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David Poland

By David Poland

When Critics Attack

This has been a contentious issue in here…but this is a variation on the theme…

I’m curious. On a movie like Bad Teacher, the review I have read over and over again, starts by noting that the lead of the film is an unlikable character and that no one else is really likable (save Jason Segal)… that the movie is too broad… and that the car washing sequence is really, really irritating and symbolic of what’s wrong with the film.

So far, I have only read reviews by people I respect and admire, including our occasional contributor, Heather Havrilesky… but the theme has been pretty consistent.

Is this observation fair?

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101 Responses to “When Critics Attack”

  1. LYT says:

    I found her likable AND relatable. She’s only a total bitch to stupid people; others eventually earn her respect.

  2. David Poland says:

    I agree, Luke,

    But not my question here.

    Somehow got into Drew’s drama, even though he seems to agree about the movie as well.

    Is there something wrong (or WRONG, if using Drew’s voice) with noticing trends amongst critics?

    I know there has been rage in here about my thoughts on groupthink, but in this case, it is very clearly stated in (or close to) the opening graphs of every negative review I’ve read. Very little variation. I’m sure that some people out there hate the film for other reasons. But…

    Is observing this somehow evil? Or should my priority be being in Moscow for the Transformers 3 premiere, “reporting?”

  3. James says:

    Wow. After that buttkicking you got from Drew on twitter, I’m just glad you’re still able to post. That was brutal. You need a cornerman in those situations who can throw in the towel for you.

  4. Roger Ebert says:

    Are you asking why so many critics open by saying they don’t like her?

    It’s because they don’t like her.

    The movie was screened Wednesday night in most places. Most critics must have written on deadline. There was no opportunity for “group think” to spread.


  5. James says:

    Oh no! Now Ebert is kicking DP when he’s already out cold! The humanity!

  6. David Poland says:

    I don’t think – nor did I suggest – there was any groupthink on this one.

    I do think, however, that the consistency of why the negatives are so similar is worth discussing.

    Of course, the level of negative on Cars 2 is even more interesting.

    And James… please… Drew has been whining about how mean I am to him for 15 years already. I don’t even have to mention him to turn him into a raging whining child anymore.

    For the record, there is (virtually) no “right” in film criticism Opinions differ. Summer is the time when the weirdest moments of criticism happen. Critics, who mostly care about quality and are mostly over 40, are forced to face week after week of movies meant for teenagers. When they kill a movie and it’s a commercial hit, there is a week of trend stories about critics being out of touch. Movies that don’t make them want to walk out of the theater are often given too much credit for not being utter crap. Sometimes, they stick to their guns for one or two bad movies and then let one pass. Or a couple of movies get mediocre notices and when the third piece of similar junk comes by, it gets both barrels.

    None of this is an indictment of critics It’s human nature playing its role. I know we like to think we are above it, but few really are. It’s not just an adventure. It’s a job.

    Me liking Bad Teacher is not “the right answer.” It’s my answer, I admit – and have admitted – that I am surprised by how negative the negatives have been. But I’m not shocked. The film doesn’t have a lot more than its characters and jokes to make its case. If you don’t like the characters or think they are dumb cliches, you’re going to dislike the movie. No harm. No foul.

    But when I read the same lede in a dozen reviews and as Roger wrote, it doesn’t smell of groupthink, I’m curious. Yes, they don’t like that character. But is that the same as not liking CG-driven movies, period, or like not liking sequels, as a rule, or something like that?

    I’m asking because I think it’s worth discussing.

  7. palmtree says:

    I would point to a lack of originality on the part of critics…I mean, isn’t criticism supposed to take on a creative quality rather than a rehashing of positive or negative opinions? It’s why I’d rather read Anthony Lane, because I know he’s not going to parrot what everyone else is saying (even if he’s not a movie-guy per se).

  8. palmtree says:

    And when I say “parrot,” I don’t mean copy the content, but I mean imitate the style, the jargon, the critical patois…

  9. yancyskancy says:

    Can’t weigh in on the fairness issue until I see the movie, but I’m ready to give Diaz an Oscar just based on the trailers. Looks like she really nails it.

  10. EthanG says:

    What’s interesting to me is that Rachel McAdams portrays a very unlikeable character (at least to me and most I’ve talked to) in “Midnight in Paris,” but her performance is met with praise…perhaps because she’s Rachel McAdams, directed by Woody Allen, and/or the movie “means” something? Or perhaps because McAdams is a critical darling and Diaz has fallen out of favor, both somewhat deservingly, in recent years.

  11. LexG says:

    How can Diaz be “unlikable”? She’s hot. Same thing with McAdams. No hot chick could ever be unlikable. They should be allowed to kill people and rob banks. Men wouldn’t care.

  12. EthanG says:

    Lex, I’d say most men have quite a few hotties they consider unlikeable. Katherine Heigl…Lea Michele…Sarah Jessica Parker…Gwyneth Paltrow at this stage….and January Jones steadily gaining steam in that club.

    But audiences still like Diaz. Critics just don’t.

  13. Hallick says:

    I haven’t seen all that much praise for McAdams’ part in “Midnight In Paris” going around, but then I haven’t read that many reviews for it.

    If Diaz is getting more hits from critics than McAdams then that’s probably due to the fact that her character’s the star of the movie and Rachel’s just one supporting player in a film that’s otherwise full of charm.

  14. movielocke says:

    none of the characters are likable is a criticism leveled at movies that typically means “I don’t know who to root for”. You can have an unlikable McAdams in Mean Girls or Midnight in Paris, but if the audience knows whose side they’re supposed to be on it’s not a problem. Having unlikeable characters around a neutral maincharacter or a likeable main character is fine, it’s obvious who to root for. If everyone is mean to everyone else, if Lindsey Lohan started off as a conniving bitch, intent on pushing herself–by any means necessary–to the top of the school pecking order from the very first scene you’d have the same problem. People wouldn’t know if they’re supposed to be rooting for this clique climber or for those she opposes or those she tramples upon.

