Published at: June 7, 2000, 2:40 a.m. CST by staff
Hey folks, Harry here. And this is where I go through
Patrick Sauriol’s editorial about online ethics, paying
the proper respect and Ain’t It Cool News.
Before I go into Patrick’s editorial, I want to mention
one thing. I’ve been contacted by several webmasters
that are all for an online code of ethics to be adapted.
I’m all for discussions about an online code of ethics.
Moriarty and I have been talking about this for
sometime and the Professor had a talk with IGN’s
Den about some sort of summit where we would all
get together and hammer something out. However,
since that meeting we have discussed nothing further.
Personally, I will not conduct business or serious
debates about journalistic ethics on the site. These
discussions would be highly boring for most of you.
They would be heated and passionate as there are
always issues that would be disagreed upon. But
these talks shouldn’t be about ‘playing to a crowd’
and making snipes at one another. They should be
calm, cool and collected. They should be face to face
and organized. And it should be 100% business.
Alright, now... onto Patrick’s piece on COMING
Patrick states: “With such a new medium as the Internet, should there be rules
that site operators follow when it comes to posting stories on their site? And if so,
shouldn't the bottom line of such websites be that they deliver an accurate, unbiased and
fair means of sharing news information to their audience, if they indeed pretend to be
considered an online news source?”
To the first question, YES. To the second question...
Aint It Cool News is not a Joe Friday, Just the facts
maam, news source. I believe in editorializing and
presenting my opinion on each and every story I post.
Now... within that I strive to attempt to be as accurate
as I can be.... labeling unconfirmed rumors as exactly
that, labeling confirmed news bits as that. As for
‘bias’? It is film, and to me there is ALWAYS a bias.
For example... I love Kubrick, Spielberg, Lucas,
Cameron, Verhoeven, Stone, Scorsese, PTA,
Tarantino and so on. I go into each of their films
rooting for them. I detail my love for their work in
advance of my reviews, talking about their careers,
where I was introduced to them... everything. Do I
have a bias when talking about Carpenter.... Yes. Is it
because I have had dinner at his house? NO. It’s
because the man fucking made DARK STAR,
HALLOWEEN, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK,
STARMAN, THE THING, BIG TROUBLE IN
LITTLE CHINA, THEY LIVE and so on.... Do I
like VAMPIRES? Yes, wholeheartedly... and I saw
the film and reviewed it far before I had ever even
met the man. But... Having met John Carpenter,
shared a dinner table.... Having my head cast in his
next film, GHOSTS OF MARS.... Does it in one
single iota make me pull a punch in saying that I
didn’t like IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and that
I thought that his VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and
ESCAPE FROM L.A. were pieces of pure
unquestionable shit? No. So when I read GHOSTS
OF MARS, did I like it to make him happy... or did I
like it because I felt that the script kicked ass? I liked
it because the script kicked ass. I have favorite
filmmakers.... but that does not blind me to a bad bad
bad film.... which... by the way is ALWAYS a matter
of opinion. I mean... my god, I have had folks that
Genuinely loved BATTLEFIELD EARTH write me
angry letters.... and my site has contained positive
reviews for GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS, which...
having just returned from seeing.... I LOATHED.
Meanwhile, David Poland is trying to investigate ‘my
relationship with producer JERRY
BRUCKHEIMER.’ Well... I adore a good many of
his films, but the one I saw tonight.... even though it
has an actor that I know on friendly terms.... I HATE
THAT FUCKING MOVIE AND NEARLY
WALKED OUT. (You’ll see my review later tonight)
Is there bias... Yeah... I want to love every film. I
want to give every film a chance. The reason I run
this site and work my ass off on it is because I’m
trying to properly set my expectations for a film, so
that when I walk in that theater... I am in the best
possible state of mind to see the movie. BUT... I
freely admit and quite clearly on my review page I
“my philosophy that film review doesn't begin and end with the opening and ending titles.
