"I'll just get my gear."

The Dream That Made Me Sell Out

tn_rapsnacksMy friends,

You might’ve noticed there’s an Amazon.com deal over on the sidebar there. I wanted to say a few things about that.

Number one, Steven Seagal’s Lightning Bolt Energy Drink is not currently available at Amazon, nor are Dirt McGirt Sour Cream and Onion Rap Snacks (left). So you will have to get your food somewhere else.

Number two, you guys know I’ve been doing this websight for ten years now, and other than what I get for my books I don’t make any money off of it. And I’ll keep doing it for free until I die if I have to, but I figure if I ever do make some money off of it it could help me to do the day job less and spend more time on this, do a better job of striving.

The problem is I kind of hate advertising. I know it’s the only real model for keeping most websights going, so it’s a necessary evil. ButI do this because I love it, and to make it too crass and commercialized would pollute it for me. I’d feel weird if I was trying to pimp dating services and shit between my posts. It’s expected and normal but it’s not really me.

Still, I was thinking maybe it was time to give up my idealistic stance and try it out. I got books I want to write, and Bruce Willis movies the world demands I review, and there aren’t enough hours in the day. But I did some research and right now I think I’m at about a fifth of the readership I’d need to get any ad service. For someone at my level everybody says to do Google Ad Words or Amazon links.

Well, I hate that shit. I’m told I could make a few bucks that way but I’ve always figured it would be too intrusive. Then one day last week I was looking at Harry K.’s dvd column, which is pretty much just a series of Amazon links with little blurbs that he writes. He’s very open about the fact that he’s trying to get affiliate money, to the point where he recently did a top ten list of the best sellers through his Amazon links. Well, it seems to work for him, but I wouldn’t want to do that.

Now, don’t think I’m some new ager or hippie but I swear the answer came to me in a dream. I wish I was dreaming about flying over the city or winning a sex tournament in space but instead I had a dream where I used Amazon links but only for Clint Eastwood movies and only on a separate page that you had to click to get to. So it’s not in your face but if somebody’s kind enough to send a little money my way they can go there to do it.

So I looked into it and I found this “widget” deal and I decided it was okay to try something like that out on the sidebar there. I wouldn’t want to link all my reviews to Amazon or anything like that, that’s too much for me. But I’m thinking a little box on the side is no big deal. If anybody goes through those links and buys those products I get a 4% commission or something (the percentage goes up after you make some sales). I’m sure there would be other approaches that would get me more sales (like just having a generic search box for any title on Amazon) but for now I feel comfortable just linking my books, some funk music you guys might like and some other things we could all appreciate.

So that’s my reasoning. But the reason for this post is to tell you my policy:

1. If you have a local movie, music or book store where you could buy these, I’d rather you buy them there. I don’t like that those types of places are being put out of business by companies like Amazon. But on the other hand I guess it’s an inevitable part of the change in technology, and I do like that Amazon links to small businesses selling used items, and also they’re in Seattle so for me they actually are a local business.

More importantly

#2: I don’t think any of you owe me anything. This is a free websight. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t buy anything. It’s not your duty. But if you do want a Vern mug or a Dirty Harry box set, I would be honored to earn a couple bucks off of it. And I know most of you ordered my books off of Amazon anyway, I might as well add a little bit extra onto my residuals by linking directly.

So anyway, not trying to make a big deal out of it, but I didn’t want to just put it on there without saying anything, and also I’d like to know what you guys think about all this.

thanks,

VERN
author

This entry was posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010 at 9:01 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 leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

124 Responses to “The Dream That Made Me Sell Out”

  1. Personally, Vern, I’ve had countless hours of free entertainment because of your web sight and therefore do not mind you pulling in a few bucks off your site, so long as the advertising has no effect on your content.

    I’m already planning to get YIPPIE KI YAY MOVIEGOER at some point to voice my support. And I promise to buy something from one of your Amazon links if I see something I was already seriously considering buying.

  2. Well said Prestwich.

    Bronson shilled men’s care products; Mifune did beer commercials. Even Eastwood starred in a series of commercials for a brand of mattress where he’d lie down in bed and say, “Now I feel lucky, bunk!” (I made up that last one but you get my point.)

    Just keep striving for excellence, Vern. Anything that keeps the writing alive is a good thing.

  3. Vern, just the fact that you’d feel compelled to explain your reasoning for running ads is reason enough for me to want to get you the commission for using them. And if this helps you to be able to write (and review) more, it really benefits everyone involved. Excellence all around.

  4. Just went and cancelled my original order for the new book (on file at Amazon since the day you announced it) re-ordered via your magic widget thingamabob…enjoy the extra 40 cents!

  5. Also, it really helps that you are advertising actual badass stuff. I’m definitely going to order the Parker book, stuff like that and the soul music is maybe not usually the main focus of your websight but I really like when you do one of those tangents. I get a lot of great recommendations from the stuff mentioned here and these ads basically just take the inconvenient typing and clicking out of looking for where to get them.

  6. I don’t consider it so much Vern selling out, so much as Vern giving us all a primer on basic Badass theory.

  7. Ditto all the above. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about this stuff. I’m an absolute hypocrite about this stuff anyways. I totally rag on DeNiro and Hopkins and the like (lauded multi-kajillionaires) doing ads, but when someone I love who’s really had to struggle gets to cash in (Like when Rollins did print ads for the old Mac Books, or Jon Hamm doing voice overs), I can’t help but think “Good for them.”

    Good for you, Vern.

  8. Jareth Cutestory

    April 9th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Vern: I know a guy who reviews DVDs for a local indie newspaper, and he gets so much unsolicited swag from his job that he makes a fair bit of spending money selling all the BUFFY season box sets and Lady Ga Ga discs that the companies throw at him every week.

    Do you think that if you had a PO Box address here on your sight, the companies would send you all sorts of stuff too, hoping that you’d review them (and, more importantly, not caring if you sold them)? Does that kind of scheme not sit well with you? Or do you anticipate a nightmare scenario where all your readers send you DVD-Rs of THE WIRE?

  9. I approve. Now I hope that your dream of the sex tournament in space comes true.

  10. Would you consider putting up a PayPal donation link or something? I don’t shop online that much but would happily donate, especially given that you’d receive the full amount that way rather than just a percentage.

  11. Yeah Vern, you deserve every Dollar that you make around here.
    And the PayPal donation button is a good idea.

  12. Get paid Vern. Whats the point of reviewing these movies other than to point us in their direction of cool shit we might not have heard of, so why not provide links to amazon for every title? I never buy stuff online, but it wouldn’t bother me, no ones forcing anyone to click the links. I have read harry’s column faithfully for years, never bought anything. He does what he has to do to keep the site running, so what? He’s gotta feed the monkey, man. You should too. Stuff that monkey like he’s the first victim in Se7en. Milk every dime you can out of this thing, because you deserve it and it will help you write more.

  13. Aye, speaking for even sort of negative angry readers who infect your site like me (though really thats prolly just me atm… but no doubt there will be more and prolly worse assholes come as your readership grows), I think you should make a few bucks and I’ll pick up your new book through your ad then instead of going directly to the site as I would have.

    I think it would also be reasonable for you to use an open amazon search click so anything we are gonna buy anyway we can choose to buy via clicking your site first, price is the same but I’d rather donate that margin your way than Jeff Bezos’s. Everyone here would.

  14. Sellout faggot.

  15. CAPITALIST PIG! SUCKING ON THE TEET OF YOUR MONEY GOD!

    Just kidding dude.

    If you were able to take more time off your day job and pump out more reviews that would be a plus for all of us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who checks this site multiple times a day checking for new posts/reviews.

    As far as I’m concerned you are one of the most under-rated reviewers/writers on the net or in print for that matter. The fact you have to go do a job you hate when you have such an gift for writing kind of sucks.

  16. That Bronson book looks ace! I agree that you should have an open Amazon portal at the side so that people can buy through the site. As long as the site doesn’t become The life and art and amazon permalinks of Vern I don’t see how it would hurt.

  17. For the many hours of pleasure that reading and re-reading Seagalogy alone has given me (not to mention it getting me to see the, frankly awesome, Belly of the Beast), you deserve anything you can get.

    Besides, the more money we can help you make, the more badass books you will write, which will generate you more money allowing you to write more badass books……asoasf.

  18. Also, any link that helps me find awesome funk music is funking marvellous.

  19. Good for you Vern, there’s nothing wrong with getting paid for all the hard work you’ve put in. In fact i’d go as far as to say that I feel morally obliged to kick in a few dollars for all the entertainment you’ve provided me with over the years. I know you’d say that I shouldn’t but I do all the same.

    I think that the paypal donations link mentioned above is a great idea, I’ve seen those things on plenty of other sites and never once been bothered by it. People gotta eat, right? I’d much rather kick in some cash towards the sight that way than with the amazon links since you get the full amount.

  20. Dennis Buchinsky

    April 10th, 2010 at 5:13 am

    I agree with the posters above – pointing us towards the very stuff you write about is simply a logical move.

    Now where did I put my smokes?