    There’s also general sexism as play, female leads are generally expected to be passive, acted upon, if they’re the protagonist. Female villains tend to be active, act upon antagonists. It’s partially an agency thing, women with power-to-act are inherently “SCARY”. This plays out throughout culture in billions of ways, and we are all complicit in it. If we weren’t complicit in it, women would ask men on dates equally as often as men ask women.

    However, and this typically happens with all male casts, gangster movies for example, if all your characters are bad and unlikable, you get around this problem by making the character compelling and the “person I’m rooting for” in other ways. In Goodfellas you start off with a pretty brutal opening. Who do you root for? Bang, right away you hear, “All my life I’ve wanted to be a gangster” and then we get an understanding of why we should be rooting for someone who is a badguy in all sorts of ways, including being the Lowest-Of-The-Low masculine type: a stoolie and a snitch. But even though the film is working against the “all the characters are unlikable” problem, it is never a problem because you know who to root for, and in rooting for the character, you come to like them (the character stops being unlikable because if they weren’t likable you wouldn’t root for them, the human brain is naturally Brilliant at doing these sort of self-flattering feedback loops).

  15. Hallick says:

    Lex, have you never had to be around a woman you considered hot in real life that was also unlikeable/insufferable/annoying/etc? There wasn’t a girl that shot you down with unnecessary cruelty and malicious enjoyment of your embarrassment and dejection?

  16. Krillian says:

    Just saw Green Lantern. It’s not that good, but it wasn’t that bad, but when describing it to others, it’s immensely fun to make fun of.

    “So you have these nine billion-year-old Mr. Magoos who sit in a Jedi council circle in 100-foot-tall highchairs…”

  17. Madam Pince says:

    Heigl is an odd case for me. I generally find her public persona unlikable. Yet, I found her completely delightful and charming in Killers, a movie every critic apparently loathed. The movie was fluffy, she was fluffy, I could ignore the obnoxious Kutcher, so the movie worked fine for me. I was reminded while watching it that despite Heigl’s public persona, I quite liked watching her on screen.

  18. Hallick says:

    The word “likeable” comes up a lot in this kind of discussion, but I think the word people should be using instead is “enjoyable”. A character can be a totally evil asshole, but if the performance is fun or fascinating enough to watch, their likeability is irrelevant. Aaron Eckhart’s career took off because he played one the most unlikeable characters in recent film history in “In The Company of Men”.

    To the argument that women aren’t given the same credit when they play characters like the boys do, what truth there may be to the theory, you still had a lot of people going nuts for Linda Fiorentino’s performance in “The Last Seduction”, just to give one example.

    Maybe Diaz’s character just doesn’t have the right mix of ingredients to hit it off with most of the critics.

  19. sanj says:

    Diaz on Jon Stewart show – she helps fix up his injury
    to his hand .. not the average interview

  20. LYT says:

    Roger Ebert only saw the film Wednesday night?

    Karina Longworth’s review, one of the first LA-based ones with the opinion stated, went out pretty early Tuesday. I imagine she was possibly writing on deadline too.

    However, the junket screenings were a couple weeks ago, and nowadays many junketeers double as reviewers, except in rare cases (Scream 4) where they are specifically asked to sign a document pledging not to review off that screening.

    My dad can never enjoy a movie with no sympathetic characters. I don’t think he’s unusual in that regard. He had that problem with Fargo, where the lone likable character was Margie but she was too much of a goofball for him.

    I dislike the sort of groupthink that appears to say
    “This is the worst blockbuster movie EVER! I want to poke my eyes out with a hot poker and be sent to a Stalinist gulag rather than see it again!” Then a month later, another movie becomes the new worst ever with new hyperbolic comparisons.

  21. LYT says:

    ^ not talking about Bad Teacher above. Pirates 4 and Green Lantern, however…

  22. LYT says:

    And before Drew comments, i don’t doubt the feelings are genuine and reasoned out. But I think when people have conversations amongst themselves afterward, folks can bounce off of each other till they work themselves up into a froth.

  23. Hallick says:

    “My dad can never enjoy a movie with no sympathetic characters. I don’t think he’s unusual in that regard. He had that problem with Fargo, where the lone likable character was Margie but she was too much of a goofball for him.”

    I always thought that the turn off for some people with a movie like “Fargo” wasn’t so much that the characters were unsympathetic, but that you’ve got two guys played by Buscemi and Macy that are just out and out PATHETIC LOSERS. Sometimes I think that’s considered a bigger offense than just being mean.

  24. yancyskancy says:

    My only issue in terms of likability is if a character is supposed to be likable, but the actor can’t pull it off. The trick, as Hallick points out, is making me enjoy the character whether I “like” him/her or not. If I knew “Bad Santa” in real life, I’d probably want to punch him, but he sure is fun to watch in a movie.

    Madam Pince, I’m generally a fan of Katherine Heigl’s acting, and she’s fine in KILLERS, but I do think the worst thing about that movie was how it forced her into the usual rom-com flibbertigibbet straight-jacket again (or maybe she forced herself — I think she was a producer on it).

    Likability does seem to be more important in a romantic comedy — otherwise, why would we care if the stars find true love or not? I’m thinking of the horrid THE WEDDING DATE, in which Debra Messing’s childish neurotic ends up with Dermot Mulroney’s seemingly constipated man-whore. Can’t say I was rooting for those two crazy kids.

  25. nikki whisperer says:

    I think there are quite a few critics who have kneejerk likes and dislikes and bring them to the table no matter what, basically making it impossible to view certain films objectively on the film’s own terms. I remember, for instance, a time when seemingly every other Kenneth Turan review would be a soapbox crusade about violence in movies and he’d pan any violent movie on principle, irregardless of its merits. Why not just recuse yourself if you’re predisposed not to like certain genres? It’s one thing if a movie is trying to make its protagonist appealing and fails, quite another if the unlikability is intentional. Clearly BAD TEACHER falls into the prevailing comic trend of the last decade or so where the protagonist’s oblivious sociopathy is the entire point (see also, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, the UK version of THE OFFICE, EASTBOUND AND DOWN, OBSERVE AND REPORT, etc.). There’s no set rule that every character in a movie has to be “likable” and, if that is your criteria, going into a movie that’s being sold upfront that way and then slamming it makes as much sense as a newspaper hiring LexG to solely be on the animated kiddie film beat.

