The AVQ&A questions we won’t answer (including that sex-music thing you keep asking about)
Recently, a reader complained that we haven’t been answering enough reader questions over at AVQ&A, that we’ve been defaulting to staff questions too often. That’s a fair cop. This week’s bad-ass question is from a reader, and we have more reader questions coming up in the immediate future. But we get an awful lot of reader questions we’re never going to answer, because they just don’t work for AVQ&A for various reasons. Here are some of them, with explanations of why they aren’t right for us. Or why we’re just too squeamish. Feel free to discuss these yourself… just don’t ask us to.
Hey, I was curious if any members of The A.V. Club have creative outlets beyond their jobs. Have any of you been in a band, written a screenplay, hosted an art show, done stand-up/improv, given G.G. Allin a run for his money or anything like that? If so, can we see YouTubes/mp3s/jpegs? —Bob
What is each reviewer’s favorite genre or subgenre within the medium they review? A couple favorite examples from that genre would be cool also. —BK
So you guys all have to have nice, sensible handles to identify yourself with on the comments boards. All perfectly logical, of course, but most of us tend to pick pop-cultural references, obscure this-that-and-the-other references, etc. So if you were allowed to pick your own names for the comments board, what would they be, and why? What would make you choose one reference point over another? —Grant
What was the first bit of pop culture that compelled you to write about it, and why? —Matthew
Quite a few of the commenters at The A.V. Club seem to enjoy creating fake pullquotes from the reviews that get posted. I was just wondering if any of your reviews have been blurbed, and, if so, which ones are you proud of and which ones embarrass you to no end? —PH
As an avid reader of The A.V. Club, I am curious to know:
1) What is your favorite article that you’ve written for The A.V. Club?
2) What is your favorite article that another person has written for The A.V. Club? —Jay
Much of the point of AVQ&A is that it’s meant as a commenters’ playground, a place where you guys can compare notes and have discussions of your own while the AVC staff is mostly frantically busy wrapping up the week’s work. So any question that’s meant specifically for the staff and isn’t really accessible to the commenters as a whole (or to anyone who isn’t a professional writer) is going to get gonged. We’re looking to provide a space for an open discussion, not just to talk about ourselves and our own work.
For the record, though, my all-time favorite A.V. Club article is this interview Nathan did with Russ Meyer, a dirty old man who was trying very, very hard to shock Nathan. I don’t know what’s funnier, Meyer’s graphic descriptions of cunnilingus, or Nathan’s unflappability in the face of them. A close second is John Krewson’s old interview with Harlan Ellison, which amounts to one long, entertaining rant spaced out with about three interview questions and a couple of statements. There are a bunch more old AVC interviews that I’d love to pimp, and I admit I’m curious what pieces still resonate with commenters years later. But I’d never put this question in AVQ&A, because nobody responds well to “What have we done that’s awesome? Praise us!”
Everyone can agree to the fact that season four of The Wire is the very pinnacle of television excellence, but there is ample room for argument as to which season deserves the title of second-best. I would love to read the staffers’ choices and explanations of their second-favorite Wire season, or even their whole-season rankings. I currently have it at 4,2,1,3,5. But that’s with only four or five complete-series views, and only two complete one-week full-series marathons. —Eric
I recently re-watched Clue, and it got me thinking: What other awesome films (or other entertainments) were inspired by ridiculous source materials? Is Clue the only movie that came from a board game? —Ben
Who is the best rapper alive? —Lee
What letter on your iPod do you listen to most often? —Brad
Lovingly ripped off from Inside The Actors Studio: What is your favorite curse word? —MD
The problem with all these questions is that there’s very little real room for interaction. Anything that doesn’t even require one complete sentence to answer, anything that’s really a trivia question, anything way too specific, or anything where the possible answers are fairly limited tends to make for a lousy open discussion. A good AVQ&A question either leaves room for debate and argument, or is about personal experiences that are different for everyone: “Choose one of these five things as best” or “Pick one letter from the alphabet” means too many of the answers are going to be the same. Presuming anyone even engages with the question in the first place.
What pieces of pop culture have you had a complete reversal of opinion on since the first time you encountered it? Or in other words, have you written a review (or expressed an opinion) you really want a do-over of after the fact? —Scott
Is there a “critical blunder” you look back on with regret? Is there an album, film, book or something along those lines that is now considered part of the pop-culture canon that you panned or dismissed when it originally appeared? —Graham
This is a question we get a whole lot in various forms. We even got it at the New York reading for the Inventory book. While it falls into the “questions not accessible to most of the readers” problem, it also has a central tenet problem, in that most of us don’t spend that much time regretting past reviews. While sometimes we do end up reconsidering films we didn’t like the first time around (in our year-end coverage, Keith recanted on Inglourious Basterds, feeling he’d underrated it the first time around), more often we end up feeling like the review we wrote after reading/watching/hearing that piece of art was how we felt at the time, and even if that isn’t how we feel now, it’s still an accurate portrait of a past feeling, and thus not “wrong.”
And frankly, we’re always on to the new thing, we’re always overwhelmed with fresh material to consider, and there generally isn’t a lot of time to look back and muse and regret over past opinions. I don’t regret what I had for breakfast on a given day last year, either. I’m more concerned with today.
I’ve been searching for music to play when it’s business time. This is a purely academic question. It hasn’t been business time in a while. I figure there may be a reader or two out there who can sympathize. So what gets you in the mood? —KS
I’m constantly feeling self-conscious about my own “hook-up” mix… that is, the playlist or artist I put on when I’m trying to woo a girl. I’ve run through some stereotypical stuff (Al Green, for example), but then I feel like a cliché. So my question is, what music do you put on to set the romance? (Or… if things go well, bump uglies to?) We’re all adults here, right? —Dave
Back in 2004, Keith proposed we do a list of cinema’s least sexy sex scenes. AVC writers fell over themselves to participate, with a lively discussion leading to a ton of suggestions being boiled down to a few key entries. Years later, he suggested a follow-up of actually sexy sex scenes. No one wanted to participate, and an uncomfortable silence prevailed. The second list ended up longer than the first only after a lengthy bout of cajoling writers to contribute, but the discussion and the enthusiasm never materialized. My conclusion: No one here wants to talk about their sex lives. No one here wants to invite other people here to imagine them having sex, and with good reason. And there’s no way to answer the question above without conjuring up the image of yourself making the O-face to the tune of Al Green or whatever. So we’re unlikely to ever answer any question that involves our sex lives. Sorry. But hey, you guys out there don’t have to look each other in the face every day, so feel free to have a big gangbang of a discussion about it yourselves. Just don’t try to convince us that “Business Time” is actually a good sex song.