considered them, partially competition, and partially a milestone marker for me to get into them. Like it was a sign that I had arrived. I know, that's stupid now, but I was just beginning this thing, and was trying to figure out who my audience was, and my natural inclination, was other bloggers to both. In fact, one of my main objectives when I started this blog was to be as different and unique from other bloggers as I could, and a site like this, as well as others, was to me a good place to look up and find out what others in this chosen field were doing, so that I could do something different if possible.  I wanted to stand out, and in many ways I still do, but a good portion of my early years doing this was simply studying other bloggers and trying to be accepted by them, and in strange ways be as different from them. It's that peculiar needle everybody had to thread when it comes to branding oneself..., but anyway, I had gotten permission to reveal my Lammys ballot from them, and I thought it would be fun to reveal it.

Yeah, funny thing, this blog basically became the catalyst for them, not having the Lammys anymore. They still do a few things, but they're way less active overall. Hell, I follow them on Facebook, and it's like they don't even bother anymore; they update, every few months at best there. They are more active on Twitter, which I guess is a slightly better idea than being active on Facebook, (Although I'm more of a Facebook guy)  but, they've tuned themselves down from being this elite collection of movie bloggers.

The really funny thing, is that unlike other posts I've done, where I really was trying to go after somebody and use my pen as a metaphorical sword to annihilate others, this was never intended to do something like that. My post, was not mean-spirited, in fact it was conceptual in nature. I wanted to portray the obnoxious jealous bitter rejected blogger, and have fun as I parodied my more traditional prediction posts about the Oscars or Emmy. Which, I did, and sure, some of my claims, in fact all of my specific claims about other bloggers were legitimate, and I got some brushback for a lot of it, including from some of the bloggers I really liked and admired, and some I didn't but I was hoping this would've became a yearly traditional blog. The kind where I would satirize myself, while simultaneously promoting and reacting to others in my industry. I looked up every nominated blog and several others that weren't for my nomination ballot, and for this blogpost, just so I could be thorough and have honest opinions, and most of them were positive. The slant of my perspective, was negative, but that was it, and I thought that was clearly a character.

I doubt I'm the only reason they don't give out Lammys anymore, sure, I basically circumvented their importance and showed how to chip at them as an institutional power, but it wasn't consciously. I was trying to make a name for myself and have fun, and again, distinguish myself from other bloggers.

What about those other bloggers, anyway? That's the thing, this was five years ago, and I'm still here. So are some of the other blogs, but not all of them. Not most of them in fact. I went back to check out what other bloggers were doing for the first time in years recently, and I was amazed at just how many that I followed that I had to delete, 'cause they're either just completely inactive and haven't been for months or years, or are simply not there anymore. "Fog's Movie Reviews" won most of those awards, and that site's non-existent. I'm Facebook friends with the guy who ran that site, and it was a good site, I completely understand why it won everything and he's a good guy. Then, he quit one day, not a year after winning all those Lammys and then, never posted again. Now, I try to find his archives and I get a buy this domain name ad. Recently, I got hired to freelance for Age of the Nerd, and some of my posts will be reposted there soon, and I'm sure some more recent posts will also be posted there as well, and the guy who headhunted me and seeked me out, is just amazed at how much material I have on this blog, which, was then and still is essentially my secondary avenue to get out my writing to audience.

I don't check out the blogs as often as I used to, I still could and probably should, there's still talent there, but a lot of others have switched to vlogging or podcasting, and writing already distinguishes me from those people, but most others have gone on to something else, personally or professional they've left this entertainment blogging world. I kinda understand that, and frankly, what I found out from those early years is that there's only so much I can accomplish by reacting to what others are reacting to, especially other in my positions; I need to find people outside of that, bigger than me who I can observe and report on as well as criticize both positively and negatively. And hell, another reason I started this was because there weren't other bloggers out there who cared about the things I cared about and talked about those subjects the way I would; I'm already different enough. Hell, the fact that I'm still here makes me a little bit different apparently from everyone else.

I don't plan on quitting this thing anytime soon, and I'm certainly not interested in having this blog go straight to the dustbin, if/when I ever do quit; it's already the most public of diaries, no sense hiding it now. Just thinking back to that, in this light,  I'm just partially amazed that I can be so underestimated especially considering how many others in my positions come and go who are just as talented and I thought way more aggressive and determined and in some cases better-equipped and taking this less-traveled path than I ever was and see them fall off.... It makes Film Club's petty dismissal of me seem even more delusional.