  26. Anghus says:

    NLyt, your “sympathetic chatacter” comment reminded me of a conversation I had with a guy who said he didnt like Shawshank Redemption because the main characters were prisoners and he didnt feel that peopme should make movies where the main characters are murderers and rapists.

    “im supposed to FEEL something for these people?”

    On the groupthink tip….

    Is it possible that there is a similar critical thought in Bad Teacher because the flaws are obvious? Couldnt it also just be all these
    critical voices sound awfully similar?

    Who out there in the critical community has a distinct voice anymore?

    ill start takig Drew seriously when he stops whining about his kids in his reviews.

  27. Madam Pince says:

    yancyskancy, typical Rom Com tropes don’t bother me as much, since I’m not a professional critic. I’m not forced to see hundreds of Rom Coms a year, so I’m more tolerant of movie foibles. It is all entertainment to me. If I had to see an endless parade of films, no doubt I’d be much less tolerant.

  28. chris says:

    I don’t think it’s so much that she’s unlikable, but that (to me) she is unlikable in a way that isn’t interesting, either. To compare her role/performance to its clear antecedent — Thornton is equally unlikable in “Bad Santa” (maybe more unlikable, since that movie has the courage of its convictions, whereas “Teacher” seems to me to weasel) but he’s interesting, partly because of the writing and partly because of his performance. I’m not sure Diaz — who pretty much screams “sitting on top of the world” — could have made this work under any circumstances.

  29. jesse says:

    It’s definitely not as bold or interesting or original a performance as Thornton’s in Bad Santa, but it’s also, despite the obvious debt to that movie, a pretty different character in a lot of ways. I didn’t really find her unlikable or unpleasant, because her horribleness as a person gives her a sort of weird honor, at least in context of this movie. When you see her in the middle of the movie, semi-broke, living with a roommate, Christmas alone, eating corndogs on the couch, I dunno, I found that endearing, that she was so unlikably herself. She’s not as sweet, obviously, but there’s something kind of Homer Simpsony about this character in terms of her appetites, with the added superficiality and greed. Which are all rich comic veins as far as I’m concerned. I also like, among many other things in this totally decent little comedy, how she and Lucy Punch both become grown middle-schoolers of sorts, nicely paralleled with two of the girls in Diaz’s class.

    I think reviews also get a little samey-sounding on comedies, because comedy is so subjective. So if a bunch of critics are trying to say why they didn’t find something funny, I’d be less surprised that they all latch onto the same things rather than finding different degrees of dislike. You don’t find the movie funny, so you figure, OK, why didn’t I find this funny, I guess it’s because Diaz was kind of unpleasant and maybe the movie comes off as sexist. And the writing and directing isn’t really nuanced enough to inspire a lot of further thought, I guess. (I’m sort of playing devil’s advocate here as I quite liked the movie.)

    Date Night is another one, where the story for many reviews was: Fey and Carell are so much better than this crappy material. And it was relatively uninspired material, but it’s actually one of Shawn Levy’s less incompetently-directed movies and the writing is consistently amusing if not hilarious. But if you were kinda meh about the movie, what else is there to say besides, well, Fey and Carell are so much better than the material?

    For the record, I’d say Manohla Dargis’s Times review (of Bad Teacher) is SPOT ON. I usually like her writing and often disagree with her actual take. But I found her absolutely spot-on about everything good about this movie in her review (without overselling it).

  30. cadavra says:

    Essentially it all boils down to one question: Is it funny?

    BAD SANTA: Yes.


    This has been another edition of simple answers to needlessly complicated questions.

  31. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Krillian: Topless Robot did an amusing piece on some of the odder plot turns for Green Lantern.

  32. Drew McWeeny says:


    Your bizarre hang-up about my children has made you a bigger piece of shit than normal.

    Name one review… any review… and provide a link… where I have “whined” about my kids.

    And if you name a film where I discuss the appropriateness of taking children, and it’s a film that is sold primarily to children, don’t bother, because it’s pertinent information for other parents.

    I’d be very interested in seeing you back up your cheap shot with anything like an actual fact. But you won’t. Because you can’t.

    I like how you take your cheap shots here, too. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, huh?

  33. Drew McWeeny says:


    Nobody said a word about you being “mean.” But as usual, you heard only what you wanted to. Surprise.

    And your shot at me for going to Moscow is particularly rich as the only reason you weren’t in New Zealand ON THE EXACT SAME STUDIO’S DIME was because of a volcanic ash cloud.

    You’re a hypocrite, and a smug asshole. But I couldn’t care less about whether or not you’re “mean.”

  34. Don R. Lewis says:

    what sets were you visiting? Russia was the Transformers 3 premiere but just curious about NZ and New Mexico.

  35. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Universal in NZ is really only one thing – Hobbit.

  36. Joe Leydon says:

    Wait! You mean David is going to film a cameo as a hobbit? Or a dragon?

  37. Foamy Squirrel says:

    My vote is for troll.


  38. Don R. Lewis says:

    BTW…I’m not trying to pick a fight….I’ve just noticed 5-6 bloggers I follow on twitter are always talking esoterically about flights to location, hotels, seeing each other etc., but they NEVER mention what set they’re visiting. I’m wondering if there’s some unspoken blogger code so that other bloggers don’t find out what the other is getting or if the studio asks they not reveal where they’re headed.

    Not trying to highjack the thread (although the twitter war of tweets between David and Drew was sooo awesome, I’d love to see it again here. Not) but I noticed Drew chimed in so I thought I’d ask.

  39. David Poland says:

    Drew… you are a cowardly fighter. You get your shots in and then you run away from them.

    You take cheap, inaccurate shots and then, when I respond to them, you shift the conversation and squeal, “But you’re doing it too!!!” even though your point seemed to be that you were doing something better than I am.

    It doesn’t even matter than I go on one trip a year, fully disclosed every time.

    You endlessly claim that I think I am better than you and others, that I think I have all the answers to all things, etc.

    I don’t think I am better than you. I know I have higher journalistic standards than you. You are certainly free to disagree and you do and you have, invariably at the top of your lungs.

