Saturday, August 4, 2007

Regret

By now this is a dead horse, but I have to confess it's been bugging me a lot.

This past Monday I posted about the Online Top 100 Movies at Cinema Fusion. A lot of people have commented on it. SLIFR, The Bleeding Tree, DVD Panache, Moviezzz, and Edward Copeland On Film. Some are okay with it and some are not. I myself am not. It's not a good list. It's not a thorough list. It's a list that can easily be dismissed. The surprises, and there are some, are not pleasant ones. I have read a lot in the comment sections of blogs that have posted about the Online Top 100 Movies. Some praise it for not being "stuffy", others call it "a list made up of a group of white Fanboy's under the age of 30." And probably the most disturbing comment was made on Dennis' blog from Flickhead who wrote "After nine years of writing about film online, following two decades of publishing film fanzines, I was more than a little hurt when this organization passed me over in assembling the list."

I am not a Fanboy, and I am not under the age of 30. I am a lover of film and not a new one at that. Yet I am not qualified to have done what I have done. I don't mean to elevate this moment to a place it shouldn't be or doesn't deserve to be, but I do so love film and it matters to me that these lists get put together. At first, I was honored and excited about being included. I got invited to the party and once there, I drank a lot of wine. But then next day came the hangover and it has lasted more than a week now. I didn't think about what I was doing. I was just caught up in the moment and now I am paying the price.

When I put together my own list, it was fun and I put a lot of thought into it because it reflected my own thoughts and tastes. You could take it or leave it. If you didn't like it, so be it, it was just my opinion. It was not meant to be a definitive list, it was just my 100 favorite movies. But when you gather the opinions of 50 people and you name the list the Online Film Communities Top 100 List, you make it definitive. It becomes much bigger than one person's opinion. So when you have entries like Ghostbusters and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and American History X and when Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Blade Runner crack the top 10, you can't ignore that any more than I can't ignore Titanic on the AFI's Top 100. The difference is, my name isn't attached to the AFI's Top 100 list. I don't have to look at comments about the AFI's list and second guess my decisions or my involvement. The truth is, I shouldn't have been involved because I'm not qualified to be involved. There are so many movies I have yet to see and so many bloggers more deserving of this task, Flickhead being one of them.

I have said and I will continue to say that what Jonathan, Andrew and Domenic have done is great. It's a wonderful experiment. At the very least, it has caused a lot of people to discuss film. Films that got included or films that should have been included. But to be a part of a list that is so quickly dismissed by the people I respect in the blogging universe is not where I want to be. It's not what I want this blog to be.

Richard Schickel took a lot of heat from bloggers for his comments regarding online film criticism saying that it is not a "democratic activity." I did not completely agree with his comments, but there is some truth in what he wrote. At some point in what we do and especially if it is in a group atmosphere, there comes some responsibility. If you are true lover of film, you don't want to take film lightly or be so quick to dismiss work that deserves to be noticed. Yes it is an entertainment medium, but if you truly hold it in high regard a list such as the OFC's Top 100 Movies should mean something. And it doesn't.

I will not be so quick to rush in again.

26 comments:

Ray said...

This is why your one of my faves, Piper. You have a conscience.

I definitely went after this stupid list with both guns a-blazin'. My initial write up : http://therecshow.com/2007/07/29/151/ was fairly tame, but then I got into a huge fight over at Slash Film about the list.

While I contend that many of these movie websites are run by people more intersted in making a name for themselves rather than their love of film, I should have just let it go. Any list is going to fail in some areas.

It just seemed to me to be a monumental mistake to screw that up after so many years of bashing traditional lists from organizations like AFI.

www.therecshow.com

Ray said...

Whoops .. I meant "you're" not "your."

UGH.

Moviezzz said...

Good points Piper. The more I think about the list, the more I agree.

To sum up what I wrote over at SLIFR in his excellent discussion, I'm probably more of a serious film geek than maybe a lot of those on the list. I've seen every Godard available in the US, Fellini, and all the major directors. I've been seriously watching films, trying to find ones I haven't seen, rarely watching a film more than once for 17 years or so.

