"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

I ended my column

In case anybody wonders, I decided to stop writing my column for Rebeller. I was never comfortable with what I saw as a trollish, anti-PC identity to the brand, and it just got to be too much stress worrying how my association with that reflected on my values and reputation.

I was probly fooling myself thinking I could distance myself from all that. But I’m proud of the twelve columns I wrote for them. I really feel like I stepped up, and I hoped that by writing honestly I could even expose the right wing audience they seemed to be courting to a few perspectives they wouldn’t see in their usual media. Also I didn’t want to cede my favorite type of movies to them. But some of the sight’s provocations made them/us seem like such jerks that it kind of painted me into a corner. I didn’t feel I could write the next column I had planned (about Amy Johnston) because the whole point was to bring attention to work I want more people to know about, and right now it feels like negative attention to be profiled on Rebeller.

For what it’s worth, editor Sonny Bunch was always nice to me, never questioned any lefty stuff in my columns, and seems to sincerely want to evolve Rebeller into something less divisive. I just think the whole thing is built on the Cinestate approach of provoking offense and then explaining why actually if you think about it maybe it’s not offensive. That’s not my thing.

I’ll be okay financially, but it’s a blow to my pride, because between the Patreon and the column I was finally making half of my income from writing. On the positive side, it frees up more time to work on the reviews here. Maybe I can do some exclusives for the Patreon – I’ve been hesitant to promote it during These Uncertain Times, but I want to show my gratitude to the people who do support it.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. Sorry if this is disappointing to anyone, and thanks for not judging me for writing it in the first place. (Unless you did. That’s fine too.)

I will continue to subscribe to Fangoria.

thanks friends,

–VERN

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 at 5:46 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

93 Responses to “I ended my column”

  1. I’ve been a reader of your work for many years, Vern. As of today, I’ll also be a Patreon supporter of yours. Cheers to you for following your moral compass.

  2. I won’t hold it against you that you started the column or quit. One seemed like a good career move, the other was the right moral decision. So as far as it concerns me, no damage to your reputation was done.

  3. I don’t know that there was a single right decision here, which is to say that I don’t read REBELLER, and it’s hard to know how your actions will ultimately impact the grand scheme of things as far as “was Vern bringing his Vern voice to Rebeller a net good or net bad for humanity at large” or whatever. You can point to all sorts of hypotheticals or examples and counter-examples as far as that goes. If you touch the life of just one struggling person, was it worth it? Can you let your own words — there, here, and elsewhere for those who care to look — speak for themselves? Does contributing to that site imply your endorsement or comfort with the other content? Guilty by association? Are you the Colmes to so many Hannity-ies, and is that worse than there being only Hannity-ies in that particular part of town? On and on these debates go.

    For sure, I know some people commenting on this site were pretty uncomfortable with you writing for REBELLER, and I think that’s valid and important for them to express that. At the same time, it’s frustrating for me to see more and more, deeper and deeper entrenchment and mutual writing-off of one another. I go back and forth on this, because my mom was Republican her whole life, had no good reason to be in terms of her self-interests, but her folks programmed her that way, and for a variety of reasons, she never really broke free, and she died a Trumpie.

    But that’s not everyone’s story. I started out going along with that for my first two Presidential elections, and then for different reasons, I broke free of it. And it’s been a gradual process of polarization for me, but it’s one where I maintain a healthy degree of cynical distance from most politicians and parties, which is not the same as a false equivalence in terms of their policy instincts. But a big part of my process has just been dialogue and exposure to people who are able to model a better way and to invite people to see a different perspective. Because mentors and other carriers of the flame of sanity/humanity are so previous and so few, seeing more and more echo chambers and fewer and fewer bridges or DMZs is discouraging.

    Also, I feel that sometimes our efforts to push gray situations over to the black or white column say more about our difficulty managing uncomfortable feelings or tolerating ambiguity, our desire to avoid people we’d like to write off, and some fairly lazy and/or histrionic fears and inferences: “if you associate in any way with x, here’s *the* message (singular) that you’re sending (to everyone?).” It is ironic to me that communities of people who tend to be the most well-schooled and practiced in cultural criticism, the deconstruction of language, and generally parsing out the nuance, subtext, layers, double-meanings, etc. of narrative are often very quick to pronounce these sorts of hot-take, dualistic, morally tinged judgments and interpretations on things.

    Whatever the case, we all have our thresholds and red lines, and it’s nice to maintain some buffer there, lest things get too blurry, and next thing you know you’re naked cooking meth in a van, amirite? :p It’s always heartening to watch as you seek to align your actions to your values and keep that dialogue going, both internally and with others. You hold fast to a code, and keep regular counsel with that code, and you leave people changed for the better in your interactions with them and the gifts of interpretation, humanity, and humor that you bring in your text and its subtext.

  4. I want to pay tribute to Skani for that moving screed. Tribute.

    Also, many years ago, when I was in a republican/libertarian phase, I wrote Vern a long email providing a more conservative response to some issue that was going on at the time. This must have been in 2009 or something. To my surprise, Vern wrote back and I was impressed with his ability to understand, or at least try to understand where I was coming from and make an attempt at good-faith, honorable discussion. Good times.

    Regarding current events, I don’t read Rebeller, but I’m glad you have chosen your grounds on morals and what you believe in. As Skani says so deftly, we never really know what the outcome of our actions will be, but if you’re doing it with the right intentions, it’s hard to complain too much. Sorry you’re losing some of your income stream, Vern. I really enjoy reading your words.