    My rules are simple. Be transparent. Don’t write about anything you are connected with professionally. And if you are soliciting studios for professional work, don’t write film criticism.

    You are a known amnesiac, even amongst your industry friends, Drew. But I am sick of arguing about what AICN ran illegally 15 years ago or how you publicly supported piracy after you got bad feedback from the talkbackers or what happened at Revolution or Fox. Old news. But you still seem to be angry from that, much more so than anything I actually write now.

    And you’re not smug. You’re not a know it all. And you are out there doing envelope pushing journalism.

    You win.

  40. David Poland says:

    My trip, which is being rescheduled, is to WETA, not to any sets… though I guess there must be some virtual sets there.

    As noted before, I do about one studio-paid trip a year. I stopped traveling to traditional junkets years ago, though early in the roughcut years, getting invited as a website was something we fought for.

    The last time a studio paid for a room for me or travelled me was Mr Fox in London, 20 months ago or so. And I went because it was presented as the only way to see the film before other reviews landed out of the London Film Fest. (That turned out to be untrue, but so go the vagueries of studios.). I paid for my wife to travel with me and extended the trip to a week, taking 3 hotel nights from the studio. Paid for travel to and from Heathrow.

    But I don’t begrudge people junkets. There is a level of excitement, buy it’s also tough to travel like that. The NZ thing is 28 hours of air travel for about 60 hours in NZ. The bait is enough to entice me, but coach seats for that long a flight will not be fun (upgrades are $900 each way) and a few free meals and a hotel room are not much enticement.

    I think junketeers have a hard job. I couldn’t do that 40 or more weeks a year. I don’t always respect the outcome of the effort, but I don’t think it’s a cushy gig. And I LOVE travel.

  41. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I will pay good money for Leah to egg your rental car.

    A whole shiny dollar!

  42. Don R. Lewis says:

    I’m over fighting about junkets and set visits too…but I am trying to understand how they work. I’m also wondering why there’s all this whispery “LOOK AT WHAT I’M DOING (but don’t ask me *what* I’m doing)” stuff on sites and twitter regarding set visits.

    Do studios ask that you not say where you’re going? If that’s the case, I wonder….why? Also, if that’s the case, why do studios dictate content?Also- shouldn’t a set visit story go up ahead of the movie release since it should *technically* be a separate story from the finished product.

  43. christian says:

    If you read set visit stories from the late 60’s-70’s (Pauline Kael reporting on Lumet’s THE GROUP or any Ebert piece of the day) you’ll get an astonishing level of naked honesty that is simply “not allowed” anymore.

  44. David Poland says:

    Actually Chrustian, the studio control was even more strict back then. It’s good to be the Queen or the Pulitzer winner.

    And Don, others do it more often, so maybe there are better answers, but my sense is that studios don’t want to be hit up with a ton of requests by more journos who’d like to be on these trips. Also, there are often embargos on the stories and/ or specific content. Obviously, it varies. Studios have different needs and wishes and within each studio, different rules for different films.

    Again, I don’t want to appear to be bashing geek sites who travel, as the major magazines and papers and tv shows are often even further up the asses of the studios. Media pays for access with obedience. Same as it ever was. I don’t blame the studios or the media. I would just like as much transparency as possible to exist. I know that it makes it all less sexy, but especially these days, it’s the least we should do.

  45. David Poland says:

    Wait… You guys didn’t see me flying one of those planes in King Kong? And what about my role as Villain #47 in Speed Racer?

  46. LexG says:

    When I see that somebody pays for Todd Gilchrist to travel anywhere further than the CVS on Laurel Canyon to buy Gatorade, it makes me want to jump off the Hollywood sign.

  47. christian says:

    Rex Reed and others were upfront as well, and just reading through a backlog of critics reviews and film magazines from the 70’s and 80’s still shows level of honesty that would lead to internet wars and studio barrings today. Spielberg making negative comments about spfx on particular films in Cinefantastique, etc.

  48. JKill says:

    “And if you are soliciting studios for professional work, don’t write film criticism.”

    Why can someone not be part of an industry and cover it at the same time? Aren’t political writers/commenters often also engaged in the actual nitty gritty of politics? Don’t novelists often review other novelists’ books? Unless you were directly involved with a certain project I don’t get how reviewing it is breaking some kind of code of ethics, especially if your background is known to your readers.

  49. David Poland says:

    Simple, JKill… if you are in the business of asking someone to judge your work and to pay you for its qualities and this prices is, as it must be, private, you cannot be trusted to be objective in any way. There are too many tentacles involved.

    That said, a guy like Larry Gross is a screenwriter first and occasionally writes criticism. For me, that’s different.

    If an aspiring screenwriter/producer/director wants to list all of his/her meetings, offers, and reads each month, I would have no problem with that…. that would be transparent and I could decide for myself how much weight to give an opinion.

    If AICN had a monthly report on the various ways studios were cooperating with them, I would have no objection to them doing anything they wanted.

    People take this very personally and I understand why. It is like being called a liar. And you can absolutely love someone’s work and be pals with them. But when you are working for the public, the public needs to know and not just be given your word for it.

    I don’t think Drew lies about what he thinks of films. But being “friends and family” skews reality for anyone.

    Conversely, quotes are fine, but studios should make the source clearly, not make the names 5% of the quote size.

    And if Nikki Finke offered the sources of 80% of her stuff, I wouldn’t worry about her at all.


  50. Joe Leydon says:

    If I dearly yearn to have hot, sweaty sex with Helen Mirren, Sigourney Weaver, Judy Davis and/or Diane Keaton, does that mean I am ethically bound not to review their movies?

  51. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Leah and DP will be in the same room soon. Who wants to see this photo op occur? A good long hug can squash so much ill will.

    Who else wants to see this happen?

  52. Don R. Lewis says:

    It’s all about transparency for me as well and I think that should include “Hey reader, I’m in Budapest visiting the set of Uwe Boll’s new film but I can’t report back until the films closer to release.” Maybe I’m just paranoid (or the journalism classes I took where we covered ethics ran a little too deep) but if you AREN’T saying those things, you appear to be hiding what you’re doing.

