My review of the Supernatural episode “Like a Virgin” is up at pinkraygun.com. Enjoy!
So over on pinkraygun.com, my five-parter piece on fans in fandom has been being posted regularly on Tuesdays. The last part posts this Thursday, right before SPN comes back from hiatus.
?I’m glad I finally got it posted, and my editors are pleased with it. But except for a few very lovely responses, I’m hearing crickets. I would have thought, so many fans like to hear and tell stories, what could be more interesting than learning about a fellow fan? Apparently this isn’t true.
There might be a problem with interviews overall. I’ve noticed that no matter who writes them, there’s usually a dearth of responses to interviews. I’ve done them, WorldofHiglet’s done them, Alpha-Girl’s done them, Thera’s done them, Theresa’s done them, and so on. When any of these writers (good writers all), or when I, write anything else, anything at all, there are comments or numbers or feedback or something. And whether readers hate the writing or they love it, the article resonates somewhere in the interwebs.
For example, pinkraygun.com has done a number of interviews with actors on popular shows. I’ve done a few myself, and it is fun and I get jazzed about talking to someone who plays a character I like, and usually the whole experience of talking to an actor is pleasant and fun. The article I write about it is pleasant and fun too, but afterward, the article just tends to sit there. And I don’t know if it’s because readers aren’t interested in reading interviews, or if the interviews themselves are boring, or if I did a terrible job presenting the material.
It might be a mixture of all of the above, because I’ve noticed, after the jazzy feeling of talking to someone with face of a character I enjoy watching wears off, that the answers I get seem rather practiced. Now, I can sure that being an actor with a public face and a career that depends on reputation as well as talent, that all these famous people have been groomed by someone (their PR guy, their agent, their mother, whoever) to put a positive spin on everything they say.
I’m not saying they’re being dishonest, but their answers are rather….ordinary. There’s no grit to them, no life, no passion. I’m not saying they have to give me the dirt, I certainly don’t want that. But when was the last time you heard an actor tell you how he or she really felt? They always say stuff like, “Oh, so-and-so director was really challenging to work with, I learned a lot.” And never, “Oh, my GOD it was really hard, and I didn’t enjoy it! I’d rather stick a PENCIL in my eye than work with So and So again!”
(For actor, you can also insert: director, writer, editor, webcomic drawer, foely artist, set designer, producer, whatever. I’m using actor as shorthand for any kind of person that gets interviewed.)
Maybe the actors are dying to tell us the truth, but can’t. Maybe the actors are just tired of answering the same questions. Or, maybe like me, a lot of readers have read these types of answers so many times, it’s hard to be interested in yet another actor telling us how interesting thus-and-such project was, or how they’re going to start a new line of perfume, or how they’re going to open up their own chain of fried chicken restaurants.
Meta discussions or reviews of books, movies, or shows tend to do better (both on pinkraygun.com and everywhere), and whether that’s because the meta/review comes directly from one person’s head onto the page or, in conjunction with that, there’s nothing less interesting than hearing Person A’s story filtered through Person B’s format, I can’t tell. And I really have no idea.
I know that I don’t read interviews most of the time, and if I do, it’s by accident, because I stumbled across it somehow or someone sent me the link. I find that the format of Q&A makes me drowsy, or maybe I’m drowsy because because I always have a feeling that the answers won’t tell me anything new. And maybe, as has been suggested to me, there’s nothing really to add to an interview because it’s a description of a conversation that’s already happened, and not an invitation to discuss at length.
I know very few interviews that I have liked or can even remember making a point of going to read or to watch. The ones I have read or watched seem…banal and ordinary and I remember thinking that they all sound like they’re saying what they think we want to hear. They come across as genuine…but not, if you see what I mean.
The ONE and only exception to this is ANY interview that Werner Herzog has ever done. I could listen to that man all day long. Check this guy out. To me, he brings a vibrancy to anything he says and I’m mesmerized every time he opens his mouth
Or if you want something really amazing, check out his documentary about Timothy Treadwell, called “The Grizzly Man.” If you can, get the unabridged, three hour version; it’s much better than the shorter one.
But I digress.
I don’t know showbiz and I surely don’t know how it feels at the other end of the microphone. But if fannish readers feel the way I do, in general, about interviews, then I can kind of understand why the crickets are singing as I’m telling stories about other fans.
