FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Feb 4, 2011

Indie "Scream Queens" and the Pit of Facebook

WARNING: I go off topic and ramble and both my rhyme and reason frequently disappear. I apologize for my suckitude.

I've gone on and on and ON here on Final Girl, on The Scare-ening, on the bus, and in my fucking sleep about Facebook and how that shit wears me down. Well, some of it gets me down. I'm not talking about that quiz you posted about what kind of bread you would be if you were a kind of bread. I'm not talking about that picture you posted of the dim sum you ate last night, although I do admit that I'm a bit baffled why the advent of cell phone cameras and social networking has led to the rampant documentation of what people are about to eat. I'm talking about the incessant LOOK AT MEs that fill up my feed every day- and yes I realize that I myself post plenty of LOOK AT MEs when I have new work somewhere. And yes I realize that because I do so, it makes me a bit hypocritical. It's something I deal with, this getting the word out about things whilst trying to maintain an air of non-douchiness.

A Fibonacci spiral, posted solely to break up the text. Well, also posted because it's neat.

As someone who's "in" and "a fan of" the horror community, I am fake cyber-friends on Facebook with many other people who are "fans of" or "in" the horror community on many levels, from the micro/no budget to the big budget. The creators, one hopes, are creating things. Facebook is a place to tell people about what you're creating. I count myself in that group. If you have a horror blog or website, you probably count yourself in that group, too. That's cool! Spread the word, and...

Oh, fuck it. Here's the point of all this: my keen skills of observation have led me to the following conclusion:

Facebook creates monsters

I would like to get even more specific:

Facebook creates monsters out of indie horror actresses. Some actors as well, but mostly actresses.

Yes, I'm generalizing. And let me say this: I work with and know plenty of indie horror actresses who are delightful, who are not 10,000% ego, who simply like to act, and who conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism. I'm not talking about them. They manage to use Facebook as a tool to promote themselves, and they also manage to maintain their humanity.

But! Facebook has also given rise to an interesting and frequently obnoxious phenomenon wherein a horror website appears on the scene and they take to rampantly promoting a select few actresses. Taken individually, neither of these things (new website, actress getting press) is bad. Put them together, however, and it creates the social networking equivalent of an Ouroboros. You know, the snake or dragon eating its own tail. It's all eternal and shit.

Here's the cycle:

"We here at NEW HORROR WEBSITE just love ACTRESS! Here is a picture of her."

"Hey, check out a picture of ME, ACTRESS at NEW HORROR WEBSITE! I love NEW HORROR WEBSITE. They are the best."

(three hours later)

"NEW HORROR WEBSITE has an exclusive interview with ACTRESS! Read all about the movies she's attached to that are only at the script stage!"

"You guys, here's my interview at NEW HORROR WEBSITE. Oh NEW HORROR WEBSITE, I love you!"

This exchange serves both New Horror Website and Actress as follows: New Horror Website receives the meager site hits that a Facebook posting brings, and they also receive the undying "love" of Actress. Somewhere in the back of their brains, the owners/writers of New Horror Website think that if they give Actress enough attention, well...who knows. Maybe they'll fall in love for reals!

Actress, meanwhile, basks in the adoration. She feeds off of comments and little hearts and how many times she can link to something about herself. She begins to care mostly about the number of comments, the number of likes, her fucking imdb StarMeter, the pictures of herself posted everywhere. That thing called acting- or moviemaking- takes a back seat to getting the kudos for NOTHING. Actually, it's not in the back seat- it's in another car altogether. Actress morphs into a raging, roiling ego-monster, consuming hollow praise like so many Cheetos. She becomes a terrifying abomination, like the Broodmother from Dragon Age.

Okay, that analogy actually makes no sense whatsoever, but 1) I fucking love Dragon Age, and 2) mentioning it is an excuse to post another picture to break up all my rambling bullshit.

As a nobody who occasionally directs things, I should be thankful as my FB feed sorts people out into a few groups, like people I'd want to work with and people to avoid like a Broodmother. It's actually pretty convenient.

You know, I try to maintain an air of...well, certainly not dignity, but an air of...of...okay, I try to keep Final Girl out of the realm of bullshit and drama. While some of my colleagues do not shy away from raking the muck and calling a spade an asshole, I try to simply do my thing. I review stuff, I post pictures, whatevs. You like it, cool. You don't, also cool and I hope you find a better way to spend your time than visiting FG. But! Over the last couple of days there's been some Facebook fuckery that I want to call out because it's a prime example of everything I'm talking about- the ego-monsters, the incessant praise that creates the ego-monsters, and the such.

Even now, as I'm typing this out, my brain is going "Stacie, just forget it. It has no place on Final Girl. Save it for The Scare-ening, or just take your own advice and find something better to do. Why don't you play some Dragon Age? Yes. That will make you feel better, because none of this matters anyway." Well, hey- SHUT UP BRAIN.

So, there's this movie in pre-production called Prey to God. It's one of any number of independent horror films in production featuring genre veterans and genre newbies alike. Like most films that have yet to shoot, it's in a state of flux- scripts change, cast and crew change. This is the way things go in moviedom, and should be expected by everyone involved.