Yet, that isn't the case with probably most of the people involved in the list. They are movie fans, maybe specialty genre fans. Some would rather watch PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (which made the first ballot) multiple times than watch VIVRE SA VIE or something new.

Not to sound like a snob or something, everyone is free to like what they like. But there really were no qualifications to be a part of this list. It was open to everyone who found out about it.

lucas mcnelly said...

But there really were no qualifications to be a part of this list. It was open to everyone who found out about it.

As i pointed out at SLIFR, that was probably the biggest mistake made with this whole thing. just because someone has a blog and can string 200 words together about film doesn't mean they should be speaking with any authority any more than the drunk guy at Fenway Park should be telling you who to pick up for your fantasy baseball team.

there's a backlash, i guess, again so-called elite-ism, this whole idea that everyone's opinion is equally valuable, but you know what? that's bullshit. Occasionally, i'll have someone tell me, "well, that's your opinion...", but it isn't really an opinion. it's an educated analysis. there's a difference.

in situations like this, i think at least some effort needs to be made toward elite-ism, to make sure people voting have some semblance of a clue what they're talking about, which clearly didn't happen here.

and piper,

you are too modest. you belong on the list of deserving people.

obviously, flickhead does as well.

lucas mcnelly said...

that should have read "against so-called", not "again"

pacheco said...

People need to relax already. It's a list.

The name of the list was the "Online Film Community," right? Are not all the people who contributed to the list part of the online film community? Then why shouldn't it count? Why should anyone have regrets? Just because the "film elitists" -- oh, sorry, "film scholars" and "experts" -- don't like it, doesn't mean it doesn't reflect the views of the "Online Film Community." Heck, if the online community was made up of mostly preteen girls and a bunch of Bratz movies got put on the list, it doesn't mean the list is wrong, it just means that the majority of the "online community" happens to like Bratz.

So the online community which, yes, contains a lot of young whiteboys, happens to like Eternal Sunshine. Stop the presses! Man the canons! Dear Lord Almighty! The list isn't made to show everyone else and say, "These are THE best films EVER, PERIOD. No arguments!" It reflects the general consensus of the "community." If you want more "academic" or foreign films on there, get more of those "fanboys" online to even things out.

I really don't think this is all about who's "qualified" to contribute to the list. As a community, and as members of this community, everyone with an opinion is qualified. Sure, maybe more people should have participated to get a better feel, but it is what it is. Don't like American History X on the list? Well, I don't like films like The 400 Blows or Bringing Up Baby; what of it? This isn't the "Online Film Scholars" List or the "Online Film Bloggers Who've Been Writing Essays on Film For Decades" List. Get over yourself. If you're so against this list, post your own stupid list and let it speak for you.

(I'm not talking about you, Piper).

lucas mcnelly said...

pacheo,

i think the intent was to try and do better than AFI and create a "serious" list, as opposed to a "populist" list (at least, that's how i understood it), i think the title of the list maybe wasn't all that well thought out

but i see your point. the title makes it look like a poll of people who read AICN

pacheco said...

Well, if that was really their intent, then I see something wrong with that as well (what else is new?). Making a list like that just to "do better" is kind of dumb, if you ask me.

I guess what I was saying before is, if there are no delusions of grandeur, what's wrong with it looking like a poll of AICN readers? Apparently, there were some delusions.

Jonathan said...

I'm a little disappointed in the blatant backlash, to be honest (besides Ray, who just seems to get off on going around to every site and bashing this list to no end). Yes, the list isn't ANYTHING like my list I submitted (only about half of my films made it), but if people were seriously expecting a list that didn't include more recent beloved films and some cult classics, they're crazy. No, it's not definitive. I never wanted this list to be definitive nor did I ever say it would be.

