The recent news of telephone hacking by tabloid newspapers has been shocking. Obviously, many people have been affected by the developments, and for some people, it’ll be quite a difficult time. While it’s not my place to say who has it the hardest, I think that there’s a solid argument to be made that the I’ve suffered the most as a result of those bastard journalists sticking their noses in where they weren’t welcome, only to get caught.
I should explain. Had things gone to plan, you’d currently be reading a shocking expose on an incident that involved a pizza delivery man who couldn’t find Jerry Bruckheimer’s house. However, following the recent press developments, Den Of Geek are refusing to publish a story they claim “clearly features excerpts of a private telephone message. I mean, you’ve quoted the dial tone at the end of the message. We’re also dubious that anyone would care, Matt. No one wants to know about Jerry Bruckheimer’s pizza.”
This left me with no column, no ideas and almost no time. So, much like anyone with a looming deadline and an Internet connection, I procrastinated for several hours.
My online journey took me through the good, the bad and the filthy, which is, of course, what led me back to my own writing. I thought I’d finally knuckle down and just get on with the column, but first I’d have a quick look at the review of the film, Super, I wrote for this site, to see if the article had garnered any interesting comments. It had. Commenter eoghanryderhad this to say:
“I have a gut feeling that this review has set expectations a tad too high and i’ll be inevitably disappointed whenever I do [see] this film now. I get the impression that this article is almost extra promotion for a film. Does Den Of Geek get paid to promote films as well? :S”
No, I do not write positive reviews of films that I don’t like for money. That said, although Den Of Geek is absolutely above doing something as dodgy as this, I’m not. I’ve made several attempts to sell my integrity, but unfortunately, buyers seem reluctant. I should be so lucky as to have integrity of financial worth.
Here, reprinted for your reading pleasure and for my impending deadline, are five emails I’ve sent out over the few months seeking payment for unethical things.
1. Favourable reviews – honest
Dear the Team behind Pirates Of The Caribbean 4
In this difficult time of snide movie reviews written by undereducated hacks, who wouldn’t know about piracy if the dodgy films they downloaded had a wooden leg and a talking parrot on their shoulder, or made them walk the plank, or spent months at sea and, in order to satiate their erotic desires, resorted to- Wait, what was I talking about? Ah, yes. The state of modern film criticism. It can’t have escaped your attention that there are a lot of nerds out there that think you guys are just terrible. Those nerds are my people and I know how to get through to them. I’d like to propose a mutually beneficial arrangement to you.
I’d be willing to review your film in such a way that, without lying, would make it sound like something that snarky Internet people would want to watch. Here are some excerpts from the potential write-up.
‘Johnny Depp returns as Professor Jim Sparrow. All you nerdy guys like him, right? I’m sure you said so in between puffs on your asthma inhalers.’
‘There’s the ocean in it, which looks splendid and blue.’
‘The story is both present and non-negotiable.’
The idea is to bamboozle readers with vague statements and nonsense. Now, in an ideal world, I’d be more specific about the film, but unfortunately. I haven’t actually seen Pirates 4. To be honest, that kind of tat really isn’t my thing. Nonetheless, Den Of Geek is a big site, and I’m sure I can blag a positive review onto it without too much bother. Before you know it, waves of pale skinned social outcasts will be queuing around the block for tickets to your stupid pirate movie.
I know what you’re thinking, “This sounds too good to be true. What’s in it for you?” The answer to that question is £10,000 in cash.
Obviously, keep this all under your hat. I look forward to hearing from your stupid, tiny face soon.
2. Favourable reviews – dishonest
Dear the Team behind Pirates Of The Caribbean 4
I am yet to receive a reply to me previous email. Alright then, you’re playing hardball. I appreciate strong negotiating skills and I’m willing to work with you. You didn’t get to where you are today by just handing out cash to random strangers on the Internet, and I can respect that. So, what I’m going to propose is this: I will lie. Here are some excerpts of the potential article.
‘What an interesting choice to have Batman, Superman and Iron Man pop up in cameos.’
‘You would have thought all of the nudity would have got the film a higher age rating. Either way, the 3D is really, really top notch.’
