Someone decided it was real smart to give my ass a Noise Pop press badge this festival season; I have literally salivating in excitement for what this potentially means since I've found out. Here is the account of San Francisco's Noise Pop 16 from a lowly writer armed with creds and a whole lot of time to waste:
I had a bit of a shy moment when Jamie Kennedy brushed by me Tuesday night. This coming from the girl who burns her foot for fun and generally has no shame approaching anyone, I'd have to say it was a turning point for me.
I was volunteering for the film component of SF's Noise Pop festival, Kennedy's Heckler. opening the week's programs. It's a poke back at what these people are in the dark who feel free to yell out during shows, inspired by reviews and interactions Kennedy had after he released Son Of The Mask (not the most successful of films). Famous comics like Bill Maher, Arsenio Hall, Louis Anderson, and Kathy Griffin offer their opinion on the matter while Kennedy tracks down the haters for some camera time. The idea of a critic versus a heckler consumes the second half of the movie, exploring who exactly decides what is legit and what is complete bull; Kennedy brings in individuals who go against the grain as well as who are involved in different mediums to show the dynamic, and that there's a difference between a constructive critic who wants an artist to improve versus a plain asshole who takes swipes completely unwarranted. Eli Roth talks about his experience with focus groups for his Hostel series while Rob Zombie recounts his initial trusts in what others had to say. The overall contention is: So what? So what if the haters exist? A moment of clarity comes in an interview with Craig Ferguson, who declares, "If you keep doing what you believe in, you're fucking bulletproof."
In a sense, though, Heckler made me feel both like an asshole and humbled: just a few hours before you started reading this, I was on the other side of the computer trying to figure out the most objective way to even talk about this film. If you think about it, you're probably reading this and trying to figure out if you'd see this film yourself, based on what I say here. Maybe you clicked on this article because you recognized my name, or because you live in the Bay Area, or because you like (or dislike) Kennedy - but now, essentially, you're reading a review, and now I've made a stance. This suggestion that maybe we should decide for ourselves instead of reading 14 different reviews before purchasing media is a sensible one. But then what would you do without writers? Are they apart of an unnecessary hierarchy, or do they do what they're supposed to? I think we need each other; writers need something to write about, and artists regardless of their medium need someone to write about them. Overall, I think Kennedy succeeds in pointing out that we all can say something constructively without adding "Go die, douchebag, before I fuck your mom and then kill her and the rest of your family" (a real-life review he received). He also interviews critics who hated Son Of The Mask but whose reviews he actually gave props to. It goes to show not everyone's a jerk.
As for myself: do I consider myself to be a professional critic? A blogger? A freelance writer? Or am I really some punk kid behind a laptop in San Francisco who writes about what's around? What kind of credentials do I have? I suppose, for me, deep down I really don't want to be lauded as some expert of what to listen to, or what to see, or what to do. I honestly started writing because it was fun, and because I appreciated what I was around. It's not worth my time to write a negative review when there's so many other things worthy for me to focus on and discover. And while I get that the job of a critic is to help weed out the supposed bad from the good for the masses, and help shed a spotlight on talent, I think the balance between complete douchebaggery and whatever objectivity means these days is off and should be repaired. And at the end of the day, I recognize that my opinion really doesn't matter to anyone but myself; people like what they do, and that should be honored. Besides, how could you trust an indie/alternative music reviewer like myself who saw the Backstreet Boys three times in the late 90's? And would still pay money to see them today?
Thus, to Kennedy, I say thank you: thank you for challenging those dicks world round, and for being brave enough to put yourself out there to ask questions not a lot of people are willing to do. I got it.
As for my attempt to meet the guy on my goal list, it was no dice. He did a great Q&A post-film before departing the Roxie Theatre to relax en route to New York the next day. I guess I'll just have to find him next time to express gratitude.