Murphy’s Law – In which I attack a nationally-syndicated movie critic
As many of you know, I recently relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. Now that I’ve been here a few weeks, one thing I’m itching to do is to find out how to get invited to local movie screenings. In an effort to expand HoboTrashcan’s movie coverage, I’m trying to figure out who I need to contact to be part of the “in-crowd.”
Yesterday, I reached out to a number of different people in the area to see if they had any advice. One of the people I contacted was Roger Moore, a film critic who has his reviews published in the Baltimore Sun. This turned out to be a mistake for several reasons: a) Moore actually writes for the Orlando Sentinel and simply has his work syndicated in the Sun and 2) Moore is a pretentious douche who apparently has enough time on his hands to send dickish email responses to bloggers.
So a few hours after I sent my brief, polite email off to Moore, I got this pleasant response:
Congrats on your blog, alas, I am syndicated out of Orlando, so I couldn’t help you even were I so inclined. Corporate policy also forbids it.
FYI, here’s the way those of us who do this for a living read inquiries like yours.
“Hey, I know you’re putting kids through college and all, and your pay is dependent on print work and web traffic to your reviews and your access to studio people, movie stars and all.
“But I would really like to take traffic away and maybe get your kids sent to a state school instead of Duke, which is your goal.
“So why don’t you forget how many years it took you to get that info and access and just give it to me so I can draw eyeballs away from your work right this sec, and just because I am an eager amateur and I want it? What say?”
My version reads funnier. To me anyway.
Just helping you out, pal. 😉
I like to picture Moore kicking a puppy while typing this email. Picturing him shoving a little girl down and stealing her ice cream cone works too. But most likely, he simply practiced mean faces in the mirror for 20 minutes, wiped a tear from his eye and then fired off this angry missive.
I enjoy the ironic use of the word pal. And the winky, smiley face is a nice touch too; it lets me know that while Moore may look down on bloggers, he still understands Internet culture.
But in all seriousness, it must be hard to pay for your kids’ tuition to Duke when you spend so much money on Wellbutrin and cheap whiskey. (Though I sincerely hope those kids do get to go to an out-of-state school, especially one as far away as Duke. The Moore house can’t be a fun one to grow up in. Dad catching you reading JoBlo must be worse than getting busted with a screen full of Japanese tentacle porn.)
As much as I want to simply mock this email (especially the part where he writes the incoherent sentence: “What say?” Where’s a good editor when you need one?), I can’t help but feel like these are the sad words of a bitter, broken man who is scared by the ever-changing world around him. To mock him would be to mock the old man wandering aimlessly through the Safeway in a bathrobe, shouting about the ever-rising cost of peas.
Clearly, in his mind I’m a threat to him, as are all bloggers. Of course, what he fails to realize is that people will inevitable flock to the writers they like. I have no nefarious plan to “take traffic away” from Moore. I happen to think there’s enough room for both of us out there. If people choose to read my site instead of reading his reviews, it won’t be because of cheap tricks or evil intentions on my part. It will be because I’m a good writer and he’s a guy who gave Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2.5 out of 4 stars, the same rating he gave to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. (He gave 3 stars to Cars 2.)
He’s lashing out at me because the industry he loves is dying. I understand that pain because I love the industry too. I thought I wanted to write for a newspaper – hell, I even worked for one right out of high school – but I long ago realized that the newspaper business was a sinking ship. It’s not my fault that newspapers are dying; it’s the fault of Moore’s bosses, the guys who didn’t react quickly enough to the changing landscape.
If newspapers had long ago set up a feasible pay structure online, it would have saved them. With the emergence of new technology like iPads and Kindles, the online subscription business should be booming right now. But newspapers can’t offer profitable online subscriptions now because they have been giving away their content for free for all these years. Besides, their bullpens are so gutted these days that they don’t really have enough writers to put out the kind of quality local coverage that would justify the subscription costs.
Moore has watched the industry he loves crumble around him. He’s seen friends lose jobs. He’s been forced to start his own blog on the Orlando Sentinel website, something that must just kill him inside. Clearly, all of it has taken its toll on him, turning him into an insufferable douche. Sure, he’s one of the lucky ones who still gets paid a yearly salary to bitch about movies he watches for free, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still worried about the future.
To put it in terms film critics will understand: newspaper movie reviews are like silent films and the Internet is akin to “talkies.” Roger Moore know he’s John Gilbert and its only a matter of time before the world has completely passed him by.
But while he fears the Internet, I find it to be a beautiful thing. It’s like the wild west (sorry to mix my metaphors here). It gives everyone a chance to succeed. And some lucky newspaper critics will be able to make the leap to this new medium, becoming the Greta Garbos, Joan Crawfords and Lillian Gishes of their time.
I’m never going to get a job writing reviews for a newspaper; those jobs are all taken by a few lucky syndicated guys like Roger Moore (and clearly he is clinging onto his position with everything he’s got). Newspapers can only offer work to a select few who have been grandfathered in, but the Internet is a free market where anyone with talent can succeed.