  21. Fuck that. The hours of entertainment you’ve given me with your site and paper reading products is totally worth me clicking on an Amazon link here. I buy tons of stuff on there anyway. May as well give back what I can.

    Less day job for Vern = more reviews.

    Sold.

  22. Vern, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read one of your reviews, often of the more obscure shit, and gone directly to Amazon to order it. You might as well save me valuable pointing and clicking time by giving me a direct link to the product in question. Maybe it would ease your conscious if you only provided links for movies you felt deserved the Vern seal of approval. I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all, but I admire your integrity in not wanting to seem like a mercenary. Unless you were a mercenary for justice, but I don’t know if they have a widget for that.

    Also, I would totally donate to a tip jar. There are a few sites that I regularly visit that I donate to every year because the value they bring to my life is disproportionate to what I give back.

  23. *conscience*, not *conscious*, obviously. Sigh. It feels a lot earlier than it is.

  24. Vern, I’m in exactly the same boat as you are so far be it for me to go casting stones!

    I’ve been pretty sporadic with trying to “monetize” my own site – mainly because its more important to me to write stuff than get money out of it. At the moment it’s more an all-consuming hobby rather than a way of earning money, although I hope to change that in the future. In the meantime I and my two colleagues are just enjoying the free movies and interview ops (shameless plug – interviewed Scott Adkins! albeit for a UK martial arts mag called Combat).

    Anyway, a bit of monetization is par for the course Vern. Good luck with it.

  25. Vern,
    Despite how open you are about your principles, I’m not sure I know exactly how you feel about the structure of capitalism, but in my opinion we shouldn’t be supporting a system where hard-working folks like you can only make money doing what they love by licking the scraps off the plates of multinational mega-corporations.

    I think that one of the things that this comment thread thus far demonstrates is that people will buy into global consumerism pretty quickly once it’s made palatable. If people are given the option of buying stuff they will buy it. The extra act of will that it takes to open up Amazon for yourself and type in the title of whatever you’re looking for provides at least a bit of a buffer between our better selves and our mindless spending. Having an Amazon widget promoting Charles Bronson movies erases some of that buffer. Amazon knows this, and it’s using you to enable that consumerism. (And to enable a specifically Amazon-hubbed consumerism, which is why offering a disclaimer about your preference for local buying probably doesn’t go a long way. If you can’t be counted on to refrain from enabling corporate consumerism, what is the likelihood that your readers can be counted on to bike to their local bookstore and order a book instead of just clicking some convenient link on their computer screen?)

    I hope I haven’t come off as too harsh, and I hope the substance of my criticism is clear despite my uncharacteristically brief and non-exhaustive delineation of it. I have a lot of respect for you, and I know that choices like this are very complicated.

    All that said, I agree that a direct paypal donation link is a great idea.

    Love,
    Eric

  26. Eric,

    “We shouldn’t be supporting a system where hard-working folks like you can only make money doing what they love by licking the scraps off the plates of multinational mega-corporations.”

    Is that what’s happening? Do you really think that this concession to capitalism is that drastic? That demeaning? That’s absurd hyperbole, right? Is any concession too much? Vern works a day job. How is that any less of a sell out than attempting to monetize the Sight to a small, inobtrusive degree. Short of him working for a local Seattle charity, and getting paid in food and clean water, I just don’t see the difference. He is still having to make a certain concession to the system. That’s been the human story since day one. We all have to make these compromises.

    I’m not defending the system, but I also don’t think any of us are owed or are entitled to the right to make a living doing what we love. We have the right to try and make a living. A huge part of the respect I have for Vern is the fact that he works so hard, and at such a high-level, despite the fact that he isn’t (yet…) getting rich off it.

    I guess my feeling on this whole thing can be summed up by this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fIRo-UtdOU

  27. I’ll be completly honest Vern and say and get a fucking grip. You give us great reviews, great insight and more importantly great entertainment. If you’ve got to make a few bucks, so fucking what? Sorry to be so crude but you put a LOT of time and effort on this amazing site and we all got to get by. Thats a simple fact. Even though you don’t think that way, business is business. Yeah, dont sell out and all that but I doubt that one one fan reading this shit would disagree. Keep doing your thing, stay true to yourself and get whatever you can to make ends meet and make some chedder. Fact of life.
    Wow. Was that a bit deep? No.

  28. e poc — I suppose I can see where you’re coming from, but I don’t know that merely providing information on how to locate something that’s directly related to this site is necessarily the same thing as licking the scraps off the plates of multinational corporations or de facto support for mindless consumerism. After all, this whole site it about consumption – of media, which, unless you’re downloading it, is a product. But it’s not mindless – in fact, this whole site has won my undying respect because of its very mindful and introspective nature. Vern tries to share things which interest him in some way and engage us in a conversation about their worth, meaning, and context. To have that dialogue and then get upset that anyone would want to actually consume the things he’s describing seems sort of naive. And because its in the context of a conversation –and often a quite specific an analytical one– to compare it to mindless pathological consuming seems to me a rather insulting overgeneralization.

    I mean, I’m about as hardcore an anti-consumerist, socialist, leftwing pinko nutball as they come. But if I’m going to a conversation about media, I’m probably going to want to consume some of that media, to add my own perspective and to enrich my understanding. That’s going to likely include some kind of financial transaction. If so, I’d rather at least support Vern and offer some token of my appreciation than keep it strictly between me and a business in an effort to claim he’s completely independent of all real-world consumerism. We’re all tied into it, we need to admit that much. Or, do you get your internet access through a non-profit? The point is not to pretend that there’s no such thing as capitalism, the point is to be aware of what you’re doing and the way your actions impact the world. To be aware when you’re being tempted by mindless consumerism but not be afraid to engage with the world through acts of purposeful, targeted comsumption which do enrich us.

    That’s why I appreciate immensely that Vern has taken the time to think through what he’s comfortable with and also remind us that the way we consume has consequences. Short of revolution, corporate capitalism isn’t going away. That’s why it’s deeply important that we have the ability to be analytical in this way, rather than puritanically decrying it and pretending we can separate ourselves from it on some arbitrary moral high ground which is far enough removed. We all consume – but if we keep having conversations like this I think we’re more likely to think about WHY its important to support local independent institutions, and when and if it’s OK to go to the big ones. That’s what’s going to keep us from becoming the mindless automatons the Wal-Marts of the world would like to see — not keeping us from looking at ads, but teaching us how to think critically about what we want, what we need, and who we want to cultivate a consumptive relationship with.

    So, Vern, I’m wholly in support of you here. I’d also like to add another voice of encouragement for the paypal donation box, although I sort of doubt you’d be comfortable with that arrangement. I’d even like to point out that I think Mr M is right – it’d be worthwhile to consider putting specific links in your individual reviews. You’ve got a picture there anyway, why not just make it a discreet link? You can trust us not to be overwhelmed with consumerist zeal, but instead to follow it only when motivated by the spirit of curiosity and commitment to excellence. You’re one of the most thoughtful voices out there in the internets, you encourage deep and probing discussion while insisting on respect and decency, and you are open to the rewards and pleasures of many things most people write off without thinking about. For those reasons, I couldn’t be more happy to offer some financial support in whatever way you’re comfortable with. I don’t buy a lot from amazon (and when I do, its usually used) but in the event that I do I would like nothing more than to support this site through a transaction I had already decided to undertake.

  29. Eric and his “non-exhaustive delineation” are ridiculous. If you’re that against the Capitalistic System don’t watch movies, because guess what? They’re all made with $, for $!!! The Film Industry is a Capitalistic System, without which there would be no Steven Seagal films or Bruce Willis films, or any of the other stuff this site is dedicated to following and discussing.

  30. Hey everybody. Long time lurker, first time poster. This “review” has finally brought me out of my shell ha ha. Anyway, I’ve been visiting this site for about a year and its probably my favorite website. Funny thing is, I always assumed that vern was secretly making a lot more money off this website than anyone thought. So the fact that only now you need to advertise to make a few bucks kind of blows my mind. I don’t think advertising is wrong as long as a.) It’s not too invasive and b.) you actually believe in the products you’re advertising. Nothing wrong with having links to clint eastwood movies, bronson movies, etc., since you are not getting paid to recommend them. You’re just providing a means to purchase products you honestly recommend.

  31. Mr. S – I appreciate that Vern thought this issue was important enough for him to make clear and explain to his peeps out there. Compare to the other jokers in this game, who actually brag about the swag they score or how many important people hang out* with them or are on their speed dial.

    Of course I doubt those guys would be honored publicly talking with the likes of Chris Coppola or Albert Pyun or that Kahn guy. Only we would dig such achievements.

    *=And I bet unlike a certain AICN personality, Vern would have been honored to have been verbally chewed out by Robert DeNiro. I don’t know why…

  32. Who got chewed out by De Niro?

  33. Hercules. De Niro hates the lack of 24 talkbacks.

    Personally I’m really glad you added the Amazon.com links (and not just because Amazon pays my bills). I’ve been thinking for a long time now how I want to support the site but I really don’t want a mug or anything and you don’t really make any money off it anyway. I made a purchase off the widget but I second the others who have suggested a PayPal link. I’d rather send in a donation than purchase stuff from Amazon (amazing, glorious company though they may be who can monitor this computer’s every move).

