Sunday, December 29, 2013

An open letter to Kevin Smith

Hey Kevin,

I thought long and hard about writing this. I wondered what would be the point, it is more than likely going to get lost in the hullabaloo that is Twitter. But you said some words today that I felt I couldn't let slide lest it make less of the men we claim to be.

Over three years ago, you asked me to be moderator on your new message board. It was something completely unexpected. I mean, who the hell am I? I was just a fan of you. There were folks on your message board who were there longer, who have been to more events than I have, whose fingers were on the pulse of all things ViewAskew. At that time, I met you a total of once at WonderCon, and by "met" I mean you signed something for me and you were gracious enough to take a pic with me.

You said to me,
"I'll bring it back if YOU moderate it, sir. All you gotta do is keep the rape porn out of my backyard."
That was the first and last time we ever had a conversation about the board. We met several times after that, but we never talked about the board. I assumed that I was doing the job you wanted me to, but for every call I made, for every person I had to block or ban off your board, I always questioned whether or not this is what you would do. I had very little to go on as far as how you wanted me to maintain order. I took the "95 Thesis" that you wrote and ran with it. Some questioned whether or not that was the call, others felt that their "freedom of blah blah blah" was being impeded, and of course there were those who used the "But Kevin wrote..." defense. By this point you moved on to Twitter, the board was left to the fans and of course your wife to socialize in. The thing is, Kevin, your absence was noticed.

Flash forward a ridiculous amount of drama and in-fighting that is the norm of all message boards. To summarize, your wife's thread became the most active thread on the new board. To most, this meant that Jen was in charge, to a few very loud and ignorant personalities, this rubbed them the wrong way. But to all, I made sure that misogyny was not tolerated.

Then TellEmSteveDave 96 happened. To sum up, women were objectified and then dismissed as nothing more than a pair of tits.

To the credit of some of the guys, they apologized. The worst offender (Bryan Johnson), however, never did.

Your fans (obviously I don't speak for all of them, but it's fair to say that most of the message board felt this way) were left confused and took to looking for a way to respond.

It was Jen who answered them.

And lodge they did, at Bryan. On the board. Both men and women. And I felt it apt.

About a month went by, Comic Book Men came on TV. As all things, it was discussed on the board. Bryan was called out for picking on Ming and still pretty much for what he said about women.

Someone hipped Bryan to the page of the board where he was being discussed. He quickly banned two people, (one of which made fun of his beard), on the grounds that they broke the rules.

What Bryan did not know was that the discussion he was jumping into at the beginning of the thread was in response to what he said on TESD. Many people from the board tried to express this to Bryan on Twitter. He wasn't having any of it. And as you know, in a more public forum, all hell has a tendency of breaking loose.

Today (well, yesterday, I'm in Australia) you said,
"If my movies have made you feel it’s okay to reduce another human being by labeling them a “bitch” or a “cunt”, then I was an even worse filmmaker than I thought."
 Let me say something here, I don't think you're a bad guy. In fact, you're one of the nicest people I ever had the pleasure to meet. But someone as open as you are, you are going to attract some unsavories.

Most of them came to Bryan's defense in the way that unsavories do.

Bryan went on to blame the women of the board.

And when those women tried to reason with him and tell him that he's retweeting some really misogynistic people, he decided to call my wife a "skank".

During this time, I was messaging Bryan, telling him that we needed to talk, that he's getting part of a story and that he needs to understand what's going on. I gave him my number, first he said he'd call me, then he said he would not.

I told Jen (my only contact for anything) that Bryan was in the wrong, that we should shut the board down cause the guy is not listening to reason and it's only going to get worse.

She got the board to shutdown.

And it has stayed down, without a word from you to the fans.

At the end of the day, some fingers pointed to me.

Or to my wife, or the women of the board in general. And with your silence, there was no one to contradict them.