There is more to it. What we do and who we are affects the review. ”
AICN has always been about opinions, beliefs and
thoughts... as well as it has been about the facts and
the stories. To me, I don’t like cold facts... facts is
not what makes one a writer or one’s writing
entertaining and fun... it is that writer’s ability to put
one’s soul and cheer and love right there on the page.
Something I’ll delve further into on this page.
Next Patrick raises the issue about Father Geek’s
intro into his news bit, and tries to imply that we were
attempting to downplay Coming Attractions. Now, I
have already apologized for the unfortunate wording
of Father Geek’s intro, but quite honestly he was
giving the proper intro from AICN’s point of view. I
had chosen not to run the scoop because I had the
information from 1 source, and Patrick's press release
did not necessarily imply clearly that he had been
sitting on the story for in excess of a week awaiting
confirmations. So, I had to assume that the story was
an unconfirmed rumor based upon the source that I had also received, so I was going to wait for
further information on the scoop. Father Geek was receiving
tons of requests from people to post the info so they
could ‘talkback’ about it, so when he posted it... He
included an intro saying that we had been holding off
for further information.
Now as it turns out, Patrick did have multiple sources
on the casting, but we did not know that. Though
Patrick had a scoop, we did not have it confirmed.
Regarding STAR WARS rumors and castings... there
are a TON of folks out there that love to start rumors
regarding these films. Why was it necessary to put a
spin on the article in the introduction? Because we
did not have the information or evidence in front of
us that Patrick had and it would have been
irresponsible from our point of view to post it in any
Next Patrick pulls up a link to an X-MEN story that
ran on the site back on March 8th, which had a tagged
on image of ROGUE which apparently COMING
ATTRACTIONS ran first. This was posted while I
was in Las Vegas covering ShoWest. The day I
received Patrick’s letter and said I’d look into it was
the day my Grandmother died and I had to go to
Wichita Falls for her funeral and estate dealings.
Unfortunately due to the family trials and tribulations,
I never got around to it as my mind was on other
items at the time and not on the site. It was forgotten,
and for that I am sorry.
However, if we were going to set up ‘rules’ governing
pictures, I would recommend that on all exclusive
photos, that the original site that posts the picture not
only tags the photo with their URL, but also includes
the studio copyright information as well. Not as text
beneath the photo... but as text included on the photo.
Just like how I handled the X-MEN photos that I ran.
The original exhibitor should assume this mantle of
protection themselves. When news photographers
run their photos... the photo credit is ALWAYS
tagged on the item itself.
The next subject is the PATRIOT promotional
screening that two of his reporters went to that was of
45 minutes of that film, and how I not only linked to
him, but commented upon why AICN did not attend
Here’s how I presented the link to COMING
ATTRACTIONS on that story:
“For a damn fine bit of coverage of the event, click over to COMING
ATTRACTIONS to check it out.”
I wasn’t downplaying their story. In fact I called their
two reporters’ work “a damn fine bit of coverage”.
HOWEVER, I felt like I should remind people that
this was ONLY 45 MINUTES OF A NEARLY 3
HOUR FILM. That I had no doubt that Emmerich
and Devlin could construct a powerfully visual and
haunting 45 minutes, but that one should hold off the
comparisons to BRAVEHEART and SAVING
PRIVATE RYAN until one saw the ENTIRE FILM.
That those sorts of judgments must be held till you
had seen the entire film. To me... this wasn’t a dig at
Coming Attractions or their two reporters, but just
common sense. I do not just provide links to stories.
To me I comment on everything. I am a
commentator, an editor and a columnist... albeit one
with a peculiar habit of not using spellcheck... not
because I can’t operate it, but because I like showing
my mistakes. I feel they make me human. I don’t
like a computer to do my thinking for me. If I don’t
catch the spelling... then it’s my damn fault, and it
will reveal me as being the boob that I am.
