"....A Man of Constant Sorrow"
Ray Carney is a Professor of Film at Boston University; he has written rafts of books on independent filmmaking and is an expert of the films of John Cassavetes, whom he interviewed repeatedly before the director/star died in 1989. The problem with Carney is that he is utterly disenchanted with film school and the cinema mainstream; he was yelled at by fellow BU film professors for telling also-disenchanted film school students to switch to the creative writing program - one prof howled "You are sending students to other departments!!!!???? You are taking food from my baby's mouth!" He is the only professor in America that I know of that has had his professional website taken down because of his opinions and his opinions alone. (Thankfully, most of it has been restored, but there are chunks of it where you have to use the Wayback Machine to recover them.) That he wrote a very critical article in a 1995 issue of The Baffler didn't help matters.
"....Now, fans of films like Schindler’s List will claim that they reveal new truths too. But I can’t see much difference between Spielberg’s so-called serious movie and his boy’s-book movies. Schindler’s List simply rehashes Spielberg’s inflatable, one-size-fits-all myth about how a clever, resourceful character can outsmart a system. Is that what the meaning of the Holocaust boils down to—Indiana Schindler versus the Gestapo of Doom? Schindler is a Hollywood producer’s self-congratulatory fantasy of how giving people a chance to work for you is doing them a big favor. What real courage did it take to make this movie? What new understanding of the Holocaust did it reveal? Spielberg could have made a really courageous film if he had dared to make a movie sympathetic to the SS, a movie that deeply, compassionately entered into the German point of view in order to reveal how regular people with wives and children could be drawn into committing or silently consenting to such horrors. How about a movie that showed that, at least potentially, we are them? A film that didn’t locate the bad guys in an emotional and historical galaxy far away? Of course, Spielberg could never make that film even if he tried to, because it would require too much insight on his part. And if he did make it, it would not get Academy Awards. It would require viewers to think. And thinking, real thinking, is always dangerous. Audiences might be forced to confront truths that they would rather avoid. Instead of affording them another opportunity to revel in their own virtue, they just might be made to squirm a little." - From "Pulp Affliction", The Baffler.
The real killer was an interview with the UCLA Daily Bruin's Devon Dickau where he told the student that film schools should be replaced with auto mechanic's courses ("A modest proposal") because most film school grads never make a film afterwards. That set the stage for the great shift Carney had with his department shortly afterward, but more on that later.
Bizarre battles: Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban, Mark Rappaport
Outside of academia Ray Carney has been embroiled in a series of weird battles with people whom he either respected, or were related to or worked with people he respected. We don't want to go into great detail with all of it, but we will leave links for deeper reading.
Gena Rowlands was married to John Cassavetes, Al Ruban was his producer on a number of films, acted in some, is the business manager of Rowlands' estate. Both of them loathe Carney for destroying chunks of their control over Cassavetes' legacy. Mostly this has to do with the fact that Carney discovered a first version of Shadows (1957, second version 1959), and he holds that uncopyrighted print. This hunt took seventeen years and as a reward Rowlands and Ruban wanted Carney to hand over the print so that Ruban could destroy it or Rowlands could hide it away. The other jab was how Carney also found that the Library of Congress had an unseen earlier version of Faces (1968) in 2001, proving that Cassavetes would come up with multiple versions of films that he would screen for test audiences, and that he did not throw the "lesser" versions away. For the sin of knowing way too much about John Cassavetes, Carney's contributions to a Criterion Collection DVD set in the early 2000s were scrapped at Rowlands' insistence. Al Ruban spent the early 2000s badmouthing Ray Carney at a series of Cassavetes film showings. We can only say that the conflict between the two parties was "ego versus rationality" that desperately needed an arbitrator, but nobody in LA would touch it with a barge pole.