  5. Hey Vern,

    Long time reader. Got the Seagal book and everything. Read a couple of the Rebeller essays as well. You always told it like it is.

    That’s why we read you.

  6. I supported you trying to make it work with Rebeller, and as I saw some of their content, I concur with your decision. They’re just too aggressive to balance out. I should be able to catch up on all your columns with me theee fee monthly articles.

  7. I found it cool and intriguing that you were working for them – the columns you promoted here sounded excellent – but honestly after your Dragged Across Concrete review I was reluctant to subscribe to it. Now in hindsight…how racist/MAGA was the energy to that site & attendant community?

    There’s a conservative I used to write video game reviews for in the early 2010s that I am still friends with on Facebook, and since I stopped working for him of course Trump happened so his true nature was sort of revealed to me. We still comment on each other’s movie posts, but there is definitely an irrevocable gulf between us due to our politics. I’d like to think I’m open to reaching across the aisle when it comes to certain issues (mostly just the times when he and I have overlapping criticism of a Democrat), but things have gotten so apocalyptic I have very little chill anymore. It’s not fun to shoot the shit about Robocop anymore – especially when right wing fans of that movie are completely missing the point anyway lol.

  8. Some of the other people Rebeller has writing for them are, IMO, odious, so I was never going to read or subscribe, but I never held the column against you. Always happy for you to find ways to monetize what you do, and maybe it was good that the site had someone like you giving their readership a different perspective for as long as you did. Regardless, I appreciate and respect that you have a code and you hold to it, like Skani said.

  9. I’ve thought this for years but you should do a podcast . Have enjoyed the couple times you’ve been a guest think an action movie or film podcast would be dynamite.

  10. I’m genuinely sorry this didn’t work out for you, Vern, even if I was never gonna go to Rebeller to see your work there. I’m guessing no one here judged you for taking a paying gig or had any doubts that you wouldn’t hold on to your integrity or hold out for your values.

    You should definitely think about Patreonetizing the kind of pieces you were writing for them though. An Amy Johnston profile sounds seriously cool.

  11. “It’s not fun to shoot the shit about Robocop anymore – especially when right wing fans of that movie are completely missing the point anyway lol.”

    Oh satire! Was it Peter Cook who said he’d been inspired by the satire of the Berlin cabarets of the 1930s and how they’d stopped the rise of Hitler and prevented the Second World War?

  12. Sorry to hear about the los did income but happy to know that you stood by your morals. Was there a last straw or was this more of a slow-cooking lobster situation?

  13. You lie with dogs, you get fleas. Or something like that. Our modern American society has gone down this hellhole of holding our noses and meeting the other side in the middle, no matter how awful they are, for far too long. Decent people have sold their souls and banded together with authoritarians, racists, and honest to god white supremacists and expected us to live and let live. Fuck em all. Good on you for turning your back on the toxic elements of our society. Maybe you were able to influence some people Black Klansman style but that is a long shot. Bringing money and legitimacy to the propagandists is not worth the trade-off.

    Yes I know that saying “fuck em” to a large segment of our population is toxic in and of itself, but what are we supposed to do? Just let it go, and keep associating with supposedly “good, decent” people who would gang up with truly evil people and then blithely tell us that they are voting for the platform, or the party, and not the man in charge? That they are not political, and they had to vote for a racist bigot con artist because they are conservative?

    Fuck that.

  14. BuzzFeedAldrin

    May 28th, 2020 at 6:22 am

    I never heard of Rebeller so I can’t comment either way except that I’m sorry for your loss of income but give you props for doing what you feel is right even though it’s going to hit you in the wallet. I’m so glad I was tipped off to your reviews. For years I was a major Joe Bob Briggs head even though I was aware of his occasional conservative leanings. I just assumed that was another character he was playing. But when he started writing for Taki’s mag and going almost full MAGA, I had to bow out. But I’m glad there’s a (much better, IMHO) voice out there for us leftists who happen love… uh..’niche’ cinema.

  15. I was cautiously optimistic about the Rebeller thing, especially when you joined up for a weekly column. It was sold to me as a site that would champion niche and genre films while avoiding a political lens, which appealed to me. Over these months, though, it was just too reactionary for my tastes (maybe I should have been tipped off by the name). Instead of building its own identity, it was often reduced to offering culture-war hot takes, which I cannot abide from either the left or the right. Also, the writing was too inconsistent; couple of columnists are solid, but most were just annoying.

    Overall, Rebeller is not striving for excellence, so I cancelled my subscription a couple weeks ago. I still love Craig Zahler movies though.

  16. ^^ My sentiments exactly REDACTED. Cancelled as well. I’ll read everything you write Vern no matter where it is.

  17. Thanks everybody. I appreciate the support. Majestyk, it was kind of a camel’s back situation. There were numerous things over time and every once in a while I would see out of context tweets complaining about them or get a cryptic text from a friend asking if I still write for them, so I would do an “oh great, what did they do now?” search. The other night I learned about a thing they printed that was basically about “yeah, fuck that lady that called the cops on the guy, but also fuck that guy and also fuck the people that outed her.” It wasn’t even film related so I felt it was kind of admitting that the right-leaning provocation is the thing that matters to them. At the same time I learned of a several days old furor over their Twitter account (in a film context) implying a sort of anti-lockdown leaning, and that one literally kept me up at night.

