New column: Profiles in Bad-Ass

Okay, how should I explain this? Here goes.

I have a new bi-weekly column called Profiles in Bad-Ass on the freshly launched websight REBELLER. The first one is up and it’s trying to address something that I’m sure you know is important to me: that everybody knows who Bruce Lee is but many haven’t experienced the joy of actually sitting down and watching his movies.

In future installments I plan to provide similar overviews of the work of icons from different eras of badass cinema, the types of things I’ve written about extensively here, now in a more generalized and concise format to spread the good word to other corners.

I guess it won’t be the audience I thought, because I didn’t realize it would be behind a paywall. You have to sign up and then you can get 3 free articles a month, or pay $20.20 for a year of access to everything. I feel a little weird about that but it makes sense – we’ve seen that the high profile websights that actually pay their writers can’t sustain on popup ads. Also, I once had a somewhat similar column in a print magazine called Clint, and somebody would’ve had to get a much more expensive subscription to read all of those.

Except it is different because this is the new venture from Cinestate, known for producing BONE TOMAHAWK, BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE and THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK. They also own Fangoria, which they’ve done a great job of reviving, and they consider Rebeller to be Fangoria for action, westerns and crime movies. They’re trying to live up to that billing with coups like Tarantino’s current editor Fred Raskin writing about the brilliance of his late predecessor Sally Menke, a column by god damn Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, and a piece where Cinestate owner Dallas Sonnier recounts his days producing Stone Cold Steve Austin movies. (I think I’ll sign up just to read that.) And their movie label of the same name will make director-driven exploitation for theatrical distribution.

Obviously that stuff appeals to me greatly. But if you’ve read my DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE review (as editor Sonny Bunch had) you know I worry about traces of a winky-winky, nudgy-nudgy, don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach to racists in some of their work and publicity. And now more than ever I don’t think we can be flexible on this shit.

So I never agonized over an offer for a freelance gig like I did this one, and I’m still nervous about it. I think Sonny thought I was joking when, having learned the name was Rebeller, I checked to make sure the logo didn’t have some kind of reference to the Confederate flag in it. But he’s been understanding about my concerns and made assurances to me about the diversity of writers without me having to ask.

The Ringer did a good article about Cinestate, Rebeller and Sonnier. It has the headline “Does the Movie Industry Need an Unsafe Space?”. I can’t relate at all to grown adults who worry about the dangers of “safes spaces” or “wokeness,” so it’s strange to be affiliated with an outlet being lauded as some kind of dick-waving antidote to those terrifying spectres of the P.C. Police State. Luckily I think the article doesn’t paint such an embarrassing picture, and I believe they hired me knowing I would want to be a balance to that type of shit.

We’ll see what happens, but my goal is to spread the word about the good shit while staying true to myself and my belief that the beauty of The Films of Badass Cinema goes beyond just being reactionary macho bullshit. Wish me luck!




This entry was posted on Friday, December 20th, 2019 at 2:28 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.

46 Responses to “New column: Profiles in Bad-Ass”

  1. Congrats and Godspeed, Vern.

  2. Okay well 3 free articles a month means I can read your 2 columns and ignore everything else, so I’m in!

  3. Thank you for this preface. When I first heard of the site, with its name and logo and slogan, I had those same concerns. And, when I heard you were writing for it, I was really conflicted, a mix of “Well, it must be okay then” and “Boy, I hope Vern knows what he’s getting himself” and “Of course he does, I shouldn’t worry” and back and forth, back and forth. I’m still a little worried, but excited to read your column.

  4. Thank you for this preface. When I first heard of the site, with its name and logo and slogan, I had those same concerns. And, when I heard you were writing for it, I was really conflicted, a mix of “Well, it must be okay then” and “Boy, I hope Vern knows what he’s getting himself” and “Of course he does, I shouldn’t worry” and back and forth, back and forth. I’m still a little worried, but excited to read your column.

  5. [Constant reader but infrequent commenter here]
    This Rebeller place sounds like an interesting new destination for non-mainstream movie reviews and discussion, especially after the demise of other outlets like AV Club and the Dissolve. I raised an eyebrow when I saw they appropriated the nom de guerre of “outlaw cinema,” wondering if it was a shot across the bow of this fine sight, but I felt reassured when I saw Vern’s byline today. As a big fan of S. Craig Zahler’s films and similar efforts, I’m intrigued to see what kind of programming this place offers. And I’m heartened that Vern and these folks are getting along, because in the end, I think we all want the same thing–quality badass cinema that doesn’t have to apologize for being awesome.

  6. I worry about the site knowing they also have Joe Bob and he has been trolling the woke crowd lately.

  7. Yeah, seeing “Outlaw Cinema” displayed the way that it is (in the Join Now tagline) raised an eyebrow too. It looks, at least when I viewed it, that it might be tied directly to your article because a picture of Bruce Lee is next to Join Now and it’s what I viewed after I followed your link. That’s a reference directly to you, right? It’s not phrasing that’s being displayed as if the writers of the sight came up with it, right?