    You deserve to get paid though. Anyway I can help with that, sign me up.

  34. Just throwing in my two cents here, and I say get that paper. I don’t mind if every title you mention is an Amazon link. Even if I’m not going to immediately buy everything you reference, I like to build wishlists in Amazon and I’d probably find it convenient. And if you had a Paypal button I’d donate. Hell if you’re ever in Vancouver I’ll buy you dinner.

  35. I double down on Gwai Lo’s note there. I just bought a gift copy of Seagalogy for a co-worker off the widget and I am going to cancel my previous Yippee order and get it off there, too. You’re an inspiration, Vern. Don’t think a thing like this can stop your mad momentum.

  36. I am now the proud owner of a Steven Seagal three-pack of Fire Down Below / Out for Justice / On Deadly Ground!

  37. i would gladly pay a monthly fee to access this site, so advertising in the corner (which I literally didn’t notice until I looked for it after reading the article) is fine by me. But, you know, if times get tough and you ever need 20 bucks, I’d be happy to throw down.

  38. Like everyone who’s already sounded off, I get a lot of enjoyment out of this outlawvern.com and learn a lot about filmatism in both the reviews and the comments. The meshing of one’s art and one’s income is a complicated issue that I can tell you’ve put a lot of thought into, Vern, as have all creative people. You are creating your art and putting it our there in the world for free. If people connect with what you do, they should be able to have the choice of being able to buy your book, or use these Amazon links, or whatever. That’s how we can show our support for someone who is creating something we value. I agree with the folks above who recommended a PayPal link- those in your audience who choose to, and are able to, give something back to support you as an artist can do so. We all know you’re not about asking for handouts, and we all know you’d never turn this sight into something crass even if you had a million hits a day. There’s nothing wrong with allowing your audience to have another way to say thank you.
    And yeah, I meant to pick up a copy of the new book anyway, so thanks for making it easier for me!

  39. This reminds me of that movie Akeelah and the Bee, where the kid pretends she’s dumb so people won’t laugh at her

    Then after Morpheus gives her shit about hiding her light under a bushel she enters the national spelling bee and suddenly all these people who she was afraid would mock her for being a pussy or whatever are like, Fuck yeah one of our own up there on the fucking stage woo hoo!!

    PS Vern your new book is unavailable just now on Amazon UK, you should punch that widget in the balls 11 times at least till this situation is sorted

  40. Jareth Cutestory

    April 10th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    At first the idea of a bunch of links to Amazon put in all the old reviews kind of bummed me out, but then I remembered the famous phrase “read more of this shit” and I began to imagine some of the phrases Vern would use in his Amazon hyperlink:

    “Come like my pockets, motherfuckers.”
    “This way to the slaughterhouse, little lambs.”
    “Who wants to buy some more shit from Amazon?”

    That would be awesome.

    I go to that Dugpa David Lynch site from time to time, and they’ve very discretely and with great humility put in Amazon links, as well as the paypal donation button. As that particular site describes itself as an online archive of Lynch-related stuff, there’s no risk of thinking the whole thing is a ponzi scheme.

    David Lynch’s actal web site charges a membership fee to access the good stuff. I was okay paying for that so long as new material was being posted. When the new stuff flagged, I ended my subscription. Some of the subscibers got big fat heads just because they chipped in money to that site. It was kind of ugly.

    I go to another sight that has a yearly cash drive, like an online telethon, in order to raise money for the expense of running the site. They post a thread that explicitly says: We need $500 to pay our bills this year. Every year they manage to raise enough money from the readership to keep going.

    I’d be fine with any of these arrangements.

  41. Vern, I wouldn’t worry about it. The point at which you realise you’ve finally sold a little piece of your soul to “The Man” is a seminal point in the life of every man. Now all you need to do is sit in the pub alone staring into a glass of beer and thinking “what the hell am I doing here?” and your life will be truly complete.

  42. There is nothing at all wrong with you making some money off this. We all love your writing and it’s kind of a good feeling to know we can help you out a bit. Vern, You’ve proven your integrity through the years so I’d be suprised if anyone minded.

  43. Mr. S and Paul aptly illustrate my concern. Mr. S begins with the premise that films are commodities and that Vern has therefore always been promoting capitalism by reviewing films. Aside from the dubious proposition that the reviews are incomplete without the film/commodities they’re about, Mr. S’s argument is only true if one assumes that the current system is the only possible one and that film cannot exist without the structure of capitalism to support it. In my opinion, we should be working to elucidate and promote alternatives rather than perpetuating that status quo.

    The question is: are we striving for excellence or not? I’d suggest that Amazon widgets are not excellence.

    Paul suggests that there is nothing for modern man but a soulless capitalist existence. So the choice, to me, is clear. Either you endorse that belief by “selling out” or you set an example that helps people understand that there are alternatives.

    As I said previously, I know this is a complicated issue. Not knowing Vern personally, I don’t have a right to speak about what’s right or wrong for him, and I won’t take offense if there’s an Amazon widget on his website. But I do believe that there’s more to life than “getting that paper,” and in the absence of any other critical opinions about this development, I think it’s worth noting that it’s not necessarily okay to advertise for Amazon just because everybody deserves financial stability.

    Thank you for listening to my concerns. That is all I have to say.

  44. Life is compromise.

  45. Jareth Cutestory

    April 10th, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    e poc: Have you ever been on an AICN talkback when Vern is busting the heads of all those chumps who talk about box office receipts as if they’re the sole determining factor in a film’s quality? Or how about that time Vern had all this Seagal swag, and he hosted a short film competition so that interested parties could actually, you know, get involved in film-making just for the love of it, as opposed to asking us all to bark like trained seals while he dangled DVDs over our open mouths?

    I read a lot of film journalism, and I’m very much aware that most film “critics” are little more than investment advisors or extensions of the studio’s PR department. I’d never lump Vern in with that crowd. In fact, Vern is the only critic working in the non-academic world who has waged a sustained critique of the effects of capitalism on art. Unless you count Plinkett as a critic. And you should. Despite the pizza roll stuff. Or maybe because of it. I don’t know. What’s wrong with your face?

  46. Mr. Majestyk – Well I won’t name names, but

    (1) He’s a former AICN personality
    (2) got flack for bitching about people downloading illegally while talking up in chat about downloading, if I remember right, Ang Lee’s HULK.
    (3) After the (alleged) chewing out, he didn’t cover anymore or review at theatrical release that particular DeNiro fantasy adventure.

  47. Jareth Cutestory

    April 10th, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    RRA: And by “bitching about people downloading” you mean “wrote an incredibly condescending article in which he used the phrase ‘shame on you’ more than once.”

  48. Hey, call me naive but I always thought you were getting paid to do reviews on AICN. What do I know. Yeah, dude I’m behind you on this. Don’t feel a shred of guilt. You’re ten times better than reading a regular review in the paper (although reviewers wouldn’t review bad 80’s martial art movies:) so maybe they’d have material to ). I bought your Seagal book and will buy others.

  49. One more in favor of a donation button. The Amazon widget doesn’t bother me at all, but I’m not going to use it. Vern’s been doing amazing work for over a decade now for free. Vern may not feel like we owe him anything, but I do. Motherfucker’s paid his dues. And by the way, trying to eek out a living doing what you love is not selling out. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the exact opposite. I would propose that working a day-job that doesn’t further your dreams is way closer to selling out than putting up a harmless widget.

    Cmon guys, lets get Vern writing full-time.

  50. AU Armageddon – well played, sir.

  51. Might I add that I was being seriously sarcastic? Personally I don’t give a damn about a few Amazon adverts, and if it helps Vern keep the fun stuff coming, more power to him.

  52. Yes Moriarty wrote that article. He wrote it 7 years ago. Let’s let it go.

  53. Brendan – Yeah, Iraq was 7 years ago too. Let’s all forgive and forget.

    Wow I just compared an Internet writer to a war. I’ve definately overfilled by pretentious quota this week.

  54. If you’re still accepting polling data, if you put up a widget that let me search all of Amazon, I would search from your site for 100% of my purchases.

    Also, if you put up a PayPal donation account, I’d totally send you $5.

  55. I wouldn’t mind if Vern put up a few ads

    he deserves to get paid for great work he does and the more money he gets, the more time he has to write reviews, everyone wins

    what Vern’s day job anyway?

  56. Shit, man. The degree of thought you put into monetary compromise is very touching, seriously. Your recently-reposted April Fool’s page was funny because it’s in many ways your worst nightmare, I know, and you’re miles and miles removed from making those kind of soulless concessions at this point, trust me.

