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June 27, 2014


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Brian P

well done


Full Disclosure: Ed Champion is a close friend of mine. I discovered yesterday that yes he was in a lot of pain. This is a thoughtful piece, but I don't think it could encapsulate the full story, and thankfully he will be taking a leave of absence from the online world for awhile.


I hope he's not bluffing about quitting the net for awhile. He's been a depressing asshole for over a decade and needs to take stock of himself and his work. I'm giving it a week before he's back.


So, I take it Ed Champion doesn't watch "Scandal?"


Well, Glenn, I try with Ed, I really do. But he's hard to feel compassionate toward him given his ad hominem instincts, his direct attacks upon the jugular, and the creepy feeling you get when he begins to extrapolate beyond what (little) he knows about you and fantasizes about who you are, what you believe, what's wrong with your marriage, what your childhood was like, etc. I have actually lost track of the number of friends who've been trashed by the guy on his blog for little more than offending his sensibilities -- much as every white woman born after 1980 apparently has.

As far as his feeling a lot of pain, of that I have little doubt. But then again, I remember my first online encounter with Ed, back in 1995, when he was a member of the Lit Blog Co-op. I criticized the group's decision to name a Kate Atkinson novel its first Read This (or whatever they called it) choice simply because the group had declared in its founding document that it wanted to celebrate and bring attention to little-known books by little-known authors and the choice seemed to reverse this. Ed harangued me, insulted me, belittled me, etc. Soon after I received a private email from Mark Sarvas, one of his Co-op colleagues (whom Ed would later subject to an incoherent ad hominem), apologizing for Ed and explaining that he'd been going through a rough time. I suppose if one totes up the number of unwarranted and over-the-top attacks Ed has launched against everyone from Emily Gould to editors of the Onion A/V Club you have to conclude that this sustained rough time is at least partly of Ed's own making. I'm glad he didn't jump off a bridge. But I'm also glad that he wanted to.


Er, back in 2005, I mean.

Ethan Carota

Hi Glenn, I’ve been a regular reader of this blog since its inception but have never been very adept at the art of the comment. As long as we’re being brutally honest, a lot of the time I simply feel entirely out of my element during the rigorous discussions that occur in this forum, therefore, I’ve relegated myself to the status of reader-only. Bearing that in mind, I was so moved by this post (and many others like it) that I felt compelled to at least offer a humble thank you for sharing. It’s always difficult to call yourself out on your own shit, let alone in a public setting, and your vital insights have definitely inspired me to take a good, hard look at some of my own unglamorous, behavioral proclivities when it comes to judging the relative success and merits of others. While I wish I could offer more of value to the discussion at hand, I just wanted to let you know that this blog has always been my most rewarding online bookmark and this post easily demonstrates why that is.

Edward Champion

Chris: I've reviewed the thread you reference (http://lbc.typepad.com/blog/2005/05/the_litblog_coo/comments/page/2/#comments) and see no ad hominem from me. I did point out that "your own books are published by a monolithic entity" and that "you sound as mad and defensive as Tanenhaus." I've certainly eked out my share of anger over the years, but that thread was not angry. Nevertheless, I offer my apologies.

One of the Internet's general problems -- and I'll certainly cop to hooking my gob on the line myself -- is that we choose to view someone behind the screen as an enemy or an ideal. There's no room for flaws or gray shades. That desire to psychoanalyze and assess someone without meeting her in person and looking beyond that virtual facade is surely responsible for all the rants, jeremiads, and incessant hate that now chirps from a sputtering phone at all hours. As it so happens, I was going through a very tough time in 2005, extremely dingy personal linen that I'm not going to get into here. In 2014, on Thursday night, Mark Sarvas was kind enough to email his concerns. I appreciated it, even if the two of us are not fond of each other and there has been past viciousness from both sides, and I thanked him.

It is possible to have empathy, kindness, and compassion for those you detest, or to remain playful even when you're contending with despairing and life-changing circumstances, as I did in 2005. The first scenario is often a way to quell negativity, though both are roads that skew closer to light. The essay I wrote, and I didn't know this at the time, was a way for me to stop hating Emily Gould (not as a woman, but as a human) and to tally up a number of setbacks, some unexpressed but all unfiltered, that have hindered me as a writer and a person. It frightened people. While I disagree with some of Glenn's points, I nevertheless thank him for this fair-minded piece. I also apologize to Glenn for a private exchange we had a few years ago relating to the New York Film Festival, which came from a place of darkness that I am now attending to.


