Watched a great documentary last night on late film critic Roger Ebert of Siskel & Ebert fame called Life Itself. I was a big fan of that TV show for many years because I loved seeing them debate and discuss films with such unfiltered passion. If I agreed or not I loved watching and appreciated how honest they were. Now that I think about it there is certainly some similar things in the spirit of that show and at times what we do on TMS. But what really struck me about the film was how these guys were so loved by the film industry, the actors, directors, etc, even if they slammed one of their films! Ebert was close with Martin Scorsese and loved most of his films. But he didn’t like Color Of Money and had to give his honest feelings to his TV audience and to his friend. Scorsese didn’t like it but respected it. There was a clip of Ebert on the Tonight Show sitting right next to Chevy Chase and when Carson asked him what he thought of Chevy’s latest film he said “I can’t recommend it”. Chase laughed and made some light jokes back at Roger. But he didn’t storm off the set, didn’t say he would never let him see one of his films in advance, didn’t say he would never interview with him. It was amazing to see Siskel & Ebert grow to be so powerful in their business that they had to be respected and couldn’t be ignored for their honest critiques. And it got me thinking, why can’t most people do that in the music industry? Why do we live in a world today that people constantly ask for your opinion, then go crazy and accuse you of “shit talking” a band or album when you give it? As many of you know I don’t care and never did care about the blow back. I feel it is important to give an honest appraisal in a respectful way always. But it amazes me every day that you say one thing negative (even if it’s true) and people just run to the web, blow it out of proportion, and mount attacks. Why on earth does everything need to be so sanitized and so PC that just giving an OPINION in the music world sends a portion of that artists fan base going crazy after you to the point of totally taking things out of context. Or worse yet that the artists believe what these people embellish and throwing hissy fits about it without even really learning the facts. It’s something I struggle with everyday, and yes there are a couple artists that actually do this sadly, with skin that thin.  Imagine if Ebert and his partner ever caved to that? Something tells me we wouldn’t be seeing documentaries about their career if they did. I also love sports talk radio. Every day I hear hosts slam players, GMs, etc. But these people step up, come on, and give their side of things. You have to respect both sides. I’ve been lucky that most artists get and respect and want an honest opinion and don’t hold it against me if it isn’t positive. We all know the very few that do. But I couldn’t help to see the amazing impact Siskel & Ebert had and how they were able to still serve their audience while still having the support of the artists and industry. There is no logical reason why this can’t also be the case in the music industry, but sadly what I call the “pounce” world of social media we live in today seems to do everything to prevent such free thinking. Hard to imagine what a young journalist coming up today with no following is up against in this super safe PC world.

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  • Lorne Carter on

    I think times have changed with the digital revolution. Say what you will about critics back in the day dissing on Kiss, Rush even Zepplin but most did their homework and at least listened to the records.

    However unlike Ebert’s era, Trunk is living in the famous to be famous and everyone without a clue and a internet connection thinks their opinion is not only valid but not an opinion. They speak the Truth and what they say is fact… never mind they’ve done no homework.

    Look at Kayne West who (at the time) couldn’t tell the difference between Beck and a bic lighter but thinks that a national audience is entitled to his opinion because it’s the truth. The truth according to whom? A guy that never even heard Beck’s record?

    Not to say there aren’t hyper sensitive artist out there with managers and spinmen who want to control the image down to the last minutia. Always has been. But there are more people out there chiming in who confuse opinion with fact. A lot of people being tabbed taste-makers who quiet frankly haven’t put in the work (like Mr Turnk) to be able to earn that title. And a lot of people who aren’t speaking to make the art better, but to put their name in the spotlight.

  • Luke R on

    I totally agree with the point of the article, but I really don’t see That Metal Show being as honest as S&E. I mean no offense, but they used to flat out call movies horrible or tired, lame, mindless etc… They even had a year’s worst films episode.

    That Metal Show doesn’t do anything like that. No one ever says they don’t like something. Even when mentioning something negative, TMS plays it off like a joke or qualifies it by saying “it’s a good album for this point in their career.”

    That’s why I laugh at the rank feature of the show. It’s almost like the guys won’t talk negative about an album until the artist themself say it’s safe to do so by ranking it last!

    Other than that, I will say the show is fun and I like the guys. Some picks of the week have been especially helpful to me for finding new music.

