Musings and Mirth

Why I’m not a Journalist (or a Critic)

Why I’m not a Journalist (or a Critic)

I’ve been a blogger for 15 years. I wrote my own job description and I’ve stuck to, what I think to be, the best rules of ethics therein. I slip up now and again, I fuck up way too often, and one could refer to me as a loser in all ways but I don’t call myself a journalist and I never have. But because I provide content and analysis on my site journalists have always held me to their standard, I’ve noticed. Which is fine except that I am not one. To that end, I’m not a film critic either. I think of myself more in the business of film advocacy than criticism. I could never do that job either.

Journalists are always trying to reveal ways in which bloggers or twitterers or self-made critics are less valuable than they are. And I totally agree with that. God help us if journalists, real journalists, go away.

I happened upon a story the other day about “inside sources” in the Obama administration already deciding to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman. All the way down at the bottom it said “Citizen Journalism.” The story wasn’t true, of course. How do you tell the difference anymore? It’s difficult. Does that then mean all bloggers must be held to journalist standards? How would anyone go about policing that? It is going to be sticky business going forward.

I hope that journalists, in all of their cut-throat glory, are here to stay and that we don’t lose them to have them replaced by people like me. I never wanted that title. I am happy as a blogger. Not a journalist, not a critic. NOT.

What Matters Now

As I crest middle age and begin to say goodbye to my younger self what really matters in life begins to crystalize. No longer is it a muddy mess of “what the hell am I doing here?” It’s very clear: we are here to make things better for other living things. If you live a decent life, meaning, you don’t have to beg for food, or become a prostitute or are homeless you owe it to the rest of the world to care. Ryan Gosling cares. He’s using his power to help us overcome our ignorance when it comes to pigs. They are so intelligent – there are humane ways to keep, breed and slaughter pigs – but most people, especially annoying overly coddled internet people, want only to wallow in their love for bacon to care. Bacon – think about it. Where does it come from? How were the animals treated before that slab of tasty fat hit your plate? When I see my kid or her friends not even finish their bacon it fills me with silent rage.

A new film is coming out called Blackfish, about our continual ignorance and ongoing mistreatment of orcas. It was probably the most emotionally effective film I’ve seen in a while. I haven’t stopped thinking about the large male, Tilly, who has killed four people. Taken from his mother at an early age, stuffed into a tiny water cage in total darkness for years and years and then sent to the ugly and deplorable Sea World to perform for dumb families with their big gulps and their fantasy-encased children all so that they can smile and look at the cute whale. I was one of those families once. I know how easy it is to believe Sea World’s propaganda that the whales are “fine.” They are most certainly not fine. It is inhumane and morally wrong to keep them, breed them, mistreat them and then wait for them to be used up and to die. We’re too intelligent overall to allow this to continue and yet…

If you drive up Interstate 5 towards Bakersfield you will see dairy farms and cattle “ranches.” These consist of grassless dirt plots that sit in direct sun during temperatures upwards of 110. They sit there waiting to die. All so that Johnny Jr. can roll into a Burger King and wolf down a whopper.

I am not nor will I ever be a militant vegan. While I don’t think anyone NEEDS to eat meat I do not begrudge those with an appetite for it. I know humane meat is too expensive for most. But something has to give. Better treatment of animals maybe? Slaughterhouses are killing the planet, making it warmer and soon we’ll probably all be wiped out by some mutant virus anyway. Maybe none of it means anything at all. But what means something to me is that each of us think about the harm we are doing to other living things. That’s all.

I could spend the next several decades celebrating me. I could make myself better every day, as is the woman’s screed in America. It’s all about ME! My aging skin, my body, my beauty, my success, my marriage, my kids, my purse! My dreams, my fulfillment, my HAPPINESS. And do you know what that would amount to in the end? A feeling of such deep unending emptiness it would be as though one might never have lived at all. That’s the party line sold to us by advertising companies to sell more products. Does it lead, eventually, to happiness? No. It leads to freakish women wandering the city with their skin stretched back over their ears so that they resemble a woman wearing a mask. They don’t know how scary they look either because they’ve bought the party line.

