"A REALLY INTELLIGENT INTERVIEWER." -- Lance Henriksen
"QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST HORROR-THEMED BLOG ON THE NET." -- Joe Maddrey, Nightmares in Red White & Blue

**Find The Vault of Horror on Facebook and Twitter, or download the new mobile app!**

**Check out my other blogs, Standard of the Day, Proof of a Benevolent God and Lots of Pulp!**


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hump-Day Harangue: Weighing in on the GoreZone Controversy

I realize I'm a bit late to the dance on this one, so bear with me. But this has been a situation I've been watching for some weeks now, with great concern. Specifically because it ties into something I ranted at length about some time ago--namely, bloggers getting pushed around by those who can't handle a bad review.

By now, most of you know the story. I first was made aware of it by the blogger Cyberschizoid. Write-ups on the matter followed at Chuck Norris Ate My Baby and Zombos' Closet of Horror. It seems that one Dangerous Jamie of the blog Let's Get Dangerous posted an open letter to Britain's GoreZone magazine in January, detailing his various problems with the current state of the publication, and how it might improve.

The letter seemed innocuous enough. It was carefully worded, constructive and rational in its criticism. It was by no means what anyone would call an unfair attack. Yet, it wasn't long before Jamie's blog was being inundated by troll commenters leaving hateful, obscene and vicious remarks. One of them even claimed to be Bryn Hammond, Editor-in-Chief of GoreZone. However, this was proven to be false--as were the identities of some 14 other commenters. The kicker is that all these comments were coming from the same IP address, which allegedly was located within GoreZone magazine itself.

From there, legal action was taken against Jamie for the post in question. I'm no expert on freedom of the press in the UK, or UK laws regarding libel, defamation and such, but there's no way that a magazine can sue a critic for writing a negative review of said magazine. If so, what kind of insane door would that open? As has been pointed out, GoreZone itself reviews movies and other things--could they conceivably be sued for writing a bad review?

Jamie (pictured, left) was accused of libeling GoreZone with his open letter, of attempting to harm the magazine's sales. This, when Jamie himself was libeled outright by some of the most heinous comments I've ever seen on any blog, all the while remaining civil in all his responses. It's also interesting that one of Jamie's main points in his post was that GoreZone is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors--and then, you guessed it, almost every comment bashing Jamie and supporting GZ was also riddled with the same.

He was forced to remove a GoreZone cover image from the post, when, to my knowledge, using an image like that for review purposes is completely kosher. Thankfully, this seems to have been all they've been able to coerce him to do. Ever since the IP address controversy, the GoreZone folks seem to have mysteriously backed off, and Jamie himself has not heard a word from the lawyers or anyone else in weeks.

Thankfully, lots of readers and bloggers have shown Jamie support in this unfortunate situation, including the aforementioned, as well as Robert Ring of The Sci-Fi Block, who helped get the story covered on Techdirt, a website which covers technology-based legal issues. The situation even caught the attention of Roger Ebert, who mentioned it on Twitter.

And speaking of Ebert, the legendary film critic was lambasted, along with Jamie, in an interview given by the real Bryn Hammond with the website Screen Jabber. Hammond denied the claim that the phony negative comments were coming from within GoreZone itself. But in defending himself, he really did himself no favors, describing Jamie's responses to him as "naively spouting off about freedom of speech and all that bullshit." Hammond also warns both Jamie and Ebert (who never came down on either side of the issue, by the way), to "really watch that kind of bullshit they're writing and talking about."

It's very unfortunate that a blogger could be so thoroughly bullied by a corporate entity, but sadly, it doesn't surprise me. As was stated in the CNAMB write-up, this would definitely not be happening if it had been a major website or other entity that published the critique. But because it's someone they consider unimportant and defenseless, they try to pressure him into retracting his criticism. Thankfully, the situation seems to have calmed down a bit, as someone must've informed GoreZone that they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

I had not been all that familiar with GoreZone before this debacle (I do remember a Fangoria satellite mag with the same name in the '90s, but I don't think they're related), but the whole thing has pretty much ensured I will not be picking up my first issue anytime soon. If this is the way they operate, I want nothing to do with them. In fact, I won't even entertain the notion of buying an issue until Jamie gets an apology, and I encourage anyone disturbed by the matter to do the same. I doubt that apology will ever come about, but so be it. Judging by what's been spewed onto Jamie's blog and elsewhere, I don't think I'm missing much.

It's very important that companies like GoreZone not be simply permitted to get away with bullying small, independent bloggers and other journalists. If we allow it to happen once, it's just going to keep happening, and getting worse every time. Folks like that shouldn't be emboldened--it should be made clear to them that such behavior cannot be tolerated in a free society.