    I appreciate the thoughts above too, Dave. I kind of figured studios don’t want to be swamped with hundreds of emails about “how come THEY get _______ and we don’t.” I also think you’re SPOT on about having it be tough to want to work in the same industry you’re covering.

    This isn’t directed at Drew per se but if you want to get “studio” type films made by big league directors, you sure as hell wouldn’t want to piss them or a potential studio off by being harsh to their product. It’s real easy to become persona non grata and as a journalist, you shouldn’t give a shit unless you’re just in it for access, set visits and junkets. But (and this is Drew-ish) if you have various projects in development with people who’s films you’re reviewing, that’s not very transparent.

    The Kael comments above are interesting because her career was severely tarnished when Warren Beatty nuzzled up to her in order to win her over (I think it was on REDS) and she lost a ton of credibility as his lap dog. Beatty was an early adopter of the current mode that access equals positive press.

  53. cadavra says:

    “If I dearly yearn to have hot, sweaty sex with Helen Mirren”

    Isn’t that pretty much everybody on the planet except Lex?

  54. Joe Leydon says:

    Cadavra: True enough. I guess that means no one can review her movies. Except Lex. Wow. The mind reels.

  55. LexG says:

    Mirren rules… Not into the cougar thing, but she’s still pretty badass and awesome, not to mention the greatest actress in the world. I find her strangely sexy actually.

  56. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, hell, then no one can review her movies now.

  57. Hallick says:

    “If I dearly yearn to have hot, sweaty sex with Helen Mirren, Sigourney Weaver, Judy Davis and/or Diane Keaton, does that mean I am ethically bound not to review their movies?”

    No. It just means that if you ever lost the use of your hands, you could still type their reviews.

    But you’d REALLY miss the use of your hands.

  58. Hallick says:

    “Why can someone not be part of an industry and cover it at the same time? Aren’t political writers/commenters often also engaged in the actual nitty gritty of politics? Don’t novelists often review other novelists’ books? Unless you were directly involved with a certain project I don’t get how reviewing it is breaking some kind of code of ethics, especially if your background is known to your readers.”

    The political writers/commenters that do that are rightly known as flacks or mouthpieces. Even if their politics overlap perfectly with a certain party and it makes sense for them to have similar points of view, they’re pretty much part of the PR wing, not a trustworthy source of critical thought.

  59. Drew McWeeny says:


    The New Mexico trip was “The Avengers,” I believe, and the NZ trip was to WETA for “TinTin,” not for “The Hobbit.”

    If asked, and if I was on one of those, I’d certainly answer. I can’t speak for why someone else wouldn’t.

    And no matter what David says, I’ve always, always, always, always disclosed professional relationships in any reviews or articles affected in any way by them. I make sure to mention set visits if I review the film I visited. I go out of my way to be clear.

    But all it takes is saying, “You’re not transparent” to cast aspersions on someone, so it really doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do.

    I have never hidden a single relationship, and the only way my reviews have EVER affected me as a screenwriter was to cost me work and lose me jobs.

    Yes… I am a mastermind. Machiavelli. That’s me.

  60. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Yeah, that was my bad. For whatever reason I thought TF3 was Universal, not Paramount.

    Stupidly enough, I actually checked to see if it might be Tintin, but was like “Oh, Tintin is Paramount, so DP must be going for Hobbit”.

    Herp derp.

  61. JS Partisan says:

    Foamy, I will throw in 10 bucks if Leah eggs his car!

  62. Anghus says:

    The problem with so many of the online born critics that aspire to be part of the industry is that you get skewed criticism. It doesnt come fron an honest place. It had that stench of “i could do it better” coming out from time to time.

    Its not always there, but it peeks out in the more negative reviews. Armchair writers, directors, and execs with an air of arrogance and entitlement.

    you can talk about disclosure all day, but very few people will disclose things like, I dont know, leaking the twist ending to a movie online, seeing that information appear on imdb and pissing off the director.

    But what do I know. Im just a piece of shit.

  63. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    I like you Anghus. I also agree with you pretty much 100% of the time when it comes to online criticism.

  64. Anghus says:

    Thanks Paul. Right back at ya.

    It is funny how thin skinned online film critics are. They act as if lobbing criticism at them is a heinous act of treason.

  65. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Maybe this isn’t a fair comparison, but back in the day, sportswriters used to drink and carouse with athletes. They would rarely if ever write stories with embarrassing details and often covered for the athletes. They were way too close to their subjects, and nowadays a sportswriter would be lambasted if they went out drinking with A-Rod before writing about him. Or think about the grilling that GQ writer is taking for drinking with Chris Evans while preparing a cover story about him.

    Are those really any different from online critics getting paid to travel to sets and write set reports before reviewing the final product? Or sitting in the editing bay with the director/producer/editor before reviewing the movie? Or being twitter/Facebook buddies with the filmmakers? How are those not examples of the writers being too close to the subjects?

  66. Don R. Lewis says:

    Thanks Drew. I also wasn’t inplying you were being vague on twitter, it was 4-5 other people. FWIW….I honestly have let go of the anger I had before about some writers and transparency. Having talked to you at Sundance last year, I believe you as well. I think in the PAST there was a ton of gray area but either through necessity or a light bulb going on, it feels like you’ve owned up to it and have tried to be more clear. On the other hand, it’s alot like Anghus pointed out as well. Hard to walk both sides of the street. Thanks for the reply.

  67. Anghus says:

    And the only reason they allow that access is for promotion and potential good press. Reporters used to cover that stuff and critics reviewed the film. Critics maintained a sense of distance which gave them credibility.

    Set visits, edit bay drop bys, these are commonplace. The reporter and the critic are the same person. The aspiring screenwriter tries to get work from the studio he claims has faulty leadership.

    And yet if you even bring up the subject of maintaining a credible level of integrity you get called names.

    And im not trying to get into with Dave, but hes taken me to task on asking the same basic questions regarding impartiality. Its a tough topic to discuss because everyone thinks themselves impartial or uncorruptable, but in trith thats impossible. And if someone would jyst say, “ill admit it, sometimes personal relatioships will color my judgement” rather than turn into a sanctimonious cock.

