Where Music & Dance Fall Face First Into The Internet

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Help Sammy Kablam Get Back To Insulting People

For anyone that has enjoyed Sammy Kablam's reviews on this site, please take a look at his ChipIn page & consider making a donation.

For those who have never heard of Sammy Kablam...let me introduce you. Sammy started off writing reviews of Master's Of Song Fu, SpinTunes & Song Fight (these are song writing contests) on this blog. He has recently been battling tech issues to do his reviews on video & posting them on YouTube & BlipTV. The tech issues finally gave Sammy a beat down after months of dealing with them. Since pan handlers typically give him money when he walks by, he hasn't got the funds to get the equipment he needs to overcome these issues.

The situation is a real shame because he had moved onto making fun of movies with his new series "Dammit, Tad" & I know he had other series planned. I'll embed a couple examples of his work below, and if they make you laugh you can click on the link above to keep the insults coming.

Negative Reinforcement: Song Fight (Has Been For Years)
As I mentioned, he has also reviewed SpinTunes.

Dammit, Tad: Python


  1. There are certainly a lot of people out there in the world who find some success insulting others, far too many for me or anyone else to dream of doing or saying too much to try to stop them. And I myself have a big cynical/sarcastic/delusion-of-superiority streak, so what I'm about to say isn't coming from a place of Pollyanna goodiie-goodie-ness. It's coming from a place of being involved in SpinTunes, a contest which is known for camaraderie being important and valued, often more so than the actual competitive aspects of the contest. Jules Sherred is someone who's been very vocal about just that, the strong sense of community built around SpinTunes, the extent to which the people involved are out to find and encourage the best in themselves and others. During Jules' radio interview this past Summer with myself and a few other SpinTunes participants, the topic of Sammy's Negative Reinforcement reviews came up briefly. Jules made a comment about how Sammy has found a way to turn his insecurities into something he can succeed at. I regret to this day that I didn't respond there and then with what I'm about to say. Most bad things in the world, and almost no good things, come from people turning their insecurities into something they can succeed at. Jules, at least, has seen sides of Sammy that let her know that he's a better person than these Negative Reinforcement reviews would let on. Though my own personal experiences with him may not bear it out, I take it as almost given that that's true of just about everyone, including Sammy. Sammy's better than this sort of thing, because basically all people are better than this sort of thing. I'll hope this comment gets posted and encourages some reconsideration. It would be nice if people thought twice before contributing money to help Sammy keep at something that doesn't best serve himself and others. It would be nicer if Sammy himself thought about that. With his presence, showmanship, creativity and articulateness, and then if there was financial backing from others on top of all this, imagine what he might be able to do if he redirected his energies in a more positive way and overcame, rather than reveled in, his insecurities. Here's to a sense of SpinTunes community helping him do just that.

  2. You know, I don't often respond to comments in this way, because there is nothing so fruitless, in my eyes, as a flamewar. However...

    If you're going to encourage people to NOT help someone in need, could you at least say why? It's obvious you think that my NR stuff is my priority, which is not the case. And that kind of indicates you didn't see the last installment, so you didn't KNOW it was the last installment -- which means you don't know you're discouraging me from something I quit doing before I had to humble myself into asking for financial help. And sure, I swore it off in a Song Fight video -- a contest I've reviewed a LOT more than SpinTunes, making your argument look not only ignorant but self-serving -- but that only further suggests that you're encouraging people to NOT help me, even though you don't know what I really do.

    In fact, when I REALLY think about it, I must assume that you didn't even check out the ChipIn that you're telling people to actively boycott. Because therein, it states that I need the better equipment to make better videos. And even disregarding THAT, how am I to do something, as you say, "better than this" if I can't do anything at all?

    If you don't like my videos -- even the ones you apparently haven't seen -- that's fine. Hell, if you just plain don't like ME, that's fine too! But this? Trying to sabotage me while weakly veiling it as "help"? Jeez, man. At least when *I* do "Negative Reinforcement", it's only a joke.

  3. Well, I hesitate to jump in, but I had a chat with my wife, and decided I wanted to express my support for Sammy, so I'll be making a contribution. I don't get to dictate what he does with his time. He will make what he makes and I can look at the work and like it or not like it.

    There are a lot of theories about aesthetics and what makes good this and bad that, and to me most of them are suspect. Criticism is a well-established art form in and of itself. A recent Roger Ebert book is called _Your Movie Sucks_ and it has a lot of his most entertaining reviews; a negative review can be a joy to read. Ebert writes a lot of positive reviews, but I think it's a commonplace that the savage ones are a lot more entertaining. Personally I don't _quite_ buy the idea that critics are just frustrated artists, or that their criticism comes entirely out of insecurity.

    Sammy's videos seem to come out of a tradition that includes (recently) Mystery Science Theater 3000, which starts off as a simple mocking of other peoples' movies, but becomes much more than that. My wife and I were just talking about whether the MST3K writers gave any thought to how the original creators would feel about their "reviews," and what that meant. Anyway, Sammy is, it seems to me, on a similar trajectory, starting to add little sketches and commentary, visuals and diagrams. And the writing of his recent pieces is hilarious. These pieces actually always start out mocking something else, but when they're good, they turn into something that is a strong aesthetic point of view in itself, and maybe a critical education in and of itself, and actually reveal more about the critic than the work. Another great example is the famed review of the Phantom Menace by Red Letter Media -- and the sequels as well. Look them up if you haven't seen them. They are _savage_, but they are also an education in screenwriting and what made Episode IV so great -- lessons that Lucas pretty apparently never understood.