16 comments:

billy tackett said...

I had some folks from an art site give me a little crap because I gave my professional opinion about their services. Unfortunately this sort of behavior is becoming common. As for me I'm a huge fan of free speech!

B-Sol said...

It is becoming more and more common, which is troubling. I think the nature of the Internet, and how it allows the average person a public outlet that never existed before, really irks these corporate entities. Unfortunately, the average person who chooses to speak out is also much more susceptible to getting pushed around.

christine said...

I really enjoyed your take on this whole mess. I find GZs actions shameful. I posted a very angry & heated comment on the post over at CNAMB and I fear anything I type here will be redundant. I just don't get why they'd feel so threatened by an opinion. At least it seems to be coming to an end.

Mr. Fiendish said...

People who do anything remotely creative, including horror journalism, are very sensitive, and people are getting more and more sensitive as years go by, so it's not surprising that GoreZone became such a bullying entity. I don't think it will ever become a legal issue though, and I hope this example will be able to let people know how useless, and childish, something like this can be.

Thanks for letting me know about this.

B-Sol said...

Christine, it is odd that they would feel so threatened by it. Part of me wonders if the bashing was coming from some pissed off underlings on the mag staff, who did it without anyone knowing at first, and then it just snowballed. But calling in the lawyers is just insane!

Fiendish, the hyper-sensitivity you spoke of is really becoming an issue. It seems sometimes that people have forgotten how to properly take criticism--maybe the free-form nature of the Internet is partly to blame, I don't know. I worked on a magazine for years, and I get the part about getting pissed off--but we would've never taken it to the level that GZ has done. Useless and childish, as you said.

Resurrection Jim said...

It seems to me that Gore Zone needs some press and they decided to attack someone who wanted to give them some pointers on how to make the magazine better. As it has been said bad press is better than no press at all and it seems like Gore Zone is living by that rule. I mean, look at all the press that they have gotten simply by picking on someone. What a shame.

Stonecypher said...

Very well said, Brian. I've known Jamie for a while and he's *never* written or said anything to deserve the sort of disgusting vitriol that was spouted at him because of his very valid points. Sadly, I know people who work with Gorezone, and they're perfectly eloquent and sane people: what a shame that there should be a select few doing their magazine more harm than good.

Ben Bussey said...

(Rapturous applause)

Very well said indeed. This incident has cast a long and ugly shadow over UK horror fandom, and I wholeheartedly second your demand for Jamie to recieve a public apology.

"Freedom of speech and all that bullshit." How telling.

B-Sol said...

Jim, that's a good point, it may have a ploy for publicity on GZ's part, who knows? And Nia, it's a shame, because I'm sure this doesn't reflect on the entire staff of GZ at all.

Matt-suzaka said...

Great write-up, Brian. I think all of the backlash has put a little fear in their hearts. I've obviously been following this pretty closely and I have not read one single comment, or post, or anything in support of Gorezone's actions. It has given them quite the bad name and with it getting more and more well known, and I think it has put them in a pretty bad place in the eyes of many horror fans.

The Screen Jabber interview is such an embarrassment and it's clear that Hammond is just trying to look like they are in control of the whole situation. They are trying to save face in front of their fans as well as their detractors, and it's only making them look worse, as well as completely immature.

I'll never pick up a copy of that magazine.

jmcozzoli said...

Hammond's comments in that interview make him appear an ass to my eyes.

I will not be reading his globally distributed magazine any time soon.

B-Sol said...

Yeah, that Hammond interview is pretty damning, which is ironic since I'm sure they were hoping it would help with damage control...

B-Movie Becky said...

This whole thing just makes me sick. I read Matt's post about it a while ago and was shocked. Hopefully, GoreZone will get enough negative press (at least from bloggers)that it impacts them and that they realize their behavior is unacceptable.

B-Sol said...

I think that's already happened. Thankfully, they seem to be backing off.

Scoob said...

wow, that's crazy. i never heard or saw anything about it until now, which i am thankful for after seeing the whole story. what's wrong with a little constructive criticism. as far as i know, anyone that wants to improve what they do welcomes it, as long as it is done in the right way, as it sounds as though it was. i wonder why gorezone would go so far if they thought jamie was such "small potatoes." so much for professionalism. maybe he should write another letter thanking them for the publicity. i don't think i have ever stumbled across his blog before. i'll make sure to go become a follower right now :)

B-Sol said...

Yeah, he's a real cool dude, and never should've caught the kind of heat he did.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...