So I’ve been writing professionally for Comic Book Resources since last September. It’s not a bad gig. The pay is pretty damn good and the editor staff is kind, responsive, and wants to make sure your articles perform well. While there isn’t the same freedom I find in maintaining a personal blog (I can’t say “fuck” over at CBR, for example), it has been a pretty rewarding process. I’ve learned a lot about how websites like CBR and CinemaBlend function, and despite how rigid these sites might seem on the surface to an outsider, it’s actually more organic than you’d expect. There are some really great writers and fun personalities behind the content. And most everyone wants you to love the things they love as much as they love them.
Now this isn’t going to be a big CBR jerk off session. As much as I love this job, it’s not without faults (just like literally any job ever). As I mentioned before, it’s hard to write whatever I want on any subject you want. There are checks and balances in place so that piece I wanted to write about how awesome Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy was back in 2000 may not be topical enough and who the fuck is gonna read it now? This website is a business. And businesses want to make money. In a world where clicks are currency, how successful you are isn’t in how great of a writer I might be, it’s about how much traffic I can generate. But being good at what you do while getting them sweet, sweet clicks is what keeps most professional Internet writers afloat. This is both fascinating and disheartening, which brings me to this entry’s title.
Hey, did you know I’m a dumbfuck? And also a hack? Oh, and apparently a dense motherfucker, to boot? Yeah, me neither. I mean, I know I’m dumb, but…damn…not that dumb. Well if you were not aware of you level of dumbfuckery, don’t worry, random commenters will be quick to tell you. Look, I’ve got pretty thick skin (for a writer anyway). I’m used to rejection. Hell, I could wallpaper my office with rejection letters from publishers, but there is a certain kind of craven goofiness to the vitriol from commenters that I find utterly fascinating.
Sometimes this “feedback” comes in the form of someone telling me that I’m the dumbest piece of shit in the world because I got a character’s name wrong, while other times it’s a vague “you suck” or “fuck you.” Now, I’m not complaining about these comments. No, seriously. I do not give a fuck. If anything, I find them kind of funny. The only time they even remotely get my dander up is when they say some shit that reflect the fact that they did not read anything other than the headline. But honestly, the moment of feeling perturbed by this is quite fleeting. After all, by this point, they clicked on my article, which means they have generated revenue for me. If they send it to their friends to enrage them, then I get those clicks, too. So thanks, dudes.
What I find fascinating is what drives people to leave comments. Like, I understand fan mail and hate mail. I get feeling so passionately about a work of fiction that you have to write an essay about it (I do that shit on the reg), expressing your admiration of disdain for it. I totally get that. I even get disagreeing with something you read and contacting the author to let them know that you disagree and exactly why (this is something I’ve never done, but to each their own). But I’ve never understood the mindset of people who drop in and talk shit and disappear.
I’m sure part of it is the anonymity factor. Maybe the comments section if a bastion for this. It allows people to express their grievances without direct communication. After all, I’m pretty easy to find online. I have my Twitter linked in my CBR profile (don’t fucking @ me). Not to mention I’m on Facebook and their messenger service and easy to find on both (don’t). Also, my email address is located on every website I’ve written for, so if one of these guys (and yes, the majority of them are guys), wants to contact me directly, they can. But they don’t…
Well that’s not entirely true. I have had one direct contact from a reader, and it was odd. This person wanted to tell me know that they enjoyed my article, but I had some grammatical issues in it. Okay, fair. I have never claimed to be the best at grammar and syntax (note: I just had to look up what syntax meant, because as I mentioned before, I’m dumb as shit). But it was the weirdest backhanded thing anyone has ever said to me. And this is coming from a guy who wrote a 350 page manuscript about a magician who can make things disappear and reappear in people’s assholes. No really, that is a real book I wrote that has not yet (?) been published. Yeah, I know. Boy did I get some interesting looks from the few people who read excerpts from it. But I digress and shit…
Look, I’m not saying these commenters are cowards…well, I guess I kind of am, but that’s not the point. I just don’t understand it. I honestly want to ask them if they’re okay. Is there something so shitty in their lives that they have to feel empowered by letting me know that what I wrote sucks? Maybe. Or perhaps they just feel so passionate about the new Ninja Turtles costumes that they have to let me know…I guess…honestly I didn’t read the comments on that article because there were like 50 of them and I’m 100% certain a lot of people did not agree with me.
I don’t want to poke the hornets nest. But it seems like when I do, I get paid…so… yeah. I know, that’s fucking shallow as shit, but this is a job. Pop culture websites are an industry, and if you have a “controversial” opinion about the why Batman needs a revamp or who’s they got directing the next Spider-Man movie sucks or whatever, people eat that shit up. They thrive on the discourse. And while it’s nice that a good number of readers have left positive words for me, it seems like the articles that have the secstions filled with upset people do a smidge better in the “ratings.” I guess it’s for the same reason why people read political Facebook pages that argue against their own ideas. Feeling pissed off makes you feel alive…well, it stresses me out, but I get it.
And look, this isn’t an echo chamber thing. I appreciate discourse when it comes to pop culture shit. Because arguing about whether or not Logan was a great film isn’t going to ruin friendships. No one’s life is hanging in the balance here. It’s goofy, fun shit that people love and sometimes hate, which is totally fine. Just don’t fucking @ me about. If you want discuss things with me, feel free to email me: my gmail is mikefugerejr. Seriously. I’m more than open to discussing anything with any reader. But just know that sometimes, I write shit because an editor tossed an idea into the ether and I said, “sure I can do 800 words on that” and then it’s written with feigned conviction…because again…this is a business.
Most pop culture websites are looking for writers in some capacity pretty much all the time. If you have a portfolio, it’s easy to send it and see if they want to hire you. That’s how I was hired by CBR. I freelanced for Bloody Disgusting, wrote for a smaller comic website, and kept up with this blog, which was enough of a body of work to show CBR that I understood the lingo. If anyone has strong opinions about pop culture, apply for a position. The worst thing that can happen is they say no (or in the case of contacting Bleeding Cool, you get a shitty email reply and then nothing else). If that happens, you can always blog.
I’m well aware that not a lot of people read the Burning Clog, but writing an entry every now and then in it is cathartic. I’m not gonna lug around a pen and notebook like that one dude with the man-bun at Starbucks who is just the fucking worst, so this is the closest thing I have to a diary.
And if the things people said in the comments sections of the articles I wrote truly got under my skin, I could get in the ring with them, but I’m not, because I do not care. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people visit CBR every day, just like the dozens of other popular pop culture websites. I’m a cog in this machine and as long as I get paid, I’m gonna stay turning and telling you why The Walking Dead sucks or whatever thing I feel like writing that my editor says is fine.
But who knows, maybe I’m a butthurt crybaby who can’t handle criticism or whatever. Just don’t fucking @ me if you don’t have anything worth saying.