    I know they’re getting a ton of blowback for the editorial and it sounds like they’re going to try to rethink their approach and be more the thing they pitched to me in the first place. I honestly wish them luck with that, I just felt like I couldn’t do it anymore.

  18. Would you go back if it became less reactionary?

  19. Look, people who are all “I would never accept a dime from a publication/publication conglomerate unless I agreed with every single word published in the entire history of said publication’s history” have obviously never had to make a living as a freelancer. So as far as I’m concerned, you could have kept writing for them until kingdom come and you never would have heard a word against you from moi. Flynt Publications paid my rent on more than a couple occasions and some people tried to make me feel like satan because of it, due to the fact the company also publishes pictures of women’s pussies and sexist cartoons. “Have you ever read anything sexist that I wrote personally? No? Then shut the fuck up”

    WITH THAT SAID, I’ve never read Rebeller, but everything I’ve read about them makes them sound like complete fucking clowns. So good riddance to bad garbage. It must have been very tough to knock that food off the table, but in the long run, I think you’ll sleep easier.

  20. Bryan – I don’t expect that, but weird things can happen. Right now I just want to enjoy not having to stress about it.

  21. It’s not much but I just signed up to Patreon to throw you some support.

  22. Well, I think ya done good. Sometimes quitting is a great reason to be proud.

  23. Just want to show my support too, Vern. You’re honestly one of the main reasons I wanted to give Rebeller a shot at first because I also wanted to believe you could bring a much-needed perspective to what looks to be their core audience. Still respect some folks doing work over there and this isn’t meant to be a condemnation of those folks, but I also can see why their recent social media trolling behavior is something no one would want to be associated with.

  24. A few weeks ago I did check out their twitter feed, prompted by Sternshein, and it was pretty trollish. It’s just…why? I mean, it’s not even like one dude’s twitter, but it is the twitter handle of the magazine itself. Makes no sense. Also, just kind of juvenile and off-topic, like they were bitching about the UN calling for gender inclusive language in everyday speech — what the fuck does that have to do with move reviews or anything? It kind of reminded me if that Onion article Obama and the Audubon society going back and forth on twitter. Funny as satire, “SAD!” as real life.

    19 Tweets From The Audubon Society/Barack Obama Twitter Feud

    The Onion brings you all of the latest news, stories, photos, videos and more from America's finest news source.

  25. I don’t know Rebeller, and I’m not an American, but it’s weird to me that the debate about SARS-COV-2 lockdown policies has become so partisan and divisive in the U.S. that even just suspecting that your employer might have anti-lockdown leanings would be reason to keep you up at night, and ultimately quit. I dunno – just seems a bit extreme. The irrelevant trolling though … fair enough.

  26. Sorry about this, Vern. From what I’ve seen in their Twitter feed, they’ve moved in the last week or so from “film site whose writers are mostly conservative” to “oh sorry did I offend you, snowflake?” hackery. The guy they brought in to do that dog-in-the-park thing, which had fuck all to do with action movies, is the same guy who was moaning about the women-only Wonder Woman screenings a couple of years ago. They still have some fine writers there — Bill Ryan is smart, and he doesn’t troll like Sonny Bunch — but the site as a whole is getting pretty odorous.

  27. Numpty – I wrote a long rant about it and deleted it to spare you, but this is the short version: the deranged shithead in charge and his inept administration have utterly failed to set up testing, tracing or PPE, and have politicized the situation so that his supporters don’t believe in taking precautions like wearing face coverings, and some of them even harass people and businesses who do. They’re pushing to reopen cities too soon so they can pretend the economy is good, and it’s going to kill tens of thousands of people and ruin many more lives. So I didn’t like the idea of working for somebody whose Twitter account worries that TENET could be delayed if New York and L.A. don’t “catch up with the rest of the world” by opening.

  28. “I ended my column” sounds like one of those true story TV movies from the 90’s. “I killed and ate my husband”.

  29. Ancient Romans

    May 29th, 2020 at 5:30 am

    At least you tried. I think that was a very good thing to do. Much respect to whoever’s idea it was to reach out to you initially, and to you for being strong enough to try.

  30. The Winchester

    May 29th, 2020 at 6:12 am

    Until last week I had no idea who these clowns were, just that I couldnt even have a free sample of Vern’s tasty morsels.

    Almost considered getting a subscription until I started reading about them on Twitter.

    (Sidenote: I hate how much more into Twitter I’ve been since the pandemic has started)

    Glad I didn’t. And I definitely support your choice, sir.

    Anyway, job security is unstable at the moment so i can’t patreon, but I bought Niketown a fee weeks ago and I plan on a Val Verde shirt too. Do what I can to support a writer I like.

  31. Sorry Vern. I really should have thought about how it was a job for you when I posted what I did the other week. I don’t want to see you not get paid for your great writing.

  32. I might’ve dodged a bullet there. With what’s been going on in this country the last couple days I’d have to be on 24-7 Rebeller Twitter watch in case I had to push ‘send’ on the resignation email. No idea how I’d be writing a column today.

  33. I was glad you gave it a try, because I don’t think all of those trollish film fans are beyond redemption, and I was hoping you would be able to set a good example for them. But you also worry about normalizing bad behavior, or tacitly endorsing it by association, and I get that, too. It’s a tough call, and I’m always glad you take the moral side of your role as a public figure so seriously.

