August 21, 2009

The Weeklies #98

The Weekly Milestone. This week, both kids slept through the night. Twice.

The Weekly Time Waster. Meloball. You're welcome.

The Weekly Beer. Tecate. I don't know why but maybe it's because it was hot out and the bottle was incredibly cold. Cold beer on a hot day is a magical thing. Not as magical as rainbow colored unicorns but how often do you get one of those on a cold day.

The Weekly Read. Friend and fellow blogger Lesley sent me a recommendation - Joe Schreiber's Eat The Dark. Since she and I usually have the same exact taste in books, I picked it up immediately. And I don't mind saying that it kinda fucked me up. It is a horror novel in the greatest sense of the word. I find it hard to get truly creeped out by anything I read but Eat The Dark did the trick. At less than 200 pages, it's this short burst of scary intensity that'll keep you turning pages. My only criticism - and it's my standard criticism for most horror books - was the source of the evil. I won't ruin it for you but I thought that aspect was silly. But it didn't change my overall impression of the book. If you wan something scary, pick it up.

The Weekly Thing That Pissed Me Off Disproportionately. About a year ago, I read Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. It was terrible. I wouldn't even wipe my ass with it. Max is a terrible person who filled 300 pages with evidence of just how terrible he is. What's more, the book is terribly written. Despite this, it blew up into an inexplicably huge hit. And now a movie. Can I ask a personal favor? If you're tempted to pick up the book, don't. And if you can avoid seeing the movie, please do. This asshat doesn't need the positive reinforcement.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. In the ongoing Jon and Kate saga, Jon has pitched a new reality show, something about celebrity divorced dads. I smell a winner! He's also rumored to be getting the axe from is TLC sugardaddies due to the negative press he's gotten. Can't they just fire them all on the grounds that they're stupid and pathetic? Then there's Patricia Heaton, she of Everybody Loves Raymond fame. She failed basic math in front of the world earlier this week while appearing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Awesome.

The Weekly Not-So-Hypothetical. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently updated it's truth-in-advertising guidelines, requiring bloggers to reveal when they've been given a product to promote or paid for said promotion. I guess it's a sign that blogging has hit the big time but I don't mind saying that I feel a little infringed upon. If I get something to review - and then subsequently review it - I tell you. Because I think you should know. But I'll admit, I'm a little bitter that the government is now telling me that I have to. What say you? Should bloggers have to reveal this information? Should bloggers be on the Government's radar at all?

Posted by Chris at August 21, 2009 6:28 AM

Just wondering how the milestone affected the sex life of the cactus fish clan.

Posted by: Knot at August 21, 2009 7:07 AM

I think your hypothetical should have been filed under 'things that piss me off disproportionately'...

It's my blog, it's my opinion and frankly, I'm sick and tired of being told by 'authority' what I can and cant do. Now, they're regulating what I can and cant say. It's a slippery road my friend. In the UK we have had so many new laws created over the last 10 years that most people are of the opinion that we should ask the government to tell us what we 'can' do rather than continue to tell us what we 'cant'. It's time these people were reminded who it is they work for and who pays their wages. The internet is the last bastion of free thought and expression of opinion. It cant be regulated, it shouldnt be sensored, it should be truly free. If I want to create an offensive site that's my business. You dont have to visit it, you dont have to read it if you dont want to and you certainly dont have to buy what I'm selling if you dont want to. There is plenty of rubbish on the internet, but it actually makes up a minority of what is available in the grand scheme of things. If you dont want it, dont go there. I had this argument with a friend recently who insisted that porn ought to be banned outright. I reminded her that once you start banning something, it's a mightly slippery road to banning everything that doesnt gell with the current fashionable thinking at the time. If you dont like porn, dont search google for it. It's not that easy to come across these days if you are minding your own business and not trawling the dregs of the internet in search of titilation. Likewise, if I read a blog post which mentions a particular product in glowing terms more than a few times, I start to wonder who's paying for the advertising and I usually seek another opinion elsewhere. We're adults. We're notionally free citizens of our respective countries, it's time we took back responsibility for ourselves and told the interfering authorities where they can stick their regulation.

End Rant....