  8. Joe Bob hasn’t been trolling anybody, but he’s had some rants that take a perilous route to get to their not-so-problematic destination. I am concerned that this sight will bring out his worst instincts, though. I count like seven red flags on their homepage. I hope you know what you’re doing, Vern.

  9. Rebel going with Outlaw Cinema is easy. I’m going to go out on a limb but $20.20 is 2020, the year of the next election. I’m happy to be called crazy.

  10. I should clarify… It’s the kind of worrisome “Rebel” that can go with your previously non-worrisome Outlaw Cinema. I’d be happy to find out that I’m a tinfoil hat type but $20.20 looks like a kind of *wink – wink*, *nudge – nudge* numbered reference to 2020.

  11. Perhaps I’ve been overly contentious in these threads lately (sorry), but let me continue in that trend by pushing back on some of the fear of the other here. Fear is the path to the dark side. I trust Vern’s true north about as much as more or anyone’s, and Vern’s adherence to his own code gives him the badass power to go into situations and pushback the momentum of that culture vs. letting the momentum of that culture push him around or change him. Having spent time in conservative religious circles that I’ve since come out of, a lot of the energy here sounds very similar to what an evangelical mother would say about her son going off to that corrupting secular college. Vern’s got this, you guys.

  12. I am 99% sure or more that I am wrong. I also liked Dragged Across Concrete quite a bit (probably more than most here) and Bone Tomahawk guaranteed a place at the table for the guy who made that as far as I am concerned. But, if something feels wrong I have to side with that gut feeling.

  13. …that’s Vern being torn up about it and not being sure.

  14. I’m speaking out of my ass now. Sorry, Vern. I’m not trying to speak for you. I was trying to say that sometimes things seem off or wrong and there’s maybe a reason why your brain gives you that message.

  15. Mr M, I respectfully disagree. Between his post on Twitter that horror movies have never been political until now and his Snowtrans joke on his last episode, he is clearly embracing the role of egging on the woke crowd lately.

  16. Freelancing makes for strange bedfellows…

  17. Guess I should get going on that BILLY JACK rewatch.

  18. From that Ringer article…”Bunch likens the aggregation section of Rebeller to the Drudge Report”.

    Fuck these guys. Good luck though Vern.

  19. Look, the whole “woke” thing began with the best intentions, but unfortunately it was hollowly parroted into a trend. And just like any other trend, an “anti-trend” followed. Skinny ties and keyboards spawned dressing like the chorus of “Grease” and playing an upright bass. Wearing your fitted to the side spawned Kris Kross wearing them backwards.

    It’s all just fashion and it’s all meaningless.

  20. I’ve said my misgivings. Go get them, sir!

  21. …just know where you can take off your boots if you have to go Billy Jack.

  22. Also, enjoy spreading the word on what is the shit.

  23. Can’t blame Vern for taking a paycheck, god knows he deserves it, but a website with a Dukes of Hazzard vibe in 2019 does give me pause. (As for Joe Bob, last I checked he had a column in Taki Mag, which you can google up if you’re unsure of his politics.) That said, I hope I’m wrong, or at the very least Vern gets a few months of rent and some book chapters out of this before it blows up.

  24. I kinda feel bad that we are all shitting over Vern’s new gig. I mean, we all hope that they stay with their “We may be conservatives, but we try not to be assholes and take free speech so seriously, that we even let the most liberal liberals write columns for us” concept and I’m sure none of us hopes it more than you.

    But for now: Congrats on the new column! It’s always nice to see you getting actually paid for what you love.

  25. I subscribed for a year to support you, but after reading several other articles on the site I see why you were hesitant — Sonny Bunch appears to be aiming both barrels at women and “SJWs” in the two of his debut articles I read (and the comments, hoo boy, no thanks), so I won’t be renewing after the first year, and it’s not a site I’ll be visiting except to read your column, which was really good by the way. It made me realize I haven’t seen MOST of the Bruce Lee films, which floored me. What a weird gaping hole in my action cinema watch history!

    Keep up the great work, Vern!!

  26. Went in for the free plan, great article Vern! Joe Bob’s article is pretty interesting, detailing the fallout from his Black Christmas conmment. Theres not too much other original content yet, but I’ll probably ultimately go for the $20 plan (basically it’s the price of a magazine subscription). I’m politically pretty much in line with Vern, but (like Vern) also recognize that a lot of great action cinema was made by right wingers

  27. Vern, I’d like to throw in with Skani that I’m not the least bit concerned that your integrity and values will be corrupted. And if the commentariat is as awful as described, I do think you could do some good over there like you tried to do with the deplorable Newsies back in the day. My concern is that if this sight takes off and becomes the Breitbart AV Club, your reputation among those who aren’t familiar with you and what you stand for could suffer by association. I wish you the best but this organization seem like a PR disaster waiting to happen and I’d hate to see you get swept up in it.

    Anyway, just know that this is all coming from a place of love. We all care about you and want you to succeed. We have our concerns but you trusting these guys is probably the most convincing reason to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Well, the rest of you guys should anyway. They made DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE so they’re dead to me.