    That said, Rebeller might not be the place to do it, but at some point Americans are going to have to begin talking to each other again. Even the unendurably obnoxious ones. This is not a moral argument, it’s a practical one: there’s just too many of these guys to ignore. We can’t afford to just give up on these people, disassociate with them, and let them fester in the toxic echo chamber they’ve built. At some point, we’ve got to figure out how to bring them back in from the cold, or we’re going to have to literally fight them. And the former option is gonna be very hard without re-learning how to communicate productively with people who have terrible opinions. The internet, and media culture in general, has made us absolutely miserable at this, but we’re desperately in need of places of cultural overlap where we can make an honest, good-faith effort to do so.

  34. Mr. S- It’s not really possible to communicate with someone who doesn’t *want* to communicate, much less with someone who would laugh if I died and call me a stupid lib. There are people out there hunting black folks for sport- there’s no talking nice to them til they see the error of their ways. I certainly don’t know what the “right” thing to do is, but I’m increasingly cynical about there even being an *effective* thing to do, within the realm of previously-established cultural norms (I have all sorts of fantasies about a giant Green New Deal that reforges the nation

  35. Whoops, thumb slipped before finishing, but I was just going to say, I dream about a huge Green New Deal that remakes the nation and prepares it for the future, but I have no confidence that anything like that can happen while the current set of ghouls occupies the halls of power.

    It’s not pleasant to think about, but history shows us over and over where the path we’re on leads, and it gets worse before it gets better.

  36. Kurgan — Yeah, I’m worried about exactly that. But I’m not giving up just yet — there are some irredeemable people out there, for sure, but I genuinely believe most people have a capacity to be better, if they’re put in the right situation. Humans are easy to manipulate into bad behavior, but it’s possible to bring out the good in them, too. I refuse to just throw up my hands and say it can’t be done, and they don’t deserve it anyway. I completely understand why we might feel that way, but there’s got to be a better path.

  37. These issues are definitely many-layered, and I don’t think they’re amenable to to simple solutions. I’m also wary of the “everybody pitch in and do your part” (aka “reduce, reuse, recycle”) atomistic moralism and individual hand-wringing that characterizes a lot of these discussions. Like, with climate change, I used to get this weekly or daily climate change email from New York Times, but it was mostly about things I personally could do, like switching light bulbs or biking or some shit, where the logic was that if I would be willing to be one of just a couple million people or so who would just start biking everywhere and only drinking our own recycled urine, we’d reduce our carbon footprint enough to offset 3% of annual air travel emissions or some shit.

    What a crock of shit. The whole premise is fucked. Instead of these weekly helpful climate lifehacking hints from Heloise, it should be the same email every week: Give money to progressive causes and campaigns and/or canvass and volunteer for them. These lifehacky “reduce/reuse/recycle” type approaches just feeds the delusional and oppressive fantasy that these problems will get solved if those of us who are already stressed and fairly conscientious would just man up, dig down, etc. and give a little bit more. It’s like browbeating or anxiety-stoking to the choir. We become a bunch of John Henrys trying to individually hammer our way out of climate change or whatever.

    This whole COVID lockdown situation precisely illustrates how people need leaders and enforcement mechanisms. Governors, mayors, CEOs, and, yes, those dreaded “influencers” with their dreaded “platforms.” In the absence of leaders and enforcement mechanisms, a lot of people are just dumb and short-sightedly, short-termedly self-interested. They will not magically self-organize toward the responsible decision and start eating well, exercising, limiting time on social media, and being thoughtful constructive citizens. They’ll become obese, substance-dependent, technology addicted, and boorish assholes congregating at the beach in the peak of COVID. And you reading that New York Times climate email and deciding to purchase carbon offsets and ride a bike are not going to make up the difference.

    So keep recycling, voting, not being a troll, buying those carbon offsets, social distancing, and posting thought-provoking things on Facebook. But maintain some perspective. We need to support and contribute to mass political action with our dollars or canvassing or running for election or writing letters to the editor and whatnot. We need more Bernies. People who make waves and garner attention and can’t easily dismissed need to speak out. People are sheep, and it requires a lot of money and messaging to mobilize them, along with some luck and some well-placed/platformed/resourced people taking risks with their mouths or pocketbooks.

  38. Also, I guess I never swung that back to the polarization of people on social media and in rural enclaves and the check out undecideds or swing voters or whatever. I guess my non-point there is that we’ve all been transformed by the internet and social media, and I think it will require top-down action from the Googles, Facebooks, Twitters of the world; campaign finance reform; redistricting reform. voting enfranchisement. Treating viral misinformation and lack of critical thinking as a public health crisis of sorts. Ultimately, we need aggressive marginal wealth taxation, aggressive anti-trust action, aggressive access to education and training, greater regulation on automation and tech giants, etc. Basically, the kinds of things Bernie says. But you need a lot of Bernies who are visible and active in a lot of different places, and these tech assholes to stop pretending they haven’t caused and profitted from the gutting of our collective immune system against misinformation and from creating and feeding an addiction to outrage and fear.

  39. I’d be here for your long rant, Vern, but you summed it up better than I could have. I suppose I could also quote the Clerks bit about independent contracting on the Death Star. If we believe reopening too soon will kill people we can’t very well support outlets that are encouraging it.

  40. I don’t think we are opening too soon. The deal was we will abide by stay at home orders to bend the curve. Now that the bend has curved it’s time to reopen. Mind you I’m not advocating for going back to normal. I’m saying wear a mask if you can’t socially distance yourself and don’t have large gatherings. But a small business owner should be allowed to be open.

