New York hack “journalist” Edward Douglas, a creative typist employed by ComingSoon.net and an intellectual coprophiliac quite happy to scarf down the moist cloacal deposits offered by film publicists, recently left a comment. Mr. Douglas writes that telling the truth about Hollywood and the junket system is “the reason why blogs like [sic] shouldn’t be considered viable outlets to do these interviews.” Is that so?
In a moment, I’ll address the question of whether Mr. Douglas is a writer with enough credibility to make such a claim. But for now, there is a more pertinent question: What makes Mr. Douglas’s idiot tinkerings at ComingSoon.net any different from a blog? It appears that Mr. Douglas doesn’t write for newspapers. In fact, he writes exclusively online. Could it be that Mr. Douglas is merely a piss-poor journalist? Could it be that Mr. Douglas’s isn’t that good of a writer? Could it be that he is a small insect creeping his way up the dunghill of film journalism? A mere mite to be smashed with a robust and responsible Doc Marten?
In an effort to determine precisely why and how Mr. Douglas is a lazy and inept journalist, I’m initiating a weekly series that will examine Mr. Douglas’s work (if his scrabbling can be called that) as it appears on his site, ComingSoon.net. This is the first installment.
MR. DOUGLAS’S OFFENSES AGAINST JOURNALISM AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE — THE WEEK OF JUNE 1, 2008
On June 5th, Mr. Douglas interviewed Jon Favreau. Instead of using this time to investigate Iron Man 2 at length or ask Favreau about some of the interesting connections between his earlier and more “real” films (Swingers and Made) and these newer fantasy blockbusters, Mr. Douglas preferred to state the obvious to Mr. Favreau, asking him the vapid question, “So now you are back to being in front of the camera and goofing off?” Clearly, it is Mr. Douglas who is the one goofing off here with this slipshod inquiry. But, of course, since Mr. Douglas (and the other junketeers who were present for this interview) is a consummate ass-kisser, this early question was merely a setup to stroke Mr. Favreau’s ego with this scintillating observation concerning all potential superhero epics now in the planning stages: “I guess you will have to direct all of them.” Again, we see that Mr. Douglas and his unsearing peers prefer constant assuaging over journalism.
Also on that day, Mr. Douglas wrote this amazingly idiotic piece of hackery in relation to Anand Tucker. Marvel at this atrocious sentence!
It must have been a bittersweet departure, because it would have been a fantastic film under Tucker’s guidance and he was a big fan of the books, but leaving the film allowed the director to successfully dodge the bullet and the backlash when the movie bombed horribly, something that many felt greatly accelerated the decline and death of New Line in its previous guise.
Mix your metaphors much, Mr. Douglas? Split your infinitives much, Mr. Douglas? Separate your clauses at all, Mr. Douglas? Are you even aware of Strunk & White, Mr. Douglas? Does anybody edit your pieces, Mr. Douglas? Unable to deploy a figurative metaphor (“the bullet”) for his object, Mr. Douglas feels a strange need to introduce a literal one (“the backlash”). And who are the “many” who felt that The Golden Compass was responsible for New Line’s decline? Is this like the tribunal scene at the end of M? Mr. Douglas suggests by this cavalier item that he is an insider. But he is a dilettante. A proper journalist would offer a link or a specific authority for others to follow.
Let us also ponder the modifier “exclusive” — a word that Mr. Douglas seems peculiarly fixated upon. An exclusive interview suggests that Mr. Douglas is nabbing these interviews on his own, that he is obtaining bits of information that nobody else has. Mr. Douglas is not in the habit of confessing when he’s at a press conference or a sharing a roundtable interview with other journalists. So perhaps he has deluded himself into thinking that he’s getting an “exclusive.” Or this is what he tells the people who pay his checks. Either way, he is a liar. And further examinations into the “exclusive” nature of Mr. Douglas’s material are forthcoming.
But for now, I note that Mr. Douglas reported that he had “an exclusive” item involving Werner Herzog’s upcoming movie, Bad Lieutenant, with Herzog claiming that his film was not a remake of the Abel Ferrara film. But if Douglas had such an “exclusive,” why then did the same news (with a strikingly similar quote) crop up on Defamer one day before Douglas’s report? Could it be that Defamer’s S.T. VanAirsdale (who also blogs at The Reeler) was at the same junket/press conference? (VanAirsadle, to his credit, had the humility and the decency to avoid the word “exclusive,” pointing to “some minor miracle/apparent PR botch” that permitted this interview to happen.)
On June 3, the hopeless Mr. Douglas posted his conversation with documentary filmmaker Nina Davenport, where one can see Mr. Douglas’s considerable deficiencies as an interlocutor. Davenport was commissioned to film an Iraqi film student. The resulting film became an altogether different documentary named Operation Filmmaker. Sounds like an intriguing exposé into cultural transition, yes? Well, not for Mr. Douglas. He was not so tickled at putting forth remotely challenging questions on, say, how much Davenport and her camera might have been inadvertently responsible for the film student’s erratic behavior. In fact, since Mr. Douglas is apparently incapable of using his noggin (or unwilling to) for his questions, we get three questions from Mr. Douglas that rely upon the “It must have been hard”/”Was it difficult?” interviewing cliche.
Let us consider this hackeneyed phrase. In what world do you utter such a conversational banality and not get your ass kicked? You don’t ask a dentist if it’s “difficult” for him to fill in a cavity. You don’t tell a barista that “it must have been hard” to make that latte for the last customer. Why are amental hacks like Mr. Douglas so content to treat their interview subjects like children? (Answer: Because today’s junketeers aren’t interested in adult conversations. They remain inveterate assuagers.)
Douglas really thinks his readers are idiots. Why else would he write, in relation to a junket with Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson, “A lot of what he had to say will certainly be of interest to anyone hoping to one day break into the animation or computer effects field.” Even discounting the fact that Douglas (or one of his fellow roundtable junketeers) foolishly compares the Head of Story position with ADing, is Douglas arrogant enough to believe that aspiring animation students will be going to ComingSoon.net to get technical information? Compare Mr. Douglas’s condescending flummery with Steve Fritz’s more comprehensive and informed interview of both Kung Fu Panda directors, where Fritz not only gets answers on how fight moves were animated and carried out, but even obtains a concise paragraph on key frame animation.
It will, of course, take some time to examine the spineless atavist known as Edward Douglas. I should observe that Mr. Douglas’s affronts to journalism are, as I have intimated with the comparisons above, by no means endemic to film journalism as a whole. I have my problems with David Poland, but at least Poland is attempting some basic ratiocination. One cannot say this of Mr. Douglas, whose execrable word spewing makes Poland look like F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is not just the ineluctable conclusion that Mr. Douglas writes with all the dependability and precocity of a malfunctioning dot matrix printer that should trouble us. He actually gets paid for this.
It is now my goal to inform those who pay Mr. Douglas for his services that they are getting a terrible deal. It is he who is the one not deserving of any credibility. It is he who is the one who should be confined to a go-nowhere office job without the benefit of air conditioning. Future dispatches will follow.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.