    My ideal is to have everyone in the arts or the study of the arts, whose work I admire, be able to make a living at it. When I find that it’s difficult-to-impossible for a number of them to do that, I get very frustrated and sad. I suppose in another era, I would have tried to combat it by becoming a Patron Of The Arts, complete with cloak and powdered wig, but since I’m not exactly well-off financially myself these days…shit, if clicking on an Amazon link is the least I can do toward helping you have a CAREER doing this, Vern, how the fuck can I say no? It’s okay. I know your conscience bothers you. The fact that you need some (undoubtedly piece of shit) day job to allow you the time and space for these great reviews bothers me more. In a just world, you wouldn’t need my help or anybody’s to Strive For Excellence…you’re already there. The problem is making a living at it.

    I mean, if that barely coherent and paranoid (have you seen his ridiculously hateful and scatterbrained attack on GREENBERG/J. Hoberman?) “writer” Armond White can somehow hold down a career doing whatever it is he claims he’s doing, why the FUCK can’t you, Vern? That’s what pisses me off.

  57. We the people want a Paypal button, sort it out.

  58. The road to hell is littered with good intentions. I run my own buisness and have had to do some shit like this. the problem is you start to leave core values behind and before you know it you have become a creature that slithers on its belly. The minute you feel you have sold out yourself, pull the advertising and tell the world to go fuck itself.

  59. PayPal button or paid membership to this site. I’m in for either.

    Ebert does it, why not you.

    Maybe if these pricks start sending you screeners, we’ll finally get to start seeing your blurbs on some movie posters.

  60. Jareth Cutestory

    April 11th, 2010 at 7:00 am

    And you can call it a “tip jar” rather than a “donation button.” Feels less like charity that way.

  61. I got five on it….

  62. I’m against paid subscriptions.

    Unless of course forums come with the package. Otherwise I’m against subscriptions. It’s an action that might severly backfire.

    Tip jar though, I’m for.

  63. Yeah paid subscriptions are a bad idea, not that I think Vern would consider them. They breed exclusivity, all of us regulars would pay I’m sure but it’s hard to attract new readers with content that’s for paying customers only. I know I don’t like paying for any internet websight period since there’s almost always a free alternative, although to be fair most of the examples I am thinking of here are porn. Whereas with a Paypal button I’d be inclined to pay more that I probably would if there was a mandatory fee. I’ve paid good money for print magazine subscriptions that don’t provide nearly as much quality material on a monthly basis as Vern does, and although I’m a struggling writer striving for excellence myself I’d try to pay at least that type of money for the privilege of reading Vern’s websight. I know Vern’s a thoughtful guy who has a well documented relationship with “The Man” and I’m sure he’s wrestled with some of the issues e poc and others have brought up. But honestly fellas, if you’re like me you’ve been reading Vern a long time (7 or 8 years?) and I got no problem with the man making a little something on the side, especially if he stays so classy about it.

  64. PS Vern you should consider cleaning up the links to cafepress as well, it’s not immediately obvious that you can buy a Don’t Be Ellis shirt for instance. Which is a shame since I have one and it’s awesome. People comment on it all the time. Best comment was in Israel, where I explained the philosophy of not being Ellis to an Israeli who immediately appreciated it. Also some of those shirts you posted in that April Fool’s thing are pretty classic. And if you were to put out MEGA ACTING! or SEAGALOGY shirts and whatnot I’m sure you’d get a few hits. Again just my two.

  65. I appreciate Vern for speaking about this “issue” of the Amazon little box on the right that I didn’t even notice . The fact that he’s almost apologizing for it speaks volumes about the caliber of the man. Frankly , Vern , I’m surprised that it took you so long to do this , and not only for the fact that this site ( and the old version ) has been providing high quality entertainment for years , but also because it’s not only full of entertaining articles , but also insight and intelligent discussion . If I can say one more thing , that ad is also almost invisible and unobtrusive. I hate those unskippable ads that cover your page with video and sound . Did you notice that in some pages the ads are faster to load than the actual videos on the site ? Fuck that shit , man .

  66. Gwai Lo : I want a T-shirt for every little thing Vern has created over the years : from badass juxtaposition to Comebakula .

  67. I have nothing to add, except that I even turned off AdBlock for this Websight. (Otherwise I wouldn’t see the Amazon thingy.)

  68. I thought AdBlock was used to stop Flash, CJ? Those Amazon boxes are pure JavaScript and they get blocked, too?

    One thing that may not be apparent here is that hosting this site is no longer the free ride it once was. With GeoCities Vern could happily do what he wanted and it only cost him his time and energy. When I first bought this domain and host Vern was appreciative but made the valid argument that GeoCities was part of the mystique, and as this site came online he explained the reasons. With the added requirements of WordPress to serve up database content in the place of static pages, the choices for free hosting narrowed, as even WordPress’ “free” hosting options are limited if you want full control over themes, widgets and other plug-ins. As the first year was coming to a close I noted with increased volume there were times the site was slow or even kicked back error messages and that just wouldn’t cut it as more people discovered Vern’s writing so I made the switch people here witnessed a few weeks back to a new semi-dedicated host which is obviously more expensive than the old shared hosting plan. Hopefully everyone is now witnessing snappier page loads and no errors. I will continue my patronage in that fashion but from the beginning was curious if Vern ever had plans to profit from his work (much less just cover costs). I even built a custom widget to host IMDb links for each review but Vern didn’t want to litter his work with links. I’m curious to see how these modest stabs at monetization serve him. I hope he considers the PayPal suggestion from many of you but don’t know how that would work when it comes to protecting his anonymity.

    Ultimately the Internet is never free, someone is always paying someone be it your monthly ISP fee, a web hosting company, the computer hardware to handle both of those duties or whatever else is necessary. Supporting sites you love through the occasional click has never bothered me.

  69. One Guy From Andromeda

    April 11th, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    “The Dream That Made Me Sell Out”, where’s that title from?

  70. Thank you everybody for the thoughtful responses. I’ll have some new reviews coming soon so we can stop all this self indulgence. But to E Poc, I appreciate the revolutionary attitude but personally I don’t got a problem with a system where people make movies and I buy them. I’m not trying to overthrow capitalism, I just don’t like aggressive commercialism. My April Fools page pretty much sums up my feelings about that. So I know what I want to avoid but maybe there’s some balance in between Geocities and Cheetos Presents Vern’s Professional Movie Blog Explosion, that’s what I’m trying to find.

    I don’t know about the Paypal thing. I’ll think about it but I would feel a little weird about that. I definitely don’t believe in subscription based websights and I don’t think I would ever consider that. And definitely no pop up ads, don’t worry about that.

    thanks

  71. Clubside: I got no idea how AdBlock works, but if it’s on, there is no Amazon widget for me.

  72. I can only really parrot what others have said, the fact that you’ve put so much thought and concern into something that a lot of other bloggers would have put up from the beginning without a thought, or have those highlighted words that bring up a link to the DVD or whatever. So thanks for the consideration for something that others would think of as trivial. I guess it’s at that awkward point, you’ve got a published book, but it’s not like you’re making anywhere near enough from that to live off it. The website has a strong fanbase, and the yuppies and shit are always talkin ’bout how you can make money off the internet, but there always seems to be a missing step inbetween that.

    I know you’re uncomfortable with the idea of the paypal link, but I’d honestly give you some money right now if it helped go towards running the site, I’m in the UK so the Amazon.com link isn’t really something I can use. For the amount of entertainment I get for free I think it’s only fair I get a chance to give something back. As the others have said, think of it as a tip bowl. You could have it hidden away somewhere off the main page if that makes you feel better.

    On a similar note I always found it odd that of all places, the AICN talkbacks love Harry’s DVD lists and don’t seem to mind that he’s basically doing it as a form of income, I guess mainly because it helps direct them to films they wouldn’t have known about, and Harry often comes across at his most honest there, if he thinks the film is crap he says it is, he doesn’t blow smoke up our ass to try and get more people to click the link.

  73. While we’re on the subject of T-shirt ideas, can I also suggest “monsterpiece?” I’ve been dropping that into conversation a lot.

  74. Yeah Vern, don’t worry about it. Nothing wrong with putting up a few ads and banners, as long as you’re not being a dick about it. And considering that we’re even having this conversation, I don’t think that you will (be a dick about it).

    You’re doing good work here; as long as the ads don’t negatively impact the readability – go for it. You’re entitled to make a few bucks from your labor, make no mistake about that.

  75. biomechanical bell end

    April 11th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Vern, if it stops you from going into a bank with a ski-mask and a pair of chrome .45’s, then i guess i’m ok with it

  76. Vern, your writing has given me so much laughter and enjoyment over the years. I am pretty amazed that you have not been offered a job to do this full time by someone. Until that happens in some way, please don’t feel bad about the amazon links and such. Even asking for paypal donations now and then is OK. Nothing in life is free, there is always a cost of time and energy. Your time and energy that you put into this site does good for all of us readers, so I think we would all be happy to help out.