    I don’t know why this particular thing is where people have drawn the line at where we have to do everything we can to make sure nobody dies. It’s completely unrealistic expectations.

    I’m getting my haircut tomorrow because I look like an idiot and I want to support the great people that work there. Myself and the workers will all be wearing masks and washing our hands. And at no point did I or would I ever throw a hissy fit about a lack of a haircut btw.

  41. Midwest Captain Feeney

    May 30th, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Patreon-ed. A man got to have a code.

  42. Ditto on Patreon, I am subscribed. Keep up the good work Vern and maintain Excellence.

  43. I like Vox, although they, too, sometimes fall into the atomistic moralism that I criticized above. Their take is:

    Older and immunocompromised people don’t deserve to be second-class citizens

    Here’s how to shorten the isolation of our most vulnerable citizens.


    “Ultimately, Cannuscio’s simplest piece of advice may also be the most effective: “Every single person who has decision latitude should still — regardless of whether states declare that we’re now open for business again — keep holding back on our social engagements and continue to work from home if we can, so we reduce the likelihood that people who are elderly or infirm will get Covid-19.”

    Viewed one way, this is a big ask: We’re all eager to get out and have fun with our friends and colleagues again. But viewed another way, some measure of continued sacrifice may be everyone’s moral responsibility toward the most vulnerable.

    Are we so eager to return to normal that we’re willing to make others disposable? Is that even a normal worth having?”

    My only critique is, again, that these issues are best addressed legislatively. You can imagine still requiring public places to limit the number of patrons at a time, requiring telework-amenable jobs to be telework as default (i.e., you have to specially justify non-telework on the grounds that there is literally no way to perform the work remotely), etc. The approach that says “you have an ethical responsibility to do x” puts people in very challenging and ambiguous binds, and the whole premise implies that the average individual has the means and inclination to read and critically digest intelligent news analysis and then re-align their lifestyle in light of it. Some people do that, but most of us need extremely strong signals from authorities and elites (in the extreme, legal enforcement, money, etc.).

  44. Michaelangelo McCullar

    May 30th, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Hey Vern, you and I had a conversation a few weeks back about this on Twitter (BuddhaMichael). I never subscribed to Rebeller but I heard some weird things and asked you about it. You gave me a well nuanced answer about not wanting to cede writing about the genre to the right and your liberalism brought some balance. I’m extremely sad you feel that you have to stop writing for the site, but I know your choice is just as principled as it was when you started writing for them. I never got a subscription because I would have been paying for only your stuff, but I’ll definitely sign up for your Patreon. It’s not much but I want you to know how much I appreciate your writing and presence on the Internet. Good luck!

  45. Just FYI Sternshein, we want to flatten the curve, not bend it.

    “I just think the whole thing is built on the Cinestate approach of provoking offense and then explaining why actually if you think about it maybe it’s not offensive.”

    This is a great summation of the whole Cinestate “thing.” Re: Zahler, I still like BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 but I kinda detest DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, which is way too long, brutally pretentious and about 10% as clever as it thinks it is.

    Unfortunately, I had to cancel all of my Patreons a few months back after losing my job; however, once I’m employed again, you’ll be the first one I re-subscribe to…thanks!

  46. Right, flatten. My bad.

    Well if we don’t hear about spikes in covid after this weekend then I don’t know what the fuck is going on anymore.

  47. sorry man, cant say i didnt see this coming after looking at the way that sonny guy tweets alt-right trolly shit all the time…

  48. Sorry for being pedantic Sternshein :) Seems like we’ll definitely see a spike in cases. What a mess.

    It’s too bad, as I did like some of the writing, especially Bill Ryan, who seems to have stopped posting on Twitter the last few days. Hope he’s doing okay.

  49. Cinestate owner Dallas Sonnier wrote a statement that’s on the Fangoria account, first about the death of George Floyd but then apologizing for causing what he called a schism in the horror community and pledging to try to do better. And he referred to “the Rebeller misfires” as one of the controversies. I think the uproar about various things has gotten through to them – hopefully it will make a difference. (I don’t think me quitting was part of that, there were many horror fans angry about a litany of things, some of which I didn’t know much about.)

  50. I know that Fangoria and PHIL! (remember CHUD?) have worked to produce docs on African-American and LGBQT horror … Maybe that’s come in conflict with Cinestate’s other work? I’m not sure, just spekalatin’ on a hypothesis.

  51. I know that Fangoria and PHIL! (remember CHUD?) have worked to produce docs on African-American and LGBQT horror … Maybe that’s come in conflict with Cinestate’s other work? I’m not sure, just spekalatin’ on a hypothesis.

  52. delighted to hear of this decision.

  53. Funny that Sonnier posted that on the more liberal skewing Fangoria and not on Rebeller. Don’t want to make the target audience mad.

  54. Never trust anybody whose first name is a city. This just reads like desperate PR to me. The same shit they all say when they get caught. He wouldn’t be saying this shit if his outrage-baiting strategy had paid off. He’s no different than any other fake provocateur who courts controversy until the consequences catch up with him. They all want the heat but can’t take the smoke.