    • Michael B on

      Absolutely. That Metal Show is fun and all, but mostly these artists get tossed softballs and it’s a big love fest. It’s not exactly hard hitting journalism or criticism.

      In fact, most of the websites that give music reviews of hard rock or metal, only review music that they like or rate highly.

    • Mark Ellis on

      Great post, Eddie. My sense is that if the show was too ascerbic and got into real slamming then the guest list would dry up pretty quick.As the TMS trio knows well, in show business, you have to smooze to some extent to get the talent.
      I’ve been a fan since the show was 1/2 hour and taped in Ricki Rachtman’s basement, and the only thing I’d like to see more of is guys from “Cookie Monster” acts (Cannibal, Immortal, SFU etc.) Never forget, it isn’t just Ace who has a song called “Parasite.” Exodus has one too–look out!

  • Chris Bacchi on

    Excellent movie, excellent points Eddie! Obviously referencing Stanley & Simmons. I have been a huge KISS fan since ’77 (love all eras) but it really frustrates me that P&G (I’m listing Paul first because he definitely appears to be the main antagonist) don’t seem to give Eddie the benefit of taking into consideration all that he has done to promote them during his career; no other media figure even comes close. Watching the clip of Paul in San Fran discussing TMS, calling it “Wayne’s World” and seeing his facial expressions and hearing his comments was, to me, sad. I personally have lost a lot of respect for P&G (in my opinion Gene clearly takes the lead from Paul on this, as well as anything else KISS nowadays, but that’s another story!) over this.

    • Eddie on

      Paul runs the show indeed these days. Many bands besides Kiss can’t handle anything negative, and much of it is because social media blows it up into more than what it was. I have huge respect for the bands that can roll with it and look at and respect opinions

  • shannon mehaffey on

    What’s almost disturbing about kids now, and it’s not really their fault, is that with “social” media, they are being marketed to in a way in which their self-esteem is contingent on how many likes they get, how many retweets, etc. Being liked is now a very concrete notion, it’s been reduced to data. So, being friends with another, has as its premise, a marketing strategy. In other words, they treat their peers as they are being treated by the corporations, be it a Hollywood movie, a product….kids now have no idea what selling out even means. This phenomena has occurred just in the last 15 years…

    • Lorne Carter on

      Great point. Not just kids… I’m sure I’m not the only one who logs onto Facebook to see dozens of selfies from grown adults. Not to mention the pictures of food and check-ins at hot spots. If the 80’s were the “me generation” this is the “LOOK @ ME” generation only it doesn’t seem to be contained to an A18-34 demographic. The cool kids corner and the country club haven’t been replaced by the chart telling you how many interactions you got yet. But the way things are going who knows.

      So imagine your a rock star that has been coddled for 4 decades. Normal people don’t have thick enough skins most days much less someone who has people who haven’t heard the truth or a differing opinion in forever. Much like social media, it’s easier for some stars to hit the unfriend button than to sit down with Eddie as discuss the uneasy subjects without a filter in the way.

    • shannon mehaffey on

      Lol…no kidding, what kind of narcissist posts what they are about to eat? Do you think I give a rat’s ass about your dumb sandwich? You are so important I care about what you have for lunch? “To all my facebook friends..I am going through a trying time in my life, so much drama…look at what I am having for breakfast….” LOL…

  • Bill F. on

    Certainly, I get your point, Eddie, and don’t disagree. But to some extent it is not apples and apples. One, the example of Chevy is on camera, so who knows what went on behind the scenes. Second, most of the bulk of Siskel and Ebert’s careers as critics was in print and on television; one way communications. They did not have to endure “Twitter wars” based on their opinions.

    Third, and far more important, is the notion that the critique is different. The criticisms are far more “personal” in music, and far more about taking sides. To say to Martin Scorcese, “I don’t like Goodfellas, because I think the violence is gratuitous and you romanticized Henry Hill, who in real life was nothing but a thug” that’s one thing. Much of the criticism in the rock arena is personal. Critiquing how Paul and Gene handle their business affairs – NOT their art – and coupled with the fact that to many, this is a personal dispute between Paul/Gene and Ace/Peter, I’m not sure how anyone can expect any other outcome. If Roger Ebert said something like “I don’t think you treated Bill Murray fairly on set of Caddyshack” immediately after being spotted at Bill’s table at the Golden Globes… I think it is naïve to think that the results would be the same. Ebert and Siskel DID have their rivalries, you know.

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