Except, when Supernatural ends, the question was raised as to what I would write about for Pink Raygun? I’ve been discussing with my editors the prospect of continuing the Fan Whisperer pieces. This time around, I would interview one fan, asking a series of standard questions, and then following up with a series of more personalized questions that would be based on the first set of questions.
But that brings up two issues: First, do fans want to tell their story? I think some do, some don’t, and some don’t care. And second, do fans want to hear other fans’ stories?
I was completely interested and frankly enjoyed the heck out of getting the stories of the people who responded. I was amazed at how different they were, but how they all had some very strong, common threads. We’re so different, yet so alike. And I was excited about the prospect of talking to more fans. And even though there is the spotlights on vidders and writers over at spnrountable, and except for some pieces over at the Order for Transformative Works that focused on a particular work of a particular fan, or elsewhere on the interwebs (I’m thinking specifically about the songvid “Us” by lim), I’ve not yet seen interviews/pieces about fans doing their regular fannish things.Which brings me to my question, and thank you for reading this far: Do you want to be interviewed about your fannish life? And, equally important, are you interested in reading about other fans? When I write stories, I write for myself. When I write for pinkraygun I write with a different purpose; there’s an audience out there, and I’m writing for that audience. Did the Fan Whisperer piece work? And is it going to be productive and interesting to do more of the same?
You can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can post a comment; I’d really like to know what you think.
Back in December of 2008 I made a post that called for people who wanted to be interviewed for my piece on fan fiction for Pink Raygun. The link to that post is here:
Many people responded, and two years later, the piece is being posted. The delay is due in part to real life issues, but also in part to the fact that I had a hard time getting my hands around the material I collected. All the respondents had a lot to say and all of it was interesting!
The dates for posting are:
Introduction: It’s So Very Personal
Getting Into Fandom: Walking on the Wild Side
Becoming a Fan Fiction Writer: Dealing in Emo
Fan Fiction: Why? Why? Why?
Character: It’s In The Way That You Use Him
Conclusion: Bringing in the Sheaves
Best Regards and happy reading!
My review of the Supernatural Official Season 5 Companion book is up at pinkraygun.com. Enjoy!
Recently I participated in a Q & A with the actors of Merlin. You can read about it at pinkraygun.com. Enjoy!
My review for the Supernatural episode “Appointment in Samarra” is up at pinkraygun.com. Enjoy!
“Then, committed to my task, I still had to stop to look up Balthazar. Remember him? I didn’t. But apparently, he’s an angel who wanted to kill Sam and Dean at some point last season. But then, who doesn’t these days; the world is out to get them. Anyway, I had to look him up because I didn’t remember him and he has a scene with Sam, who, foolishly, has to-do list, at the top of which is inscribed: “Mistakes I Need to Make Today.””
One of the things I do every week is I read Roger Ebert and his movie reviews. I read pretty much everything he writes. Some of it I skim, if I’m in a hurry or if it’s about politics, which I find a little dreary. Most of the time I read all of his movie reviews, and then his blog, and I read the articles done by other reviewers on his blog, but mostly I just read Ebert.
I like the way he thinks and I like the way he writes. I don’t always agree with his opinions on movies; sometimes I’ll watch a movie he’s given a positive review to (like Pan’s Labyrinth) and come out feeling like I’ve been GOBsmacked. What he’s looking for in a movie is not always what I’m looking for. He’s seen it all, so he’s looking for style and subtle subtexts and he’s got his eye out for something really good. When all I want is a happy ending and a good laugh and a nice soundtrack. And if you throw in some orphans who get rescued, then I am there. His reviews alert me to what’s out there, what might be good, and from the content of his reviews, I can avoid those movies that I don’t want to watch. And he’s a damn good writer who is entertaining to read.
I really started noticing Ebert way back, when I was reading a review for a movie he didn’t like very much. I don’t remember the name of the movie, or who was in it, sadly. But I do remember Ebert interjecting with this “And there were Nazis!” comments every now and then, to poke fun at this movie which was so obviously bad that the only villains it could probably think of to put in there were Nazis, even though there aren’t any in the movie. It was so funny, I wished I’d saved it. (If you know which review this is, I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know.)
