When I launched Fear of a Ghost Planet in 2011, I did so hoping to provide a better platform for myself and some of my very talented friends. This website’s fourth anniversary is coming up soon, and, having done the sort of reflection one does when their project is dark for most of the year, I came to the realization that I had only half accomplished my goal. Though there haven’t been many posts this year, Fear of a Ghost Planet has been tremendously beneficial for me as an author and critic, not so beneficial for anybody else. When the response to a Lance Thompson post about The Avengers is “Gee, Paul, your voice sure changed in that piece,” I know I’ve done something wrong as a webmaster.
So before year for gets underway, I’ve made some changes to the way this website will work. First: From this point forward, I will be the only author posting reviews and essays. While Lance, Dante Villanova, Aaron Weiss, Jason Teal, and all the rest did good work, my failure to properly promote and utilize it has never gone unnoticed by me. I shouldn’t get hits to this site that I haven’t earned in one way or another, so all previous work not by me has been tucked away into the attic; there but not there. If you came here as a result of a Google image search for Game of Thrones and can’t believe that somebody doesn’t like the show, take heart: I’m not a fan, either.
In addition, I’ve given the site a slight makeover. Scott Stripling, an Athens-area artist, designed the new header, which looks fantastic. He also designed the icons for a new ratings scale, which will make its debut this week. Going back to 2011, the Big Lebowski-inspired ratings scale was the only thing I kept from Careful with that Blog, Eugene. The market for film blogging was (and still is) very crowded, and I wanted to stand apart from the crowd. It worked, but it also worked against me. When Roger Ebert linked to my review of Funny People in 2009, folks who were used to thumbs and stars found a review that concluded by decreeing the film “Far Fucking Out.” Beyond a temporary spike in traffic, a link that might have been a big break has instead become an anecdote, That one time, etc. When I launched this site, I wanted something new and professional—I was selling out, after all!—but I had nothing and knew nobody, so I took the swearing out of the Lebowski scale and hoped that would make a difference. It was what it was. Now I have something else.
Though I internally debate the value of a strict system of stars, they’re an easy enough shorthand as a recommendation engine, so I’m keeping it. Four stars, as tradition, represented by a series of ghosts and half ghosts. Inspired by The Dissolve and, I suppose, Pitchfork, the things that I will obnoxiously recommend to my friends in realspace will be awarded the ghostly Essential trophy. When I think something is Essential, you’ll know: The trophy will lead the review.
Finally, there is the issue of posting. Return posts like this are fairly common in the world of one-person blogs, and they are frequently followed by the long silences that preceded it. That will not be the case here. While I continue to push out further into the world of online writing (beyond the two Tumblrs linked in the sidebar, I’ve been blogging about pro-wrestling fashion trends and will soon launch a vegan food blog), Fear of a Ghost Planet has been my home and will continue to serve in that capacity. I’ve tried to set rigorous schedules for myself in the past, but that hasn’t always worked. For the time being, all I’ll say is that I will publish new reviews and essays at least twice a week, then let whatever happens happen. The first post, a review of the 40th anniversary print of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, will be up tomorrow. Thank you all for continuing to check this site out, even in its quiet phases. Y’all are my Dwayne, my The Rock, and my Johnson.