  55. Damn Vern looks like you got out of there in time, shit’s all coming out now.

  56. Ooooh boy, yeah, this Daily Beast article is…not good. Fred Williamson too, this is very disappointing.

  57. Honestly I would have been more shocked if Fred Williamson weren’t an asshole.

  58. I generally remain ignorant of anything about actor’s personal lives unless something like this pops up, so it’s very disappointing to learn that Frost in FROM DUSK TIL DAWN is a Mar-a-Lago member.

  59. It’s crazy, I genuinely didn’t know what a crisis they were in when I quit, I just was fed up with the political stuff. With everything happening in the country since then I was so happy I’d quit because I could not stand the stress of worrying they would post or tweet some stupid bullshit about race or policing or protesting or something. But then I checked and they haven’t tweeted since May 31st.

    They recently bought Birth.Movies.Death from Alamo Drafthouse, and I got the impression the staff over there were worried about it. But they’re still being themselves and are doing a huge fundraiser for Black Lives Matter right now. I don’t know the right thing to do in regards to the company, but I think Fangoria and B.M.D. are great and hope they don’t suffer from this.

  60. Your personal reasons for leaving were perfectly valid. It speaks to their nature that they had all this other awful stuff under the surface too, when the surface was bad enough. Your gut was right.

  61. Anthony Bradley

    June 6th, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you, Vern. I’ve admired you & your work for a long time, and will continue to do so. Good decision, I think.

  62. Other than the disappointing but unsurprising Williamson revelations, I’d already heard most of this from a post I’d stumbled across on Rebellerer, a Rebeller parody blog run by someone in the Texas film community. The most striking thing to me about the Daily Beast article is its depiction of the two Cinestate executives. These are some of the most mealy-mouthed excuses and rationalizations I have ever encountered. Fucking spineless cowards. It would be nice if just one of the these self-styled un-PC, safe space-hating free thinkers who are so fucking brave about standing up for their shitty beliefs when it costs them nothing would be honest and admit “We did nothing about this problem because we didn’t care. The sexual deviants made us money. Their victims didn’t. The only thing that has changed since then is we got caught. We stand by the decisions we made, as they reflect our core values, and we will make similar decisions in the future.” Instead we get endless deflections and half-assed “Mistakes were allegedly made but I do not have the data to verify at this time but I am totally a good person in my heart and that’s what matters right?” non-apologies. They write a thousand articles about how SJWs are full of shit and should stop whining but the second that stance would cost them money they come out with the same fake-progressive “we strive to be inclusive this does not reflect who we are” horseshit every fucking company pulls when they get caught with their pants down. Real fuckin’ tough guys here.

  63. Sonnier’s whining that the many serious complaints which he obviously knew about and did nothing to address are “performantive” and “partisan” and that he feels “harassed” and “targeted” is the peak 2020 conservative-speak. The people who complain about harassment are “partisan” and unfair, the real victims are the people who perpetrated or enabled the harassment. Why oh why are liberals such mean bullies, why can’t they just shut up and take a little harassment here and there to make a studio exec’s life easier? Oh, the how terribly unfair it all is!

    They can hide behind some phony self-serving moralism all they want, but at the end of the day, they’re just selfish cowards who don’t want anyone holding them accountable. Refusing to take responsibility for their actions the only thing they really believe in.

  64. The Rebellerer guy is Josh Goldbloom in Philly. He created Cinepocalypse in Chicago until The Music Box fucked him over. I think that experience really made him into this super hero in the film community he is now.

  65. I am hesitant to make any strong, direct connection between the right-wing trolling with the rape/harassment thing, given the revelations of the last couple of years, but this certainly adds to the sense that these people are shitty and confirms Vern’s good judgment (and timing!) getting out of there. You called it, bud.

  66. This turned into a rant, you guys. Sorry.

    I don’t and won’t do twitter as long as Trump is allowed on it, but I have been checking in on it to monitor this whole Cinestate situation. What a shitshow. One asshole nobody’s ever heard of somehow managed to embroil everyone from Fangoria to Birth.Movies.Death, Barbara Crampton to Mick Garris, A24 to Blumhouse, Joe Bob Briggs to Vern himself. In the process, this scandal has disproven the entire concept of a “horror community” or any kind of “community” based on anything as superficial and frivolous as a shared fondness for movies about ghosts and/or stabbing. It’s the textbook definition of Vonnegut’s granfalloon concept: a false family centered around a manufactured bond. There’s no reason to believe there is any commonality in morals, beliefs, taste, personality, or motivation amongst the self-styled members of the horror community, and the fact that it can all burn down in a few days because of one piece of shit with the right connections just proves it.

    I get it. I’ve always been a loner with no particular need to be part of anything larger than myself, but I recognize the desire to belong. To find our tribe. This world makes it incredibly difficult to make and sustain real human connections with those around us, and the systems and traditions of our society have let us down so many times that it’s foolhardy to feel any kinship at all with our country, our state, our town, our political party, our place of employment, our local football team, or, for many, even our own blood relations. All the granfalloons of the past have failed us, so we attempt to manufacture our own granfaloons out of the only thing we can really control: our personal tastes and opinions. “Fandom” is a poor substitute for an actual community but for many it’s the only game in town. This past week has proven how flimsy these synthetic bonds are. Putting your hopes and dreams and sense of self in the hands of strangers whose only known goal is to make money by making and/or writing about scary movies is a recipe for disappointment, disillusionment, and despair. I get that I am much more of an island than the average human, but what this does is give me some insight into what I see as the perils of reckless interconnectivity. So many seem to place crucial building blocks of their identities into parties far outside themselves, where they are vulnerable to attacks from within and without. We must learn to define ourselves on our own terms so that when we do join together, we’re all strong and self-aware enough to know that the bonds we’re forming are load-bearing.

