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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

furor over an early review of ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’

I won’t even get to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer until tonight, but obviously the film was not held from all critics, because there are already many reviews available online. Some of them even trash the film.

So why did a projectionist in Memphis get fired from his multiplex job for posting a review of the film on Ain’t It Cool News?
Apparently 20th Century Fox threatened the theater chain Jesse Morrison — AICN nom de critique “Memflix” — works for:

On Monday, two days after his “Silver Surfer” pan appeared, Morrison was called into a meeting with Malco senior VP Jimmy Tashie and, according to Morrison, was “suspended until further notice,” with the suggestion that he would not be asked to return.

Morrison said Tashie pointed out that “20th Century Fox called them that morning and threatened to take away the press and trade screenings because of this whole thing. They were upset.”

Asked if Fox had any role in the suspension, Tashie said: “Absolutely none.” The executive said his company received a call from Fox that said “there’s somebody there working for (Malco) who is writing reviews in advance. That’s all they said. No one asked us to do anything….”

But clearly Fox expected the theater chain to do something. Corporations don’t throw their weight around looking for apologies.

More:

“No one asked us to do anything. We have been in business 95 years, and this is the first time anything like this happened…”

Right. Because the theater chain had a real clampdown on their employees reviewing films on the Internet in 1937.

More:

“…this is the first time anything like this happened. And this boy knew what he was doing was the wrong thing…. He was in a position of trust and he violated that trust.”

This “boy” is 29 years old, which is, apparently, old enough to understand that although “some entertainment companies, including film productions, do ask workers to sign confidentiality agreements, agreeing not to disclose information,” Morrison was cognizant of the fact that “he had never been asked to sign such an agreement, though he would have if asked.”

(Just as an FYI, if you search on AICN for Memflix’s review of the film, it looks as if it has been taken down. But a quick Googling brings up the review.)

Here are some questions. We can assume Morrison is telling the truth about not having a confidentiality agreement because Tashie is quoted in the article as saying: “In the future, anybody in that position will sign something.” So, if Morrison was not bound to keep any secrets, what’s the difference between him telling his family and friends that a film he recently saw in the course of his projectionist duties sucks, and him telling the readers of Ain’t It Cool News that that same film sucks? Would Fox have let it slide if Morrison had posted the review on a blog that no one reads? How much control should a corporation expect to have over the dissemination of opinions about its products? And if a job such as “projectionist in a movie theater chain wherein valuable and confidential corporate products are exposed and vulnerable” comes with a gag, shouldn’t that job pay more than seven lousy bucks an hour?

I’m just askin’ is all.

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