And no, it wasn't made to make a "better" list than AFIs, as I stated in my original post about this, it was simply made as an alternative to the AFI list, to the IMDb list, to all the others lists. Plus, and maybe more importantly, I thought it was a great way to get all of us online writers together to do something fun and get to know each other a little more. I've met and talked to a lot of people because of this experience, and it has DEFINITELY been a success is that respect.

Also, if somebody ran a movie website and they put a lot of thought into their posts, I had and still have no problem with them being part of this. If not, who is to say who can and can't be apart of something like this? I wasn't going to pick and choose people just because I thought they had similar taste as me or because they didn't go to film school or some bullshit like that. If they wrote about movies on a consistent basis on their site, they were welcome and they were welcome to tell whoever they wanted to contact me about joining up too. As one man, I was only able to know about so many sites and contact so many people.

Lastly, if people are embarrassed having their names associated with the list, they can always request to have it taken off.

Piper said...

Wow.

Where to begin? I'm going to address everything thus far.

Yes, it's just a list and Jonathan has stated that it is more of a consensus than a formal list. And that's fine, but I'm not comfortable being in that consensus. The list doesn't represent me. I don't think that some of those movies have any business on the list. I have no desire to be taken off, unless you would like it Jonathan, because I would think it hypocritical to do so since I contacted you to get in. I have never stated that I was embarrassed to be associated with this list.

I have stated it was a wonderful experiment. What Jonathan and everyone else have done is to wrangle a lot of different people and that is fantastic. It's just an experiment that didn't work in my eyes. I guess I just expected the list to be more. Am I making more of all this than I should? Maybe.

But because this list was the first of its kind, I don't think I'm wrong to think it should have been more.

And Pacheco, that's the most fired up I've ever seen you. Right or wrong, I couldn't just dismiss it as 'it's just a list get over it.' That's just me.

lucas mcnelly said...

jon,

backlash is good. it means people care and are paying attention. plus, it may get some of the voters to re-think their choices and/or examine other films they might not have.

I thought we were trying to out-do AFI, but i was so busy i was only half paying attention at that point anyway. my bad.

pacheco said...

Piper,

That's the most I've been fired up (film community-wise) in a couple of months. Sorry about that!

Just so you know, the "It's just a list, get over it" was never angled at you, it was angled at all the people who cluttered my RSS aggregator with posts bashing the OFC Top 100. It seems like we took something that was fun, and, as you said, experimental, and just totally ruined it by being afraid that we weren't taking ourselves serious enough. It really makes me angry when people try to make others feel bad for their opinions. What's the point in making lists if everyone's going to tell you it's "wrong?" Is there a cosmic "perfect list" out there that we're comparing everything to? We make lists to share, to discuss, and yes, even to argue; having different opinions and arguing them passionately is awesome, but the fun starts being sucked out when the hatin' starts, and that's what I started to feel.

Anywho, I'll try to take my own advice and just relax.

Ray said...

Jonathan: I do not go around getting off on bashing this list on every site. It's just that this list has been talked about on every site, and so I state my opinions about it and the mentalities behind it.

It strikes me as completely odd that a group of bloggers create a list as a sort of "blogging community version" of the AFI list, and then:

1. Complain when they get negative feedback on their precious list, even though they do the exact same thing when lists like the AFI list come out.

2. Contend (in so many words) that people like myself - who were not "priveleged" to sell their soul to the mass consensus - should keep quiet about their opinions. When I hear statements like "Ray just goes around bad-mouthing our list," I just want to puke. I have every right to state my opinions, just as much as you have the right to produce this embarrassing list.

Don't be a fucking crybaby, Johnny Boy. The list sucked. I hate it. Piper ain't too fond of it either.

Get over it.

Ray said...

And one more thing - in all of the movie blogger controversy going on this past week (this damn list / the Cinematical and IESB dispute), I have never heard a group of people praise themselves more than this group.

All I have heard from most of them is "We had this scoop" and "We had this exclusive interview" and "I am the most qualified to judge" and "I have more film experience than this person" and "I went to community college for a semester for film so I am a movie god."