One of the actors attached- let's call her...oh, Actress Jessica Cameron, because that is her name...was dropped from the project. How should such a thing be handled by both the actress and the production, should they choose to actually address it in public? How about...professionally. How about something generic regarding "scheduling conflicts" and how everyone is excited for what comes next? That would be good. But this is the Age of Facebook, and Actress Jessica Cameron is a typical Facebook Actress. There is a sense of entitlement that stems from all the ego-stroking she's enjoyed during her postings about her career.

Unnnnnggggh I feel my brain telling me to shut up again. But you know what? She put this all out there and made it public. I'm just reporting on it! I'm just acting like a legit journalist here, right? SHUT UP BRAIN.

Rather than simply saying she was no longer attached to the film, Actress Jessica Cameron decided to post her audition video. She posted it so people will comment on her Facebook page and say things like "Oh, Actress Jessica Cameron, they were stupid to get rid of you! You are a genius, and also the best actress ever." This is the exact opposite of professionalism, and a good lesson in what not to do.

She goes further, however, and starts taking swipes at the production itself to save face:
Basically it just not a good fit for me now. I Love horror - but I love complex, detailed, intense characters. I am trying to avoid "hot girl, running through the woods" again. Its important as an actress to be doing work that you feel passionate about and to work with people that are at your level or better...
See, the thing is: shut up. Just shut up now. Rejection is a part of acting. Rejection on varying levels is a part of most creative and artistic endeavors. Yes, it can hurt. You pick yourself up, you move on. Hopefully you improve and grow, or you ultimately find something else to do with your life. Making it seem as if the movie suddenly isn't good enough for you is one of those last ditch attempts at saving face, when in truth no attempt was needed. Posting your audition and following it with "I'm better than them anyway" is a risky defensive move considering that some of the actors "not at [her] level" have been working in the industry for 20+ years. Chances are they might just be at your level, or- gasp- maybe even better! Maybe you could learn a thing or two from people who have been professional actors longer than you've been alive...people who built careers with no one commenting on pictures they post on The Internet.

Again, though, this is the age of the Facebook Actress who is accustomed to incessant praise and coddling and "like"s. Criticism glances off her whitened teeth unheeded. Yeah, The Internet can be an awful place and the "this is stupid you suck"s of anonymous commenters can poop on your soul. But criticism, when it's coming from a potential employer, should maybe be given a bit more weight. Maybe bridges shouldn't be burned for the sake of a "They're dumb for not casting you" comment.

Where was I going with all this? I don't even know anymore. It just makes me so angry, this bush-league bullshit where everyone is an infallible superstar. Comments on a Facebook thread don't make you a good actress. An interview on a website doesn't make you a good actress. A photo session doesn't make you a good actress. You know what makes you a good actress? Good acting. So go do that, end of story.

And now I will listen to my brain and shut the fuck up.


L. Rob Hubb said...

There are no words....

Well, no; there are definitely words - they're just not very complementary to the actress.

DUMBFUCK is merely one of the kinder ones...

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

She'll likely get the treatment she deserves. Others who would cast her will realize that she's the emotional equivalent of a 12-year-old, and they will steer clear of her. So I think maybe she's just expediting the end of her career.

At least let's hope so.

Was that too mean?

CashBailey said...

I guess the advent of all this new social media allows all of our insecurities to be graphically displayed to everybody who wants to bear witness to them.

And for a lot of those people fishing for compliments and ass-kissers is like a drug to them.

Carrie said...

Wow, that actress isn’t too bright, is she! I agree with Missy Y. - it’s a great way to end your career REALLY fast. Facebook annoys me to no end (although I did once post a picture of my grilled cheese, but my friend had just opened a restaurant so I was trying to advertise for her!! I promise to never do it again.)

Oh, and my new favorite word: suckitude. I can’t wait to use it in a sentence!

Andrew Green said...

Excellent post....
I couldn't agree more.

Superheidi said...

I, for one, think she nailed the line, "You should totally, like, get an abortion".

As someone who has had 7 abortions, I know how that line should be said, and she nailed it.

Mrs. Hall said...

seriously? she didn't think the job was worth it?

ok. so. everyday I work with addicts as part of my job. most of the time they are accepting of the mental health help I offer and we make progress on re-gluing their life back together . . .but . . .

sometimes they are losing the battle with addiction. and they show up, to my office , drunk or high or both. At which point I have to call the police so they can pick up there drunk/highness.


and this is my job. helping these people.

so. her beef about NOT WANTING TO BE THE HOT BABE RUNNING THROUGH THE WOODS- i mean, seriously?? WTF??

I ON THE OTHER HAND, am more than willing to be the babe in the woods. I am 35 and cute, with the right lighting and make up I can be hot.

and I can run through the woods like a mofo!

AND I will do it for free!! And not complain because OMG . . . what an awesome job to be screaming and acting in horror film.

so if you need someone for your next film, lemme know.

I promise to be professional :)

Anonymous said...