I kept quiet as well. Not sure if I was waiting for you to say something, but mainly, I decided to leave the ball in your court. It's a message board after all. There's a whole internet out there.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wasn't a little hurt by just being cut off without so much as a "thanks for all the fish". One could even argue that I am writing this letter to make this about me, or that I'm trying to get attention by putting you on blast. But this isn't about me. In fact, you know, that to this day, I have never said a negative thing about you.

This isn't about me, this is about what you said today.

"I will always apologize for any man who makes misogyny the manner with which he communicates his feelings. A woman-hater is just a woman-beater in waiting. If you wanna argue with words on my behalf (or EVER, for that matter), NEVER REDUCE/CURSE/HUMILIATE/HATE/DISMISS WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. I wouldn’t let you do it in front of me; I’m not gonna let you do it on my behalf in cyberspace."

Kevin, I'm holding you to this. There's a community that you left to the wayside that deserves an apology for the misogynistic comments made by your friend, Bryan Johnson. He did it in on your podcast network, he did it again to the members of your message board, he did it on Twitter using the Twitter handle that represents a podcast on your network.  The women he belittled on TESD deserve an apology, the women of the ViewAskew message board deserve an apology.

And I seriously doubt they will ever get one from Bryan.

Here at the end of this letter, I again question whether or not to send it. Or why even bother.

I guess I bother because I like you as a person, always have. I met my wife on your board, I am still friends with people I never met in person because of you. I am grateful to the kindness your wife showed me, and I was honored when you trusted me enough to try to do the right thing by you.

I volunteered to be your mod, and you technically never dismissed me as the moderator of the ViewAskew board, so I guess as a last gesture of trying to do the right thing for the board.

Kev, do the right thing.



Happy13 said...

Fantastic bit of writing, Americo.I think this puts into words what many of us have been feeling.

Silent Bobjay said...

Thing is, although its a shame the board was shut down, I do agree that certain women on there were to blame. Time and time again a comment made by a male member would be either stretched, taken out of context or just misinterpreted by one of these women, either mistakenly or deliberately and the man concerned was labelled 'misogynistic', 'sexist' or worse.

These women would slowly but surely pick apart the person concerned and drive them away. It was almost a weekly occurrence. Its not 'misogynistic' to object to something a woman may have said on the board, but that is what the person concerned was labelled as.

Certain women on the board saw it as 'theirs'. They only have themselves to blame for the board being shutdown. They had taken it so far away from what View Askew is about that it was a View Askew Message board in name only. It had very little of the friendly mockery and just good fun of the films.
Some people on there couldn't take a joke. Well, maybe they could but they took it upon themselves to stop any attempt at what most would consider simply to be alternative humor and instead bullied and alienated people. For what?

You seem like a decent person Americo but for whatever reason you always backed the accusers, never the accused. You say you would often think 'what would Kevin do'? I think perhaps you should have shown some leadership and not tried to follow in the footsteps of someone that left the board years ago.

Anyway, I wish you well. Maybe now you'll have some time to make some more films.

Americo Alvarenga said...

The thing is, I don't think I know why the board shut down, I KNOW why the board shut down, and it wasn't because of the women of the board. It was one woman, and that was Jen, and it's because I asked her to.

Now it remains shut because Kevin didn't want to deal with what happened. He wanted to bury it, why do you think the site isn't even readable anymore?

Look, one person claiming foul is an incident. When a group of people (both men and women) feel that how someone acts or how someone says something is coming off in a misogynistic manner, don't you think that there might be something to it and you just can't see it cause you think they don't get the joke?

They got it, it just wasn't cool.

Besides, as you can see by Kevin's latest comments, he's not to keen on those kind of jokes. Unless his best friend is saying them, then he lets them slide.

Cory Thomas said...

If you don't like Smodco than pay it no attention. Problem solved.

Americo Alvarenga said...

You missed the point completely, sir.

Unknown said...

"When a group of people (both men and women) feel that how someone acts or how someone says something is...don't you think that there might be something to it..."

No. That's called "Argumentum ad populum" and it is a logical fallacy. By your rationale, there must have been a lot of witches in Salem.

Americo Alvarenga said...