  68. Don R. Lewis says:

    I tend to agree with what you’re saying, Anughus….but there’s simply no way to see who’s intentions are what. Dave alluded to it before- no one thinks they’re a liar. I mean…do people out there with asshole kids go “Man, I’m a terrible, terrible mother.” Hell no. There’s 3 sides to every story….

  69. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I dunno. Blogs have changed a lot in the realm of criticism – the rise in soapboxes for a given personality means reviews are read less to see what “The NY Times” says about a movie but what “Cieply” thinks. It’s more about personal opinion rather than some impartial objective reality, and for the majority of blogs it’s preaching to the choir thanks to continuous streams of updates fed straight to followers.

    Given the diminished influence of critics over the moviegoing audience, it’s really up to the blog to set the relationship they want with their readers. If they want to sell themselves as impartial, then that’s going to set the tone for the readers they attract. If they want to go full fanboy squee, then they’re going to attract fanboys. As long as they’re fairly open about their policy (you don’t need a constant stream of “disclosure” statements, just don’t actively hide the fact you’ve visited a set), and your readers are cool with it, then who cares?

    Honestly, the idea that all bloggers should somehow be beholden to a Higher Standard in the service of The Movie to me smacks of unwarranted self-importance ™.

  70. Anghus says:

    Foamy, I agree with you. The standards are non existant. The internet killed them. when people started posting anonymous reviews and posted consequence free op ed style film reviews while trying to use it as a backdoor way to get into the film industry.

    And as many will admit, it actually cost people more work than it actually got them.

    If were doing a post-mortem, LA Noire style investigation, on film criticism and its current state I think you could easily point to Drew and the other anonymous film critics as suspects in the absolute murder of ethics and standards.

    Just the concept of adopting an alias to post reviews shows a consciouss effort to remain consequence free. Obviously that is not the case these days, but if I remember corectly the curtain being pulled back to reveal McWeeny at the controls of Moriarty wasnt voluntary.

    Personally, I dont think the rules and standards matter to many readers. And if people dont care, then it doesnt matter. If you like a film writer and you dig what they do, thats all that matters. Im not saying people should not read so and so because they shill. Everyone shills. And youre right, no one sees themselves as a sell out or liar. No one does things twisting a moustache and laughing maniacally.

    However, when they claim to be impartial and above reproach, im going to yell bullshit.

  71. Don R. Lewis says:

    You just totally and completely nailed it. I’m thinking of writing a book about your opening paragraph but I honestly feel like film criticism has been so destroyed and over bloated by the internet, it renders a book detailing it’s demise almost moot. Would anyone even care at this point?

  72. LexG says:

    I think you guys are little hard on critical standards and whatnot.

    Before the internet, wasn’t one of the 5 or 10 most recognizable and publicly trusted film critics on earth Gene Shalit?

    His whole shtick was HAVING A GIANT MUSTACHE.

    We’re not talking Edward R. Murrow.

  73. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah the curtain wasn’t forced back on Drew. If I remember correctly, it was brought up soon after he joined AICN, and I had conversations in geekchat with the man about his name in 2002. So it’s been out there for a very long time.

    Seriously, if there’s a side. I’ll go with him all day just for the sheer fact that unlike some of you, he never goes full asshole 😀 !

  74. Don R. Lewis says:

    Film Threat did a whole piece back in the day about Harry on AICN pumping a script by a young upstart named Drew McWeeny on his site while neglecting to mention it was Moriarty. I think things have grown past that. I do think Drew is one of the most insightful writers on many issues out there….Faraci too. I can nitpick on their stuff any day as is the case with any writer. Nature of the beast. I also think the genie’s outta the bottle when it comes to access and writers. Not necessarily in the bad sense, just in the sense that the internet has made it way easier for everyone to connect. For better or worse.

  75. LexG says:

    Long as Don’s reminding me of that old-ass piece, and since he works there now…

    Who was Ron Wells, and did he retire? Ha, I used to get him and Poland somewhat mixed up around 10 yrs ago. Haven’t seen or heard the name in AGES though, and can’t find much about him.

  76. anghus says:

    Oh, i can’t deny that a lot of people dig Drew’s style. I havent read much of his stuff since he left aint it cool.

    io, there’s no side. I’m saying i think standards and professionalism took a strong kick to the cock when the internet came around due in large part to anonymous critics and personalities that ditched the conventional and accepted practices in favor of a “do whatever you want” attitude that helped kill modern criticism.

    Lex, it’s not just them. I would start, with respect, to Siskel and Ebert who basically started branding criticism as a simply definable metric. Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down is the most significant pop cultural moment for criticism. It popularized/cemented the idea of a simple, measurable way to define a movie. I don’t know enough about the history to know if they were the first Thumbs Up people, but obviously they made it famous.

    It then became fine for people to not read the content of the review and focus on a simple, marketable way to tell America a movie is worth watching.

    So Ebert and company contributed the most to people not actually reading the content of a review, as well as creating the popularity of the “either/or” mentalitty in the film going public.

    So the 1980’s/90’s is spent turning reviews into thumbs. “yea” or “nay”. Masterpiece or piece of shit.

    Then the late 90’s/2000’s the internet becomes cool and film sites start popping up, an anything goes mentality takes over, 10,000 film fans become 10,000 online ‘film critics’ and now suddenly you’re drowning in a thousand anonymous voices who can only manage to build an audience by acting like petulant 4 year olds.

    And now we have the bastard child of Ebert and The Internet: Rotten Tomatoes. A voiceless metric with an “either or” mentality.

    Congratulations. You just killed film criticism. All you needed was a thumb and an internet connection.

  77. Hallick says:

    The thumbs didn’t kill movie critism. The thumbs were just a summary of criticism that was available on TV and in print. Whatever the demerits of the thumbs up/thumbs down system may be, Siskel & Ebert deserve an enormous amount of credit for the effort they put into making their reviews count and getting their opinions out to the general public. They were never “thumbs up, thumbs down, cash the check and go home”. Under the bickering and the the hand gestures were a couple of movie critics who were regularly on all kinds of shows besides their own, beating the drum for movies like “Crumb”.

