KubrickGate: Did AICN Get Scooped?

FilmJerk.com has just stumbled upon a very interesting ‘letter’ supposedly from Vivian Kubrick sent to AICN that was quickly removed from existence, regarding the Spielberg/Kubrick abortion known as “AI.” Is this just a heated family opinion, or the beginning of a world wide web scandal that finally puts a ‘steak’ in the heart of the Harry Knowles empire? Yeah right.

Savant be here. Well… I found out some interesting shit when I woke up this afternoon. I was browsing the web, browsing our site logs, and checking out some links from other fansites who love our attitude (or are using us as sideshow attractions because we are just, as you know, so fucking mature…) Stumbling across a fave of mine, mwntd.com, aka Men With Nothing To Do, a site with a distinct Kubrickian flavor, I noticed two things… first, they linked our Kubrick/Napoleon scoop, and second, they had an interesting letter supposedly writ by Vivian Kubrick… dissing “AI.”

Okay, so I couldn’t resist. I had to find the source of this evil. Naturally, my research brings me to the usual source of all things evil, AICN. Apparently, at the beginning of July, said article was posted and then removed entirely (hard to do unnoticed when your fan base is so huge… and for the record, FilmJerk.com supports our own right to be wrong. Just like AICN and every other related site should. It’s a part of the game.)

For your viewing convenience, here is the entire article, reposted, courtesy of the newsgroups:

Exclusive to AICN: Vivian Kubrick reviews “AI.”

Father Geek here. I got in at midnight from spending 12 hours with my 1 year old grandchild (Sister Satan and Lobo’s son), my very own Pinocchio turned into a REAL boy, to find the following E-mail awaiting me. I had my doubts at first, so I fired off an E-mail to check it out. My answer? Turns out Vivian Kubrick reads the site regularly, wanted to express her personal feelings concerning this film, so she chose us as her sounding board. Here’s her unedited letter…

The wrong Gepetto.

Spielberg has failed to make a persuasive, smart movie about robots and people because he can’t bear the idea that human beings are imperfect, that they abandon their children, that they break minds and bodies, sometimes for sport. There’s an excruciating scene in “AI,” in which Monica leaves David in the woods, that gets at everything great and terrible about this movie. The scene is important on a number of counts – it shifts the film’s look from its dreamy naturalism to a nightmarish surrealism, and combines my Fathers aesthetic of cruelty and Spielberg’s aesthetic of pathos into a single devastating encounter. At that moment, as David screams out that primal, defining fear – Mommy, don’t leave me! – Spielberg doesn’t just terrify us, he peels back our skin. Few other directors have the power to move us so effectively, so viciously, and it’s a good guess that if my Father thought Spielberg could take on his project, it was because he saw the total control with which the younger man could not just manipulate our emotions, but force us to weep. Time and again with Spielberg, sentimentality is nothing other than a polite form of sadism.

My father put “AI” on hold to make “The Shining,” but he rehired Aldiss after he saw (and admired) “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” He envisioned “AI” as a science-fiction story in the vein of “Star Wars,” E.T. set him on a different path. He once told me, “This time it wasn’t Star Wars, it wasn’t E.T. It was fucking Pinocchio! The Blue Fairy! He couldn’t get rid of that Blue Fairy.” Spielberg couldn’t get rid of the Blue Fairy, either. After proving himself a master of mean on the level of my Dad and Hitchcock, he takes David out of the woods and straight into a live-action, faithful retread of Disney’s Pinocchio. He spices it up with some sexual innuendo and a few tremors of violence, including a badly staged coliseum scene that’s derivative of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” but without the frenzied erotic energy. Then he brings in Robin Williams (?). If you think it couldn’t get worse, think again. The last half-hour is such unadulterated kitsch – space aliens with British accents, lots of gauzy white light, John Williams’ merciless score – that it puts the film’s meta-story into savage relief.

If Spielberg hoped to turn into a real artist with this film, in my father he found the wrong Gepetto.

Okay, so I’ll craft my response in two parts: the first to AICN, and the second to Vivian Kubrick.

First to AICN — and please note, the AICN staff will have first crack at responding to this article — if this article is fake, keep it up and just apologize for it. Don’t cover it up. I know FilmJerk is the new kid on the block, and I bloody guarantee everyone reading this right now that we WILL make mistakes… who fucking cares? It’s the lie that gets you, as Anthony Hopkins’ “Nixon” would say. Posting articles that occasionally turn out to be bullshit are part of the game. If someone, like someone with a Bar certificate or the last name Kubrick, asked you to remove this article… well, then you’re just doing your job by keeping your mouth shut. Don’t yell at me, I’m just doing mine by reporting this and prying it back open. It’s fascinating.

Second, to Ms. Kubrick, if this letter is false, please get ahold of FilmJerk and tell us as much. If it’s real, hell, let’s debate this in a public forum. Of course, I know very little about your father compared to you, but I’ll go toe-to-toe with you on “AI.” If this letter is the real McCoy, it’s obvious that like most of my readers, you missed the point entirely as well. If the letter is false, I would love to know what you thought of Steven’s little opus.

The letter, fake or not, is written with intelligence, if not necessarily written well. Look, I’m just as guilty as anyone here, I’m a fairly articulate writer and indeed have tendencies to get lazy and alternate swear words… sorry guys, that’s what happens when you write every single day. I can’t be Shakespeare, or Savant, 24/7. I love you guys, but you can’t have that much of my brainpower. The point being, someone had an intelligent thought about “AI,” and I’d like to discuss it with them, or anyone else that has an INTELLIGENT stance on any film. When you spar with me, you gotta justify absolutely everything, even if I actually agree with you. This is why I tear apart the “AI” detractors, because most of them cannot support their arguments… they didn’t understand it and cannot debate it properly, or the film hit on too many soft emotional buttons and they do not want to go there. That’s fine, and while you’re entitled to your opinion, keep your mouth shut if you can’t back it up. If you hate the film, great! Just support your argument and you’ll earn my kudos. I’m relieved that people still remember the difference between liking and hating a film at all. You’ve read my little “Spiel” on “AI,” right?

And that’s why I serve and dictate over a court of public opinion. The article’s back, just like Buffy’s back on UPN. Decide and sentence for yourselves. Eat your corn flakes and wear your khakis.


Update, November 9, 2004: Vivian Kubrick finally responds! In an email received today, a representative for Ms. Kubrick says:

We represent Vivian Kubrick. Your February 22, 2003 article entitled 07/17/01 – KubrickGate: Did AICN Get Scooped? written by DarkSavant refers to a letter supposedly written by Ms. Kubrick and sent to AICN regarding the AI film. Please note that Ms. Kubrick did not write, sponsor, authorize or otherwise endorse the letter referred to in your article, or any version thereof. As a result, we request that you remove from your website any reference to Ms. Kubrick’s affiliation with the letter or subject matter thereof.

A little late, but now we know the truth… or do we?