‘In no way is Johnny Depp single-handedly carrying the franchise.’
‘Producer Bruckheimer’s face is not so undersized that it makes the rest of him look like it’s been inflated.’
In exchange for the article, I’m willing to accept just £5000, and it doesn’t have to be cash. It can be a cheque or PayPal. As a gesture of goodwill, I will even accept Disney Dollars on this occasion. Seriously, guys, there’s a nerd uprising on the horizon and you need me to do this for yourselves, just like I need you for some spending money on my upcoming trip to Disney World. Off topic, I know, but I can’t wait to go on the teacup ride!
Get back to me,
3. Product placement
Dear Helix Stationery
I’m a writer for a film and television website and a ruler enthusiast. I’m sure you get emails like this all the time, but I would like to start by saying that your rulers are the best on the market, shatterproof and as straight as an arrow from Robin Hood’s bow. We should all aim to achieve the same mastery of our craft as your ruler-producing division does.
I am writing to you to discuss a rather touchy subject, product placement. I would like to come to an arrangement with you where you would pay me to reference your rulers in my column. Here is an example of what I had in mind.
‘Shia LaBeouf will give it to you straighter than a Helix ruler…’
‘With a face that measures, according to my reliable and affordable Helix ruler, just 3cm across, the action-movie producer…’
The potential is huge. If you have any concerns, I’d like to assure you that everything will be fine. I’m in the process of securing a similar agreement with the production team behind the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. I hope we can work out a suitable deal of financial compensation (and perhaps some rulers, too).
I optimistically await your response,
4. Facty references, all untrue
I’m still yet to receive any kind of payment for this Pirates review I’m selling you. What the fuck, J-Dog? I thought we had a deal. Now I have to sweeten the pot on this thing?
How about this? £50 for the lot, and I’ll make up some facts about the film too. You know what bullshit facts are like on the Internet, Bruck buddy. They become indistinguishable from reality. Unless it’s Shia LaBeouf saying it, in which case everyone knows it’s not true. But I think that goes without saying. That guy has less chance in a scrap with Tom Hardy than I do of drawing a wonky line with my trusty Helix ruler. Er, anyway, this is the sort of thing I mean.
‘Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 is the highest grossing film of all time, as it turns out that Avatar box office figures had been inflated to account for James Cameron’s ego.’
‘Transformers 3 has been marred by claims that Bay stole both the story and the catering staff from former mentor, Jerry Bruckheimer’
Here’s the thing, Jer-Jer. I can make you look very, very good, or I can make your stupid tiny face look very, very bad. Those nerds out there love me, Bruck-bollocks, and I’m just desperate enough to turn them against you. I’ve got a box of rulers sat by my desk and the Helix stationary people are starting to ask questions.
Don’t you fuck me on this.
Dear Den Of Geek Readers
I write to you with a proposal that I had hoped I would never have to make. Times have become desperate. Jerry Bruckheimer has betrayed me and I owe £25 to the Helix stationery people because of a mix-up over a box of stolen rulers. If I don’t pay in the next two weeks, they’re going to come for me. These guys are dangerous. They’re like the Shia LaBeouf of the stationary world.
What I’m offering you is a unique opportunity to have a Den Of Geek writer confess to your crimes in his next column. For the bargain fee of just £25, one lucky reader will have his or her criminal act included in a story about some nonsense or other, with me as the perpetrator. This would be particularly good if the crime you’re being accused of is harassing normal-sized-man-with-a-baby’s-face Jerry Bruckheimer.
Alternatively, email me if you’d like to buy a ruler.
Of course, even though my moral compass sometimes has trouble finding North, I’m not willing to do just anything. For the sake of salvaging my reputation somewhat, please see the below correspondence, which I obviously refused to agree to.
Dear Matt on a Hot Tin Roof
We write to you on behalf of our client, Jerry Bruckheimer. We have emails you’ve sent him soliciting payment for positive film reviews. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight that Mr. Bruckheimer has never, and will never, participate in such activities. He views this act as unethical and dishonest. Furthermore, his face is a perfectly reasonable size for a man of his height.
We suggest that you cease correspondence, or else Mr. Bruckheimer will be contacting the authorities.