Edward Douglas, Hopeless Hack and Amental Film “Journalist” — Part Two

Last week, Reluctant Habits initiated a weekly series on 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. Unfortunately, in the last seven days, Mr. Douglas’s work has not improved much. We see traces of anti-intellectualism and a failure to comprehend basic nouns, along with other unpardonable sins.

MR. DOUGLAS’S OFFENSES AGAINST JOURNALISM AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE — THE WEEK OF JUNE 8, 2008

Edward Douglas offers this stunningly idiotic sentence:

Director M. Night Shyamalan often gets a bad rap, not because of his movies, whether you like all, some or none of them, but because people claim him to be an arrogant egomaniac.

Not only do we get another typical instance of Mr. Douglas mangling his clauses, but we get the redundancy “arrogant egomaniac.” Is Mr. Douglas then suggesting then that Mr. Shyamalan is a humble egomaniac? Or is he simply clueless with nouns? One thing’s for sure. Mr. Douglas has no problem wrapping his well-oiled orifice in Mr. Shyamalan’s presence. While boasting about his “10-minute lightning round interview” (such insight!), Mr. Douglas writes, “You have to admit that he doesn’t make movies haphazardly though, always spending a good amount of time thinking about every aspect of the story and characters and how they might be perceived by the public at large.”

There are many filmmakers, of course, who spend a good deal of time thinking about movies. Consider the time that Michael Cimino expended to think about every detail in Heaven’s Gate, right down to the period underwear. And we all know how that film is currently regarded. But it does not logically follow that, because a filmmaker has used up time and energy, he has put out a quality film.

Mr. Douglas’s paralogia can also be witnessed in such dunce questions as “With all the paranoia in the air, can this movie still be seen as escapism?” (presumably, Mr. Douglas has a limited definition of the escapist blockbuster) and “This is a very short movie compared to your other movies, but it’s only 90 minutes and I was curious about that.” In clinging to such boilerplate, Mr. Douglas remains as graceful as a two-year-old who requires a life preserver in a wading pool.

Mr. Douglas also suggests that Scientific American “grilled” Mr. Shyamalan in asking about science. I must presume that Mr. Douglas is referring to the innocuous question, “Do you see part of this movie being a statement about science and technology being all you need in the world?” If this question did indeed come from Scientific American, it does not grill in the slightest. It is a question founded on legitimate inquiry. Perhaps by “grilled,” Mr. Douglas is referring to a vaguely intellectual area he will never inhabit. But rather than asking more specific questions about The Happening‘s relationship with science (Scientific American‘s George Musser had the decency and the smarts to ask him aboutthe great Guy Maddin. But don’t let Mr. Maddin’s importance fool you into thinking that Mr. Douglas offered anything approximating interesting inquiry. Early in the conversation, Mr. Maddin offers an intriguing answer about Michael Burns okaying a rough outline for My Winnipeg. And rather than asking Mr. Maddin about just how loose he can get with Burns and the level of rejection he receives as a maverick filmmaker, Mr. Douglas asks instead, “Did you still do any kind of research at all?” (Incidentally, Mr. Burns was recently fired, which leaves one to wonder about Maddin’s remaining allies at the Documentary Channel and the freedom he still has a filmmaker. But, of course, Mr. Douglas is too gutless a questioner to follow up.) He doesn’t even ask about the relationship between writing with wholesale invention and relying upon preexisting fact, which would seem an important component to a film dealing with urban legends in some form.

When one interviews someone like Guy Maddin, the interview practically writes itself. But there are too many times in which Mr. Douglas cannot parse the conversational trajectory in front of him. Mr. Douglas’s interview is a fine example for anyone wondering how not to conduct an interview.

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6 Comments

  1. Your analogy makes no sense:

    “Edward Douglas [is] a creative typist employed by ComingSoon.net and an intellectual coprophiliac quite happy to scarf down the moist cloacal deposits offered by film publicists.”

    This is especially embarrassing in a sentence in which you chide someone for not knowing about nouns.

    Firstly, I’m not sure what an “intellectual coprophiliac” is. A smart person who plays with shit? But then, you’ve already made sure the reader knows Douglas is merely a “typist” in your eyes, presumably so we won’t think he’s a real writer, or a real reviewer.

    Your second problem is a noun problem. Based on your supposition that Douglas eats “the moist cloacal deposits offered by film publicists,” it sounds as if you’re calling Douglas a coprophage — “shit eater” — not a coprophile — “shit lover.” One can certainly love the stuff without wanting to ingest it.