  77. You know, I don’t think it’s weird at all or wrong or anything like that. Personally I think maybe with every review you have where the movie is available at Amazon you should link it with the review, a lot of us would go right through there to order it. I buy shit at Amazon all the time. And I never really knew why (I’m fucking positive that my tendency to procrastinate has nothing to do with it), but I always meant to snag a copy of Seagalogy and never got around to it. I mean, damn – I was in eighth grade when Above the Law came out and my friends finally had to tell me to shut up about it, they’d catch it on video, enough’s enough. So I am what I would consider at the least a amateur Seagalogist. Anyway what I’m saying is that I just put in my order for Seagalogy and Yippee-Ki-Yay Moviegoer today, through your link. I have no doubt that I will not be disappointed. Thanks for all the kick-ass reads.

  78. That you’re scraping for money to host the sight makes me sad. It’s too bad USENET became worthless… because that environment really went well with your democratic no-bullshit style of writing. And it was free so you’d never have to worry about paying the bills.

    That said, I would also like a Paypal donate thing. I’d rather just give you money outright then spend it on stuff for which you’d get only a small percentage. I have enough Stuff in my life, and unless it’s an Iran-Contra t-shirt I don’t want much more.

    Also, I read using the WordPress Default template, and the Amazon stuff doesn’t show up. (But please leave that template as an option! The black background kills my eyes…)

  79. e poc — just to be clear, I’m not at all proposing that the capitalist system of filmmaking is the only possible model. When the revolution comes, I’m gonna be right there with ya. But there’s also something to be said for practically looking at the way the world currently is, and trying to navigate that world, rather than the one we wish we had. Practically speaking, this site IS about consumption of commodities (Vern, at least, has to consume one in order to write a review), but that doesn’t mean it has to be equivalent to frenzied, mindless commercialism. One can certainly imagine a world, probably a better world, where consumption of commodities had nothing to do with capital, but here in this one it seems to me they’re tied pretty closely together, if not completely inextricable. Hence, I actually find Vern’s thoughtful perspective on how to live in this unseemly world more than a flat-out rejection of all participation in that system as inherently irreconcilable with not being Ellis.

    But, as Vern says, I appreciate your idealism and your willingness to make an argument against bascially everyone else here in a sincere, constructive way. I disagree with you, but that’s still what I call strivin’ for excellence.

  80. Vern:
    dude, its an amazon ad thing, you haven’t sold out. chillax, or whatever they say your side of the potomac.

  81. Man – Whenever I’m down it’s so great to have this little corner of internet to come to.

    Thank you guys for being part of the best, most positive, least Ellis TB on the web.

    Thank you Clubside for keeping the wheels on the place.

    And thank you Vern most of all. I hope all this good feeling counts for something.

  82. I demand a Paypal button. I’m not anti-capitalism, but I’d much rather you get the whole amount instead of whatever pocket change is left after it’s been filtered through Amazon or Cafepress. I’ll always buy your books, though.

  83. Instead of telling Vern that he is awesome (he is) we all need to be praying that Vern has a dream where he does a proper review of Hellboy 2…..and maybe review that vampire book that Del Toro wrote.

    The guy takes his dreams literally so lets use it to our benefit.

  84. Sorry for the aggresive nature of my earlier post Vern. I’d had a few “shandy’s” and got carried away. Standing by what I’d said though. You deserve to get some doe for all your effort and I’ll be purchasing your new book asap!

  85. pheteesh;

    I think Vern choses not to review movies where he knows the filmmakers personally. I guess he wants to avoid bias or damaging his friendships. Either way, I respect the stance. Hence no Hellboy 2 review.

  86. Another UK reader here, unable to buy from American amazon, adding the call for a donation button. I’ve been reading the site for a few years now and it is the one I consistently keep coming back to, where others have fallen by the wayside.
    Outlawvern is the only place I’d want to donate to, the quality of your work makes it more than worth a few of my pounds.

  87. I loved Seagology so why wouldn’t I buy this? It’s the least I can do for all the awesomeness you’ve shared with me.

  88. Wolfgang – I think its more Vern hasn’t had the fart to review HB2 yet. Remember he outright said back in the day that he didn’t want to bother reviewing IRON MAN, even though he said it was…if I remember right…”quite decent.” Right Senor Vern?

    I do also seem to remember he pissed on that HB2 stuff of everybody turning against the hero randomly…and I think he had a point there.

  89. Vern:
    It’s cool. Do what you gotta do.

    Mr. S:
    With all due respect, if you’re going to disagree with me please at least do us all the courtesy of not pretending to be on my side. This *is* the revolution, dude, and you’re not right here with me. By saying you’ll be with me when the revolution happens but for now we have to live with what we’ve got, you’re setting up a false dichotomy between revolution and practicality and claiming that we’re on the same page except that you’re practical and I’m not. By doing so, you co-opt my criticism into your capitalist apologia. It’s a way of subverting my argument so that people can nominally support it without actually grappling with it. In fact, you are basically trying to subvert my entire argument by claiming that anti-capitalism is ipso facto impossible (in the absence of revolution, which I guess you’re waiting for someone else to start).

    You and I are not in any way on the same page. I do not agree that consumption (in the broad sense, of e.g. food or media) has to be capitalist or that reviewing movies is somehow inherently capitalistic or that movies are necessarily commodities. I do not agree with the false dichotomy between this world and the world we want. And I definitely do not think that practicality justifies concessions to corporate capitalism. Disagree with that all you want, but please don’t collapse my objections into some overarching capitalist hegemony.

  90. e poc, I think it would be awesome if you suggested one viable alternative to Vern’s thoughtful and tasteful concession to capitalism or Mr. S’s well-worded ode to practicality. It’s real easy to be a monk on the mountaintop, but the rest of us live in the real world where we need money to buy goods and services, whether we like it or not. Until you start making actual suggestions and not just throwing around a bunch of rhetoric that means exactly dick when it comes to putting food on Vern’s table, you’re just as much part of the problem as we are.

  91. about paypal donations: I wish I could do this, but it doesn’t look like I can without giving out personal information that I don’t want to. I was looking into setting up a business account (which would take fees for transactions but would allow me to just be called outlawvern.com or something) but so that businesses don’t screw people over they’re required to provide a customer service phone number on all transactions. So that’s out.

    about Amazon in other countries: yeah, from what information I can find it looks like the Amazons in different countries have separate affiliate programs, so I guess it’s only if you’re ordering from the U.S. one that it will help me out. Kind of lame since I got so many readers all over the world. I guess you guys are off the hook though.

    about Hellboy 2: I don’t personally know Guillermo Del Toro, but when I got that quote from him on the front of 5 On The Outside (Moriarty got it for me) I didn’t want to review his movies so there would be no appearance of/temptation of reacting different due to him having said that nice thing about me. I’m wary of some of my internet colleagues who are buddies with directors. But that Pauline Kael lady was buddies with Peckinpah, so I don’t know. I think enough time has passed that if I feel like watching Hellboy 2 again I would probly write it up. But I got no immediate plans.

    RRA: Oh shit, I didn’t review Iron Man, did I? I think it was just because I felt like I didn’t have anything to add to what everybody else was saying. I liked it though.

    about revolution: Yeah, I don’t want to turn this into everybody against E Poc debate, but I’m curious what system he wants where movies are not a commodity. I got no idea how that works.

  92. If you believe in the movie and think people should see it, link to the dvd. Put a link in the Alvin and the Chipmunks review that links to the Blu Ray of Black Dynamite, have some fun. I’m into obscure stuff, when I buy a movie or game off amazon it seems I’m always buying it from coolstuff or BillsDVDs or spankthemonkey7, this may be an unfair judgment but names like that don’t conjure an image of a guy in a golf cart touring their land mine factory and smoking a cigar.

  93. Sorry about my error in facts earlier. I guess I assumed that when guys like Guillermo Del Toro and David Gordon Green write these intros and give quotations for Vern’s books that they sat around and shared beers and stuff. My bad.

    The review I really want from Vern in Repo Men. Every other review on the internet basically involved the reviewer saying he can’t take any kind of stance on the film. They all just balk at the fact that it was this guy’s first film and so they didn’t really know what to expect and just didn’t have a context all ready for this guy like they would for James Cameron or Quentin Tarantino or somebody. I didn’t see the film myself and wasn’t planning on seeing it, but all the tepid reviews got my curiosity stirred up.

  94. REPO MEN isn’t very good, and there’s certainly nothing in it to suggest a Tarantino or Cameron level director in the offing. SURROGATES is the closest relative to REPO MEN. And like SURROGATES the sci-fi conceit the movie asks you to swallow is utterly ridiculous: nearly everyone has artificial organs (artiforgs, a common sci-fi device), but they’re incredibly expensive, and if you default on your payments for more than three months the manufacturer is legally entitled to repossess them by killing you. Apparently they’re required as a token gesture to ask if you want an ambulance, but Jude Law’s character makes a joke of this in the very first scene by asking the guy when he’s unconscious. And somehow the company turns a tidy profit from this. This, to me, is just as ridiculous as 90% of the world’s population rotting at home while their personal robots go out and do their business, but sci-fi usually requires that you swallow one major conceit.

