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June 09, 2008


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Owain Wilson

Excellent rebuke, Glenn. I've always wondered, though, if any of your many previous rebukes have resulted in any tense face-to-face moments with the rebukee?

steve simels

I think I speak on behalf of anybody's who ever had a magazine staff gig when I say of Atkinson...Wotta maroon. Wotta tar-ra-ra-goondeeyay.


I love it when you get pissed off, Glenn. Well, I don't ALWAYS love it, but I do when I'm in agreement with you. And I always hope the critic who has raised your ire will respond in the comments section, or on their own site, but they almost never do. Oh well.

PS - What did John Milius ever do to you!?

Glenn Kenny

Owain—nothing too awful, although the opportunities for face-to-face confrontation aren't as plentiful as you might think. I've verbally tussled with Atkinson before, and he's not averse. In fact, I can't imagine he imagined he could talk such shit and NOT provoke some angry objections. I believe I've achieved a certain detente with Nathan Lee (although his recent "Mother of Tears" review sorely tempted my inclination to stick to any non-aggression pact). As for others, no bad experiences yet.

Bill: Like "Zeroville" author Steve Erickson, I'm actually pretty fond of John Milius. It's guys who aren't John Milius coming on like John Milius to whom I take exception.


I wonder if Atkinson also thinks teachers only work eight hours a day and enjoy their summers off.


Glenn: Ah, well, THAT I can understand. Also, "Red Dawn". But we're none of us perfect.

I need to buy a copy of "Zeroville". I get the sense that it's becoming the new "Flicker". I have the short story from which "Zeroville" was expanded, but I'm not sure I want to read it first.


I think the only point Atkinson was making was that in an era when papers are failing fast the movie reviewers are the first to get cut. Who to cut? The foreign correspondents covering the war or that guy we pay to watch movies? And that's an easy choice to make. It will only get worse. If it weren't for the simultaneous US occupations newsrooms would be ghost towns now too.

Plus, your argument did nothing but reinforce Atkinson claim that reviewing is a part-time gig. In order to make it a full-time job it has to be padded with other odd jobs. A combination of increasing media conglomeration and free online personals has threatened everyone. There's really no sense in declaring it a real job or not. Even the heavy-lifters (war correspondents) are effected.

Glenn Kenny

I think if Atkinson had meant to say that when papers are failing fast the movie reviewers are the first to get cut, he would have said THAT. Instead, he said that "the existence of full-time staff reviewers is a nutty aberration in the history of periodical publishing," which is a whole other kettle of fish. Whether I reinforced Atkinson's point or not is open to question—I don't think I did, as I was largely taking issue with his "let-ME-tell-you-how-much-time-this-job-takes" bluster—but to bring war correspondents into this admitedly very circumscribed, inside-baseball argument is hardly germane. Except insofar as Atkinson's implication that the film critic is some kind of lazy sot can easily, in the mind of some mogul, go viral and extend to war correspondents. Not that, as you imply, it already hasn't.

Peter Grayson

Glenn, judging from the thinness of your skin, I would say that Atkinson has a point, and he must have a very sharp point if it cheesed you off so much. If watching movies and writing about them doesn't pay the bills, then go find an f'ing job that does. I think that's all he's trying to say. Pretty simple. And if you don't have any other discernable skill than watching movies and writing about them, then that's your problem. It's not your right as an smarmy, pop-cultural referencing, Knowing-How-The-World-Works type of guy to get paid to have your adolescence extended. No one is saying that people who write about movies don't have their place; they do. I just think that the market is finally getting around to showing exactly where your place is, and it's closer to the street than you think. The world won't end if no one gets paid to write about obscure dvd releases. I'm sure you have something very cutting to say about what I've said, so let 'er rip. You seem like a very clever guy. Being clever doesn't pay the rent, though, now does it? Bwahahahahahahahah!

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, I do have something to say about what you've said—as cheesed off as I've ever gotten at anything or anybody, I don't think I've ever been quite enough of a fucking prick to wish unemployment on a person. You, however, don't seem to have that problem.

And save your "bwahahaha," pally. I'm not out yet. To tell you the truth, I'm not even down. Just making conversation, is all.