I guess, ultimately this article is about perception, and to be frank, I guess I shouldn't be as surprised by it; I've never been the best at understanding, or caring for that matter, just how people perceive and think of me. If anything, I think it's a strength, that at times I seem, weaker or less,-, what's-the-word, less threatening than others 'cause that means, that I am capable of surprising and catching some people by surprise and offguard. I certainly caught Mr. Champion offguard, he found out that I'm not the one you can pull those power games on, without me fighting back. But yeah, I don't think a lot of people thought I'd be around this long and still doing this thing, and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't really know, but it's a path that I'm sticking too, and however people will perceive me,..., well, I guess I don't know that either. But at this point, if they can't figure out that I'm stronger than Mr. Champion clearly thought I was, then they're simply not paying close enough attention.


THE REAL REASON FOR THE RISE OF "ROTTEN TOMATOES", SO NOBODY ELSE WILL WRITE THEIR OWN DAMN ARTICLE ON IT!

Oh, for the love of God, why am I still reading about this? Seems like every goddamn week, I see a new article from somebody trying to figure out the "Rotten Tomatoes" phenomenon or whatever new phenomenon or faux-outrage or whatever bullshit about it there is... Here's one from Vox.com a few days ago:


https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/8/31/16107948/rotten-tomatoes-explainer-critics-movies-aggregation

Here's one from Wired.com a couple months ago:
https://www.wired.com/story/is-rotten-tomatoes-ruining-movies/


Here's one from "The Ringer"

Here's that infamous one that I wrote last year!!!!!!!:
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2016/08/4-letter-words-about-rotten-tomatoes_6.html

Which amazes me in that that's the only specific one blogpost until now that I wrote on Rotten Tomatoes, and that wasn't even about the website as it was the idiot "fans" who petitioned to have it shut down, but it sure seems like I've spent the last couple years writing about the site periodically. but most of the time, it's only been at the fringes of the articles, and not necessarily something I directly write about most of the time. My two articles upset at people who watch trailers dealt with that phenomenon a bit, especially my second one. Almost all of these other ones above and several, several others out there however, seem to be trying to get to some, conclusion or observant viewpoint about the damn site and how we as a movie-going public "react" to it. Basically, how it can, alter what movies we see, or how it has absolutely no effect at all, depending on whatever article you happen to be reading at the time, or whatever movie release it's talking about at the moment. 

What it all means; how did we all get here? How can one website have so much power over the movies that we see or why does it have power? Oh my GOD! SHUT UP! UGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Look, I'm just gonna assume that you, the readers are smart enough to know at this point, why Rotten Tomatoes is fine, and people who try to complain about it are either delusional, moronic, stupid, or worst than all of things, fans. But the phenomenon of people wondering how reviewers can influence our box office, or how much/little we watch a movie, "Guys", what the hell? Seriously? Is it just that now, there's a simple, percentage involved that you're suddenly noticing that, gasp! oh my God, movies that get bad reviews, sometimes get bad box office!? Or that good reviews, can propel more box office? (Faux Blanche Devereaux accent) Oh, my sweet stars, what has this world come to, where people are trusting the opinion of people who are professional at criticizing movies for a liv-ing?! 

(Sigh) 

Let me show you guys something.... 



Okay, now I bet you're wondering why I'm showing you this old episode of "Siskel & Ebert", well, I have two reasons. One, is that the subject of the episode, is Oscar nomination surprises, something they did occasionally, devote a whole episode to surprises when it came to the Oscar nominations. You see, they bring up some points this episode, about the Oscars, but the main discussion point is basically this: the critics were not being listened to enough when it came to the Oscars, and for that matter, they also mention, neither were the public. Yeah, you ever look back at the Oscars around the late eighties for a few years and notice that the Academy's choices at that time period, were a little odd? Well, they might've been; there was a run at that point where the constant refrain was the exact opposite, that the critical response from the critics wasn't being listened to. And on top of that, the public response, wasn't being listened to either, but I don't care about that, but more importantly, it was the exact opposite response that people are complaining about now. Now, they're complaining that critics have too much power, but back then, their voice wasn't being heard or recognize. There was, at least perception-wise this notion for awhile that Hollywood was pushing the films that had those supposed "Oscar Movie Attributes" moreso than say the best pictures of the year. I don't buy that argument for a second, although there are years where it certainly upon reflection feels like it. Does anybody remember 1989 and think, "That's the year "Driving Miss Daisy" came out and won Best Picture?" Yeah, I don't think so.