Just wanted to say to Glenn that while of course some of the stuff he's written, on this blog and elsewhere, has been a bit harsh, I wouldn't want him to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I've loved the criticisms of Glenn Greenwald, Dan Kois, Katie Roiphe and Joe Swanberg posted on this site, and I remember the intemperate moments as being pretty much confined to the comment-thread realm. Media criticism is important, and as practiced here I think it's been entertaining, smart, funny and mostly quite valuable.

Glenn Kenny

To Edward Champion: Thanks, and apology accepted.

To Puneezi: I'm not giving up on disagreeing with people and their writing. I'm just working on my hair trigger, and on separating the critical meat from the easy ad hominems. Thank you.

Matt Zoller Seitz

I love how Ed goes out of its way to us know that he doesn't really have anything to apologize for, then apologizes, to show how mellow and magnanimous he is with the benefit of a few days to heal and reflect, or somesuch. Equally rich is the explanation that he wrote 11,000 words attacking Emily Gould in the most sexist and condescending manner imaginable as "a way for me to stop hating Emily Gould (not as a woman, but as a human)." This is the same Ed Champion who, in November of 2010, after he insulted me online, threatened to put out a cigar in my mouth after I confronted him over his silly preening, then backed down when he realized I do not joke about such things. Then he subtweeted me after I published a Salon memoir of my late wife on what would have been her 40th birthday, to the effect that we didn't really love each other--an act as cowardly as it was vile.

I suggest we wait a year or so and see if this supposedly kinder, gentler Ed Champion is in fact genuine, or an attempt at Oprah-like damage control. My money's on the latter, and I have a cigar with his name on it.

Ken Tucker

What a wonderful piece this is, Glenn. I have some amends I'd make--and probably will, in some cases--in this area, and can only hope to do it with something like the frame of mind on display here.

C. Puffer

Interesting. From the cheap seats, this looks like a situation where it's hard to root for anyone. I no longer know much about the contemporary US fiction scene, or any of the other writers Champion is buttressing his argument against Gould with. Likewise, if I read any of Champion's other writing I certainly have no recollection of it. But I do remember Gould from her Gawker days, and her tempest/teapot exit from said site. Aside from Ed coming off as a grade B asshole, a lot of what he's venting about has a strong whiff of the truth.

Obviously from the history they've been trolling each other for a good while, and, as Glenn speaks to, it's apparently been burning this Ed person every success Emily Gould has had. But those deep links he's been hoarding speak to Gould as a mean, shallow, petty writer, who has no problem being negative for attention. That's what I mostly remember about her early career. For me, the mysogyny appears almost incidental. It's just hatefulness, but not born from hating women per se. The way he talks about other contemporary women writers that he admires displays someone who has no problem with women per se. I feel that if the receiving end of his bile had been male it would have been equally ad hominen, weirdly personal, and trading in the worst gender stereotypes. Nihilist? Whatever. He comes off as a bitter crank and attention freak, thereby torpedoing any merit his thesis, such as it is, might have had.

Someone on a thread of related tweets (I can't be bothered to look up; daily dot maybe ?) made a crack about publishing it as an Amazon single rather than a blog post, that those $.99 hate reads add up. Hah. And there's some greater truth to this joke. If Emily Gould indeed has several works of published "fiction" there is plenty of room to be critical of vain literary posturing and vapid prose. By all means, write a poison pen, get off my yard screed about entitled young writers who write shitty, thinly veiled fiction about entitled young writers. But do it without being a complete turd.

Further makes me glad my youthful literary ambitions never panned out.

Pat H.

This idea that Glenn and Ed have mentioned about their writing being the result of anger and alcohol or "coming from a dark place" is really a cop out. When you engage in public debate your comments have to stand by themselves and to expect readers or those you attack to retroactively understand that your remarks came from some sort of hidden pathology is asking a lot.

Chris L.

Ethan Carota: For someone "not adept" at commenting, you got right to the heart of the matter very keenly, and movingly. My perspective is, I think, similar. I can't work up much fervor over Champion, Gould, or any of the rivalries or subtweeting wars among their particular circle. Three days ago, their names would barely have registered. And based on what I've seen since, I feel no urgency to remedy this relative lack of awareness. May no harm befall either of them.