If I get everything – the perfect man, the perfect wedding, the best PURSE! If I lose 40 pounds and remove the lines of my face I will be happy? No. But if I can change the world even a little bit, if I can live to see orcas freed from Sea World? That would make my life worth living.

It extends, of course, beyond animals. In my lifetime the Voting Rights Act was signed and in my lifetime it was overturned. Before I die I’d like to see Citizens United overturned and I’d like to see the Voting Rights Act put back into place.

You see, the point of life isn’t difficult. All it requires you do is reject what advertising has been trying to foist upon you – that personal happiness is all that matters. You don’t matter at all actually. What matters is what you do and how much you care for other people.

And that’s my rant for today.

The Good Old Days…Are Gone


When I first started my website in 1999 it was called Oscarwatch. Back then there wasn’t even blogging software to use so one had to manually insert each “post” or story, then create a jump page on html. There were no comments and having a message board wasn’t an easy set-up. I had a primitive kind of thing that attached itself to each post, kind of like comments now, only it was bulletin board based. Eventually I installed an actual forum. It was wildly popular back then and so much a part of the site it was hard to tell them apart. I participated fully with them because it was a fun group of people (many of whom are still there). At one point, though, someone said that Oscarwatch “was only” the forums. I made an effort, then, to separate my voice.

Since I made the split from the forums, even moving them to a separate server, I was able to build my own site and my own voice, with the help from my editor, Ryan Adams. I mostly paid no attention to what they were doing in the forums unless someone called my attention to it. But we were united in name. I always loved the spirit of the forums, especially in the good old days. The forums changed admins. The controlling forces that now run things are, I think, not in keeping with the spirit of Oscarwatch/AwardsDaily. They changed, I changed, my site changed. It became an unhappy marriage of two sites that didn’t even talk to each other anymore.

Whatever I was doing had little to do with what they were doing. We stopped linking to them, they stopped linking to us. I decided, because of the tone one of the admins was taking with regard to me and my editor, Ryan, that it was time we went our separate ways permanently.

I just want to send out an open invitation to anyone from the forums to write me and I will happily tell you my side of the story, if you care at all to hear it. But I don’t really feel like making it public, as they’ve done. I would never have said anything bad about any of them publicly, and one in particular I really could have.

In the end the separation is a good thing since now they really can thrive as their own voice in the awards community, particularly if they run their own content. Running a website is hard work. You have to deal with haters up one side and down the other. So now they will get their own share of that.

I need to say a thank you in particular to a forum member named The Googooboo. I won’t disclose his real name except to say that he went to bat for me in one of the nicest ways I’ve ever seen anyone to do. And for that, he is a friend for life (he already was anyway but…) The forums, which were critical of me for deleting comments and banning users actually banned longtime user GooGooBoo for speaking out against the status quo, ironic since they’re supposedly about “letting off steam” and “free speech.” Um. Yeah.

For me, as I’ve written in this blog, it was a tough year. And it was out of this year that I figured out who my real friends were. I appreciate them greatly. I don’t think I could have gotten through this past year without those I consider the true blues. I know I’m not an easy person to get along with sometimes. I know I can come off as a bitch and perhaps, in many ways, I’m easy to hate. But the website is the one thing I built on my own. I created and defined my own description and I’m proud of it. I have a right to control what direction it goes in, whether that amounts to bad content or good content or lunatic rantings or whatever. I have that right because I built that.

I love the democratic spirit in the forums. I love how they, in many ways, represent the old Oscarwatch/Awardsdaily when the two aims were hunting down awards news and getting Oscar predictions right. But it’s been a while since I cared as much about those two things. They don’t interest me anymore. I probably couldn’t keep blogging if those were the main focus of my site. That’s their thing and they love it so great for them. For me, I’m more interested in advocacy – helping productions or artists get a foothold in the awards community. This is how I distinguish myself from the sea of awards sites. So we remain two different schools of thought.