Patrick then states: “Does AICN know how hard two of our CA writers
worked on following up these stories? Did they stop to think about what kind of effort we
may have put into getting these scoops, that we cared about trying to confirm sources,
maintain contacts within the business, and try and report the story in the best means
possible? When I read "intros" like this for CA stories on AICN, I don't get that sense at
Patrick, of course I realize how much work goes into
these stories.... Because I know how much work goes
into stories here. My comments were not about
‘belittling’ your reporters efforts, but to remind them
that they were perhaps venturing into hyperbole. And
that their comments should be tempered to reflect
that. When I wrote up my coverage of THE
GRINCH screening I just saw, I made sure to
emphasize that the film I saw was not complete. That
it could be ambushed by a bad score from James
Horner if he doesn’t nail it. That Digital Domain
would have to deliver perfect effects. Too often
people forget context when reporting and get carried
away by the event. I’M GUILTY OF THIS AS
MUCH AS THE NEXT GUY! But when I catch it, I
try to correct it, and... that’s why I like Talk Back on
my site because those folks also reign me in when I
venture into hyperbole.
The next criticism that Patrick puts forth is upon
Father Geek’s changing of ‘Hey Gang’ to ‘Hey
Harry’. There is no excuse for this. And I have made
Father Geek quite aware of it.
Next Patrick complains about the way I review
movies. Fine Patrick... Feel that way, you’re entitled.
Feel free to write your reviews as you feel like, and
I’ll write mine the way I feel like. Deal?
Later Patrick says, “For AICN to maintain it's not bound by journalistic
ethics or boundaries, yet be seen in a wider public spotlight as an online source for movie
news and reviews is a conflicting message, don't you think?”
AICN has never maintained it is not bound by
journalistic ethics or boundaries. I do not go on
junkets. There have been occasions where I have
been flown in by a filmmaker to see their film or set.
And everytime I do this, I’m pissed that the site has
not achieved a financial status to afford me the ability
to fly in on my own via my own expense account.
HOWEVER, by this Fall my ad contracts that will
sell 100% of all ad space will change this. And at
that point, I will be able to fly myself or the other
reporters for AICN to sets, festivals, events and
screenings. The site will be able to afford this,
guaranteed. As it is, I’ve been able to fly myself to
several of this year’s events... ranging from Cannes to
ShoWest to some of the Los Angeles screenings this
year... and I am beaming with pride over this. And I
can not wait for the terms of this new contract to
afford me the ability to not only never HAVE to
accept a ticket or a hotel room... but it will eventually
enable me to hire COPY EDITORS and other
reporters and full time staff. AND... the site won’t be
owned, operated or controlled by any forces other
than it’s own.
Alright... now to address further topics from Patrick:
1) “Nothing was mentioned of the claims that peoples e-mails have been modified from
their original content, or that feedback has disappeared from his site”
As Editor and Chief of AICN, we will always retain
the right to edit and modify original content for the
following reasons: to clarify, to protect the
anonymity of the writer, to cut down on unwanted
babbling about insignificant personal details, to
remove objectionable terms (words that gaybash or
offend) and lastly... I remove spoilers that I feel go
too far and will ruin the film. IE... Darth Vader is
Luke’s Father, The Girl has a Penis, The Star Is
Really Dead, etc...
As far as deleting Talk Back posts... if the posts are
INSULTING, OFF-TOPIC, SLANDEROUS,
LIBELOUS, SPAM, ADVERTISING or
CROSS-POSTED... you have a chance to be banned
or deleted. Go check out the MISSION
IMPOSSIBLE II boards, you won’t see people
disagreeing with me being banned or deleted. But if
they start off their post with, “Harry you child
fucker,” well.... guess what? Ultimately, just as a
newspaper chooses which letters to run and not run...
AICN will not waste it’s bandwidth with this type of
material. This all falls under BASIC EDITORIAL
2) “Harry went out of his way to again, make a point that AICN had received the Smits
casting rumor "about 30 minutes before." Again, why do that?”
Because it was true?
