December 27, 2007

Congratulations to Nathan Rabin and his "Year of Flops"

The Onion A.V. Club

You read The Onion, right? Of course you do, you slacker! For those who don't know, it is in fact one of the 800-pound gorillas of the indie world; a place like McSweeney's or Soft Skull that are in the top tier of the independent arts in terms of money and influence, groups that can legitimately compete with large corporate entities for the attention of the general mainstream populace. And as a result, of course, the staff of The Onion can be subject to a lot of jealous backlash all the time too; and especially the wing of their staff that produces the non-satirical contemporary arts-and-entertainment guide Onion A.V. Club, who regularly get accused by those less famous than them of being intolerant hipster-doofus posers, usually for no other reason than for having passionate opinions and a successful job.

So I wanted to take a moment, then, and write a simple fanboy entry, about a regular feature at the A.V. Club that is just about to end; Nathan Rabin's fascinating and utterly entertaining series of essays about failed films that has been running throughout 2007, that is, officially known as My Year of Flops. I know there are some who will disagree, but I believe Rabin to be one of our smartest and funniest cultural critics right now; someone whose writing I find an instant and easy rapport with, a reviewer who knows how to blend the exact right mix of analysis and humor into his finished essays. For those who have missed it, then, one of the things Rabin has been doing at the A.V. Club website all this year is looking at a total of 100 supposed film flops, movies that might deserve the bad reputation they've gotten, or might've been the victim of specific circumstances or sabotage at the time.

It's allowed Rabin to essentially do two very interesting things throughout the year -- to not only find hidden gems among the litter of so-called film failures that stretch throughout the second half of the 20th century, but also to write some devastatingly hilarious essays about the ones that are legitimately awful, a chance for him to really flex his creative-writing chops in a way a critic usually doesn't get to do. It's been a real treat to follow along with them this year, and in fact at this point I've actually read all 96 of Rabin's "Year of Flops" essays that have been posted as of the writing of this entry. Like I said, I think it's easy to dump on The Onion, so thought I'd take a moment to say something nice about something I've really enjoyed by them; the consistent high quality there (along with the consistent high-mindedness of its staff) continues to prove why they're the 800-pound indie gorilla they are.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:12 AM, December 27, 2007. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Nonfiction | Profiles |