Argumentum ad populum relies on the probability that the answer is unknown. That doesn't apply here. The answer is known, Johnson said some really misogynistic things.

Unknown said...

I re-listened and did not hear any misogyny. Please tell me what comments were misogynistic because I simply don't hear it.

And what you said isn't exacly true. Outside of a few obvious instances (beating women, deprivation of rights), misogyny is not a clear-cut knowable thing. Some people can be offended by certain comments, but that doesn't automatically make the speaker a woman-hater.

In fact, I think my witch hunt allusion is spot on. Labels like misogynist or "_insert_phobe" are used to brand people with unpopular opinions more so than they are used to point to actual "haters."

Bykes43 said...

I know many won't remember me. I was there briefly, and never shut my account down. I would come back frequenbtly, to see if there were any changes in attitude (I will explain later in this), and after about 10-20 minutes of just surfing comments, I'd see that it was a no.

I have been a fan of Kevin Smiths movies for some time, like the rest of you. When I discovered a message board with a LOT of fans who I thought may be like minded, and for that matter, I might be able to make some online freinds, I jumped in. Within a month, I was just downright frustrated and disappointed. I remember one woman, who literally seemed to pop up on each and every thread I made, and decide to give me snarky comments. I went as far as to ask her if I was doing something to offend her, and she tried to play it off as it was my imagination, and maybe I was the problem...? Thus, I didn't completely abandon the ofrums, but rather, chose to just pop in from time to time to see what exactly was going on.

From the short time I spent over there, it seemed like a few people thought acting like "Randall" (thats the impression I got, anyways) from the Clreks movies, or for that matter, amybe a better way of stating it is, borrowing some of his negative traits, and using that as a sort of persona on the boards was cool. thing is, it wasn't.
I could go on and on, but like another message board I have been to, it seems fandom (not all), like to imagine they are sort of like some of the characters/people that they idolize. Truth be told, it doesn't work thatw ay in the real world, or a message board!

I'm sad to hear that the board was taken down. I actually got to PM Kevin a message once, and actually got a nice reply. On the other hand, I totally understand why, after reading some of these comment, why it is gone. Life goes on. Kevin doesn't really owe anyone anything. If he owes me anything, its to just make a great movie I'm intertained by, when I pay whatever the going rate is for a flick, at the time I walk into a theater.

Griefing101 said...

Silent bobjay. Amen Brother.

Spork Girl and Katy were the worst offenders. ANYTHING could be twisted into a sexist thread for no reason.

Wobird said...

Americo. I pray to whomever is up there that you remember me. I used to go by HelBoy in the good ol days of the Old Board, and I helped found the LXC! I sent a faint echo out into the Old Board when I wasn't aware it had shut down, a few years back. And you replied. You said to come rejoin at the new board, and that you were a mod now! I was fucking psyched, a) because you remembered me, b) because you were a freaking MOD now, and c) because that community was still flourishing. But I am filled with regret - have been ever since. I always meant to come over to this New Board, but life got in the way, as it invariably does. I just didn't find the time. And I regret not even sending you a polite message to say "wish I could, but I just can't find the time." I'm sure you didn't give it a second thought, but it ate me up all the same. Recently I've come into a place where I have the time to invest into an online community (I recently emigrated and don't know many people here in my adopted country of Canada - my love of Kevin's movies has carried me through my alone time). I came looking for the New Board, and I was extremely distressed to learn about all of this - it being shut down!? Some bullshit drama about guys being arseholes? Apparently led being (inadvertently?) helped by this fuck Bryan who I remember from the Board and have seen on Comic Book Men?? It was kinda devastating, man. I spent years on the Board back in my teenage years, starting from a whole twelve years ago. I still consider one of my finest achievements in this life co-founding the LXC. I was always content with the knowledge that it was continuing somewhere, without me. And now I find that this is not true, anymore. Americo. Reach out to me bro. It'd be good to reconnect with an old friend. I'm reachable at - the very same email addy I signed up to ViewAskew with. It'd be good to talk, man. Thanks for listening/reading - I sincerely hope that you still check this blog!!