One of my favorite Ebert stories is about the time when a fellow reviewer by the name of Patrick Goldstein had some negative things to say about Rob Schneider’s movie Duce Bigalow: Male Gigolo that were less than glowing. Schneider, in turn, behaved in a less than professional way, and in the end Ebert stepped up and called Schneider on it, and the result was a very amazing review by Ebert of the same movie to support Goldstein. I remember thinking at the time how fun it must have been to stand up with balls of steel and say what he did.
In the meanwhile, my admiration for his writing grew, and when I grew up I wanted to be like him: smart, funny, insightful, and brave in his writing. This might be part of the reason I started writing reviews for pinkraygun.com. I’m not sure if I am or have any or all of those attributes that I admire in Ebert, but that’s my goal.
Three years since I started writing for pinkraygun.com, I’m pretty sure I’m still working on, and will have to continue working on, being smart, funny, insightful, and brave. (Not to mention being better at spelling and punctuation!) As to which of my reviews reflect any of those qualities, I honestly can’t tell you. When I think I’ve done a bang-up job and written something really amazing, I post it and hear crickets. On the other hand, when I write something hastily because real life is rearing its head and needs attention, I post it and people rave. If I think a review is particularly bland, then someone will take umbrage; if it’s an incendiary review (in my mind), then I get an entirely opposite response. I’ve learned, or at least I think I have, not to expect response A or response B, regardless. My readers and their responses always surprise me, which is part of the pleasure of writing.
So the point of all this is that long about April of this year, I hit a high water mark as far as number of hits my articles were getting. It was like 1,000 hits per article over a week’s time. That’s pretty good for a site like pinkraygun.com, and very nice for me to see. (All writers like readers, it’s a given!)
One time, I did a review of a Supernatural episode called Point of No Return. (My review was called Faith in the Atmosphere.) For various and sundry reasons (not all of them positive), this particular review got over 500 hits and 150 comments before noon on the first day. Which is amazing!
I was so pleased with myself, and my head was so swelled up that I needed Vaseline to get through doorways. Yeah, and I’m walking around, ta-da!, all puffed up, and then I go to Roger Ebert’s blog. He’d been doing a review of video games and had pronounced them to not be art. To what I’m sure was his surprise, people took umbrage, and the result was that he got lots of hits that day and lots of comments. (The rule of thumb is…one comment equals around 100 people who read you and didn’t comment.)
So how many comments did Ebert get on the very same day? Take a look….
Of course, his count was at the end of the day, but still! 2,343 comments!! And going by my rule of thumb, that meant he got over 200,000 hits. Needless to say, my balloon-shaped ego deflated in about two seconds flat. Poor me! Here I was the hotsty totsy thing, in my mind. If only he’d posted this review days earlier or days later! But who am I kidding. The man gets thousands of comments every single day. And he doesn’t get them by being nice or by holding back, he gets it by telling it like he sees it.
I know what my Dad would say. He’d say, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just do your best.
So I’m doing my best, trying to improve on what I do, but I still want to be Roger Ebert when I grow up. He is my comment-spiration.
My review of the Supernatural episode “Caged Heat” is up at pinkraygun.com. Enjoy!
“Back the boys go to their grotty hideout. And it is grotty, in a way that motels simply can’t be. The hideout is an abandoned house, complete with visible slats in the walls, mold everywhere, and no overhead lights. By the looks of everything, I’m sure the bathroom is perfectly frightful, so hats off and thumbs up to the set dressers for this one. That Sam and Dean fail to remark on the decrepitude of their current surroundings is rather nice, as well; it implies that they’ve seen worse, stayed in worse. Certainly, they’ve stayed in better, but they’re adaptable boys, so this is far less difficult than most things they’ve had to put up with.”
My review of the Supernatural episode “All Dogs Go to Heaven” is up at pinkraygun.com. Enjoy!
“Be that as it may, the opening scenes also have Sam and Dean at a BBQ joint somewhere in New York, even though New York State is not really known for being a haven for BBQ joints. But never mind that now. The sun is shining, the brothers are together, and Sam is wearing a green plaid, snap-button shirt, which is one of my absolute favorites for him to wear. He looks so good in green, always, and the snap buttons are just hot, on account of they can be unsnapped so easily, if one’s imagination were inclined to go that way, which mine is. I’m perfectly certain that Show does NOT dress Sam to suit my tastes, but sometimes, like this time, I’m perfectly certain that they do. And then there’s the Samhair, which makes a lovely showing in this scene and fact makes many showings for the rest of the ep.”