    I don’t think it’s a SPOILER (the trailer gives it away) to tell you that the hero ends up with an artiforg himself, but the way it happens is poorly thought out. Essentially he’s injured on the job (the proverbial “one last job”, even) and needs a new heart, but he’s given one without consent and nary a word is spoken about workman’s compensation. For a member of a department called “The Union” he is bafflingly unconcerned with his rights. He just goes about as if he has to make his payments, even though he knows how corrupt the system is. But then of course he goes through the whole rigamarole of having a change of heart and growing as a character and whatnot, and soon finds he can’t ruthlessly kill people like he used to, so he can’t come up with the money. Then there’s a series of third act plot twists where the whole thing is rendered nonsense, because you find out a certain bit of character motivation and it MAKES NO SENSE.

    Critics were mostly praising the look of the film, and the action scenes. But neither of these are really all that special either. The look of the film is a patchwork of BLADE RUNNER (the overhead city shots are cut and dry plagiarism) and MINORITY REPORT (the general palette, some of the tech) and doesn’t bring anything remarkable or new to the table visually. And the action, again, is lifted directly from other sources in many instances. There’s a scene where they do the hallway/hammer scene from OLDBOY, except without the one-take/one-camera-angle style that made that scene so amazing. There’s other action in the movie, but it’s the kind of action that asks you to accept that Jude Law is an amazing martial artist who will be able to kick anyone’s ass purely on the strength of his own physicality. Which is kind of lazy in my opinion, unless that’s the point of the character.

    I mean it was kind of barely competent, it went through all the necessary motions in regards to the story (same story as SURROGATES, basically), I can’t completely write it off. But it’s just as uninspired as SURROGATES if not more, and it didn’t even have Bruce in it.

  95. e poc — I sincerely do not mean to condescend to you, minimize, subvert, or misstate your arguments. I honestly find it pretty inspiring to hear someone really ask hard questions about how deeply emeshed in this kind of stuff we want to be, especially in the face of pretty widespread acceptance on this board. I’m glad you’re out there reminding people that just because things appear one way now doesn’t at all mean that it’s the only way they can be, let alone the best way. There are other ways or arranging a society, and they are within our power to enact, should we choose to. I don’t mean to make the possibility of anarchy or socialism or facism or any other kind of sociological structure you can devise seem remote or patently removed from reality. Far from it.

    However, I honestly don’t know what to make of your claim (if I understand it correctly – and please tell me if I’m misinterpreting) that it’s somehow possible to consume things (in America, at the present time) while existing apart from the capitalist structure. I’d never argue that consumption is INHERENTLY tied to capitalism, but living in this country today, I honestly don’t know how it’s possible to be separate from it. I mean, at least 99% of the films Vern reviews were produced by capitalist entities with the intention of generating capital (and maybe some art too). Hence, the only way to get them (again, unless you illegally download) is to pay for them. And even if you download, you’re still paying someone for your computer, your internet connection, probably at least a portion of the education you put into interpreting films, the clothes you wear while doing it, the house you’re in with its internet connection, the food you eat to give you energy to watch and type, and so on. Maybe you get a lot of these things at the local level; maybe you even get some of them from some kind of not-for-profit group, which is great. But even if you buy nothing but used organic fair trade clothes from an independent shop, odds are that shop took a business loan from a bank to get it started, so now you’re paying the bank, too. And if that business accepts credit cards, you can bet you’re supporting the visa corporation. And if it pays its employees money, well, they’re probably going to spend their capital consuming things.

    I swear to you I don’t intend to be patronizing by saying this. But man, I HAVE grappled with this issue all my life, and this is the conclusion which I’ve come to from many painful hours of soul-searching and careful research. We’re all locked into this hyper-capitalism game as things stand.

    Now, please don’t interpret that as an excuse to just give up and learn to stop worrying and love the wal-mart. Practicality does not excuse being part of the system, nor should we forget what effect our implicit support of that system has on other people and the planet. Far from it. While you’re going to be part of it one way or another, there’s a big difference made when you are thoughtful about the way you purchase and the way that you live, and the level that you want your life to be involved with these forces. You say this is the revolution; well, if it is, then that’s how its being carried out. I won’t lecture on buying local, smaller scale, less impact, etc because I know you are already well versed in that logic.

    All well and good. But the sort of commercially distributed films we usually discuss here… well, they’re a function of capitalism. I just can’t think of any way around that. They could exist without capitalism, but -as of now- they don’t. To the extent you’re at all interested in this cultural arena, I think its important to accept that to some level you’re offering tacit support to the economic forces which produce films and distribute them. Same for nearly anything you consume in the modern world. So, to me its no longer a matter of entirely opposing these forces; it’s too late. If you accept any of the comforts of modern America, you de facto accept the forces which produced them and created the landscape in which they exist. To me, it feels dishonest to accept something so intractibly tied into those forces while denying you’re a part of them (on a practical level, of course. There’s nothing wrong conceptually with liking art but hating capitalism. But that’s not quite what I’m talking about. I’m actually talking about consuming art in the real world which was produced within the capitalist framework).

    Hence, the question becomes, how deep into this thing do we want to be involved? My guess is, in as limited a way as possible. And maybe to that end, there’s some validity in saying that we accept capitalism in so far as it creates movies, but not in so far as it advertises for them on film sites. It’s an arbitrary place to draw the line, but then, so is anywhere else. Its a personal ethical judgement as to how far is too far. The whole choice is not a dichotemy, its an almost infinitely complex series of scales which track the associations and tacit supports we have within the economic and socio-political system. We’re tied into working with it, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have options about how far we’re willing to go, and how much of it we’re willing to give our blessing to (in the same way that living in and financially supporting a country which declares preemptive regime change of another country irrevocably makes you a part of that action, but at the same time doesn’t necessarily entail your wholesale support or mean that no action you take in the opposite direction has meaning or value).

    So. Another novel. I write all this only in the hopes of expressing my respect for your idealism and willingness to push us towards higher standards. I don’t mean to apologize for capitalism or minimize any of the harms that its done and continues to do. And I would never argue that resistence to that system is meaningless or hypocritical — quite the opposite. I only want to suggest a system of judgement which takes into account the degree to which we’re already wrapped up in this system and allows people to judge for themselves to what degree they’ll try to extricate themselves from it, however incompletely it may (and probably must, at the current time) be.

    Again, I thank you for your discussion and your time.

    cheers,
    Mr. Subtlety

  96. Plus if it wasn’t capitalism then what are the cop movies gonna be about? You gotta have drug dealers or bank robbers or something.

  97. I suppose there will always be criminal supergeniuses who are trying to teach the world a lesson, even in the coming socialist utopia. But without money, will they be able to hire an army of goons? You can’t buy goons with hugs, you know. I’ve tried.

  98. I ordered my book ages back, but in the interests of all I will be certainly trying to get some copies ordered into the small Dublin bookstore where I work part-time, just like SEAGALOGY.

  99. Gwai Lo – Oh please, nothing makes any fucking sense in BLADE RUNNER or METROPOLIS either, but that never got in their way.

    I will agree with you in that REPO MEN is like SURROGATES in that its an OK watchable movie based off a good decent premise, regardless if said plot is logical or not. Which really in a genre like sci-fi, is absolutely misunderstood most of the time.

    Sci-fi usually, and I don’t mean the fantasy STAR WARS shit, is about using technology essential to the story to make some sort of thematic or political criticism. Realism is nice, but sometimes its besides the point. SURROGATES is taking people who “escape” their real selves using plastic surgery or whatever, but taken to the very extreme in concept. REPO MEN of course a bitching at the American health care system.

    Not saying they’re remarkable per say, but they’re OK.

    Funny enough, Alex Cox is threatening to sue Universal because he claims REPO MEN (original title was that Jude Law manuscript in movie) is cashing in on his cult classic original REPO MAN.

    Which begs the question: How is he going to fly on that argument with his own REPO CHICK in festivals?

    Vern – You need to review IRON MAN before the sequel comes out. I mean why not? Hell you can make hay of how the movie is (to a point) fucking liberal propaganda to continue the Neverending War in Afghanistan. Think about it.

  100. Thanks for the thoughts on Repo Men guys. Like I said, I have not seen it. I just noticed most of the reviews just balked in ambivilence about so many aspects of the film, especially the tone. Most reviewers also just seemed to throw their hands up when it came to deciding whether it was supposed to be funny or if that just happened by accident.

    The funniest is Roger Ebert’s review. Totally read it. I swear he started writing a review, got nowhere, then later forgot that he didn’t finish the review and just posted what he wrote earlier, which is just a testament to bafflement.

  101. RRA – I disagree that “nothing makes any fucking sense” in BLADE RUNNER or METROPOLIS, because those movies at least have an consistent internal logic within the worlds they create. The major conceit of BLADE RUNNER is that humans have basically created a slave class of androids and have turned to killing them to stop them from rebelling for their rights. Which is not only less ridiculous than the REPO MEN and SURROGATES conceits, but also isn’t contradicted by anything in the world we’re presented with. The world is presented as a dirty, ugly, mercenary place where the rights of “androids” would be unlikely to gain consideration among normies. Depending on which ending you watch there’s a bit of a logical gaff in the idea that Harrison Ford himself is a replicant, but nevermind, it’s hard to tell what ending we’re supposed to believe with the twenty versions of BLADE RUNNER that are out there. And there’s more allowance for that type of thing in a twist ending than in the plot proper. As for METROPOLIS, it was made almost a century ago, first of its kind, so I’m willing to forgive almost any illogicality in that one. And I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that seems like an unforgivable logical lapse.