To the forum members who are sad about the separation, I can say I’m sorry — but I don’t really see the point of having a forum attached to a site that you are in constant conflict with, either because the forums didn’t feel they were properly represented on the main site, or because the main site (my site, built from the ground up) wants to go its own way and not feel the pressure of a chorus of voices. You can’t please everyone – me, I just try to do as best I can every day on my site, which takes up a lot of my time and resources. Do I make mistakes? Of course. Do I regret much of what I wrote last year? I regret some of it. But I also know that I’m only doing as I’ve done from the beginning – build upon something and evolve as the times evolve. The forums are full of fantastic writers who really could use a real blog or magazine type venue to get their work out there. Who knows, perhaps it would lead to paying gigs on down the road. I hope that they lean forward.

As for me, I’ll keep on keeping on, and be grateful for the loyal readers I’ve had for fifteen years – and for the (true blue) friends I’ve made along the way. Life is short. Way too short of lapses back into high school nonsense…And that, as they say, is that.

How to Deal with Bullies and Mean People Online


Ignore them. The two blogs I follow that are of a personal nature happen to have more haters lobbing shit at them on a daily basis. In fact, anyone out there who has anything to say about anything, those who don’t just keep quiet in their dark little rooms trolling behind anonymity – you know, people who actually put themselves out there? They are attacked, continually. The hate seems to be driven more at women than men – as though all of one’s anger at mommy is somehow morphed into their need to troll. I will never understand bullies and I will never understand trolls. Bitterness of that kind is sad. At the end of the day, it’s just plain sad. Of all of the ways you could use your time, of all of the things you could say when you have the most powerful communication tool at your fingertips you choose to troll. It doesn’t matter to you that you then become a blackhead on the ass of the otherwise productive writing community of people who are trying to work for a living. It doesn’t matter because it feels so good to pinch out the hate.

So if you’re someone who is a victim of that kind of bullying, or that kind of hate, you do what you can to remove them from your line of sight. Don’t read, don’t pay attention, IGNORE them as much as possible, understand that they are projecting whatever failings they have inside. When bullying becomes more direct, less cowardly and indirect (as trolling is) then fight back.

I don’t think, in the end, the creepy things sad people say has any impact on who you are. It shouldn’t, anyway. This is one of the reasons the internet has turned into a unhealthy place to dwell. There is less accountability, more anonymity and a lot of freaks out there with anger bubbling up inside of them. You must bring out your invisibility cloak and make them disappear.

I remember in middle school I was ganged up on by two girls who wanted to fight. I couldn’t fight. My sister, though, was much bigger than me and she took one girl in one hand and hurled her across the yard, then the other girl in her other hand and threw her down. She did it in under one minute. The girls ran home crying. Unfortunately, online you can’t really get your big sister involved – the more you feed the trolls, the bigger they get. The best thing to do is to STAY CALM AND IGNORE.

The Art of Apologizing

It isn’t easy to apologize. When anger consumes you the last thing you ever want to do is apologize to someone. But I’ve found that it is one of the best skills a person can possess – the simple art of apology.  I did this today. I wrote to someone I’d fought with on Twitter. I fight with too many people on Twitter, as it happens, but I’d had a particularly bad year and my anger management failed. The apology was the best thing I did today — maybe all week. It instantly removed everything awful I’d been thinking about whenever this person, or the incident, popped into my mind.  I felt so much better afterwards I figured it had to be good therapy to practice this.  In this case, my apology was the right thing to do.  I found that an apology to a close friend recently also renewed our friendship.  It might not have patched up all of the hurt feelings but it was a start.

There are currently three people I will probably never apologize to. I don’t think I have to apologize. Rather, they do. They never will, of course. So I have to hold onto this anger. I wonder sometimes how hard it would be to contact them and offer an apology.  Each time I practice what I might say. I even envision going through this forgiveness/apology during yoga or meditation. But alas, holding onto the anger means more to me than letting it go. Funny, that.

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About Me

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