About that Time I Was Really Embarrassed by What A Huge Jerk I Was on the Internet
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About that Time I Was Really Embarrassed by What A Huge Jerk I Was on the Internet

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | June 8, 2014 | Comments ()


Have you ever inadvertently said something to a friend, loved one, or spouse that — as soon as it left your mouth — you realized how shitty it was? In those situations, you’ve basically got four choices: 1) Ignore it and hope that she didn’t hear it (this is never the case); 2) or worse, go with the “You misheard me defense,” which no one ever buys; 3) double-down on your assholery, stick by your statement, and then vociferously defend it (which is a terrible idea, because then you dig yourself an even bigger hole that you’re eventually going to have to apologize yourself out of anyway; or 4) immediately apologize, which only calls more attention to the fact that you said was a shitty thing to say.

This weekend, I referred to Peyton Reed — the man who is replacing Edgar Wright on the Ant-Man project — as a “studio hack” and a “scab.” In my head before I hit publish, the former insult felt fairly benign on a site like this, and the latter felt like ha-ha! hyperbole, but as soon as I hit publish, I realized it they were shitty things to say, and there were no shortage of people on Twitter and in the comments section to reinforce that. Turns out, after checking Peyton Reed’s Twitter account, I realized that he is in fact a very smart, very charming guy who is very kind to others, but even if that weren’t the case, I shouldn’t have said that. It was Friday night, I was running out the door to go on an anniversary date with the wife, and I was not careful with my words at all (and boy, did I hear about it).

So, I spent the last two otherwise exceptional days with family and friends who know nothing about anything that goes on here on the Internet feeling perfectly embarrassed and ashamed of myself about what a jerk I was, and every time I checked Twitter, I was reminded again of what an asshole I was.

Ignoring it didn’t work; I can’t claim the misheard defense because that’s disingenuous; and I’m not about to double down on a half-assed-running-out-the-door argument. So, at the risk of calling more attention to what a dick I was, I’ll apologize, and say that this is what I should’ve wrote about Peyton Reed taking over as director of Ant-Man:.


Peyton Reed has been hired to take over as director on Ant-Man, according to The Wrap. Reed is best known for directing Bring It On and Down with Love, and most recently, Jim Carrey’s Yes Man. Like anyone with a pulse, I loved Bring It On, I thought Down with Love was a visually interesting misfire, and I thought Yes Man was really bad. As for The Break-Up? I’ve seen it a couple of times, and I still don’t know what to think of that movie: I didn’t find it particularly good, but I did find it at times refreshingly and brutally honest (and I applaud the ending).

And the truth is, like a lot of people, I feel protective of Edgar Wright, but not out of some sort of fanboy rage (in fact, I was hard on Scott Pilgrim and even took issue with how so many bloggers had cozied up to Edgar Wright, blurring the line between criticism and promotion) but because I feel very strong about loyalty, and to me — if the rumors are true — I felt like Wright was poorly treated by a studio less interested in making a great movie and more interested in making a profitable one that extended their brand.

Of course, that’s Marvel’s prerogative and obviously what movie studios are designed to do: Make a profit. But when others passed on Ant-Man, my feeling is that they were doing it not because they didn’t want to direct a Marvel movie, but because it wasn’t the right thing to do. It felt like David Guarascio and Moses Port taking over Community from the fired Dan Harmon all over again.

Of course, knowing what I know about Edgar Wright’s films, and knowing what I know about Peyton Reed’s movies, I also think, if Marvel is going to make a movie more in line with Reed’s past work, I’m also much less excited about it. I also feel like Paul Rudd signed up to be Ant-Man in an Edgar Wright film, and not a Peyton Reed film, and that maybe this is not the movie even Rudd wants to make.

But, as many, many people have pointed out, directors who have made bad movies in the past have managed to make very good Marvel movies, so of course, Peyton Reed could marry some of his visual style with a nice comedic sensibility and come out with a perfectly acceptable Ant-Man.

I guess I still feel bad for Wright, who put in so much work into this project only to lose it, and ultimately, I thought what Phil Miller and Chris Lord said on the subject was accurate: The only guy who should be finishing an Edgar Wright film is … Edgar Wright.

But this is business, and that’s not the way it works, and with Adam McKay aboard on the script, this is probably not even an Edgar Wright film anymore, and I shouldn’t have called the perfectly charming and bright Peyton Reed a studio hack and a scab for taking a job. That was a shitty thing to say, and I’m embarrassed for being a jerk about it.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ken Linck

    Okay, now I would rather see *you* direct Ant-Man.

    Classy move, sir. Very honest, and very classy.