Posted by: ChocolateChip_Wookie at August 21, 2009 7:21 AM

That is a very good question to which I do not have a very good answer. Personally, I do not frequent blogs whose authors make a frequent habit of plugging products, but I know that they are out there. The question you posed could be rephrased as "When is it the government's responsibility to protect the stupid/naive/gullible from themselves?" I think that is the real issue. Anyone with half a brain can tell when a product is being advertised (regardless of whether or not the advertiser is receiving payment in any form). The problem is that there are so many people who do not have the aforementioned half a brain. Part of me feels bad for those people who can't tell the difference between an honest recommendation and a paid adverisement, but the other part does not. Sorry, that is my long-winded way of saying "I honestly do not know."

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 21, 2009 8:29 AM

You mean we aren't already?

Posted by: Maribeth at August 21, 2009 8:36 AM

Weekly Thing That Pissed Me Off Disproportionately: So, you didn't like the book? Just joking. I actually read part of the book and couldn't bring myself to finish it. If I were Duke Law, I would ask him not to publish that he is a graduate.

Weekly Schadenfreude: Who is the schadenfreude, Jon or the network?

Posted by: MariaV at August 21, 2009 8:41 AM

I had to Google Patricia Heaton to see what the question was. Wow, just wow. A lifeline on that one?! Are you KIDDING?

Posted by: js at August 21, 2009 9:03 AM

I too am annoyed that the govt. is now big brothering the blogs. Soon they will be taxing blogs like they do strippers.

Posted by: William at August 21, 2009 9:14 AM

Honestly, I'd say it depends on the blog. Personal blogs...definitely not. However, the journalists blogs or "authority" blogs should definitely need to make it known that they are getting paid to review a product. People value their opinions too much and it could be considered a violation of FCC rules if a celebrity or other well-known personality would recommend a product without admitting it is an advertisement.

Should we, as personal bloggers, have to do the same...HELLS NO...back off Big Brother!

Posted by: Krush at August 21, 2009 9:23 AM

No way, a blog is the writer's personal space. If I choose to purchase/use something that I read a review on, that is on me. If someone is taking someone's opinion, that person should be someone they generally agree with anyway!

Posted by: Diane at August 21, 2009 9:32 AM

I know we're all on an Orwellian slippery slope / hay ride, but I think that this one is a good one. Sounds like what you are saying is this:
If a company gives you a product to review, you need to disclose that it was a gift when you post your review.

That is fundamentally different than, you went to the store, bought it, and loved it. Because in the former case, you have a profit motive to give a good review ( they will probably give you MORE stuff to review in the future since you helped them sell ).

Bloggers crossed the line not when the government took notice, but when advertisers did. You are selling ad space and doing some basic marketing of products when you are receiving freebies to review, and should be subject to the same requirements that the other media streams are held to. If you don't want the FTC on your back, don't accept products to review. Otherwise, just disclose that you got it as a review freebie.

Posted by: metawizard at August 21, 2009 9:47 AM

Heck to the NO! This really burns my buttons. I literaly want my government to do one thing and one thing only, keep me safe (border control, military protection, police, fire). Everything else should be handled by the people. Unfortunately we have a congress now, that openly states they think they know what is good for us. So, I expect many more statutes such as this in the future.

Posted by: Tess at August 21, 2009 10:09 AM

Just wait next they will tax you for the item.

Posted by: Dee at August 21, 2009 10:56 AM

it looks like i'm in the minority here, but i have to say i agree with metawizard. not that i like the situation that puts us in, but unfortunately i think it's the way it has to be.
being the born skeptic that i am (we discussed this earlier this week) i consider myself an already good judge of motive or potential motive. and i tend to not read any blogs that plug things a lot anyway. so i also ask the same question as elizabeth:
"When is it the government's responsibility to protect the stupid/naive/gullible from themselves?"

Posted by: kati at August 21, 2009 11:03 AM

Kay here's my arguement about why I think it is okay that the govt is totally getting into our shit in the blogging world. It bothers me to no end to think that one of my "blogging friends" recommended this great, and some very expensive product, because she/he got it free for pumping its tires on their well read blogs.

I think it would nice if I knew they got theirs for free while I may have to pay $80 bucks for it and what if it sucks and they just say it is great because they want the free item.

I geniunely like to think that everyone is as aware as you about telling people that you go something free versus that you went and bought but let's face it not everyone is like you.

