So, this is kind of tough to write, not because I think it’s a tough subject, only because I want it to be over and I recognize that writing an article doesn’t contribute to stopping a mess like this from growing. People are going to keep talking about it. I also don’t want to pretend to have the last word on this subject, because better writers than me have already spoken their minds about it. All I really want to do is just speak my mind about what happened, how it happened, and why we’re all responsible.
You see, John Carpenter calling Rob Zombie a piece of shit is not news. And I don’t blame anyone for running with it. Of course every site was going to grab it once one site got a hold of it. It just takes someone to report it, or even share it and from there, it becomes an endless cycle. I don’t even know who started it now, because every site I can think of ran with it (including this one). Once that’s started, it’s too late to turn back because nobody wants to be the only site that hasn’t posted the story. I’ve used the “snake eating its own tail” metaphor a few times now when talking about this, but I still think it’s fair. That’s what this is.
The real problem, talking about the nature of online journalism aside, is that this story is not news because it literally is not news. Carpenter cannot ‘finally speak his mind’ about Rob Zombie’s Halloween in a discussion from 2011. He didn’t even say anything about the movie itself. His comments were about Zombie and while there was certainly an element of sincerity to them, he was also playing to the crowd. Even as cranky and bitter as he’s known to be, Carpenter actually does like to play a bit to an audience. If they showed up to see him, he wants to entertain them.
He’s also right, too, to an extent. In most interviews leading up to the release of his Halloween, he would say that Carpenter was fully supportive of his decision to remake the movie and said that he had wished him the best and told him to do his own thing with it. Then, in a TV special titled Halloween: The Inside Story (thanks to Cody Hamman for finding the source) Zombie talked about Carpenter’s response being colder.
From the special, in reaction to Carpenter’s “chilly” response, Zombie claims: “You know, I called him up and the conversation pretty much went exactly like this: I was like ‘Hey, John, it’s Rob.’ ‘Hey.’ ‘I just want to tell you I’m remaking Halloween.’ Then there was like a weird silence and he goes ‘So? What do you want me to say?’”
Whichever version is true, Zombie has clearly provided two different versions of events. That’s all Carpenter was trying to say and it doesn’t matter because he was only half serious in the first place. There are even reasons as to why Zombie could have provided a different story. We don’t know but we are turning our assumptions into articles that millions of people will read and wind up hating one of the two filmmakers over.
Of course Carpenter’s word choice may be a bit extreme, but many of us have probably called our friends the same or worse. Guillermo Del Toro is a director known for his sailor’s mouth, but if he called Tarantino a motherfucker, I don’t think anyone would run with it as a controversial story.
No, I think this story is about these two filmmakers for a reason, and that’s what frustrates me. There’s no bad blood between Carpenter and Zombie and if it is, it’s in the past. This isn’t an attempt to spark a fight among the two directors, it’s an attempt to spark a fight among the fans. It’s creating drama because it’s clear from the moment those names are mentioned that the older fans are probably going to side with Carpenter and the younger fans are probably going to side with Zombie. There’s no reason to do this.
The thing that was kind of the last straw for me in regards to this whole situation was that all of this actually got the NY Film Academy Panel that the quote originally came from pulled from YouTube. This was a great panel that I luckily got to watch before this story even began to spread. Despite being interviewed a ton and appearing in a lot of specials, featurettes and documentaries, Carpenter doesn’t always open up about his own work. This panel was a great resource, especially for up-and-coming filmmakers, the kind of people it was aimed at in the first place. And now we don’t get to have it because we couldn’t play nice.
That’s not what I love about the horror genre. Yes, healthy debate is a crucial and even exciting part of being a horror fan. We all love to discuss favorite directors, favorite sequels, and least favorites as well. Petty arguing, on the other hand, is the worst part of being a horror fan, and that’s all this story wound up spreading. And I guess the most frustrating part is that I don’t know why. I understand why the article was written in the first place, but not why it ballooned to something so huge before it eventually burst.
The reason there are more horror sites now than there have ever been before is because, 1, the Internet is more immersive than it’s ever been and there are more and more horror fans on it. More importantly than that, we all love to share our opinions and we love to hear the opinions of others. That’s what makes being a fan so great and that’s why all of these sites are great when they’re at their best. This was not our shining moment. Not for any of us. But this story and what it became, that’s not going to stop me from reading any of these sites because there’s still content going up regularly at each and every one of them that is genuinely amazing. That’s what we should be focusing on.
We should be focusing on the positive because even now, the news story has passed away and is behind us. The only reason it’s still being talked about is because, well, it’s still being talked about. Let’s please let it die. Because when you’re just focused on a story about a single quote, if you just want to be updated with more fuel to hate a director you probably hated anyway, someone else could be saying something genuinely interesting and thought provoking about the genre that reminds you why you fell in love with it to begin with. That’s what makes horror blogging great. I think it’s time to stop missing out on stories we could love just to keep ourselves reminded about stories we already hate.