  • Wigamer

    I like you so much.

  • BlackRabbit

    Did you send your apology to Mr. Reed as well? Poor guy is probably facing a LOT of pressure. Kudos on your honesty and display of ethics, though.

  • Batesian

    A tip of the hat* for not only the mea culpa, but also for writing more eloquently on the original topic. As others have said, it's stuff like this what makes Pajiba special.

    I agree with your (second pass) comments, though I will say: once Edgar Wright left the project, it was no longer an Edgar Wright film. Indeed, that's the crux: It's a Marvel film, and they've shown more than once that the studio vision takes precedence.

    (And I say this as an unabashed fan of Wright and of Marvel.)

    *Literally. For I am wearing an actual hat as I type this.

  • Some Guy

    I was struck once by something Steven Spielberg said while discussing auteur theory in regards to Hollywood directors. He basically dismissed the notion of the theory for the simple yet obvious reason that no big Hollywood movie is ever the work of one and only one person/director.

    There are waaaay too many collective influences, from the producers, the writers of the original material and characters, the actors, editors, composers, SFX guys, designers, cinematographers, etc, to really give all the credit from one movie, a movie that from its inception is a collaborative effort, to one person, the director, just because they wrangle and manage all of the particular elements the way they see fit.

    I get that the original director made this movie his baby and it sucks that he left what is something that is no doubt his, to some degree or another.

    But Wright didn't create Antman, the characters, and the assumably Marvel-Universe based story lines the movie will follow to tie in with the rest of the current Marvel universe.

    Dustin, I for one am glad that you wrote this, because it did seem needlessly harsh to chastise a guy for wanting to do his job. What is everyone supposed to do? Not direct a major film with major stars because someone else tooled with the script for a few years prior to it being made? If I understand Hollywood correctly, that's how just about EVERY film gets made.

    No one person gets to claim complete ownership of a film. Especially someone who doesn't even own the rights to said character said film is based on.

  • Dirk

    Would you have felt the need to apologize if Michael Bay was the director?

  • Uriah_Creep

    You beat yourself up a lot, Dustin, and it's really not necessary. Plenty of your readers will be more than happy to do it for you. Kudos on correcting what seemed to me an article that was more churlish than mocking.

  • Dave Dorris

    Well done sir. This is partly why this is my go-to entertainment / pop culture site. I often disagree, but integrity on the tubes can be hard to find.

  • HerGuyWednesday

    Kudos for being big enough to apologize, Dustin. As someone who comments anonymously, it is extra admirable to me when people like yourself (who do not hide behind cute monikers) are willing to accept that they may have made a mistake and publicly apologize for it. Good on you.

  • Kane Leal

    Good of you to recognize the problem and address it.

  • Green Lantern

    Takes a brave man to stand up, Dustin. Nice job.

    There. That's all the kissassery you get.

  • Cowtools

    What strikes me about this Ant-Man situation is that its an example of something that happens in comics all the time. Creators are often switched around on books by editorial decree, and usually because the writing doesn't line up with the overall editorial vision for the entire line. Sounds pretty familiar, right?

    Normally this is to the detriment of the comic (like with when JH Williams was pushed of the Batwoman book), but sometimes it's not. Just recently, Marvel launched this massive 'Inhumanity' crossover that was intended to relaunch Jack Kirby's Inhuman characters into the big leagues. Just before the first issue was due, writer Matt Fraction left the book, to be replaced by Charles Soule. The resulting delay of three months pretty much killed the book's chances, but here's the thing: Fraction has got a lot of cred in comics fandom for his idiosyncratic Hawkeye book, and his new Image book Sex Criminals. However, the two issues of Inhumanity that Fraction did write were ponderous, slow and unmemorable, while Soule's have been fun and engaging (in a weird 90s throwback kind of way).

    TL:DR: Sometimes when the creator and the executives don't see eye-to-eye, the executives might actually have a point.

  • Jon

    maybe it won't be an "Edgar Wright Movie", but i still think it's going to be good. Arguably, and in my opinion, all the Marvel movies have been GOOD. Some are GREAT, but the rest are still GOOD flicks. So they're doing something right, i suppose. And in Peyton Reed's defense, i couldn't tell ya who directed Winter Soldier, and that was one of the GREAT ones. And Thor 2 was really good, and i don't know who directed or wrote that. And seriously, that's NOT usually how i operate AT ALL. the real problem, obviously, is that we were all looking forward to an Edgar Wright Marvel Movie. But i'm sure it's gonna turn out to be a blast, just like the others, and will surprise everyone in the end.