    What really helped to annihilate a lot of the power of film criticism was the realization that a studio can pull the quote it wants for its movie from any-fucking-where as long as they shrink the source down to a size you can’t even read with a microscope because all most people read is the quote and they don’t care who said it, whether it was Larry King or the Saskatoon Penny Pincher’s five and a half year old Kindergarten critic.

  78. Joe Leydon says:

    My wife and I went to see a 7:30 pm preview screening of Transformers 3 tonight here in Houston — and left at 8:30 pm, without seeing any of the film, because they couldn’t get the damn thing started. (Announced reason for the delay: “Technical difficulties.” I think they had the wrong digital code, or something.) For all I know, the people who remained are still waiting for the robots to start kicking ass. I felt sorry for the kids who were carted out of the theater by angry and impatient parents long before we opted to depart. I bet most of them had bragged to their classmates today: “Hey, I’m gonna see the Transformers movie tonight at a special screening.” Tomorrow, they’re gonna have to say, “Well, there were technical difficulties….,” and then be subjected to merciless teasing and/or accusations of lying. Too bad.

  79. Joe Leydon says:

    “Reporters used to cover that stuff and critics reviewed the film. Critics maintained a sense of distance which gave them credibility.”

    Anghus, I don’t want to start a tussle, but I started working full-time for newspapers in 1976, and even back then, very, very few newspapers had entertainment department staffs big enough to maintain that sort of division. Indeed, I was reading personality profiles and on-location stories by Gene Siskel for the Chicago Tribune as far back as the early 1980s. Hell, even I got to go on the junket for Annie Hall before reviewing the film for The Shreveport Times. You’ve raised several valid points on this thread, and I agree with much of what you’ve written. But don’t get too carried away with nostalgia for a supposedly more innocent time.

  80. anghus says:

    no disrespect to Siskel & Ebert. I grew up watching them and At the Movies/And the Movies. But they popularized film criticism, packaged it into three 8 minute segments a week and gave the studios a three word snippet that could tell America which movie was worth watching.

    Film criticism marketed, packaged, and conveniently distributed. Reduced to the lowest common denominator

    Y or N?

    Film Critics become binary. 1’s & 0’s.

    Then film critics they go online and become anonymous and numerous. Then they start websites that reduce the 1’s & 0’s to percentages of 1’s vs. 0’s where the name of the critic isn’t even a factor. None of them have weight. Ebert’s thumb is no more important than the guy from Burbank who worked as a waiter before starting a blog about movies and whose opinions warranted enough page views to be officially deemed a critic. All of them are reduced to a simple, definable number.

    How do you kill something complex?

    You reduce it to it’s simplest form
    You find a way to make everyone understand it
    You eliminate any other option other than one simple choice.

  81. anghus says:

    Joe, i’m not saying that it was perfect or there was this golden age. I’m not going Midnight in Paris on you.

    I’m saying “it got worse”.

  82. Joe Leydon says:

    Anghus: Well, I will grant you this much: I do feel like I was tremendously lucky to be writing film critcism on a regular basis for daily newspapers during a period (roughly 1976 to 1995) when so many daily newspapers placed a premium on running serious film critcism. (Some newspapers still run serious critcism, but not nearly as many.) On the other hand, Pauline Kael was tremendously lucky to be writing about movies at the time she did, for a magazine (The New Yorker) than allowed her to write more as less as long as she wanted. As I have said elsewhere: I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that if Pauline Kael were starting out today, she would be on the Internet.

  83. anghus says:

    I think i found a simpler way to say the first part.

    Siskel and Ebert did for Film Criticism what McDonalds did for the hamburger.

    Is that apt?

  84. Joe Leydon says:

    Not quite. Right from the start, Siskel and Ebert covered indie and foreign-language films along with mainstream flicks. Can’t say I’ve ever seen filet mignon or escargot on the menu at Mickey D’s.

  85. Krillian says:

    Didn’t David Manning do more damage to the credibility of film critics than anyone?

    I’m still waiting for the movie commercial to boast a “94% RottenTomatoes score!”

    Saw a Pirates 4 commercial on the other day. The pull-quote was “Jack is Back!” “…the perfect summer movie!” and whoever said it, the font was so small, I couldn’t read it.

  86. anghus says:

    Joe, i guess i’m not arguing the ingredients as much as slapping it on a bun, wrapping it in paper, and selling it on every corner.

    David Manning was the studios testing the theory that it doesn’t matter who said it.

    Then the internet gave the studios a thousand David Mannings.

  87. JS Partisan says:

    Anghus, people took a side up there, and I am against that side. It’s criticism and let’s be honest: everyone is a critic now. What people put on their facebooks or twitters that their friends/followers means just as much as any criticism. It just does. Going on about ethics is fine and good, but this is ENTERTAINMENT journalism. If people are upfront then that should be enough. If not, kick’em in the nuts. All we need is transparency.

  88. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually — seriously — you could make just as valid an argument that Siskel & Ebert helped raise the bar for film criticism in areas outside of NY and LA. No joke: While I worked in Shreveport and wanted to review “smaller” films — it helped to be able to tell skeptical editors that, hey, our readers could see those two guys reviewing those movies on PBS.

    Sorry, but I think blaming Siskel and Ebert for the decline of critical standards is a bit like blaming Quentin Tarantino for bad imitation QT movies.

  89. JKill says:

    If it was not for reading Ebert in syndication in my local paper as a kid or watching him and Siskel on television, my early film discovery and apprecation would certainly not be the same.

  90. anghus says:

    actually, io, i’m not even arguing that we need transparency. I’m stating that people have adopted a ‘do whatever you like’ attitude and if people enjoy their writing, then fantastic.

    what i’m stating is that these people step up and claim to above reproach and that they live up to some higher standard when their words and actions show the contrary.

    Transparency requires a level of commitment and information that no normal reader would ever care to know. Honesty would just require people to admit “im friends with this guy whose film im about to review” or state “so and so would be great in this job, ive known them for awhile, they threw me a party once”. In my ideal world, people would just admit that they are influenced by their industry relationships and that their opinions, like everyone elses, can be adjusted.

    Also in my ideal world, when you talk about this subject the critics in question wouldn’t call you an asshole just for bringing up the notion that no man is an island.