What pisses me off the most about Moore’s email is there’s an assumption that he deserves to be a movie critic and I don’t. What scares him, I think, is that deep down he realizes the Internet is a game changer that rewards great writers who have simply been waiting for all these years for an outlet to showcase it. Now the audience gets to decide who succeeds and who fails, not a newspaper editor.
I’ve run this site since 2005. I’ve put a lot of hard work into it, building up relationships and “paying my dues,” as it were. Writing online is my only viable option if I want to write about this stuff, so I take my work here seriously. I’m not asking for handouts. I’m busting my ass and learning everything I can to try to make the most of this platform.
Roger Moore paid his dues, I’m sure. But along the way, I’m also sure he had help. People took him under their wing or offered him advice. His success is his own and I’ll assume earned, but he didn’t do it alone. He had colleagues and editors around him helping him along the way.
That’s why I naively thought that reaching out to other people in the field would yield positive results. After all, I’m perfectly willing to help anyone who emails me asking how I got the celebrity interviews, DVDs/Blu-rays I’ve reviewed or the TV screeners I’ve been sent. I’m confident in my work. I don’t worry about the next guy coming along and getting more hits than me. I know that if someone I help succeeds, its a good thing because it means that somewhere down the line he/she might be able to return the favor by posting a link and throwing some traffic back my way.
I guess I’m an optimist. Roger Moore is clearly a pessimist. So much so that he actually wrote this on his blog back in 2006:
It’s a great job, as anybody who meets you is quick to tell you. But as professional movie reviewing fades away and we all think long and hard about our fallback careers (or live in denial), my advice to every kid who emails from high school, or calls from college, or who angles into doing unpaid reviews for this website or that college paper, is the same.
Don’t even start. Don’t try this at home. It’ll break your heart.
But of course that’s what he’d say. The guy is clearly terrified of anyone coming along who is better than him at his job.
Moore didn’t have to help me. He had no obligation to, obviously. But he could have just ignored my email or stuck with the “Corporate policy … forbids it” line. Instead he decided to be petty and sarcastic to make him feel better about his sad, empty life.
So fuck you, Roger Moore. I look forward to me and my Internet brethren putting you out of business, pal. 😉
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger Moore is an insecure little man who clearly never learned that karma is, indeed, a bitch.
Super Dick move on his part.
His insecurity is glaring!
(Ugh- Well played)
He’s like the Lars Ulrich of movie critics. There are just some bands that get that internet changed everything and some that want to cling to record sales.
That guy is a Dick
Wow, from reading Moore’s email, the author’s harsh words seem more than warranted. Moore definitely comes off as a bit of a jerk. Murphy’s right, we all got where we are thanks in part to somebody else lending a hand. Here’s hoping Moore softens his stance and, if not apologizes, at least starts making some friends before he needs someone to extend a hand to him (ie. when traditional newspapers fail).
Oh, dear. I definitely understand, Joel. It’s that way in the art world, too. For every helpful artist who will take you in, show you their tricks and nurture you, you get a bitter one who guards their secrets not only jealously, but meanly as they try to hold onto the tools they think will keep them alive in this business. As you pointed out here, it’s not really about that anymore. People have the opportunity to succeed based on skill and merit, not just who they know.
Well, as you said, he probably feels he’s in an uphill battle. Well, I’m glad you published this. It shows his true colors.
Best of luck getting a foot in the door in Baltimore.
Nice. What an ass. And I have a good friend who’s a movie critic for the Post Express, so if it comes up, I’ll mention your dilemma and she may be able to at least point you in the right direction. And she’s not a douchebag with severe job insecurity issues, so that’s a plus.
what a feminine hygiene product!
they still put movie reviews in newspapers?
oh! so also the best way to get movie passes is to work with the marketing companies who organize the events. I know a guy who runs them and gives them out in Philly, but I’m sure they have similar events in Baltimore. http://buzzbo.com/ Is the company he works for.
Vinegar and water.
You were overly nice. I’d but plane ticket and go to where he lives, wait till he’s walking the street than cold cock him straight in the mommy/daddy button.
Favorite post ever. Especially about the bruised puppies and crying little girls:) Bmore is full of these types unfortunately.
How amateurish. How bitter. How, um, presumptuous.
If you’d done half the homework you think you’ve done with this little rant you A) never would have sent an email 800 miles, stupidly thinking somebody in Orlando could help you and B) would have realized that you can find the information you seek online. Where you are. Why, I found all the contact info up there in about 15 minutes.
Not that I’m passing it on to you.
You’re a lazy little wannabe who would rather somebody give you what you aren’t willing to do the legwork to earn.
There is a Summer’s Eve in this exchange, but it’s you, the mug in that receding hairline which the 1999 hat can’t hide.
Go back to LOSING. You’re good at it.