  28. No, I don’t think anyone is shitting on it and I appreciate the honesty. It would be easier if everybody said “You’re overthinking it, just have fun!” or something but I’m so glad everybody has more thoughtful and nuanced things to say about it.

    That’s one of my main concerns, Majestyk – if this becomes known as right wing movie land and my name is associated with it the way it was with Ain’t It Cool, that would feel terrible. Or if writing there brings people here who want to argue and be dicks. We have such a good thing going here.

    But thanks everybody. I’ll give it my best shot.

    p.s. I had no idea they were gonna be using the world outlaw.

  29. Yeah, I raised an eyebrow at “outlaw”. Even aside from it being your thing (and they know that), it confuses their whole schtick. Are they rebels or are they outlaws? Because those really aren’t the same thing.

  30. I say give it a shot, and if things don’t seem ok there, you’re free to leave. Your prior readers know what you stand for and who you are.

    The “rebellermedia” URL raised a bit of a red flag for me, though. I’m not sure how familiar this is in the USA, but in Canada, Rebel Media is a far right news organization, and I hope the title is just coincidental.

  31. I have a friend who did a horror movie panel with a conservative movie writer and I was completely shocked to find out how much he loved Get Out and other liberal issue movies. So don’t judge until you read the book.

  32. At first, I was all like, HORRAY! But then, I read the outlet and was all like, OH NO! But then, I saw Vern immediately acknowledging my immediate concerns directly and was all like, HORRAY, again!

  33. Sternshein, the cool thing about Rebeller Editor-in-chief Sonny Bunch is that we can actually “read the book” — he’s written a ton of movie reviews himself! And while it would not personally occur to me to call Get Out a “liberal issues movie” based on his review I’d guess that he probably would:

    'Get Out,' 2017's Most Surprising Defense of Racial Profiling

    Warning: Literally the whole plot, including the ending, of Get Out are discussed below. Don't come crying to me about spoilers.

  34. One question about the piece, Vern; Didn’t the American TV audience know Bruce at least a bit from the GREEN HORNET series?

  35. How could one not regard GET OUT as a “liberal issues movie”? It’s a fun and effective horror film and a liberal issues movie.

  36. Again, only speaking for myself here, but I saw it as a horror movie that dealt with race in America. I have literally never heard the phrase “liberal issue movie” and it’s unclear to me why race would only be an issue for liberals.

  37. Are they rebels or are they outlaws? Because those really aren’t the same thing.

    The Outlaw Josey Wales disagrees…

  38. The Outlaw Josey Wales disagrees…

    Didn’t say you can’t be both, especially at different points in time. But they ARE different things!

  39. As a freelancer i say take that money and use it for good, not evil. You can bring your wisdom to their platform too.

  40. Man, this Sonny guy seems real fun at parties. I’m not sure this site quite deserves to have anybody as smart and as thoughtful as Vern but it’s probably good for their readers to have somebody like you.

    However, I definitely will not be supporting that site because they don’t not share the same core values as myself. Will you be allowed to post the same essays you write for them on your patreon page? I’d much rather just give you money directly.

  41. Fred: Did we learn nothing from the Death Star scene in CLERKS?

  42. at first i was like damn thats fucking gauche to appropriate ‘outlaw’ from vern, so i angrily tweeted at them about it asking if they were going to hire vern, instead of saying ‘yeah, hes got a column coming soon!’ sonny bunch replied with a cryptic/mocking “HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” as if to imply that i was some kind of dumbass for thinking the people that would steal verns valor without mentioning him would also not hire him… these clowns are flirting with the alt-right because they have no skin in the deadly game of politics, and its all about triggering the libs for lols for them. so they wont be getting my $, but i support vern and trust him to make his own decisions to write for whoever he wants and set his own boundaries. if rebeller starts tacking as openly anti-lgbt/pro-fascist as taki, i am confident he will distance himself.


  43. I stopped and thought about it and I realized I *haven’t* experienced the joy of actually sitting down and watching any Bruce Lee movies. It’s pretty embarrassing. Fortunately ENTER THE DRAGON is on tomorrow at one of the awesome theaters in this city so I will be all over that.

    As for the new column over there, I clicked on the site and saw their logo. I don’t particularly want to sign up but I do want to read even more of Vern’s thoughts on Michael Jai White so I guess I will sign up and just read Vern’s stuff.

  44. Good article! Rebeller the site itself is so-so. Basically boils down to “I love movies and also the SJWs sure do bitch a lot amirite?” Most of their writers aren’t very interesting and their articles are just sort of basic. You and Joe Bob actually are great. A few other decent ones. Then guys like Jacob Knight who definitely got a job because he was buddies with people, he’s a real bore.

  45. It is funny though how Sonny Bunch would promise a diversity of writers…it’s like “we mostly have white males talking about how SJWs are destroying cinema, but don’t worry…we also have this Asian guy who writes for us, about how SJWs are destroying cinema.”

  46. Hate to bring this up but it’s bothering me. First, your articles have been great. Love them. Second, you have to be paying attention to their Twitter feed, Vern. They are embarrassing and a bunch of assholes.

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