Speaking of Jon and Kate, it is kind of like the entire show, always one long product plug but no one comes right out and says the people who make this product knows that J&K make their sales jump so here are EIGHT or TEN of them for free WEEE. Some of us are not that lucky nor do we go out there and try to get the free items. Of course that is my problem entirely ;)!

Posted by: Christina at August 21, 2009 11:10 AM

I don't know how I feel about the hypothetical. I have to mull that one over a bit. I don't think the governments can be hands-off with bloggers entirely, because there is some pretty heinous stuff on blogs that would be, if done off the interwebs, would be suspect and would probably result in some sort of investigation or legal action by the government.

That said, the best best best thing ever would be a rainbow colored unicorn serving you a cold beer on a hot day. TRIFECTA.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at August 21, 2009 11:56 AM

"I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" has been on my radar for quite a while; it keeps popping up in Amazon recommendations and other places. So far it has just been a low priority so I haven't read it, but now I'll cross it off the list entirely. As a favor to both of us.

Posted by: Becky at August 21, 2009 11:57 AM

It is an infringement - and the horrible thing is that I did a post on things that I really DO like - things I purchased on my own and felt the need, for the sake of transparency to say, "No one is making me say nice things about this stuff."

I rarely review products for other people (But I would - so PR PEOPLE: SEND ME STUFF) - but when I do, I'm honest. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't like it, I'll say so. If I think it's okay but would be better if... x, y or z -- well, I'll say that too.


Not everyone follows that policy.


I just hate being told what to do.

Posted by: Sarah at August 21, 2009 11:57 AM

Honestly, I may be jaded by a lifetime exposure to the movie review industry, but product reviews in general don't mean that much to me. I'll take them into account if buying something off, say, Amazon, but from a personal/professional blog? Not so much. If someone is discussing a beer they like, it doesn't really matter to me if they bought it themselves, or if they were giving a 6-pack and told to right a review. I'll still base my decision on whether it appeals to me and fits my budget because regardless of where the reviewer got the product from, I still view it as just someone's opinion. So, I guess I'm basically saying that the FTC getting involved is overkill.

And as for Tucker Max's book? Just based on the title, I flipped through it briefly while browsing in the local bookstore, and felt like I needed to wash my hands after dropping it back on the shelf.

Posted by: J at August 21, 2009 12:10 PM

My weekly schadenfreude goes to the "dining room table" who Barney Frank CLOUDED UP AND RAINED ALL OVER at the health care town meeting a few days ago.

Posted by: Karen at August 21, 2009 1:12 PM

I'm not kidding. I was asked to review a device that aided with men's erectile dysfunction. I turned them down, but do you think I would've disclosed whether I had used the product even if the government required it?

...let the black helicopters come and take me away.

Posted by: CK Lunchbox at August 21, 2009 4:11 PM

Don't think that I sometimes don't crave good mexican beer.

Posted by: k8 at August 21, 2009 4:21 PM

I sucked down three Coronas while bobbing in my pool this afternoon before the rain hit. Mmmm beer.

Posted by: NancyJ at August 21, 2009 6:31 PM

Soooo, what if I get something to review in the mail and I just have a casual in-person conversation, or a conversation over the phone? I have to divulge then too, or blogs are a special circumstance? What if I tweet/micro-blog about it?

Totally not thought out and irresponsible to force such restrictions.

Posted by: Poppy at August 21, 2009 10:24 PM

Tucker Max is a tool/douchebag/asshat/wanker/dickhead of the worst kind. He actually thinks he's relevant. UGh!

Posted by: Aurelia at August 22, 2009 9:44 AM

I had the misfortune of reading Tucker Max's book out of simple curiousity. I couldn't not believe what I was reading. He actually thinks he was right and acting and then writing about all those things. How can he even respect himself? Does he even care? Probably not but I will tell you that he is an asshat ::gawd I still love that word!:: =)

Posted by: Lauren at August 22, 2009 5:48 PM

What does it say of the American public that the book has been a best seller to a movie? And if the crirics rave about a book or movie I run from it. As witness "The Cook, The Wife, The Lover or Whatever the Damn Title was" Just give me a Robert Jordan or anything by Joss Whedon. And if you are given somethig to review, we haould be told that. There is a skewed point of view to reviewing a free product.

Posted by: joss is boss at August 22, 2009 6:36 PM