The fight with Mark Rappaport started simply, then spiraled out of control. Like with Cassavetes, Rappaport is a independent filmmaker, and after years of living in New York City, he decided to move to Paris around 2005. Carney claims that Rappaport told him that there was this stuff he didn't want, and that there were no-strings-attached and so Carney had the stuff mailed and he paid for the shipping, film reels in metal pans and disks and other bits and pieces of cinematic detritus. He cleaned the things up, allegedly spent "tens of thousands" setting up a display and storage space for the material, kept Rappaport updated by email....then seven-and-a-half years later Rappaport demanded all the stuff back, after Carney had returned some video masters back in 2010. It got very ugly very quick, because Rappaport and his lawyer went online to the various cinephile websites, and all the indy cinema people that Carney wrote about began demanding that he just turn the "films" over. Independent filmmaker Jon Jost claimed that Ray Carney had perjured himself in his legal descriptions of the Rappaport material, and therefore should stop teaching and undergo therapy for his "psychological demons." This went on for about six months; news pieces and blog posts about it litter the internet from 2012-13. In the end, I still don't know if Carney returned everything; it really doesn't matter because the drama it created burned bridges between the professor and the two directors. It also made Carney's relationship with Boston University worse.
The Blog Itself
Laid out sequentially from March 2013 to April 2015, Inside Boston University is a simple recounting of how Ray Carney's professional life fell to pieces when John J. Schulz was appointed Dean of the College of Communication in 2003. Thanks to the history of Boston University he easily built a collection of yes men who backed everything he did and brooked no compromise. Even when he was replaced in 2008 by Thomas Fiedler (main claim to fame: exposing the Gary Hart-Donna Rice tryst in 1987), nothing changed because of the unspoken system created by one man forty years ago.
Carney is very open about the role John Silber had in creating a system of "Nixonismo sin Nixon" (to modify a 1980s Nicaraguan phrase* about the Contras) at Boston University. Silber (a former University of Texas philosophy professor) was appointed BU president in 1971 and immediately began running the place in ways that would have pleased then-President Nixon or then-Governor Reagan; the Students for a Democratic Society chapter was given the boot, he would not relent when it came to having US Marine Corps recruiting on campus even though there were large demonstrations about it and the students later voted against having USMC recruiters on campus. Silber's response? "I would be much more impressed by a thoughtful document that was brought in by one single student than I would by a mindless referendum of 16,000." And that comment was to The Daily Free Press, the student newspaper! To 60 Minutes, the CBS news-magazine, he said "[a] university should not be a democracy. . . . The more democratic a university is, the lousier it is." Because of his loathing of tenure all the professors joined the AAUP, the professor's union, and Silber had to waste funds hiring lawyers to nullify the move to form a BU AAUP local, all in vain. Beyond the contempt for student protestors (whom he called "primates") and successful attempts at starving the student press, he was in love with nuclear power, banking, defense contractors, and he was able to continually defeat votes to have him removed by sucking up to the trustees. He survived as BU President until 1996 and was Chancellor until 2002, and as he lasted so long, he was able to create a Mafia within the administration and Right-leaning faculty. In 2003, Daniel S. Goldin, the former NASA leader was appointed BU President, but that was immediately scuttled when he said he would "clean house." The college paid him off to the tune of $1.8 million. Silber was willing to break labor law and not give raises to professors who opposed him; Carney claims the same tactic is used against him today, that his pay is stuck at 2004 levels.
Beyond the money, Carney goes into great detail about how badly he's been treated under both deans, the idiotic anti-intellectualism of BU's administration, etc. This blog is a must read for anyone who wants to become an American professor in the era of Massive Open Online Courses, college over-financialization, mindless expansion of the unaccountable administration class, etc. Professor Carney has stopped answering emails; I hope that he is not being pressured by the college to stop updating his blog.
Because the Wikipedia Sucks! forum allows guest commenting, we get the occasional oddball. One of the members that continually takes attacks from nowhere by nameless nobodies is wwhp, mainly because of RationalWiki's idiot article about him. That lone bit of online trash has prompted attack page after attack page, and I don't see the nonsense ending soon. As it is wwhp keeps a low profile. We have people on that board who have been so badly burned by Wikipedia and its spawn that they are terrified to admit who they were on Wikipedia and other wiki sites, and that is one of the reasons why the board and this blog exist. If you know the truth about Walesville, you will never want to have an online life there.
* The Nicaraguan phrase was "Somocizmo sin Samoza", "Samoza-ism without Samoza" - a reference to the overthrown and assasinated former dictator of that country, and the Contra attempt to build a new dictatorship through their civil war.