    Rant over. I hope you all love yourselves enough to know that it takes more than a shared affinity for horror movies to make a stranger your tribesman. I say this I think you’re all worth being part of a real community, not just a granfalloon.

  67. That’s the good kind of rant, as far as I’m concerned.

    I couldn’t agree more with the assertions made. I have a different tone or intensity around them, because I’ve never viewed anything as abstract as “the horror community” as anything other than a fiction — an umbrella term for “people who tend to dig some of the same stuff I do.” It’s like when you hear about “the gay community” or “the black community,” I mean, it’s not *not* a thing, but it’s not like all the African Americans of the world hop on Zoom every Wednesday at 3pm ET to catch up or something. Those abstractions and loose coalitions or communities of interest always have their limits.

    That said, as a Census-recognized member of the Vern community, a somewhat less abstract and more modestly sized community like this one means something to me for sure. It is weird that I’ll probably never see any of you in person, but it’s also weird that it is possible to connect like this over the internet, so, I just kind of welcome it as its own thing. I try not to hold it against you all or Vern or this site that you’re not some panacea that will deliver all of my unmet emotional or social needs, as if anything could. I appreciate you folks for what you are and what you offer, not what you aren’t or can’t be.

    I will say that you’ve hit on an a different and difficult-to-articulate other facet of the internet and social media’s unnerving weirdness. It’s this viral, tribal, polarized, meme-y, you-in-or-out? thing that it just seems designed to do. Social media and internet entertainment media are just a rabbit hole of outrage, groupthink, resulting in interactions that are often highly emotionally intense but also often highly superficial and unreal (frequently both at once). Weird shit.

  68. The more we learn about Cinestate, the more it proves to us that Vern is a highly humanistic and respectable individual. A humanistic and respectable individual who also appreciates the art of punching Nazis in the face (similar to that guy CAPTAIN AMERICA and also HENRY JONES, JR). It all just proves you know what you’re about, Vern.

  69. Yeah basically any fan group on the internet seems doomed to implode once it grows big enough, for one reason or another. I’ve been online since the late ‘90s and history has done nothing but repeat itself. I think the thing is, on the internet it’s not just easy to act like an asshole, it’s also easy to join into little cliques.

    I don’t know if any of you follow Bon Appetit (I like to cook, so I do) but a somewhat similar thing has been happening over the past few days with them, albeit with racism instead of sexual assault. Honestly in some ways, it seems worse than the Cinestate thing because I think a lot of fans had really unhealthy emotional investments in these youtube personalities who didn’t really even sign up to be on-camera in the first place. It’s like what Mr. M was saying- it’s so easy to create these fake “bonds” in your mind on the internet, and it’s equally easy to have them shattered and now be completely disoriented by it because we don’t have “internet emotions” in our brains yet, just our regular old emotions.

  70. This idea of becoming emotionally invested with online groups reminds me of something I heard on a podcast. They were talking about feeling like you know and are friends with podcasters, but I think it could apply here, too. They said that part of the reason you feel connected to them is because you’re listening to someone discuss something that they feel emotional about and you feel emotional about it and you’re experiencing this while in an intimate setting, like you’re lying in bed or at least in your home, so your subconscious is interpreting the experience as a personal connection. Maybe it’s bullshit, but I thought it interesting.

  71. I might be a hippie or something but I disagree with Majestyk. I was not a part of a community at Rebeller, because I only emailed the editor and did not otherwise participate or add it to my bio. But I think Fangoria and BMD do have communities built around them and within them and it was them all taking a stand (they went on strike with a list of demands) that ensured this wasn’t one of those scandals that makes people uncomfortable for a while and then is forgotten. Now there’s a possibility they can be sold and continue to work together but with a company that they’re not ashamed of. And I see many of the readers supporting their stand much like you all did for me.

  72. Thanks, Skani. I want to add that I think what we got going here is a community, not a granfalloon. I don’t feel connected to this group because we all like the same things (we don’t) but because you’ve all seen me at my worst and responded with nothing but kindness and support. So I believe it’s possible. But that’s real shared experience, not just mutual affinity. Maybe other online communities have that too and I’m just too antisocial to notice. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I think it’s probably pretty smart from here on out to take all that with a grain of salt. We don’t really know anybody anymore. The internet allows everyone to show only their best face. We need to be careful not to put too much faith in a ghost in the machine. We’ve seen how vipers can hide in plain sight for decades.

    But that’s me. Vern, I admire you for still wanting to form that connection even though you’ve had the bad luck to be attached to a few of these snakes in the past. I’d be a lot more wary.

  73. Lot of reactions to this.

    1. “We don’t know anyone anymore” – Yes, but did we ever? If Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy had been my neighbor before he got caught, I probably would’ve thought he was an okay-if-somewhat-quirky guy. On the flip side, those people are the minority, so even though maybe probabilistically there is some someone commenting on this site who is harboring a deep antisocial secret, those are the exceptions (and I forgive you, just get help and don’t eat/molest me or my kids, please). All that to say, I think we can relate in good faith, hoping (and in most cases being correct) that we’re not all just catfishing each other.