Some of these fucktards do this for a living and demonstrate every day that they don't know shit about film. The others do it for fun, and only a tiny percentage of that group knows anything at all.

WE all love movies. Great. But I don't need to see your badge, your degree, or your goddamn list.

Jonathan said...

Oh, lucas, don't get me wrong. I love hearing the criticism about the list. I expected it and really enjoy reading a lot of it. I mostly meant the backlack from people that PARTICIPATED in this though. People that were a part of making the list and are distancing themselves from it - especially when the majority of their movies actually made the final list. People are complaining about certain things such as Raiders of the Lost Ark being so high, but then 85% of the people had it on their lists, so... is that not a consensus?

And to Piper, the list isn't supposed to represent you. It doesn't represent me either, by any means. It does represent the consensus according to the criteria used of ALL of us involved though. That's just how it turned out.

But seriously Ray, what is the point of saying stuff like "Don't be a fucking crybaby?" Cut the tough guy shit. You're not impressing anyone. You're more or less just making everybody think you're a miserable person.

Also, when was I complaining about the negative feedback on this list? I said I was disappointed that those who were involved are bashing it. Is that complaining? Or are you the only one allowed to express your opinions now?

And seriously, when did I or anyone ever tell you that you can't express your opinions? I stated that you get off going around to all these sites and bashing this list. Because I've seen your comments all over the place bashing this list without much else to say besides that it is the worst list you've ever seen and everybody involved is an idiot and insulting anyone who sticks up for it and adding nothing of substance. You get a kick out of being an asshole (see "fucking crybaby" comment above and your entire website).

But I'm not going to waste any more of my time talking to you, until you have something important to say besides attacking me and those involved with this list and saying how much it sucks.

And seriously, don't be a fucking crybaby, Ray boy.

Ray said...

Jonathan,

In my other responses to this list, I stated several reasons why I thought this list was terrible, so I don't need to continue to write the words "Princess Bride" or "Groundhog Day" or "Monty Python" over and over again.

Piper said...

Lucas,

You're absolutely right. The list is creating talk and that's what it was supposed to do.

Pacheco,

I don't know if there's a perfect list out there or what it would look like. I stated in my original post that because this was a list of so many people no one would be 100% in love with it.

Jonathan,

You're right that it's not my list or you're list. And what I'm saying is what I said in this post. I didn't think everything through. I'm struggling with giving in the group and not having it be my own anymore and then not being able to defend something I was a part of because I didn't agree with it. I'm the kind of guy that if my name's on it, I'm 100% in on it and the few times that I'm not it bothers me.

And Ray and Jon, I like the discussion, but please keep it civilized. I love me an F Bomb but not when it's directed at anyone else. Thanks

Adam Ross said...

Well said, Piper. Like you, my list was kind of a combination of my all-time faves and what I respect as the best films ever made.

Am I the only one who thinks if 50 or so film bloggers were locked in a room with only a dry erase board, some sandwiches and a few kegs of German beer -- that they would find a way to produce a consensus opinion on a top 100 list?

I think those of us who are passionate about films and these lists would work well in a group setting, where we could bounce ideas back and forth and defend our choices.

lucas mcnelly said...

Adam makes a good point. Obviously some of the more glaring problems would be solved if we were all in a room.

Plus: it would be one hell of a good time debating all of these films, especially if the German beer was of a high quality.

...of course, we might all get drunk and decide that Smokey and the Bandit is the greatest film ever made

Piper said...

Wait.

Smokey isn't the best film ever?

If we were in a room with 50 people it would not be good. I would sweat too much and the German beer would just make me sleepy. I would be kicked out within the first 15 minutes.

lucas mcnelly said...

piper,

pair it with a case of beer at the end of a really bad day, and it just might be the greatest ever.

Piper said...

After a bad day and a case of beer, there are lots of movies that are the 'best movies ever'.

pacheco said...

I love how one of Piper's main concerns is sweating too much.

A man after my own heart ;-)

Dan E. said...

