The Death Squad and the Film Critic


It’s a third world dictatorship, and the strong man has a list. On it are the names of every known American film critic, from the blogs to the Chicago Reader to Ain’t-it-Cool to The New Yorker to the two wiseass Koreans who used to man the cult counter at DVD Palace on 44th and 8th. They’re already on the road, the death squads. Your door bows in, storm of boots, and before you know it you’re lined up on your knees alongside J. Hoberman and 3 Black Chicks.

I saw it coming a long ways off, so I dressed in militia rags, became a scout helping round up all those poor bastards. I did my best to drown out the whimpering as I double-checked restraints and supervised the digging. But something tugged at my conscience during the second or third corral. It gave me an idea of how to save the critics.

I told the local chieftan that we should spare this particular batch of vermin because their skills might be of use in the propaganda effort. “How do you mean?” asked General Taharqa. “Well,” I began, my heart skipping a beat at the prospect of seriously pissing him off. “We want the people to be more squarely behind our movement. We want to do this with less bloodshed, not more. We know that our filmmakers are instrumental in shaping the public will, and that they have been failing us with their crude, transparent methods.”

“Okay, wrap this up. I’m ready to kill these motherfuckers.”

…an excerpt from a short story for film critics.