So, on that level, I don't know what the fuss is about, critics, audiences, and media perception have always been at odds with each other, and it's not just that a website is around now that that suddenly changes. And yeah, reviews can effect popular observations and they fucking should! Positively, negatively, agreeing, disagreeing, that's what they're for and what to do. And those who get upset about a % number not being what they think be should go scream into the wind as far as I'm concerned, but I've made no secret of that.

For those who haven't been paying attention, for the last 19 years of Rotten Tomatoes, sure, maybe this damn thing came out of nowhere, and now you're wondering, "Wait, what's a critic score?!", maybe that's concerning to you, but, look-, you want to know why Rotten Tomatoes is the supposed main thing? Well, I can think of one actual reason that strangely most of these articles, ironically haven't brought up, even though it's easily the biggest reason for their rise to prominence! (points up to the video) Yeah, them. "Siskel & Ebert" isn't on TV anymore.

Yeah, where were these complaint, when they were getting things like "Hoop Dreams" and "Pulp Fiction" out into the mainstream? Or when they were calling out something as crap? You see, when I say that movie critics have always been around and reaction to them has always been around, that's not me BSing, it has been around. And there's always been a few top critics, that were more looked upon for their opinion than others. This can go back to the days of Pauline Kael and people like that, but for me and everybody else in my generation it was either Siskel & Ebert, and then it was of course Ebert & Roeper, and more than all of them, it was their television show(s) that were the epicenter of the criticism world as well as the film world in general, and anybody that says otherwise can trip over tongue trying to explain how 97 on RT is that different then "Two Thumbs Up", other than the fact that there's more thumbs and tomatoes involved. In 2007, Roger Ebert was named America's Most Trusted Pundit, and that was after the throat cancer that robbed him of his voice, and forced him to leave his long-running television series, and don't think anybody who wasn't around back then, didn't constantly check rogerebert.com for his latest reviews and posts; I sure as hell did, and was by no means alone. He was the top, and I seriously doubt most of the rest of the country would've been able to name more than four other living film critics at that time. And he was still influential at that time. I doubt "Crash" would've caught on without him or "Monster" for that matter, or "Juno" or "The Tree of Life" even. after he passed away and "At the Movies" and the few attempts to revive the series and format on television stumbled to a sad passing, that meant that there wasn't anymore nationally recognizable brand outlets around for everybody to seek out critical reviews, for people who searched out the top film criticism. So, they went and searched for it somewhere else......

And sure, I'd rather maybe say a competitor of Rotten Tomatoes like the more industry-preferred MetaCritic, would've become the big one (And there's more competitors to Rotten Tomatoes than you think by the way, there's like seven copycat sites out there that I'm aware of ), or for that matter an internet series like the one I consider easily the only one that's worth watching regularly "What the Flick", or that perhaps something else had come around, but it didn't. Rotten Tomatoes had been around, had a reputation, and everybody knew the formula they used, and didn't freak out about the math!, accepted it, understood it, and appreciated their ability to give us easy availability to all the major critics around the country, so, it became Rotten Tomatoes. It had a good name, a good formula, a credible reputation inside and outside the industry... the percentage score is not as clever as the thumbs, but those are trademarked so this is what we got. It's simple economics people, the service was lacking, they provided the service, they were already our second choice, our first choice left, they became number one. Those treating this "revelation", that audiences sometimes seek out the advice of professional film critics and it effects what they see and how they react...- yeah, this isn't new, this isn't shocking. It's always been this way! It's just that, in the internet age, everybody can talk about it and so now you all noticed, but.... I don't know, then you all wrote a think piece on it. And sure, I did too, because, yeah, the amount of idiots were aware of this is shocking, but still, this is getting ridiculously out-of-hand, and it needs to stop.

I called out the idiots for who they were, a lot of others did, and now I've explained how Rotten Tomatoes got here, and that's about all that needs to be said of defending about Rotten Tomatoes in this day-and-age. So, yeah, let's move on to something else. I'm tired of reading that same article over and over again.


WHY DO PEOPLE HATE AWARD SHOWS? NO, SERIOUSLY, WHY? WHAT'S THERE TO HATE? 