  • Coolg82

    Good on you for admitting this, but I would say that your anger or ire or whatever was misguided, not unnecessary. Peyton Reed may not be that great of a filmmaker, but he can still be a nice guy, but the center of the matter is that the MCU is becoming increasingly hostile to the auteur, with the exception of Joss Whedon. Shane Black was the last guy to get a measure of creative control and his cinematic vision was still almost instantly retconned after Iron Man 3's release with the Whedon's "Maybe he has another suit hidden somewhere?" quip and the whole, "No, The Mandarin actually IS the goofy magic guy and the other guy was just a fake" thing. The MCU will never go in a direction that Marvel Studios or Joss Whedon don't want it to go, and any big name director with a penchant for doing his own thing will never be given the reigns they are used to having. This kind of thing will probably happen with every MCU movie that comes out over the next 15 years, or however long Disney intends to keep this going. This isn't the fault of Reed, its the fault of the machine he has been placed in.

  • duckandcover

    May your majestic spirit fingers fly over many keyboards for years to come, Rowles.

  • stella

    You are a class act Mr Rowles. Im sorry I called you a cheertator.

  • John W

    Yep been there, done that. Kudos for admitting it.

  • Jelinas

    This is fair, and I respect you all the more for writing what you should have in the first place instead of just sweeping it under the rug.

  • Loser Prentice

    This is really admirable and it's awesome that writers here are self-aware enough to pivot and apologize, but it seems like stories 'about' Pajiba are becoming an annoyingly self-indulgent trend on this site.

    Meta Pajiba is not for me is all.

  • Jim

    Well said, Dustin, a classy thing to do & an example for us all. (Especially me as, when the VP's phone number appears on my phone, I usually answer with "OK, tell me who it is and I'll apologize.")

  • crispin

    If you can please apologize for watching "The Break-Up" more than once, we're good.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    If you can't consistently be an asshole you probably don't belong on the internet. And I think I mean that as a compliment.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    It is so humbling and embarrassing to realize that you've done something/said something stupid. And sometimes you spend so much time self-castigating, actually publicly apologizing can seem overwhelming.
    So, I have to say, I'm always impressed when someone does it sincerely and without some sort of justification (especially on the internet, which is a pretty harsh environment).
    I applaud you for being brave enough to do it.

  • Berry

    "Have you ever inadvertently said something to a friend, loved one, or spouse that — as soon as it left your mouth — you realized how shitty it was?"

    I'm not sure I'd believe anyone who claimed they haven't. Sometimes people suck. Smart, compassionate people are not blind to their own sucking, and try to make amends.

  • kirbyjay

    I, on the other hand, have never said anything in my entire life that was shitty to anyone, ever.
    Of course we all do it, but the thing is, thems that knows it's shitty and apologizes are a rare breed. The longer I live in this earth, the more I see so many people with no self awareness, no courtesy, no compassion, but plenty of ego, arrogance and entitlement.
    It makes you wanna stay home and watch That 70's Show reruns.
    I applaud you Dustin.

  • Berry

    "Of course we all do it, but the thing is, thems that knows it's shitty and apologizes are a rare breed."

    Exactly. I'm sort of beginning to think that the difference between jerks and not-jerks is not that not-jerks never do anything jerky: it's just that they don't walk trough life thinking they're always right and everyone else is always wrong. Real jerks do.

  • I read this site every day (FINE. Multiple times a day!), but I've never commented. I will right now, though, because this post here is why I love Pajiba. Not only is it full of smart, funny commentary but it's run by real people. Who act like real people. And - as this attests - real people with integrity. Thanks, Dustin.

  • Maguita NYC

    Congratualtions on de-lurking! Please accept this Loki balaclava as a warm welcome to Pajiba. You will need it in the very near future... for reasons.

    And Dustin, you Sir have balls of brass. For it is much easier to be the jerk than to actually apologize when you know you are wrong.

    Not only does it make you look more ethical and noble (a dying breed), but you are also being considerate and saving everyone from useless confrontation and wasted time.

    Well done!

  • ....reasons? Hmmm. Well, I suppose I'll take it anyway. I'm sure I've always wanted my own Loki balaclava. Right? Yes, I'm sure.

  • Alarmjaguar

    Margarita NYC, that sounded really ominous...now I am worried

  • Maguita NYC

    "Margarita NYC, that sounded really ominous...now I am worried."

    First MaguitaR, then MaRguita, and now Margarita (as in the drink)... Yeah, you *should* be worried now.

    *I like showing the opposite of what I'm feeling


  • Alarmjaguar

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

  • Y'know, Dustin? Integrity and authenticity are more rare in this world than people want to admit.

    You haz them.

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