    Regarding the Negative Reinforcement videos -- well, that's kind of a can of worms. I sort of liked them. But then, I don't think it's even possible for anyone to be more critical of my work than I am already; and also, consider that there may in fact be no such thing as bad publicity for an artist. I realize that some people were genuinely hurt, or offended, and feel bad about that. It's easy for Sammy to say "it's only a joke" but clearly some people didn't take it that way -- and jokes are only funny if there is a kernel of truth in them. For example, Ebert's review of Deuce Bigalow:


    "Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" while passing on the opportunity to participate in "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "The Aviator," "Sideways" and "Finding Neverland." As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."

    CONTINUED... (apparently I blew out the comment limit)

  4. (Continued from previous comment...)

    For a while I was also writing reviews of SpinTunes entries myself even while I was in the same contest. I tried to make my reviews fair an honest, and it honestly didn't occur to me that people might not take that well until my wife expressed this idea to me. I don't think I'll be doing it again, not so much because I don't have anything to say, but because it is too close to peeing in the pool while I'm standing in it. Something about a warm feeling, but it tends to drive my friends away...

    Anyway, I'm not sure if any of that sheds any light on anything, but I do think if we'd like to see Sammy continue to write better stuff, whatever you think about the Negative Reinforcement videos, there's really no way for him to get there except to make a lot _more_ stuff. And the way to get him to make _more_stuff is through concrete help and encouragement.

  5. It's true I don't keep up with your videos. Whether Negative Reinforcement or another label, readers of this post saw a headline that told us to help you get back to insulting people, a claim that you'd moved onto making fun of things other than songwriting and had more such series planned, and a closing sentence that said we should fund you to keep the insults coming. If you're up to something else, complain to Spin for misrepresenting your funding request. Don't blame anyone uninterested in Schadenfreude for avoiding extra research.

    You seem really upset here, over a comment you suggest is me self-serving even though I can't imagine how I'm served by it. Anyway, a comment from me, someone who matters very little in the songwriting competition community, and surely far less to your fan base. That you'd be so bothered by something said by someone who matters so little suggests you may yet have some ground to cover before doing worthwhile things for yourself and others. So be it. So do I. Insulting reviews and defensive comments may not play to the best in yourself and others, but if something else you're up to might, then definitely consider my first comment retracted, and more power to you as you give it a go with hopefully lots of people chipping in.

    Of course, I’ve looked at that ChipIn link and didn't see anything to suggest you're up to anything much different than what you've done. In fact, you say you just want to do things bigger and better, and you say it all with your usual snark. My guess is Spin's not wrong about you continuing insults. If so, and if you're really okay with people not liking your videos or even you, then you'd have no reason to be so upset here. Except for the one reason you give why you're upset, which is that I discouraged people from supporting you without saying why. Except I did say why. Clearly. I said I didn't think it was worth supporting people who do negative things that don't best serve themselves and others. I said you're better than that and could put your abilities toward something productive instead of destructive.

    If you were pursuing something different from what I thought, anyone else who knew better than myself what you were up to would know to ignore my "boycott" advice. On the other hand, if you were planning more insults, the only people whose support I'd cost you would be those who, after thinking twice, would turn out to be the kind, like me, whose support you don’t really want anyway. So with my having said why after all, you should be really okay with all this.

    But you're not. You seem to badly resent being critiqued by someone as unimportant to your community as I am. That makes you pretty unconvincing here about what you’re okay with. I think your insulting reviews and your reaction here are the lashing out of someone who feels bad and therefore wants others to feel bad, too. That’s not an insult. I'm saying it with compassion. I really feel for you. My insecurities get the best of me, too. I act out against others, too. I'm sure that's why I react strongly to you. The difference is I admit my acting out, try to get past it, and try to do decent things for myself and others instead. If you weren't so caught up in your stuff, you'd see that's all I've tried to do here for you, too. I see the possibility of something better for you and your fans than what you all see for yourselves. Something better than your time spent on jokes you think are harmless but really leave the world worse. I didn't start a flamewar. I tried to do something decent, and you tried to turn it into a flamewar. I won't fight that fight.

    I don’t expect to change you in an instant. But I wasn’t writing to you. I was writing to the community. With their support, maybe you really could do something decent. Then who’d have a reason to suggest a boycott? I certainly wish I had a community to support me changing for the better. Best of luck to you, Sammy.

  6. Mark, I'll keep this short, because you didn't. You completely miss the point of the Negative Reinforcement videos, and your armchair psychoanalysis is so far off the mark that in this instance you'd be best served by simply staying quiet. Really. I'm invoking Wheaton's Law, and it's not on the guy who's just PRETENDING to be a dick.

  7. Wow. I'm late to the party, and Dave slammed the door on everyone. But I'll post my 2 cents anyways.

    I'm a fan of Sammy's style of videos. The 'Negative Reinforcement' format is genius. It's designed to make the participants mad enough to prove him wrong, and strive to do better in their next attempt at music.

    If they give up after his small critique of them, they'll never grow as artists. If they do, they'll either take his suggestions, or more likely say 'Screw You!' I am talented, and you're a hack. In either case, it makes the artist grow.

    The title IS the reason for doing it. Genius.