  91. JS Partisan says:

    Anghus, he just dislikes you. I dislike you as well but that’s life :P! Nevertheless, they are above reproach because they all basically control the websites that they are on and that’s more of a problem then their criticism. When you can’t post on Farci’s website and tell him that he’s a jackass for having a jackass opinion, then that’s a serious problem.

    So you want people who basically control the flow of information on their websites, to have ethics? Power corrupts absolutely and all of those guys and gals have power, and that’s more of a problem then their possibly lax criticism Anghus.

    Joe, Gene and Roger introduced me to a much more expansive world of film through that show. They did that for a lot of people.

  92. Drew McWeeny says:

    I don’t “dislike” Anghus. I simply recognize him for what he is. He’s someone who presented one face to me for many years in the AICN chat, and who now presents a very different face here on someone else’s site. This face, which has lobbed many baseless accusations my way while pretending “I’m just asking questions” is, indeed, a piece of shit.

    I notice, Anghus, that you never addressed my point about you finding those reviews for me where I supposedly “whine” about my children. I’m still not even sure what that means, but I do know that you seemed particularly chapped by my mention of them in the “Green Lantern” review. A film which was advertised non-stop on channels aimed at kids is, by any standard, a kid’s film. That’s what Warner Bros. wanted. So weighing in on whether or not that film would be appropriate for kids seems like a logical thing for a critic, especially one with kids who are being raised on a healthy diet of nerd films, to weigh in on. If that is “whining,” then perhaps you are oversensitive. My point is this… you’ll say something like that, which is obviously you carrying some bizarre grudge over something I wrote, but when asked directly to address it, you did not.

    I don’t expect you to ever admit that you’re overstrident, that you are insulting, or that you have presented a radically different face here than you did to me for many years. But when you act like my reaction to you is just about you innocently asking “the tough questions,” you’re a liar and a fraud, and you know it, Anghus. Own the fact that you’re a two-faced shit. It’s fine.

  93. Drew McWeeny says:

    And you can go look at my comments section, JS, and you’ll see plenty of people who both disagree with me and dislike me. The only time someone’s comment is removed is when they can’t comply with the basic terms of service that were established by my site’s founders.

    There’s plenty of disagreement and reproach allowed. Abuse, though? Nope.

  94. Anghus says:

    I didnt present a different face at all. You and I had all kinds of discussions on this very subject, and even then you would make a snide comment and call me piece of shit.

    When the writers strike was going on and I questioned it, you called me a nobody and a piece of shit.

    thats you in a nutshell brother.

    You seem to have been schooled in the Don Murphy school of discourse. There is “your side” and “go fuck yourself”.

    You always come in here with this ugly sense of martyrdom. As if you have been so maligned. My phrasing wasnt clear in refernce to your kids. I dont care about you not being able to take your kids to see Green Lantern. In the context of your review. i dont care to hear film critics review a film in the context of how their wives or kids would feel, or how that impacted your feelings. Your Green Lantern review was about the first time in ages id read something of yours. I think the last time was the red state thing at sundance. That one also had a lot of references to yourself and I think you mentioned your masters of horror episode in that. And it goes back to that film blogger thing where they dont write reviews but write perspective pieces about their life in relation to the film they just saw.

    Couldnt care less. But thats just me. I dont care for your style of criticism and writing and disagree with you on some topics. And if someone didnt post a link in here to your occassional review or you werent over here every so often CRTL+Fing your name, you wouldnt even enter my radar.

    And in all of my responses, I dont think ive once personally called you a piece of shit. Or a liar or a fraud. Im just curious who im lying to or attempting to defraud? I hang out on a film blog and talk movies and the film business.

    Every once in awhile you swing by and call me a piece of shit. And I would re-state that the face I present in here is pretty much the face ive always had. At times I may come across dickish and I have no problem admitting that I can be sanctimonious and maybe even insulting.

    But youll notice I dont swing by hitfix and call you a piece of shit. How would that go over with Hitfixs abuse policy?

  95. Anghus says:

    Why are my comments awaiting moderation?

  96. David Poland says:

    Not sure, Anghus

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  98. mplo says:

    For starters, my mom and my sister recently saw Woody Allen’s new movie, “Midnight in Paris”, and thought that it was overrated, and that it was OK, but not great. Since I’m not at all turned on by Woody Allen, I decided not to see it, at all.

    Pauline Kael was, no doubt, a well known and respected movie critic. Sometimes I agreed with her, and sometimes not, although I must admit that to say she didn’t like the film West Side Story was a real understatement. She not only hated that particular movie with a passion, but she panned it even more vehemently than other critics who’ve done so. To each their own, I guess.

    One day, back in the mid-1970’s, my family and I went to see the remake of “The Body Snatchers”. While we were waiting in line to get into the show, we noticed that people were coming out of the previous showing of ‘Body Snatchers” looking totally freaked out, like they didn’t know what had hit them, and one woman said, as she was coming out of the theatre “It stinks!” We all went in anyhow, saw the film, and my father was totally pissed off, not only because of how bad this film was, but because Pauline Kael had given it such a rave review. “Let’s not subscribe to “The New Yorker” anymore until they fire Pauline Kael”, my dad said, angrily.

    It was not a good film. This film was a re-make of the mid-1950’s version of “Body Snatcher”, and it really wasn’t that great. Re-makes almost never are.

    Speaking of re-makes: I’ve seen both the original 1933 sepia and white version of “King Kong”, and the mid-1970’s Dino DiLaurentis re-make of this film, and I daresay that I liked the old, original “King Kong”! I did NOT like the re-make of it at all. Since then, I make it a point not to see re-makes, because they’re almost always disastrous.

  99. SamLowry says:

    “looking totally freaked out, like they didn’t know what had hit them”

    I assume they were upset by the surprise ending. The reaction you describe doesn’t sound like disgust or anger to me.

  100. christian says:

    I’ve seen both the original 1933 sepia and white version of “King Kong”, and the mid-1970′s Dino DiLaurentis re-make of this film, and I daresay that I liked the old, original “King Kong”!

    Well, there’s a reason for that.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon