To publish, or not to publish, a negative review about a female-centric film project

In recent days, I was asked by editors at Motherboard to review a science documentary. The PR pitch for the film seemed interesting enough, however, upon watching the whole documentary, I found myself caught up in a moral dilemma of the feminist type. Why? Because the documentary, female-centric in story and production, was terrible.

The email, more or less, that I sent my editor about the documentary:

The documentary didn’t focus enough on the science which was by itself quite interesting (this genetic disorder disproportionately affects Puerto Ricans, for ex) with the film opting instead for a human interest angle that was barely relatable. There were few emotional moments that connected with the viewer. The interview subjects themselves were a bit derp (overweight, unattractive, elderly, lacking eloquence or all of the above), and the awkward hokey music that played over their camera time didn’t help at all. They said their life sucked, but I as a viewer was never shown any substantial example of how their life sucked. I was bored and disinterested throughout. The animated story in the very beginning of the doc was the best part.

In addition, the documentary did a poor job of explaining the science. I was confused over whether or not the drug on clinical trial was approved by the FDA, and then later, why it was not approved. The film mentions at the end the same drug was approved in India, Europe and Japan but never explains the politics or why this is the case. I realize this was because they were trying to focus on the people, but the people were not as interesting as the science or the politics behind the science.

I generally rate Motherboard documentaries as a 8 or higher (out of 10)….I would put ______ at a 4.

I opted to not complete the assignment. I could have written something positive about the film despite not enjoying it or finding it sharable, but I found this option just as morally wrong as publishing the negative review. True, the negative review would have led to more publicity for the film, and this team of film-makers, but I don’t believe all press is good press when you are dealing with sexist environments like those found in filmmaking in general as well as documentary-filmmaking.

The documentary filmmaker, a lady scientist, had received awards for her work on PBS and such a decade-plus ago, so I was surprised by how not enjoyable her latest project was. It’s almost like she can’t compete now, in this age of everyone-is-a-filmmaker-on-YouTube.  It might have been good enough for PBS in the 1990′s, but not now.

This whole personal dilemma of mine reminds me of Buzzfeed getting press last fall for their decision to not write negative reviews. The rebuttal to their “no negative reviews” position came from Gawker, of course, who argued news outlets are not supposed to be extension of publicists and PR firms, (a laughable position when you look at sites like TechCrunch and PandoDaily).  This argument is fundamentally true, news outlets are not supposed to be beholden to publicists by any means, but I don’t see the merit in smacking down an older woman in a tough field for delivering a shitty product.

Is my thinking wrong here?

 


Why don’t more people care about Subbable’s arrival?

TL;DR ->  it makes AdSense obsolete. 

I tried to sell a story on Subbable earlier this week. Oh gods how I tried. ReadWrite, the Guardian’s tech section, even Variety… but I failed to generate interest, and/or communicate just how drastic of an impact Subbable can have on the YouTube space, business-wise.

To most of the press, Subbable appears as a gentle, crowd-sourced monthly pay-what-you-want subscription platform funding web shows that already exist.  Doesn’s seem that disruptive,  until you consider the allure of YouTube.  The heart of the indie YouTube dream is being free, or at least above, corporate influences. If successful, Subbable  could potentially do away with the advertising/hit-mining rat race on YouTube.  Hank Green doesn’t exactly say this in the video introducing the platform, but he might as well.

In a private chat, I got Green to elaborate:

“Advertising values all kinds of content the same, but different kinds of content delivers different amounts of value to users. We want there to be a system that rewards the creation of stuff people love, not stuff that people will spend three minutes watching when they’re bored.”

Subbable — which is unaffiliated with YouTube — changes the YouTube money-making game because it emphasizes community and a supportive fan base over viral hits with fleeting popularity & large monetary payoffs. It’s a slow, steady win as opposed to that big payday.  (It’ll be interesting to see how the addition of Minute Physics, Wheezy Waiter, and Andrew Huang  next week on Subbable will play out. )

Green never came  right out and said this during our chat but it got me thinking: if a content creator worked it out with his fans, he or she could essentially never bother monetizing their channel…EVER. There’s literally no reason now to go through Google corporate to make money. Their high ad cut and ad sales team are already  alienating users and businesses, so why bother with that hot mess? You don’t.

I, for one, still believe in that YouTube dream.


Yeah, the “Exploding Actresses” tumblr is sexist…

People tell jokes about violence against women all the time, either because they don’t realize violence against women is a cultural norm, or because they think laughing at said cultural norm will somehow make it less horrible. This is the only way that I rationalize the astronomical rise of the tumblr “Exploding Actresses” and the lack of any adequate critique of it as a form of Internet art.

As the title of the viral tumblr suggests, actresses explode. Not any random actress in any random movie either, these are actresses in movies very much beloved by women. There are GIFS, YouTube videos and stills.

“Have you ever imagined your favorite actresses and Disney princesses without heads?” opened one gleeful blog post about the subject. Huffington Post labeled their “hilarious” post about it “satire” but was unclear as to what was actually being culturally commented on: that women iconography was being destroyed rather violently, or that a male was behind it?

Them exploding is no big deal,  it’s a joke, it’s supposed to be funny, all the write-ups imply. This is problematic for a variety of reasons but Lindy West can explain those best somewhere else.

Perhaps the tumblr creator Simone Rovellini — who lives in a country the UN flagged for having particularly bad domestic abuse problem  – didn’t mean to be sexist with his movie choices or in picking the “greatest actresses in film history,” and merely chose the movies he did because the depictions of love in those movies make men’s heads explode. Or maybe he was implying that while watching these movies might make women happy, it will really leave them braindead. Oh wait. Both of those reasons are still sexist.

It’s interesting to note that as Rovellini’s mini-art project picked up press all over the world, he began exploding men’s heads in his work. Still only in movies beloved by women though. Hmm.


Nick Offerman is in with the Weird YouTube crowd

 

OH MY

offerman is weird YT too

 


The irony of Twitter bots, and a poem about RoboCop

I finally watched RoboCop last night. I know, I know, I should have seen it long ago, but the film was so 80′s in its gratuitousness violence and depictions of cruelty, I don’t think I could have handled the movie at a younger age. (My empathy levels when I am not sober are off the charts…and I am anyone.)

If it wasn’t for the occasional punchy joke, experimental depictions of masculinity and futuristic metaphors, I would have abandoned the film this time too. But I didn’t, and when it ended, I sat in the dark imagining the satisfaction growing inside what remained of the man-machine Murphy.  The movie made me laugh, made me cry, and before the credits rolled, made me nod with a sense of peace.

Before I watched the movie, I tweeted my intention to do so and a Twitter robot programmed to tweet one quote from the film responded to me immediately.  (As if I ever doubted this movie was an important part of our cultural lexicon!)

I hadn’t started the film yet so I hadn’t viewed that line, but from the robotic actions, I knew this line was important and a  joke I was supposed to laugh at. You could say I was culturally obligated, if not socially programmed, to laugh at line now. (I admit, the line would have been way funnier if that bot didn’t tell me of it beforehand, but I can’t disparage the bot’s existence either, it being a cultural artifact at this point.)

Later I would come to appreciate the Twitter robot even more when characters within the movie used that line – which comes from a fake commercial – as a pop culture reference.   Read the rest of this entry »


Wheat Thins Internet Ad Campaign Sucks (also, Nanalew has a purdy mouth.)

So, I am checking out the site I work for, before going to bed, and I notice a story I hadn’t read or heard about.

I go to see out who had tweeted the story that evening, (I am curious of our audience) and lo and behold, I see a sponsored tweet, purchased in EARLY JANUARY.

I had no idea these sponsored tweets had that long of a shelf life. Seem like a good value, now that I think about it (or so I thought, at the time).

Read the rest of this entry »


Corporations, Companies, and Supporters of SOPA

If this Pastebin document, created by Anonymous members involved in Operation Hiroshima, is to be believed, the following companies lobbied Congress in support of SOPA.

I smell a boycott… and the weird thing about this list is, how are most of these companies affected by online piracy? Especially all these clothing companies…

PetMeds

3M 

ABRO Industries, Inc.

Acushnet Company

Adidas America 

Bose Coporation

Burberry

CBS Corporation

Chanel USA

Coach

Columbia Sportswear

Dolce & Gabbana

Electronic Arts, Inc. (individuals within have voiced opposition?)

Entertainment Software Association

Read the rest of this entry »


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