Piper,

How many films are shared by your list and the OFC Top 100? If that number is greater than 30, then I would say that your tastes are, to some extent represented on that list. You should have nothing to be ashamed about. You haven't seen enough movies. Welcome to the human race. I definitely haven't seen enough movies, but I'm doing the best I can to rectify that situation.

To be fair, the exclusion of someone like Flickhead borders on the criminal, but that should not make you feel bad about your own experience with films. I happen to think my list is pretty good (otherwise, it probably wouldn't be my list), but I know there is plenty of room for improvement.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed in the list for completely different reasons than the usual "they're stoopid fanboys with no taste" argument. These sorts of lists, from the IMDb Top 250 to the AFI Top 100 to They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?'s list of the 1000 Greatest Films as chosen by over 1000 critics, scholars and directors, all serve one major purpose for me: they give me movies to see. They pique my interest in films and directors I've never heard of, and they show me places I would never have seen. When this list came out, I had seen 94 of the 100 films. I've since seen The Passion of Joan of Arc, mainly because it was the highest silent film on the list. I consider that a small victory for the list, but, at least for me, it lacks the excitement of being told, yet again, that I need to see a Preston Sturges film or another Lubitsch. So from that perspective, I found this list less than standard, but it works on a number of other levels. It has united bloggers in a way that few other things have done. Even those who strongly dislike the list can find some people they didn't know before and add another list to their favorites. And I can find people who don't like the list and start reading their blogs. In that respect, this was a great success.



Jonathan,

I must admit that the list felt a bit rushed in its creation. The original submission came barely a week after the announcement. To be honest, I would never have known about it if it weren't for Ed Copeland. I think next time (and I do think there should be a next time) you should give maybe a month's warning so that the word can spread far and wide, and give many more people proper time to think about their Top 100s. As for a next time, I think this should be an annual event. A chance to reevaluate how a year's worth of viewing films can impact a group's tastes. I think that would be an interesting experiment.


Ray,

I feel that this list is a good response to the AFI list. It makes the case for more modern films and for genre films which are normally looked down upon by people in the AFI list. My problems with the list stem more from the inclusion of films like American History X or Leon than from Blade Runner or Halloween. These are films that are more neglected than they should be, and their inclusion is a step in a different direction, if not necessarily the right one.



As for 50 bloggers in a room with beer and sandwiches: I'll sign up for that convention as long as the sandwiches come with fries. Or popcorn. This is, after all, a convention on film.

Piper said...

dan,

Excellent comments all around.

As always, this was never meant to be a slam against what Jon et all did. This was more from self reflection that I had no business participating in this because I have not seen enough films to be a part of this and I think it's important enough for everyone to ask that question of themselves. And yes, this list does make me want to see more movies, but it wasn't a very surprising list so there was really nothing I saw that made me say "wow, I've never heard of that or that's a really interesting pick." Instead there was stuff that I said "I've seen that and I can't believe it was included or I can't believe it was ranked so high." So I absolutely agree with you on that.

I think your idea of doing it annually is an excellent one and I think it's an interesting idea to get together 50 people in a room to duke it out. It's intimidating as hell, but I think the list would be more honest. I can't help but feel (and I struggled with this on my own list) that the choices were safe because they had appeared on other lists before. This might eliminate that. It's an interesting thought.

I had 35 of my original movies make the list.

Kurt Halfyard said...

Wow. Coming late to the party. I also contributed to the list (I podcast with Andrew and MoviePatron) and was quite disappointed with the results, mainly because there isn't much depth before 1970. I liked the genre inclusions on the list in some cases, but then again there are probably more than a dozen films that I neither respect or enjoy that made the list.

There was probably less than 50% overlap between what I submitted and the end result. My initial reaction was not to blame inexperience (or confuse it with enthusiasm for list-making, which I'm sure is a passion of many of those involved!), but rather that whether it be the IMDb, AFI, or a conglomerate of bloggers...inevitably outlandish or exotic choices are going to be washed out by committee.