And now, a selection of noteworthy quotes from Lindsay Ellis.
So if you want to learn about screenwriting and screenplay structure [...] and if you're wondering why I'm taking the time to go through this, it's 'cause I'm trying to save you. Trying to save you from the student loans. Don't go to film school; watch internet videos.
Someone yesterday asked me on Twitter
if there were any "good times" with Channel Awesome, since there's a general thread of lamenting what was lost with many other creators
, & not with me. So I'm I'll share my perspective, & then I'm done talking about CA, bc I want to move ON.
So this should be a surprise to no one, but I was always uncomfortable with my position there. I was the only creator there whose sole raison d'etre was to exist as a distaff counterpart
to someone else — I was hired to fulfill an idea someone else
came up with. And given my (relative) youth and the condition of the economy at the time, I really truly never thought when I entered it that it would last as long as it did. The context here is that it was 2008 — I had just gotten laid off from my job. The economy was imploding. I had just left NYC because I could no longer afford to live there and had moved back in with my parents. It was a desperate time to be a recent college grad. So with no other prospects, I submitted to the "Nostalgia Chick" contest in September of 2008, and won. I was promised money. In fairness to Michaud, he did eventually deliver on this for me (others, like MarzGurl
, never saw any compensation for their early content). Thing is, around this time, I made another huge mistake (haha joke [haha... sort of a joke]) when I got accepted to USC. I say "huge mistake" because being young and dumb, I didn't realize that 7% interest rate on student loans was... a lot. And at MFA at the world's top film school (since usurped but it was rated #1 at the time!) takes super huge priority over internet videos, even if they paid okay. So there are no words for how hard I phoned it in back then. I just did not have the energy or brainspace to care. So another reason I am very #cringe about everything I produced back then is because I was doing the BAREST possible minimum
, and also being really unreliable scheduling-wise. TGWTG almost let me go several times — I can't fault them for that.
In short, I was always uncomfortable aping Doug's style and being "the girl", and I didn't want to be there, but I needed the money. I didn't start learning to be okay with it until I started doing essay-style videos about not-nostalgia
", the Kesha
video). Of course there was some resistance to this transition, but eventually they stopped caring about me staying in my lane.
Now, to the original question: were their good times? TBH, when not with my own crew, they were few and far between. The first time I felt genuinely disrespected was Kickassia
(I outlined why in the Google doc
) — that was where I first realized that they were not interested in collaboration, even if it was with someone who knew more than they did about certain skills (in this case, film sets) All of the crossover
sets were maddening to me (see again the anti-intellectual streak
that still suffuses the company). The thought was that this is just fun amateur hour! But you can't do that, especially on for-profit productions. You can't go without production insurance or stunt people (if they are needed), or people will get hurt (they did.) You need producers to secure permits and hours (they didn't). You need to pay your crew (they didn't).
I met people on those shoots I'm still good friends with, and I am grateful for that. But the shoots themselves? I was always miserable. And as evidenced by the wave of people speaking out, the Walkers did not consider us friends. There was always a divide there. The best time I had was in the 2011-2012 era when my NYC crew was fairly prolific and Chez Apocalypse
was up and running — and, aside from a few people I met through CA, that had nothing to do with CA. It was all downhill after that. And I know there was some charm to the "amateur" aesthetic
of the anniversary films
, and that's what they wanted, I guess. But let me state that I do not now, nor did I ever, blast with that. I was embarrassed then to be a part of them, and I still am. ESPECIALLY To Boldly Flee
Oh, and I saw not one red penny from the Moulin Rouge!
review (but Doug and Brent made $$). Doug even crashed at my apartment for that, but I saw nothing for it. Doug wrote it, and I still have people assigning his opinions to me (boy do I not share them)
. "So why did you do it?" Well, I needed to maintain my place on the site because I still depended on ad revenue back then
. Everyone was going along with it, and few shared my reservations. Bad enough being the curmudgeon of the group — you don't want to be OUT of the group, do you?