    2. Re: Other sites vs. this site, I totally agree. I have zero emotional connection to any of those other sites, in some cases probably for lack of investigating them. But I used to comment on AICN a bit (which is how I got turned on to this), and I peruse the other sites just for clickbait or snark to pass the time, but I’ve never developed an emotional connection to any of them, because too generic, too soulless, too much hipster posturing (or, in the case of REBELLER, too much anti-woke posturing), or multiple of the above. Not hating those sites for what they are, but I’m good with this community. I don’t have the energy to be a movie site “community” bigamist, and none of those really feels like it has the potential for that anyway. Collective political action group, maybe. I don’t think that’s the same as community, though it’s good for what it is.

  74. Man, just found out about another one today too. A guy I had some email exchanges with years and years ago who is on a favorite podcast and seems incredibly nice, now being accused of serial harassment. Just such a bummer. All these things are falling apart because we built houses on top of graveyards and now the ghosts are knocking them over.

  75. By the way, does anyone keep in touch with Griff? I don’t miss arguing with him all the time, but I hope he’s okay.

  76. Two things, Vern. First, it’s funny to me that Griff was all I could think of as I read over the last few posts. I have no info about him, though.

    Second, please please please don’t tell me it’s someone from The Suspense Is Killing Us, which I discovered through you and is easily my favorite podcast.

  77. Vern, I think maybe you were right when you just went and started your own website. Call it a hunch. But I wanted to ask, is it still helpful to you if I do my Amazon searches through the little widget on the side of your site?

  78. Johnny – I’ll just say it, because it’s public: the accusations are about Rob G from Shockwaves. The guys in The Suspense is Killing Us are personal friends of mine going back many years, so I would be much more devastated (and shocked) if it was one of them. I guess we’re all being reminded you can never know if someone has a secret life, but I know them really well and know them as legitimately good people. I can vouch for them.

  79. Major Calloway – Yeah, if you are someone who buys from Amazon, and you do it through any of my links, I get a little cut from that. So thank you for that.

  80. Major Calloway – Yeah, if you are someone who buys from Amazon, and you do it through any of my links, I get a little cut from that. So thank you.

  81. As one of the folks who expressed concern over this association, I’m glad you decided to step back from Rebeller. It can’t be easy to cut off a revenue stream like that, and I admire you for making the hard choice. Headed over to the Patreon now.

  82. The Suspense guys are light on guests, but I hope you make a return visit there someday.

  83. At the risk of doing what he himself in one of his feistier moods might call “sympathy signalling” I had been wanting to ask about Griff for a while. I feel after HIGHLANDER: THE ANIMATED SERIESgate he was back to being old Griff for a while before disappearing, talking on the movies that interested him rather than going into ever comments section with his boxing gloves on, but I could be mis-remembering.

  84. At this point I am someone who buys nothing from Amazon–except music, for the time being, because my local record stores have closed.

  85. The last album I bought through Amazon was Archy Shepp’s ATTICA BLUES because I couldn’t find any other way to get it. Next Archy Shepp album I buy, I’ll use your widget.

  86. I honestly wish I would buy more stuff from American Amazon, just so that I could use the widget here.

  87. Hey, I have that one! Have you heard New Thing At Newport? It’s a live album with a Coltrane set and a Shepp set. That’s how I found out about him.

  88. I’m just discovering Archie Shepp now and ATTICA BLUES is where I started. It’s pretty clear why I heard about that album lately, but aside from its topicality, it is plain awesome, and it feels like a missing piece in my musical history jigsaw (it helps me understand more about where Kamasi Washington gets his whole thing from, for instance). So I will obviously have to get another album by Shepp, or three, and a split live show with Coltrane doesn’t sound like a bad way to go. Thanks!

    Here’s one I found last year that I’ll mention to you–do you know Barbara Dane’s I HATE THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM? She def would not want to be Ellis.

  89. No, I’m not familiar with that. I will listen to it. You inspired me to get out “Attica Blues” and Thelonious Monk’s “Underground” (just because he looks like a revolutionary on the cover).

  90. Well, in that case, I’m gonna go out on a limb and recommend a few more semi-obscure albums from that era. I bet you know some or all, but it’s always helpful to mention them twice…

    24-Carat Black, “Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth”
    Baby Huey, “The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend”
    Cymande, “Cymande”
    Eugene McDaniels, “Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse”
    The L.A. Carnival, “The L.A. Carnival Would Like to Pose a Question”
    Rahsaan Roland Kirk, “Volunteered Slavery”
    Sister Gertrude Morgan, “Let’s Make a Record”
    Swamp Dogg, “Total Destruction to Your Mind”

    …plus everything Odetta and Nina Simone ever did, but that era in particular.

  91. Good recommendations. I just listened to Volunteered Slavery today, actually! I don’t know The L.A. Carnival though, so I’ll look that up. Thank you!

  92. I love your integrity as much as I love your writing. This sort of shit is what makes you so cool. You don’t need that right-wing audience anyway; I’m glad you reached them, but exploring film requires empathy and that seems to be missing in that whole scene. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with plugging your Patreon- I’m one of yr subscribers on it- but something else that could be cool is to highlight black movies right now. I saw and loved your DA 5 BLOODS review, but maybe you could dig into older films you haven’t seen. It would be dope to see you do a southern gothic like EVE’S BAYOU.

  93. Thanks skokie. I liked EVE’S BAYOU, but it’s been a million years. I’ve been thinking along those lines for the fill-in reviews between the 1985 series.

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