09 July 2006

Let's Stuff Joe Breen Back in His Grave

While it does not affect me directly, I am so thrilled to read this article about a US District Court ruling against those who fancy themselves film auteurs.

My distaste of people who think they know better than the creative types goes back a long way. But, specifically to a case in the mid-1990s when I was commissioned by Arizona Highways Magazine to do an article on a new petroglyph museum in the metro Phoenix area.

I went out, did my interviews, wrote the piece, and sent it in. After a month or so, I got a copy of the article in galley form to review. To my utter horror and dismay, the article had been completely re-written and its approach totally changed.

In normal circumstances (including with this magazine), if the editor does not like your approach to a piece, s/he asks you to re-write it, and gives some direction on what s/he wants to see. Here, I not only was not asked, I was not told a re-write was going to be done.

With a deadline looming, and no time for me to attempt to fix the disaster that had been created, I told my managing editor to take my name off the article. Aghast, knowing the amount of prestige the magazine has around the world, he asked me why. "Because I will be a laughing stock if this article goes out under my name." I had written for Highways several times before, so it was already on my resume and not such a great loss; but the biggest reason was their arrogance in re-writing me without even so much professional courtesy as to ask me to try it first. (I still got paid for this article, which also lessened the pain.)

So, a couple months later, the issue came out and there was the piece of shit article without any byline. It was a bittersweet victory.

Of course, this ruling against film "editors" will probably go to the Supreme Court; but I am so happy the judges ruled in favor of the artists and not of the censors.

P.S. This is really eerie: I am now an auction item on eBay. Actually, it is another one of my articles for Arizona Highways Magazine. This, like the whole celebrity thing, totally freaks me out.

1 comment:

Matt Hinrichs said...

Don't worry. As long as I'm around, you will have to make do with being the partner of a celebrity.