Though I'll never meet our host either, I do care very much about his well-being. Glenn has been one of a handful of essential, shaping influences on my (very gradual and still miles from competent) education in cinema. If this were not so, there wouldn't be a nearly shelf-breaking collection of Premieres upstairs to this day. Reading GK (in whatever form, even Tweets) is just about equally bracing and riotous. And as often as not, he'll toss out the name of another fine writer, or a band, that I should have known about but didn't.

Now and then, I've wondered something like, "If the postings of Jeffrey Wells vex and insult Glenn's intelligence to this extent, why does he maintain an almost total immersion in them?" And yet, a glance in the mirror reveals many of these very tendencies. I'm prone to spend an hour or more scrolling through the most ignorant comment sections known to man, for no satisfaction better than boiling blood and easy righteousness.

I've no doubt that Glenn is better equipped than most of us to achieve that balance he seeks, between necessarily pointed cultural criticism and underlying civility. In fact, I wish he wouldn't be so tough on himself as it is, since he's contributed vastly more light than noise every step of the way.

And now to set aside more of my dwindling shelf space for the De Niro volume!


Another comment from the cheap seats:

I appreciate Glenn's candidness and remorse, but these little intrigues are incredibly boring and parochial - let's talk about film instead, shall we?


Glenn, I've always admired your brutal honesty, about yourself and others. Your interview on the Cinephiliacs podcast was about as candid and unsparing as it gets. But I can understand your regret over some of the comments you've posted about others. I've gone through this myself.

The only time I thought you went over the line was in some of your comments about Longworth -- but then, I've never met her, so what do I know? Anyway, she stopped reviewing movies a couple of years ago and now hosts a pretty good podcast about Old Hollywood.

Glenn Kenny

To Pat H.: you can take the piece as a cop-out if you like; you're entitled. But I submit that your apprehension that I wrote it for the purpose of seeking "retroactive understanding" is a mistaken one. Nor should the post be interpreted as an attempt at an amends to the parties to whom I've behaved badly. Those that are to be made have been, or will be, done privately. My intent here was to apply my personal experience to something that is (it seems) very common to Internet discourse.

As for talking about film, Yann, sure. But SCR is my personal blog, I pay for it (here I should note that there have been donations made to it over the years, of course) and so it's something I consider a personal forum. Heck, I write about music here, too.


why don't you just write about movies and stop getting in other critics' or bloggers' hair? you seem to have a compulsion to do so. you've been called out on this many times, you've issued what must be by now several dozen apologies/never agains, you've provided numerous explanations for it. it's as though you're equally addicted to the rush of picking on others and the angst-ridden self-flaggelation-cum-self-aggrandizement that inevitably follows. any outside observer can recognize in this pattern the hallmarks of narcissism. if you were really serious about changing your behavior, you'd cut yourself off from the outlet that allows it to fester, i.e. get off the internet.

or, what yann said.


Here's what I don't understand: who is forcing you to read, interact, or pay attention to someone who's work you don't like? How much spare time do you people have?

There are many writers or artists or actors or musicians whose work I do not like. I don't pay attention to them. I certainly don't write vicious 11,000 word screeds whose entire part and parcel is STOP EXISTING BECAUSE YOUR EXISTENCE IS SOMETHING I DISLIKE. Also, I thought Ed was going off the internet? So far he's spent today accusing people of defamation and look, now, commenting on blogs.

Also, if Ed is so upset he has nothing to show for it, maybe WRITE instead of blogging and attacking people on Twitter. Take some of your own fucking advice.

Also, the list of people he's acted in the same manner towards is lengthy and those people are no longer being silent. He scared them previously, no one is scared any more.

Glenn Kenny

Well, "RBC" and maybe "Required" ought to be relieved to learn I don't have sufficient spare time to write a lengthy post on that other Scourge Of The Internet, the anonymous, finger-wagging, not-entirely passive-aggressive "I'm not touching you, am I bugging you?" commenter with the wanting-to-be-infuriating pompous locution ("any outside observer"). So there's that.

Don Lewis

This post made my week, honestly. I know you and I had some issues a while back and honestly, it all was just really....upsetting. I was and am a huge fan of your thoughts and writing and enjoyed it so much on Premiere even before the internet took hold. I loved the blog you had there and was as pissed as anyone when Premiere let you go. I felt like I and many other regulars were with you then you just got NASTY. It seriously bummed me out.