3) “And again, this isn't the first time AICN and controversy have butted heads; the
incorrect Oscar nominee list from last February is a prime example, or the reversal of
Harry's review of 1998's Godzilla.”
And here is where Patrick decides to take a personal
slam at me. I have completely addressed the Oscar
List deal last February, to even David Poland’s
satisfaction, I will not go into it yet again. It’s a
waste of time. As for the GODZILLA reversal...
I suppose Patrick has never ever changed his mind on
a film ever. His first impression must ALWAYS be
absolute and unshakable.
The first time I saw GODZILLA, it was at the single
best film screening event of my life. It took place in
Madison Square Garden. Glen Oliver (AICN’s old
head of Coaxial, now supreme reviewer and
commentator on IGN’s wonderful FILMFORCE) and
I were seated at the backend of the ‘youth outreach’
section upon the floor of Madison Square Garden. I
was told there were over 20,000 people in
attendance... and frankly I’d believe it. EVERY
SINGLE TIME Godzilla appeared, the audience
roared with it’s own approval. The ‘youth outreach’
group sitting in front of me would stand on their
seats and Arsenio Hall pump their arms in circles
while making ‘woof’ noises. There were beach balls
bouncing around. Everytime GODZILLA took a step
the entire building shook from what I can only
describe as the largest speakers I have ever seen.
When the film’s climax in MADISON SQUARE
GARDEN kicked in the entire room exploded with
This was not a screening of the film at the local
metroplex... this was an event, and the first review I
wrote was a review of that event.
The next day I arrived in Austin, fired up and excited
beyond all belief... I drug my Father from the airport
to the Highland 10 theater, and sat down and finally
saw the movie. I still like the effects and Jean Reno
and Hank Azaria, but everything else was dull.
Realizing that the mass of people in the world would
never experience the film with thousands of others in
Madison Square Garden, with the Taco Bell dog and
Ali in attendance... with a good 400 kids standing on
their seats pumping their arms... but that most would
see the film in regular theaters.... with regular
speakers and no beach balls at all.... I felt the
experiences were different enough to comment upon
them. And unless you saw the film at Madison
Square Garden that night, and had that experience... I
completely understand why you would think it odd. I,
however, do not... and I do believe that Glen Oliver
who sat right next to me... will agree 100%.
You should also know that these were 2 stories in
6145 stories I’ve posted in the modern incarnation of
the website. The first one, the OSCAR story was a
legitimate fuck up due to having a bad technical
advisor and feeling time constraints upon the story.
The second one was coverage of an event and a
personal journey. In all.... I’d say that 2 in 6145 is
pretty darn good... though I will strive to be better.
And with that... I have ended this rather long
response. AICN is not the only website online. I do
enjoy my site immensely. I love the various features
and styles we report upon things with. HOWEVER,
it is not the only way to do things. And thank God for
that. I enjoy a great many sites online, and I never
speak badly of Coming Attractions or the other
websites online. I might get annoyed at comments
from David Poland at times, but that does not distract
from the fact he has good things to say on his site,
and it’s the reason I go there.
When I talk to the press I do not say, “AICN IS THE
WORLD’S GREATEST THING EVER!” I usually
end up saying that I really like it, but it’s nowhere
near what I want it to be. I feel Corona Coming
Attractions is the best organized index of movie
projects online. I feel Dark Horizons with Garth is
best single page pulse on the world of pop film
online. And I feel I do something very different that
some people seem to really dig.
Hopefully, from this point forward instead of these
front page longwinded slap matches... we can gather
as an online community at a central location and meet
in private and discuss the issues and come up with
Charles Foster Kane’s Declaration of Principles...
The beauty of the internet is it’s diversity. We should
celebrate it, and be happy for each others’ successes.
As long as we bicker amongst ourselves in these
bitter battles in front of the public we reveal ourselves
to be small and childish. We as a community end up
looking like a gaggle of jealous jackals tearing at
each other for turf, when there is plenty for everyone.
We need to meet in mass and collectively and
privately talk and discuss. I am not opposed to that.