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.