So this is what happens when the snark training at Village Voice Media leads to a responsible career at an uncool corporation. It's just as we thought! One receives stern, pent-up (but rose-smelling) letters from the mother ship, advising one to crank the uncool or risk a run-in with the captain.

Such was the case with TechCrunch blogger Alexia Tsotsis last week, when Moviefone (owned by AOL, owned by Arianna Huffington) requested that she please, if at all possible, pretty please tone down the snark in her piece on upcoming Jack Gyllenhaal film “Source Code.”

And to that, like a good VVM alum, Tsotsis said: Hell nah. Then she blogged about it.

Tsotsis, aficionado on everything tech, spent some good years here at the LA Weekly and up north at our sister paper in San Francisco, where she honed her snark to a sabertooth, and learned (we like to think) that corporate goobs should always be outed for their goobiness.

Hence her reposting of the Moviefone e-mail:

Hey Alexia,

Hope you're having a good time at SxSW and that it's not been too crazy busy for you!

First wanted to thank you for covering Source Code/attending the party, etc. But also wanted to raise a concern that Summit had about the piece that ran. They felt it was a little snarky and wondered if any of the snark can be toned down? I wasn't able to view the video interviews but I think their issue is just with some of the text. Let me know if you're able to take another look at it and make any edits. I know of course that TechCrunch has its own voice and editorial standards, so if you have good reasons not to change anything that's fine, I just need to get back to Summit with some sort of information. Let me know.


Tsotsis is a pretty good sport about the whole thing, reminding AOL of TechCrunch's vow to never take shit from their parent company, and noting (aptly) that this seems to be a key difference between blogging about Silicon Valley (their usual schtick) and Hollywood.

The piece in question, “Jake Gyllenhaal Movie 'The Source Code' Markets Itself To Techies,” is actually one of the less snarky things we've seen today, its snark pinnacle being an observation that the movie's promotional social-media game is a “buzzwordgasm” that's “not particularly engaging.” Sounds more like a truth bomb than an attitude.

And that, dear AOL, is the reason Tsotsis' piece has hundreds of shares, as opposed to your average kumbaya, everybody-wins but nobody-reads Patch clunker.

In honor of her big Huffington tell-off, here's our favorite LA Weekly story by Tsotsis, from her time as associate web editor here (and not just because the former model modeling agent shows up to her interview “dressed sexy”): “My Date With Anonymous.” Yes, that's the same Anonymous who defended WikiLeaks at the height of the patriotic backlash against Julian Assange. She's that cool.

Watch her woo Gyllenhaal, from the original snarkfest:

Oh, and here's a snippet from Moviefone's response, butthurt as expected:

“The reality of our situation is that, as a movies site, we work with movie studios every day, and it is in our best interests to stay on good terms with them. Staying on good terms with studios means that we will relay information if asked. It does not mean that we would ever force a writer or an editor to edit their work for the sake of a studio — or anyone else.

We take editorial integrity seriously at Moviefone, and it's painful to be depicted as a pawn of the studios when that is emphatically not the case. You may think it unseemly for a studio to request changes in an article; that's certainly your right. But the accusation of pandering on our part or crossing an editorial line is, to my mind, completely unfair, and I would hope that a reasonable reader would be able to recognize the situation for what it is — overblown and unwarranted.”

Also, hilarious. High five!


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