Peter Grayson

Good god, man, what are you talking about? No one is wishing unemployment on anyone. As a matter of fact, I am bidding you a hearty mahzel tov on finding regular employment should you find that your days of watching movies for a living comes to an end, which is seems will be soon. You could be a subsitute teacher or something. The world needs more good teachers, you know, people with your kind of education. You see, this is the crux of the matter. You and your kind don't want employment that doesn't have to do with watching movies, which is fine, but don't expect anyone other than those who share your predicament to give a hoot. I have been a faithful reader of your blog, and find you, along with Atkinson, to be one of top men in your field. If you made this a pay-to-play kind of blog I might even subscribe. But other than that, what do you expect? Sympathy? Sorry, chum, my sympathy extends to people who have real problems. Unemployment, even of the temporary kind, is not really a problem for someone like you. There are plenty of jobs out there. Jobs you might not like, but hey, c'est la vie. That this is even an issue shows how little sympathy you have, big boy. Put your life into perspective. You got it pretty good, considering. I mean, you could be one of the other 2-5 (estimate) billion people presently living in terminal shittiness. Man, thank god we're not one of them, huh! Bwahahahahahahah!


Peter, you sound like someone who wishes he could write about films for a living, but judging by the way you write, I doubt anyone would even want to read what you have to say, let alone publish it. Either that, or you're some kind of failed screenwriter working a 9-5 temp job. You suck.

Glenn Kenny

Okay, now I feel like Im in that SCTV sketch where the Pauline Kael figure says: "Did Isay I hated it? I actually LOVED it! Also, I'm Woody Woodpecker! Ha ha ha HAha!"

I'd love to stick around and help clear this up, but I gotta go get some stitches out. (n.b.,not a veiled plea for sympathy here, honest!) Hope to be back soon.


I don't think Peter Grayson sounds like a failed critic; I think he sounds like a person who is very stupid. Not only that, but he's a member of that delightful hoard who get off on saying incredibly rude and meanspirited things to people, as long he's got the internet between him and the other person. Were he and Glenn to meet in person, Mr. Grayson would most likely say things like, "Hey, buddy, sorry to hear about your job. Man, what is up with all these film critics getting fired?? It's outrageous!"

And if he thinks that his inane "bwahahaha" signature doesn't indicate that he's taking pleasure in the misfortune of others, then he is, I repeat, very stupid.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Peter Grayson is a miserable asshole.

Aaron Aradillas

I've been under the impression that unemployment, even temporary, is not a fun time. Mr. Grayson seems to think one can move on. I guess he hasn't been out ther lately.

I've always held the belief that the coverage of the arts is what sustains us. It IS a job, but like any job it must be done well. I always bristle at the notion that a periodical can just put anyone in the critic's position and the rest will take care of itself. Any job must be done well if an employee expects to hold onto said job.

The way newspapers (and magazines) are treating their Arts sections is sad, but predictable. It is always the "frivilous" positions that get cut first. No one relaizes how vital the Arts are during times of war, recession, depression, transition. Movies, television, music, art reflect what we are feeling at any given moment. It is the critic's job to interpret how we are feeling during uncertain times.

Atkinson fucked up with his flip comment. He would've been better off trying to come to terms that it looks like an actual profession is being eleminated, a job that seems to go unnoticed or unappreicated.

Peter Grayson

Bill, judging from the comments you regularly post on this site, if anyone where to be hideously obsequious in Mr. Kenney's presence, it would surely be you. And if you think you are even the third, fourth or fifth person to remind me that I am a miserable asshole in the last 24 hours, then you sir, are as deluded as you are transparently naive and pollyanish. Anyway, I know you are a lover of film, Mr. Bill, so may I suggest that you check out Payday, starring Rip Torn? The film Walk the Line should've been had it any cojones, although it is marred by it's de rigeur miserabilist ending, it being made in 1973 and all. In other words, because Maury Dann is such a miserable asshole (and if you think I'm killing your preternatural buzz, Mr. Bill, then you have no idea what lies in store for you once you enter the sordid world of Mr. Dann), he, like all miserable assholes, must die.


I think I see your point, but the point of Glenn's post is that writing about films is not a critic's only job. For me, Glenn's greatest accomplishment at Premiere was not his review column, but his commissioning, editing, and (for the porn article) first-hand reporting for David Foster Wallace's two pieces. No arts columnist gets a staff position on the basis of just his or her writing talent alone. At least I don't think so. These are full-time salaried jobs, with many duties. Otherwise, people who just write about films are paid as freelancers. Does that clear things up?

Peter Grayson

Yes, Aaron, you are right. Kenneth Turan's or [your local reviewers name here] reviews of the latest offerings from Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow is most definitely what, as you say, "sustains us." And Michael Atkinson, if anyone, has earned the right to make such a comment. He's forgotten more movies than you have seen, I'm sure. I think someone who has written a such a delightful book as Ghosts in the Machine should be taken a little more seriously and not written off so easily with facile pejoratives and snide mockery. And the whole "hey, it's tough out there," school of rationalization is for children. You want a job you'll find one. You need to eat you'll figure out a way. You have a child to support, you will do whatever job is handed to you in order to do so. Short of being mentally incapacitated, physically handicapped, or 9 years old, that kind of reasoning is pathetic, and only serves to highlight the entitled world view some of you have.