My problem with the people I know on FB (And some IRL) who are also actors is that they don't even help someone out (By someone, I mean me) because they want to get started. (And it's really annoying.)

But still, I was passed up for a lot of things as a kid which went to people who simply didn't deserve it. But instead of being a bitch about it, I just quit. And even though it's a regret, I've moved on and I'm trying again...but it's hard when there's so many things preventing you. (Of course, I'm glad I got myself a Flip camera and have put some stuffs on YouTube- even though there ARE people who have no idea how to be civil...)

However, I have made it a point not to be a bitch myself because I consider myself lucky getting parts after all those years of people rejecting me. Although there's that part of me who wishes she could invite those people who turned me down to see me perform. :)

Of course, I also have respect for people who DON'T use others to get what they want...or ones that rely on nepotism. And I'm definitely not going into my "Rachelle LeFervre was screwed by Summit because Bryce Dallas Howard was a selfish bitch" rant.

Holger Haase said...

I dare say that was my favourite rant of the year so far.

Bleaux Leaux said...

Now THIS is what I'm talkin' about- one of the great Final Girl rants. And while I'm sure you're in quite a small minority (and possibly alone) in doubting the greatness of the great actress named Actress Jessica an emerging truth with regard to the sense of entitlement Facebook culture is creating. No longer is someone's body of work (aka "actual accomplishments") their primary public "face". No, now it's simply their visibility (which leads to the even larger topic of celeb culture and people like Kardashians, but that's for another day) that's the measure of their worth. A small number of people have discussed me, therefore I am famous, which must mean...I am a GREAT ACTRESS!!! The line between professional, semi-pro looking for a break, and utter amateur with delusions of stardom has completely washed away for some of these poor souls. PS- "Facebook fuckery" is my new cool phrase of the weekend.

Neil Fulwood said...

Amen to Mrs Hall. I work in complaints management and spend much of my working day getting shouted at by unhappy customers and then getting bitched at by unhappy colleagues for the cardinal sin of suggesting that just maybe they should do their job better and be polite to customers.

So hell yeah, I'll throw on a wig, wear some falsies and run through the woods like the hottest chick that ever ran through a heavily forested area. I'll even shave for the role!

goblin said...

Confession time: I'm not on Facebook. I've never felt the need to create an account there, despite people telling me all the time how great it is and that I'm totally missing out on stuff. Well, if this is what I'm missing out on, then I'm glad I'm not a part of FB.

Stacie Ponder said...

It's been good because I've reconnected with people I lost touch with (college friends, etc). It's very convenient for that. It's definitely good for getting the word out about your website or whatever. If I didn't have a website or work to promote, I'd probably have 8 friends and Facebook would be awesome. :D

MARS said...

Absolutely wonderful rant. I've noticed the rather disturbing abuse of the term "Scream Queen" with a kind of distain for the past several years now...what the Hell? Debbie Rochon , Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley...THOSE ladies are SCREAM QUEENS. They earned it the old fashioned way; one film at a time. Some of these current batch of young ladies are just trying to do their best to get exposure, which I understand....but, many are so tactless and just plain THOUGHTless while they go about it. A real professional turn off.

dementia13 said...

I'm not as personally invested in the situation, but I'm more embarrassed for her than I am annoyed. Immature people do immature things, and sometimes they learn as they get older. As a musician, I've seen how applause can do strange things to your brain, and it's the same with actors and actresses. People will put up with that for a real special talent, but as one of thousands of actresses whose only resume credit is a low-budget horror film that she got fired from, she may be about to get one of those kicks in the face that life so famously delivers. She can flap gums (fingers?) all she wants, but it's likely to be a short time before every bit of her will be gone, and her film career will be a mystery...even to her. (Chomps corn)

originalslugboy said...

I realize I'm a little late to the discussion, but I'd just like to point out that if I were a bread, I'd like to be Fibonacci bread.

Doug said...

Right on!

I click "like" on this.

too much facebook fuckery going on these days.

vortexgods said...

In my decadent youth, I would pick up the occasional issue of Scream Queens Illustrated. Purely for the articles, of course!

Pray for me.

William "Eric Morse" Pattison said...

Excellent blog, Final Girl. You hit it on the head. I call the entire clique Jessica Cameron is a part of horror socials. These are pretty much the same type of ego cases that used to make our lives hell in high school. The worse and most hypocritical part of it is these socials used to be us. They just got their egos stroked and decided they were superior to the rest of us geeks. The truth is they are vampires sucking the life out of this genre. Look at a film by a horror social. They are not scary. The writing sucks and in some cases is based on their political views. These films lack well thought out characters or plots. And, they lack tension.
In the case of Jessica Cameron she did something that breaks the prime rule of the horror socials. She let her fake PR mask slip and the public got to see the raging bitch beneath. Now she is paying the price for this. She is being crucified by the people who once supported her. There is one light of hope, that more horror socials make the same mistake and let their masks slip so the public can see what shallow, heartless, souless, ego cases they all are. Then the real artists will arise and we will start getting good horror films by filmmaker with real heart and soul.