Granted, I was upset you went after people like Joe Swanberg and Kent Osbourne who are my friends. Not so much the critical stuff, but the personal stuff. But the Karina stuff was just...wow. And Eric Kohn too, he's a dedicated writer who is constantly working on his stuff. Where did it come from? That being said, I could feel the pain and anger you had back then and when you, well, are canned from a job, that's going to hurt. Hurt people want to lash out. I got that. But still, very upsetting to witness. As a fan, and admirer of you and your stuff particularly.

I think you looking back at that era through the lens of Ed Champion's "work" is perfectly done and I really appreciate what you're getting at here. I too have been "working on my shit" and boy, talk about taking a load off ones conscience. For me having some perspective on who *I* am has helped me gain empathy for others (still working on compassion) and this piece you wrote really spoke to me. And I'm sure it was weird and/or challenging to throw it all on front street so, thanks Glenn. You're all right man.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks, Don, and ditto: YOU are all right.

Don Lewis

Hooray for decency and smart people! And, Todd Snider.


glenn writes: "Well, "RBC" and maybe "Required" ought to be relieved to learn I don't have sufficient spare time to write a lengthy post on that other Scourge Of The Internet, the anonymous, finger-wagging, not-entirely passive-aggressive "I'm not touching you, am I bugging you?" commenter with the wanting-to-be-infuriating pompous locution ("any outside observer"). So there's that."

mr. kenny, i doubt you would be more likely to appreciate this observation if I weren't anonymous. as someone who admires your film writing, and who checks in here every few months to see what you think of some new film that's out (or have to say about some actor that died), i'm always a bit saddened that the most recent post is invariably some incomprehensible (to me) screed and/or apologia about some obscure, petty internet squabble that got out of hand. somewhere in that post you always lament things having gotten this far, announce that you will try to be better, etc. ...and then i check in three, five, ten months later and it's the same thing.

so, sure, maybe not "any outside observer" but what else do you call it when over the course of several years you remain stuck in a cycle of being a "colossal prick" (your choice of words) and grandiloquently apologizing for having been so? if it truly tortures you, why not just pull the plug (or the ethernet cable) and remove the temptation? otherwise it's hard to say what's going on if not some combination of addiction and narcissism.

i used to get embroiled in internet arguments. i'd get upset and lose sleep about it sometimes. then i realized that it just doesn't matter, and it's not worth any aggravation. i started by just turning the internet off when i got upset, so as not to make matters worse. later i would just step away from the machine for a few hours or just minutes. eventually I just don't feel the slightest compulsion to argue with people on the internet (or IRL, really, unless it's some matter of genuine consequence). the exception is the two times I've posted here, just because I know you are smart and have the intellectual means of breaking out of the cycle you seem to be stuck in. sorry if that sounds condescending. or rather, sorry that that IS condescending.

for the same reason you should avoid internet arguments, you shouldn't and probably don't give a care about my advice. apologies for being a less-than-colossal asshole to you. godspeed.

Glenn Kenny

"...and then I check in three, five, ten months later and it's the same thing." And it's NEVER a Blu-ray Consumer Guide. What are the odds? If only you'd checked in some time between March 24 and now...there were almost 18 posts in which I didn't pick fights, or refer to picking fights, with other film critics. Sorry you missed those.

I know, mustn't be sarcastic, that would prove I "haven't changed." Another thing I didn't mention in the above post is my own experience of being needled on-line, because I didn't want to give the needlers the satisfaction; in any event, my experience in that respect leads me to suspect (I know, I could be wrong) that "Required" is not as benevolent as he or she intends to appear in this guise/context. In any event, the defense of anonymity (never not weak, in my opinion) and the disapproval of my "grandiloquence" speak for themselves, as does the "I said 'Good day, sir'" tone of the "godspeed." Godspeed back.


From what I've seen of Emily Gould, she seems like a shallow and uninteresting person -- a "writer" who wants to be a media celebrity -- and not worth the time and effort that Edward Champion put into his long, long essay.

Jimmy Kimmel put Gould in her place back in 2007. Time to move on.


Remember when David Thomson said -- or perhaps it was Brad Stevens' paraphrasing of Thomson -- that we spend too much time in front of screens and should go for a good walk instead? Well, Thomson might be right for once!

C. Puffer

Hah. Well done, "Required". That is some finely crafted concern trolling.


I've never read this site before, but I've read this post a few times now and shared it with others. I've kept coming back to this site and am looking forward to making it regular reading.

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