Tom Carson

Sorry, but was Peter Grayson put on this earth to make us retrospectively think better of Michael Atkinson? Some gig.

Peter Grayson

TC, your Team Kenney t-shirt is in the mail and should be arriving shortly. If you have any questions about how to put it on, or which arm goes in which hole, please do not hesitate to call this office. Thank you for contributing to the ongoing discussion. Your pithy and rather astute comment has been entered into a raffle. Should you be chosen as the winner, please be on the lookout for your Glenn Kenny WigHat, which comes complete with bald pate and furrowed brow. I would like to warn you though, that due to the materials that were used in the making of your WigHat, you should refrain from wearing it outside during the summer. Any skin lesions or rashes that result from wearing your WigHat can be treated with common household vinegar. If you would like to contribute another of your patented zingers to our raffle, please feel free to do so.


Sorry, is Mr. Grayson making all these terribly acute comments about growing up, becoming an adult and finding a real job in such rapid-fire succession...while possibly sitting at a day job, tied to a computer? Where he, perhaps, doesn't have a whole hell of a lot to do (as seems to be the case with many of the people I know toughing it out in corporate?)?

Because, if so, I'm not sure what the value of this so-called higher work is. And if it's not, well...get some exercise? Read a book?


"Bill, judging from the comments you regularly post on this site, if anyone where to be hideously obsequious in Mr. Kenney's presence, it would surely be you."

So you're new here, I take it? And believe me, I never for a moment thought that I was the first person today to call you a miserable asshole.

Peter Grayson

Yeah, Vadim, because everyone who works a desk job is busy for nine straight hours. Wow. It sounds like I can safely assume that you've never actually had a job, in which case, please don't forget to give your father something nice this Sunday. He is footing your bill, after all, or at least, that's what it sounds like.

Oh Please

Atkinson, a resident of Long Island, is somewhat notorious amongst NY film publicists for having screeners - of movies screening in Manhattan - sent to his house. Perhaps that accounts for all the extra time he has on his hands.

Tom Carson

OK, at this point we all know the guy's deranged. No more gasoline on the fire, I say.

Peter Grayson

Bill, obviously I'm not new to this site, if I already know how firmly planted your nose is in Glenn's considerably ample buttcheeks. How else would I know such a thing? This is just the first time I've ever felt compelled to comment. I'm just tired of listening to all these movie reviewers grumbling about the lack of respect and money they get. No one cares, except for those who fancy themselves involved in the profession under fire. I'm also assuming that most of you here are under the age of 45, as your generation is without a doubt the most egregiously self-entitled generation of them all. And very, very sensitive. So sensitive that I find it rather comical. It sounds like most of you are always on the verge of tears. Someone says boo to you and your ready to sue. Get over yourselves. You're not that great. You're not that smart. And you're not that funny. Watching movies is a luxury. Talking about them is a luxury. Reading about them is a luxury. Writing about them is a luxury. You don't have the right to write. Do you think you do? Is that what this is all about. Your rights? You have the right to pay your taxes and die, that's it. Everything else is gravy. You want to earn some respect? Go fight in a war, even one you don't agree with. Then maybe people my age will take you whiners seriously. Because I would bet anything that not one person on this site has ever been out of their comfort zone for more than a week at a time. Most of you are soft and without courage or conviction, and I mean that in all sincerity. Call me an old man, or out of touch. I don't care. I'm not going to live much longer, but at least when I die I won't have spent most of my time complaining about the things I should've been given. No, when I die I'll look back at my life and see that I've spent most of my time commenting in this particular thread, or whatever it's called.

Aaron Aradillas

"I'm not going to live much longer..."

Finally, some good news today.


Can I interest you with a trip to Self-Awaria?


(Obvs. directed at the lovable ol' Hobbit, "Peter Grayson", not, as it now seems, Aaron Aradillas)

Peter Grayson

Pithy comments. That's all you have in your arsenal, huh? Yes, Aaron, I am going to probably die before you. That's all you have over me and people my age, and nothing else, excpet for your smartypants comments and your weak stabs at humor. Because everything is a joke to you, right? That's why no one takes you seriously, Aaron. Except yourself. I'm sure, when push comes to shove, you take yourself very seriously.

And Bemo, I've already been there, so let me know when you need the directions and I will happily oblige. Bemo. Great name. I'm sure you gave a lot of time and consideration to that handle. I'm not kidding. I can just picture you in your tiny studio apartment, or your parent's basement, smoking grass from a makeshift pipe, checking off all of the names it took you weeks to come up with.

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