    But I understand what you’re talking about in that having one major conceit is OK in a sci-fi story, if it helps to fortify a theme. That’s a given. Different example that proves your point: MOON. It’s a bit of a stretch to buy that a corporation would (SPOILER) set up a system whereby they would create a mining colony on the Moon that provides most of the Earth’s power, and staff it with one guy who’s a clueless clone. But I buy it, and it works to make a few thematic points about corporate structure and energy resources and The Man and what have you.

    And I have also forgiven movies where we are asked to buy one major conceit, and then the world’s logical rules don’t even turn out to be internally consistent, which is what I’m griping about with REPO MEN and SURROGATES. Example: MINORITY REPORT. The conceit we’re asked to buy is that precognitive mutants can predict the future, namely murders, and that DC has restructured its legal system around this. Where this concept becomes internally inconsistent in MINORITY REPORT is the whole concept of a minority report, and the problems it raises in the ending (SPOILERS): So it turns out the precognitives aren’t 100% accurate, sometimes they’re only 66.6 % accurate, hence these minority reports. And they’re also prone to mistakes, like the mistakes that allow for murders designed to look exactly like echoes of old murder cases. But how does Max Von Sydow prevent the precogs from catching on to his motives the instant he formulates them? (They seem to detect murder the second the murderer decides on the course of action). And why wouldn’t Von Sydow just take the girl across the country to kill her, where the precogs can’t detect him? (There’s all that business about going national with the program at the beginning, the precog coverage only extends to the DC area during the events of the story.) I forgave most of this business because Spielberg directs a tight little picture and most of it worked structurally even if the details didn’t really come together 100%.

    But REPO MEN is a different kettle of fish. I understand the points the movie was making about the health care system, but I never bought the world the movie established for a second. It didn’t help that Jude Law just explains it in voiceover at the beginning, and then we watch him fillet a guy for not paying his bills, and it’s business as usual. I understand that in our own world hospitals turn patients out on the streets, insurance companies dissolve coverage plans, corporations allow people to die if they’re not proving to be financial assets. But sending assassins after someone for being 3 months behind on their payments? WTF man, that’s a bit of a stretch. These people have no recourse? Not to mention that you’d probably see a spike in the murder rate if you could just draw on a little neck tattoo and pretend you’re Repo.

    But I knew all this going in and I still wanted the movie to be good. There were other things about the movie that failed to make sense to me. Like SPOILERS Forest Whitaker’s motivations. Essentially, his character a) Doesn’t want Jude Law transferring from Repo to Sales, b) Sets up a situation wherein Law’s heart will be fried and require a replacement so that c) The payments for the new heart will force Law to continue to pursue the high commissions of the Repo department so that d) they can remain best friends forever? I mean that’s a pretty shitty thing to do to a guy, in the pursuit of the goal of staying best friends with him. And then of course he doesn’t count on Law realigning his moral compass (not really his fault, the movie doesn’t give Law a compelling reason to do so aside from his literal change of heart) and stopping his Repo activity anyway. And he doesn’t object as much as he should when he gets sent after Law to Repo him, if his whole goal in the first place was to maintain his friendship. It’s a mud-puddle of character motivation, and it’s not excused by that asinine final twist (that I won’t spoil here) that renders half the movie pointless. The internal inconsistency here is even more egregious than MINORITY REPORT, and this n00b who directed this thing is no Spielberg when it comes to making a slick piece of entertainment. So ultimately it’s a big fat fail for me.

    But anyway, I understand what you’re saying about sci-fi. I agree that most sci-fi relies on one big suspension of disbelief, that if you can believe (insert exactly one fantastical element here) then you will be rewarded with a meaty examination of (insert sociological/political/anthropological thematic critique here). I don’t think REPO MEN or SURROGATES had anything to say about their themes, they were just kind of there. At the very least, the suspension of disbelief was not proportional to the intellectual reward of the ideas it generated. In SURROGATES it’s “oh, people are distancing themselves from each other with technology.” In REPO MEN it’s “oh, corporations are bad and shouldn’t run health care.” And the discussion basically ends there.

    And that’s all well and good for mindless entertainment, but of all genres sci-fi has the most potential to say something profound. If the themes are just window dressing for wicked-awesome OLDBOY fight scene ripoffs then I will judge the movie accordingly.

    Full disclosure: I am a sci-fi screenwriter. And not STAR WARS fantasy sci-fi, but the sci-fi of ideas. So I have grappled with many of these problems in my own work. My favorite writers are Stanislaw Lem, Philip K. Dick and Arthur C. Clarke, to give you an idea of where my influences lie. I’m currently writing something that’s not too far off from REPO MEN and SURROGATES, developing it for a director and a producer who (knock on wood) seem to be able to get it made. I believe I (we) have not only completely eliminated the “one major conceit” rule by using a plausible piece of technology that is already coming down the pipe (hint: it’s not robots), but by ruthlessly seeking and destroying all plot holes, internal inconsistencies, and sketchy motivations, however painful they may be to iron out. And in doing so we have freed ourselves up to structure almost everything in the story around the points we are trying to make about where society is heading, and to make the whole designing principle of the movie a meta comment on the filmmaker’s role in society itself.

    But that makes me sound pretty conceited, I also fully disclose my n00b status in the business. That said, if everything goes according to plan you’ll all have an opportunity to judge whether I’m successful soon enough. Until then I reserve the right to pick apart REPO MEN and SURROGATES for being fairly thoughtless nonsense, which they are, in my opinion.

  102. Wolfgang – see if you can track down the AICN interview with the REPO MEN director. I don’t even think he was sure himself if it was supposed to be a comedic satire or a serious drama. I remember something in there about Jude Law and Forest Whitaker asking him if they should play it slapstick, as they couldn’t tell from the script, and because he wasn’t totally sure himself he just said (paraphrasing) “you guys just play it straight and let me figure out what the tone is.” Which he obviously didn’t do by the time the movie was released.

  103. Gwai Lo – Only you can write up epic essays longer than my rants. :)

    “Internal logic” is another one of those slippery terms that is easily abused. I mean every Michael Bay movie has their own sense of stupid internal logic…or as logical as fucking stupid actioneers can be. Which is anti-logic. But logic none the less.

    As for BLADE RUNNER, I’m reminded of Stanley Kubrick’s own reported problem with the material: Why would the replicants be so humanoid in the first place? OK the leisure models fine, even infiltration combat units….but why are the engineering and brute force and mining bots so humanly designed? Sorta pointless no?

    You know, he’s got a good point there.

    So I don’t know why we’re fighting. Again you say REPO MEN’s logic makes no sense, I think it makes enough sense to a degree. Not enough to be realistic, but realism or to be exact Futurism isn’t what REPO MEN was gunning for. There’s enough to be not be THE ISLAND silly, but I suppose not enough to satisfy one’s 2001 high standards of logicity.

    In a way I somewhat echo Ebert’s opinion on REPO MEN. Good cast, decent premise…and not a bad movie at all. But something is lacking. Is it the logic police asleep on the doughnuts as Gwai Lo thinks, or was it that the movie needed a more interesting 3rd Act beyond repeating what DAYBREAKERS (a better movie IMO) exactly did a few months ago or for that matter, a poor man actioneer’s BRAZIL.

  104. RRA: re BLADE RUNNER. Never thought of that, haha, leave it to Stan the Man. That’s why he’s responsible for 2001 I guess. The rest of us are mere mortals.

    But I immediately start trying to rationalize that one:

    Well maybe that’s just mankind’s arrogance, we make the replicants in our own image, like God. One line of exposition in there would have excused it: “The first generations were indistinguishable from humans. Once they rebelled, the need arose to give replicants distinguishing physical traits.” Something less clunky of course. Vern brought up something similar in SURROGATES: You see a few robots that show you can customize their look, but most people just use slightly better looking versions of themselves. There’s no wookies or Twilight characters walking around or anything. At a certain point the projection abilities of the minds involved in making the film putter out and die, bound to how big the world is made by the general concept. If you’re a visionary like Kubrick (or Spielberg for that matter) the world spans the Dawn of Man to a fuckin Starbaby, so 2001 is set, while SURROGATES can’t think past its main conceit of “people have robots!”

    Yeah, I think we have argued ourselves into agreement, you’re right. We’re down to brass tacks subjectivity at this point. It really does come down to the execution, maybe just to the mood of the viewer at that exact time. MINORITY REPORT, REPO MEN, SURROGATES, DISTRICT 9, DAYBREAKERS, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, MOON, the movie I’m writing right now: all of these movies have some variation on that climactic scene you bring up: the hero busts into the highly secure base and fucks with the system in a way that the movie has taken great pains to establish as impossible. It can be a good action scene (DISTRICT 9), a bad action scene (REPO MEN, SURROGATES) or a thoughtful existential meditation (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, MOON). Like Vern says, genres are like blues/jazz standards and it comes down to the specifics.