So tl;dr "were there good times you were wistful for?" For the most part, no. I was relieved to be gone from them, and I wish I'd done it sooner.
But change is hard and scary, even for a wild libertine such as myself. Now I promise to never, ever talk about Channel Awesome again.
If you discover that a brand or a company, like a bank or something, did something bad or unethical, it isn't surprising. People just kind of shrug and go "yep, that's how banks roll". And maybe you'll close your account and go to a different bank, but the reality is that probably don't care enough to even do that much, because unethical multinational corporations doing terrible things to people in the name of profit is just, kind of, the world. You don't have the brain space to care about all of them. We pay monopolistic cable companies for internet access, we have 401ks run by morally bankrupt hedge fund managers that we will never know, we still by iPhones, we still buy cheap clothes, while paying vague glib lip service to the knowledge that people are being exploited somewhere so we in America can boss Siri around. In some ways, we engage with a multitude of brands and corporations every day that someone, somewhere, is getting exploited by, often cruelly so.
But media is different. Media
is personal. Media is designed to provide an escape, to stir emotions, to inspire.
industry is by no the industry with the highest incidence of sexual harassment, but people care more about it when it gets exposed in the film industry, because the film industry creates media that hits emotional nerves. And then when we find out that something we loved was made by someone who said or did bad things, it's like betrayal.
When people ask whether it's moral to separate art from the artist
, or in this case, product
from the multinational conglomerate
, what they're really asking is: "How can I go back to consuming media like I did when I was a kid? When the most context I had or cared about was who the author of my favorite book was, or why I like this actor, or what Kesha
's real name and birthday is." But as an adult, you're expected to be an ethical consumer of media.
And it's somewhat inevitable that some people resent that, because consuming media the way children do is comforting. Consuming media like The Hobbit
as an adult is complicated and in this day and age, it's hard to do so innocently. And I totally understand wanting to return to that innocence, And I don't really have an argument against that worldview other than... that's adulthood.
Well, I'm back.
I think at the end of the day, your feelings are your feelings, and I wish people would own that. Feelings are not rational; you can rationalize them by having supporting evidence, but at the end of the day, if you had a criticism, it's probably because you had an emotional reaction.
Finding words and supporting evidence and being able to articulate why
you felt that emotional reaction is kind of the best you can do, and I think the worst people can do is have an emotional reaction and not really explore it, not really put words to it, not really articulate why
they feel the way they feel. Either that, or just delude themselves, which is also a really popular thing to do these days
The Fault in Our Stars
is a 2012 novel written by John Green
, in which two children go to great lengths to find out what happens after the ambiguous ending
of the protagonist
Hazel's favorite book. The way they do this is to seek out the notoriously reclusive author
, and find out from him. But the entire idea is flawed from the get-go — not only does her hero let her down, she does not find her answer, because there is none, and that is a central theme
of the text — sometimes, there is no answer, the universe is chaotic, life is unpredictable, and you have no control of when you will die, and when you do die you will not know what becomes of your loved ones.
In seeking out the authorial intent behind a work of fiction
, the two leads are trying to gain a sense of control in a chaotic universe, the sense that there is indeed an author of sorts to life, as they do not feel that they are the authors of their own stories, that they do not have control over their own fates.
And indeed, they do not — but in this case, letting go of that desire for a sense of control is a part of growing up,
which ironically, neither of these characters will get to do. They must mature into adults while never living to become adults.
This is reflective not only of how we consume media and the way media can genuinely touch and inspire people, but also of a very understandable and human desire to transform that media. Narratives give us control in a world that is genuinely chaotic and unpredictable. We need narratives to make sense of the world we live in. But that does not mean that we have control of the narrative.
The character arcs
of both Hazel and Augustus are defined by letting go of that desire for control of their own narratives, and accepting that life... short though it is, just doesn't work that way, no matter how much they wish it did. But that's just my reading.