Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Film Reviewers: Fact or Fiction

By Scott Shaw

            Ever since I first got into the filmmaking game I quickly began to realize that a lot of the magazines and even the authors of books put out fiction and claimed it to be fact. This has really intensified at the point when everybody got a voice on the internet. You don’t have to have any credentials anymore, so all kinds of people began saying all kinds of things – many of which had absolutely no basis in fact.
            When magazines and books began to discuss my films, back in the early 1990s, I quickly realized that many of them did not check their facts at all! They were stating a lot of things about my films, their development, who did what, and why, and all the etcetera… But, they were totally wrong!
      I think most people do not realize this. They read what they read and instantly believe it. It’s in a magazine, it’s in a book, or even, it’s on a website – it must be true; right? No, many times it is not.
      And then, reviewers have gone on to misquote me and my associates; taking our words out of context, and then writing a whole piece about what we or I said in order to get their own point of view across and somehow gain validity for it by jumbling the words of their source. That is just hatchet journalism. And, I can say that with some authority as I have had well over a thousand articles published and none of my editors would ever have let me do that.
            I have long thought to write a piece titled, “Reviewing the Reviewers.” I am sure I will get around to that a some point.
      Perhaps the biggest fault of those who write on the subject of film is that they base what they write upon their own appraisal of a project. They are not so much presenting the reality of the film or of a filmmaker’s process but, instead, they write what they think about the project and then disguise it as a literally discussion.
            A few of the funny things that come to mind that authors and reviewers have gotten totally wrong about my films are: one author totally got the title of The Roller Blade Seven wrong in his book, “Blade of the Roller Seven.” One magazine article, said that the frog masks we used in Max Hell Frog Warrior were poor imitations of the ones uses in Hell Comes to Frogtown. In fact, they were the exact same masks! One author claimed that the Asia scenes in Undercover X were actually filmed in L.A.’s Chinatown. I guess he didn’t take the time to read the writing on the signs or view the license plates on the cars. That was Tokyo and Seoul! One of the funniest, at least to me, was one author in his book detailed that one of the lead characters in Killer: Dead or Alive was my wife. I’m sure the actress that played that part was surprised to find out that we were married.
      Those are just a few examples… It goes on all over the place.
      And, on the internet, oh my god! The totally wrong things that they write and say…
      Personally, I find all of this amusing. Some of my filmmaking friends are not so jovial as I am and get really upset.
      But, this is the reality of life. People say or write what they write from their own perspective. And now, in the digital age, Andy Warhol’s prediction has come to pass, “Everybody gets fifteen minutes of fame.” Some people just choose to gain theirs by reviewing and discussing the works of others. And, in many cases, they base what they say upon fiction, not fact.

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