    And I really think we do respond emotionally and viscerally to movies, and THEN decide our rationalizations for why they’re good and bad, sometimes in haste. But that’s a topic for another day.

  105. How can one call Blade Runner a logically sound film and keep a straight face? Logically the film is pretty shaky in both story and setting. For example, even if such complex androids did exist, there would certainly be 1000 other faster and more foolproof ways to diagnose them as such aside from a psychiatric test. How can Deckard be a replicant and exist in a society where he has old acquaintances and friends? What kind of Orwellian madness is going on that he is part of such an elaborate stage play by which he can live a life of fabrication and not trip over those fabrications at ever turn? If such a thing is actually going on, how then could Tyrell have been vulnerable to Roy’s intrusion? Even with a personal friend as an escort, imagine the security in that place!

    That said, I also don’t see how anyone can really care that such is the case. Love it or hate it Blade Runner is still an interesting film, there’s a sense of poetry about it, and it certainly had a lot of passion put into it by everyone at every stage of it’s creation. I think that counts for a lot. I think that it counts for most of the audience’s belief in the film far more than any pretense of an internal logic that it may also have.

  106. I actually liked SURROGATES, maybe because I don’t think the premise was all that ridiculous

  107. yes Gwai Lo, I did read that interview with the director of Repo Men. It also made me more interested in the film. I liked the sound of it. I never saw Surrogates, but I saw Minority Report and Paycheck and several others of these types of movies and I generally get kinda bored with these movies where the this one honest good guy is somehow the top cop in a corrupt system then gets the whole system turned on him. I typically like Cruise as an actor, but found his goodguy top cop family man character in Minority Report to be just a bunch of cliches with no personality.

    I liked that Repo Men sounded like they went for a character who sounds selfish and is on some level a sadist and probably deals with the cruelty of his actions by being a smartass. The character may end up being too unlikeable, but it at least sounds like they were trying to make him interesting.

    I’ll find out when I see it.

  108. I will also put in my vote that Blade Runner is a complete mess that makes no sense but is a fascinating film to watch.

    It’s weird, I think it’s Ridley Scott’s most interesting film, but it’s also completely non-indicative of his work. He is a through and through a commercial director. If you take Blade Runner off his resume it becomes instantly clear, but because he’s got that one artsy weirdo movie a lot of people judge his work on the wrong standard. Compared to other commercial filmmakers out there like Roland Emmerich, Steven Speilberg, James Cameron, Wolfgang Petersen, Michael Bay, etc Ridley Scott is one of the best. His films are always well shot and he always gets good performances. If you try to compare his films to those of David Cronenberg, David Lynch, or Chan-Wook Park he looks like an underachiever because he’s not being weird.

    I was actually just watching Kingdom of Heaven directors cut again on the weekend. Great movie.

  109. Wolfgang – I actually sorta disagree with your thesis. BLADE RUNNER to its detractors is “style over substance”…and doesn’t that quite describe quite a many Ridley Scott movies?

  110. RRA

    My thesis on Blade Runner was that it is style and ideas over coherence, not over substance. I think the film’s ideas and feelings are very substancial, they just aren’t worked into a plot or world that make any sense.

    All of Scott’s other films (that I have seen) have made sense. Well, maybe not Hannibal, I remember that one being a pretty big mess, but not in a fascinating artsy way, more just in a scattered bloated sequelly way. But it was still an attempt at a mainstream genre like all of Scott’s other non-blade Runner films.

  111. “about paypal donations: I wish I could do this, but it doesn’t look like I can without giving out personal information that I don’t want to. I was looking into setting up a business account (which would take fees for transactions but would allow me to just be called outlawvern.com or something) but so that businesses don’t screw people over they’re required to provide a customer service phone number on all transactions. So that’s out.”

    Vernsey (& e-poc/Mr m) there is one alternative… well heaps but anyway. I designed several game servers and developed 3 communities centred on myself in sort of a cult-dictatorship superstar MO that I like to play with. I ignored offers of money the first time.

    Second time, I accepted that I wanted some of the free shit offered (mostly games and computer parts) by getting and providing a PO Box, at pretty low cost (that way they could be sent to AU_Armageddon as well).

    Third time community (1500 players but mebbe 100 heavy posting tight forumers) started offering larger amounts of cash – simply wanting to donate out of all the same motivations I see here i.e. they think less time at work, more time I can develop; compensating for fun and value they get from my time; why was I doing it tough when they rich and enjoying my work yada yada. They convinced me after a year or so and were talking several thousand that I could honestly use (about 9k in final analysis). I picked up a few hard-core haters too though (hard to believe for you people I know, but there are some out there who dun like me) so didn’t wanna give out all personal info – plus having kids and all, you gotta take some precautions against the more psychotic fans.

    Solution – I chose one of the people I trusted from community, who didn’t attract enemies like my good self, to collect all the money. Everyone who wanted to donate money contacted that person instead. They started an account and had everyone – people from US, england, Japan etc. all donate money directly into that bank account, and they put it all in my bank account. They did that once or twice a year for several years. Need the someone you can trust part – but I got away with complete control over everything I ever did as well as never having to sell out to ads or more importantly from my perspective (not being a commy hippy like e-poc), without having to compromise anything. It’s a low class/low budget kinda of an option, but then so are you.

    Dunno how the money spread is in your readership, but I was friends with other community leaders who adopted similair practices and we all found that about 75% of our cash income came from about 5 or 6 members – with 20-60 regular donaters making up remaining 25%. I have seen similiar practices develop in the emerging podcasting communities – including even in the podcasting movie review communities (of which I listen to hordes as well), some of which are doing extremely well on donations. One set up a pay function on their site to provide for a regular small monthly donation that you could opt in to as a regular listener who wanted to give back. Great idea as the amount sounds like it is already just shy of a liveable income by itself without them having to have any ads whatsoever.

    Not suggesting any of these alternatives are neccessarily right for you, just saying where there’s a will, there’s a fuckload of ways.

  112. AU, I’m glad you stuck around despite our earlier unpleasantness. You’re full of surprises. I assume your cult-dictatorship involved you leading your followers around the wastelands of Oz on an armored dune buggy wearing a metal facemask.

  113. I will collect my semen for a year and send it to you. How does that sould? Might be valuable?

    Actually no, that’d be gross. And completely unsanitary.

    Has anyone ever sent you weird shit for being an amazing human being Vern? This seems as good a place to ask as any.

  114. Well I am kind of Humungus now that you mention it. Though seriously, he is much too gay for my majestyk machismo – given too that his right hand man was the same guy to wear a chainmail blue oyster vest in Commando. Anyways, my style has proven more of the Jim Jones sort to be honest. I read everyday but still tryin my best not to post here cos I tend to drop the atmosphere a notch, but some days I canna help myself. Come to think of it, I feel one of my turns comin on right now… I feel cold as a razor blade, Tight as a tourniquet, Dry as a funeral drum…

  115. But have you eaten your meat? As I’m sure you’re well aware it’s impossible for you to have any pudding if you haven’t.

  116. Illinois Smith gives the best argument so far for Vern not revealing personal information.

  117. Hey,

    Longtime reader, first time poster.

    Do you get money if people just buy random shit off amazon, or does it have to be something you’re linking to? So, like, if you’re linking to Die Hard & I click on the link and fill my cart up with something else, do you get 4%?

    I hope you make a fucking fortune. From what I can tell, you and this guy Mel in California are the only two people on the internet who aren’t full of shit. As far as the ads, I say don’t worry about it. I barely even see them anymore.

    –J. Random Internet Guy

  118. J.- Judging from the reports, I believe that I get a percentage from anything you buy if you go through that link or the search box. And my percentage has gone up to 6% now (6.5% if I sell 9 more).

    I guess the way to think of it is this: if you’re ever planning to buy something from Amazon, especially if you’re getting something big like an appliance or something, you can give all the money to Amazon or you can go through my link and they’ll donate 6% to support this websight. (or you could go through the link of another sight you like.)

    thanks everybody.

  119. Ah, shit. I found out that Seagal collection I had on there was full frame. Why do they do that? I apologize if I fucked anybody up. I know at least one of you said you bought it. I replaced it with a different one with not as perfect of a lineup but at least in the original aspectical ratios.

  120. Personally, I’d rather donate $10 than buy a DVD where you get $4. Of course that’s an unsustainable model (and I’m in a rare position where I don’t buy movies), so maye I need a Vern mug for my coffee.

  121. My math sucks. I’d have to buy $100 in DVDs for you to get 4. Hmm, do you still get the percentage if I use Amazon credit? Maybe we should all trade our DVDs in to Amazon and use the credit to buy new ones through Vern’s widget.

  122. I buy everything through his link. I’ve been curious if it’s been working well for him. Maybe even post something like Harry was to see what his brethren order. It could be interesting.

  123. The above comment would be so much better if it was made after the ZOO review.

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