And now we have officially moved into “Hey, I was toiling in general obscurity for a mid-level Tribune paper, helping it fill the pages of its other floundering papers and blogging under a trite movie cliche title, but now I can piss on someone I don’t know and guarantee that some people will send me e-mails so I can puff out my chest and act all bad in the newsroom for the 23-year-old slot editors they have hired to cram my drivel into the paper” territory.
Oh dear Roger Moore in Orlando. Your initial e-mail and subsequent reply are inept and unprofessional. I am shocked by your behavior and deeply saddened by how crass and small-minded you are. Clearly you are intimidated by the talent of the next generation and, rather than act as a mentor and guide, you have chosen to lash out. The sun is setting on your career old man – go quietly into the night and you just might be able to salvage whatever shreds of dignity you have left.
hahaha the best part is he responded! he’s such a douche wrapped up in his own self worth he doesn’t even realize that responding to you and your website give you merit because any self respecting nationally syndicated writer wouldn’t care!
Out of curiosity I read a couple Roger’s reviews. His views don’t match mine, whereas I’ve found that I can rely on Joel most of the time.
The big surprise about this is not that I’ve been entertained by Joel’s blog for about two years now. The surprise being that I live half a world away, on a little island group called New Zealand.
It’s called the World-Wide-Web Roger, if it weren’t for Joel’s blog I would never have heard of you or read a review of yours. So Joel is hardly going to steal your traffic as I doubt it has the same international cult following that Joel does.
Yes, that’s right cult following. Both of us Kiwi’s with internet connectivity read Joel’s blog. It’s a mean feat at just 28kbps, but we don’t need fancy pictures.
Oh, one last thing; Duke sucks!
Only a true sorry little man would feel the need to respond and put in HIS last word. As if his initial reply didn’t show enough of the ruffled panties hanging below the hem of his skirt. He is obviously worried about the next generation sweeping in and taking over the “airwaves”.
Is someone worried about their job security over 800 miles away??? Boohoo…This whole exchange would have never grown to this had it not been for your severe lack of couth.
I finally had time to read this whole thing and my mind is officially blown by A) The original audacity of Sir Roger and the degree of his condescending assholiness, and B) His subsequent response to your reaction to said douche baggery. Joel, you are completely justified in saying he didn’t need to rag on you for what could have been interpreted as flattery from a fledgling blogger seeking advice from someone who has more experience in the field. What does his kid’s education have to do with making a mentoring suggestion to someone who is seemingly fueled by a similar passion? NOTHING. Take out a loan and get off of your high horse. That negative karma came back and bit him in the ass rather quickly thanks to your wordsmith prowess and internet savvy. Well done, Mr. Murphy. Well done.
Epic. 4 stars. Waiting for the sequel.
I can’t believe that my favorite 007 has become such a prick and has resorted to doing half ass movie reviews.
Here’s a hug. Thought you could use one.
Tell his kids to be smart enough to get some scholarships so they can afford to go to Duke (obviously for the name on the diploma and not the actual schooling. Fuck you state schools! I went to a state school by the way. If I had kids they could afford to go to Duke). But based on what he has shown, they have his genes and have already lost because they will not have the intelligence or maturity to get past community college.
Those that can, do.
Those that can’t, critique?… or go on lecture tours…
Joel, sweetie, this is hilarious! The email and blog comment are so saturated with desperation, it’s almost sad. I’d feel bad for the guy if he hadn’t behaved so douche-ily. (Difficult to make that one into an adverb, but it had to be done.)
Moore is a narcissistic boar. I read the paper every day, but I don’t pay any attention to his reviews because I think his opinion sucks. You on the other hand give humorous reviews that I find refreshing.
Dear Roger in Orlando:
Hey, this is me in DC. Where we have a real newspaper with a real movie reviewer. Get over yourself!! And shame on you. I can only wonder what set you off and had you reply for a request for help/and or information by lashing out in such an unprofessional manner. Boils on your ass? A mean hangover? Or, perhaps, you got stuck on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World, in which case I could almost understand your pettiness.
If you even have children I’m sure your baby-mama or ex-wife and your children have become used to being let down by you and don’t really expect you to foot the bill for college anyway. And God forbid they ever ask for kindness from anyone. But I’m sure you’ve driven home that point as well.
BTW (for the old school journalists in the room that means by the way) I googled you and you aren’t anyone important and according to Wikipedia you have been deleted from their site because:
(Expired PROD, concern was: Article violates notability guidelines.)
That about sums it up.
Roger in Orlando:
You are a douche of un parrallleled proportions. Because of your actions and your actions alone I will never purchase a copy of the Orlando Sentinel or any other rag sheet your work is featured in.
What a fuck stick you must be. If I were one of your kids there would not be a college on this planet to get me far enough away from your vile ill tempered douchisms.
oh yes, and did I mention you can suck my Schweatty cheesy balls!
and Roger Moore’s email address in case anyone wants to tell him what a cock gobbbler he really is: