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Home / Blogs / Canvassed
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Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 - Canvassed | Art & culture

Crispin Glover didn't mean to snub CityBeat

The eccentric actor and filmmaker is actually a pretty nice guy

By Kinsee Morlan

CityBeat published a somewhat snarky piece in this week's paper, cautiously recommending that people check out actor Crispin Glover's upcoming film screenings and live performance

In it, I say Glover snubbed CityBeat because, as has been his practice during the nine years he's been touring with his films and live show, he copied and pasted recycled answers in response to an email Q&A I sent him. I had originally requested a phone interview but was told by the promoters that it would have to be done via email. 

Here's the story behind that story. 

When I first opened Glover's email, I was stoked. I naively thought the one-and-only Crispin Glover (George McFly himself!) had opened up my email and, so inspired by my insightful questions, had typed thousands of words in response (just for little ol' me!). I went home that night and, after working hard to get my little one to go to sleep, stayed up late to hit the next morning's deadline for the short piece. I was pretty excited to be writing about Glover. He's weird, but fascinating—maybe even an artistic genius.

I wrote the piece quoting a few of the lines from the email Q&A. But, in doing a little more research, I ended up stumbling across a startling (for me anyway) bit of info in No. 12 in Flavorwire's "12 Things We Learned from Crispin Glover’s Reddit AMA" piece (I, too, had read through a lot of the Reddit AMA but found his extraordinarily long responses to some of the questions hard to get through): Flavorwire called out the fact that Glover often copies and pastes answers to questions from a long document he's put together using information culled from written interviews he's conducted over the last nine years. 

I went back to our email Q&A, pulled out entire paragraphs and pasted them into Google. Dozens of interviews popped up with verbatim responses (the questions leading to the responses, by the way, are all pretty different). It made sense: While Glover had sort of answered my questions in a roundabout way, it became clear that he had simply provided canned responses, save for a few hastily written lines.

I felt snubbed and I knew my editor wouldn't allow what's akin to quoting a press release in a story, so I erased the piece I had written and started over. Enter the snark and caution. 

At about 1 a.m., I sent Glover the following, just to see how he'd respond: "Uh, is this all copied and pasted?"

Glover sent a long email in response explaining his tactic.

"With this method I can take more time with the questions that are not normally asked," he explained. "I of course wrote all of it.... This way I use the replies for the questions that are mandatory for the interviewer to ask and I am able to do the interviews at odd hours and when I am traveling and otherwise not reachable on my tours. It also makes it so the interviewer does not have to transcribe. It is a far more detailed interview than would happen otherwise.

He offered to answer more questions, but the story was already past deadline. I told him that I appreciated his time and understood how busy he must be. But, still a bit frustrated and feeling blindsided because he didn't mention he'd copied and pasted the responses up front, I laid out a five-point email in which I listed reasons why most journalists aren't likely to appreciate his approach.  

The email set off a firestorm that ultimately spread to the promoters of the San Diego show and led to Glover saying that he had not received the original request for a phone interview (it was indeed sent by the promoter but went to the wrong address, which is why it didn't register as a press request). 

In short, Glover was not happy, either with the miscommunication or with the negative piece that resulted. In fact, he was downright upset, because, as I later learned during a phone interview with Glover that lasted more than an hour long, the man is nothing if not open and accessible. Turns out he grants phone and even in-person interviews as often as he can.

"What’s especially, for me, frustrating about it is I feel like, [as opposed to] most actors or filmmakers, I’m way more available," he said. "I have motivation to get the word out as much as possible. I’m not interested in snubbing anybody. I’m grateful to anybody who wants to say anything about my films."

"It’s not fair," he later added. "I’m out there trying to get stuff across that’s good, that’s thoughtful… and it’s very difficult to do as an individual. I do not have a publicist. I do all of this myself."

The first hour of my conversation with Glover flew by. Among many points, he convinced me of his authenticity, passion and dedication to getting his art films What is It? and It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINEout to the widest audience possible without the benefit of corporate mass distribution. His main objective with the films is straightforward, earnest and commendable—he simply wants to inspire people to ask questions and think critically. 

"The films are my psychological response to corporate constraints," he explains. "I want people to ask, 'Is this right what I’m watching? Is this wrong what I’m watching? Should the filmmaker have done this? What is it?'"  

Our long conversation was ultimately cut off by the automated voice of Google Voice, which said the maximum amount of time for recording a conversation had passed. 

"Are you secretly recording us?!" I asked Glover, before the call was cut off. 

Glover quickly called me back and assured me that if he was recording the call, he certainly had not meant to. 

"That's illegal," he said, assuring me that perhaps he had simply hit a wrong button. 

We ended things as friends or, perhaps better, as a journalist who respected the work of her subject and a subject who respected the work of a journalist. While I promised to correct the accusation of Glover snubbing CityBeat by writing this explanatory piece, Glover, in turn, promised to let journalists know in advance when he was copying and pasting responses to email interviews. 

But before Glover would let it go, he said something that's probably true and works even further in his defense. Journalist are underpaid and overworked these days, he says; most of them are totally fine with running the email interviews he sends, and they don't give a shit that the content is recycled. 

He's probably right about that. Three cheers to journalists who do still care and seek originality in everything they do—even if it is just a 300-word write-up about a local event. 

And about that upcoming event, I don't know about you, but for me and the rest of the CityBeat staffers who overheard my conversation with Glover, we suddenly really, really want to go and see what this man has to say.

 
 
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