    I’m not fond of your fanciful biology, where human film publicists have cloaca. Of course, your joke is probably that they’re not human; they’re reptilian. But then, reptile and bird feces wouldn’t have the same consistency — that moistness that you are so proud of in your opening (heh) — as human shit would. For most reptiles, it’s very liquid; too liquid for the term “moist” unless one is in the habit of calling water moist.

    You wanted to call the guy a shit eater, but you wanted to sound super smart about it. And that’s generally where your writing goes wrong for me. Your maloprops aren’t clever enough to be entertaining. They’re just distracting.

  2. Me again.

    “Arrogant egomaniac” isn’t an oxymoron. It’s a tautology. In an oxymoron, the terms contradict each other, e.g. jumbo shrimp or deafening silence. A tautology is a redundancy.

    Again — if you’re going to call a guy on his writing and his “OFFENSES AGAINST JOURNALISM AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE” then you should probably vet those columns through an editor or a proofreader.

  3. This is embarrassing.

    “Mr. Douglas has no problem wrapping his well-oiled orifice in Mr. Shyamalan’s presence. ”

    Wrapping his what? Around Shyamalan’s presence? How does one wrap an orifice, well-oiled or not, around anything? What does that even mean? Are you know suggesting that Douglas has the cloaca? The one that he was eating from in the opening paragraph? Or is this a subsequent orifice that you’ve not made clear until now?

    Do you know what paralogia means? It isn’t readily apparent to me that you do. Paralogia is chiefly bad reasoning, usually on a single theme or subject. There’s also a repetitive quality to paralogia — it’s more of a diagnostic term. You’ve hauled it out to describe Douglas; however, you haven’t shown us what form this paralogia takes.

    “In clinging to such boilerplate, Mr. Douglas remains as graceful as a two-year-old who requires a life preserver in a wading pool.” Or, rather, as graceful as this labored simile by Ed Champion. What two-year-old doesn’t need a life preserver in a wading pool?

    I’ve read the whole entry now. I won’t need to comment more on your initial slips.

  4. Mike B:

    1. A coprophiliac is someone who derives sensual pleasure from shit. Look it up in your unabridged. In this sense, shit is used an intellectual context. Your inability to parse the English language and your lack of imagination is yours.

    2. An egomaniac is likewise someone with psychologically abnormal egotism. In the context that Mr. Douglas is using the word “egomaniac,” arrogant is an unnecessary modifier. There can BE no other option but someone filled with hubristic egotism. See Strunk & White. Omit needless words.

    3. As for what Mr. Douglas is wrapping his well-oiled orifice around, I leave that to your imagination. I merely said that he did this IN Mr. Shyamalan’s presence.

    4. You have grasped the two-year-old comparison correctly, but you have failed to discern why I would specify.

    It is abundantly evident that you lack a capacity to appreciate or interpret clear figurative language.

  5. 1. “A coprophiliac is someone who derives sensual pleasure from shit.”

    Granted. However, that’s not the use you’re using. You clearly write “scarf down the moist cloacal deposits ” — which is eating. A coprophage eats. You were close; you could have been exact. Always be exact.

    2. “In the context that Mr. Douglas is using the word ‘egomaniac,’ arrogant is an unnecessary modifier.”

    Agreed. Which continues to make it a tautology, not an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a self-canceling idea. Arrogant egomaniac isn’t self-canceling. Like you’ve figured out, it’s simply redundant. This is why oxymoron is the wrong word in this position.

    4. “As for what Mr. Douglas is wrapping his well-oiled orifice around, I leave that to your imagination. I merely said that he did this IN Mr. Shyamalan’s presence.”

    Okay. You were unclear. But, as I said above, before cleverness, you should strive for clarity. It is more important than any well-played bon mot. If you mean his mouth, because his mouth has been well-oiled because of all the shit he’s eaten — reptilian shit isn’t oily. However, my critique brings us to:

    5. “It is abundantly evident that you lack a capacity to appreciate or interpret clear figurative language.”

    No. That’s not the case at all. Your language isn’t figurative. It’s wrong. Well-written figurative language is also correct. It’s what makes the line “It’s funny ’cause it’s true” both funny (until overused) and true.

    Again, I want to point out the irony of calling out some guy on his misuse of language when you yourself have but a slim grasp on vocabulary. Glass houses and stones and all of that.

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