On top of everything else, it's Emmy season, and I'm busy filling out my predictions and Gold Derby ballots like everyone else is. Well, sorta. If I'm being really honest, I'm probably more excited about the upcoming NFL season than I am the Emmys this year. Go Eagles! But still, whenever I do award show stuff, I'm always amazed I get some who have some variation of this response:

"I don't like award shows"

I hear that said a lot. Happens more at Oscar time than Emmys, but still, it comes up. It's a nice rejection of the traditional process of giving out prizes for people who are, in all other words, doing their job well, but, I don't quite understand that statement. It's sorta like, the same way I don't understand how someone can say, "They hate reality shows" or "They hate documentaries" or "Sitcoms" or whatever, it's a genre; how do you hate a whole genre!? For one thing, it's usually bullshit when people say things like that, what they mean is that they hate the bad things about those genres, there's good and bad in everything, remember. Still, that statement seems weird to me.

Like, I can understand why somebody would hate certain genres based on their worst and most negative tropes and motifs, or even just their preferences and biases, but award shows? What's there to hate? Literally, what's there to hate? I mean, are there good and bad award shows, yes, in both an execution sense and in the sense that some awards shows both suck and shouldn't exist, but still, what's the anti-factor here, you don't like talented people getting rewarded? Okay, in a world where participation trophies are a thing, I can kinda get that, but they don't give Oscars for that, or any other award show that I'm aware. In fact, the myth that Hollywood is constantly thanking themselves, is, really, truly a myth, that doesn't hold up to the simplest scrutiny. Forget the parlor games of who hasn't won or been nominated for whatever, other than the Guild Awards, the only ones of which that are televised are the SAGs, the industry themselves, only gives, one award per industry. Movies have Oscars, Television has the Emmys, Theater has the Tonys and music, well, they have the Grammys and their track records so bad, even they don't actually count that as a legitimate award. Everything else is usually somebody else giving them the award. Everybody from Critics or the Press, like the Globes, or even the People, themselves. Hell, some of these award shows, I have no idea who votes for them. Who actually determines the American Music Awards, does anybody know? Or care? I mean, I guess there's some awards that are subsets of the Industry, like Indy Spirits awards are Film Independent, and there's some correlation, but hell, I can be a member of Film Independent if I paid my fee. There's a lot of award shows, sure, but that doesn't mean they're actually stars giving themselves awards all the time.

So, what's there to hate, the actual giving people of awards? Uh,-, look, I'm not gonna pretend it's always the most exciting thing ever put on TV, but I don't see a reason to hate that. It's an awards show, people go on stage, they announce the winners, they hand the awards to the winners...- I don't get it, what am I supposed to hate? What do you want it to be, what do you think it should be? You just hate that process? (Shrugs) Um, I don't know, how would you give them out, drop them from an airplane while they dance the Macarena singing "The Star-Spangled Banner", what do you want from them? That's what it is. It's like when I heard complain that Jay Leno wasn't creative hosting "The Tonight Show", I'm like, "Well, it's a talk show, there's a bit and there's guests, I mean, unless you want something other then "The Tonight Show," then I don't know what you're complaining about." You want the people you want to win, to always win, well, sorry, we don't get that all the time, that's apart of life, a painful one, especially for a Philadelphia sports fan like myself, but you know,... and the fact that there are so many awards should be an indication that, we really like awards. Seriously, there's fewer within the industry than we pretend to believe, so there are in fact other people choosing to honor the stars, so that's not on them all of it, but even more than that, there are awards given to the best in nearly every profession or career you can think of, and whatever else you want to claim about them, all it is essentially is a group of people recognizing that, "Hey, we really appreciate what you do/have done, and we want to honor and commend you for it." What's wrong with that? Even if I disagree with every winner, the sentiment is overall nice and commendable, and unless they're just blatantly picking shitty things and people to win, which, outside of the Razzies, I don't think anybody tries intentionally to do that,.... anymore.... And you know what, if people are exceptional, why not honor them with something for their work? 

This is probably why I get more pissed when I see a bad award shows, especially if the Oscars or Emmys or something, 'cause how do you screw this up? You get a good host, you shape the comedy emceeing bits around their strengths, if you have musical performances or a special guest performer, you try to pace it out between the awards, and don't do anything stupid with the "In Memoriam", and as long as the accountants don't FUCK UP THE ENVELOPES!!!!!!! GRRRRRRR! (NO, I AM STILL NOT OVER THAT!) then, you should at least be good. There genuinely are not that many ways to screw this up. You almost have to try to, sometimes as far as I can tell. And outside of whatever bullshit argument for or against award shows as a concept, in terms of the shows themselves, I don't see what's there to dislike about them. And nothing I can find that's a rational reason for disliking them. 

Yet people do. (Shrugs) I mean, we're already talking about entertainment, something that's already unimportant and trivial and doesn't have any real meaning in the long run; I don't see how award shows are somehow a huge crossing of the line to that. 


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