What My World of Flops means to me
In late April, around my birthday, I was fired from The Dissolve (in 2015), and about two months ago I was informed by The A.V Club that My World of Flops was being retired out of a combination of declining page-views and the changing needs of an ever-evolving media landscape. I’m that one dude whose memories are not exclusively happy so as you might imagine, late April is a perilous time for me when it comes to those Facebook “This is what was happening in your life on this day two years ago” posts. They resurrect a whole lot of painful memories and remind me of things I would rather forget.
A few days ago, for example, some Facebook algorithm decided to remind me that exactly two years and two days ago I relaunched My World of Flops at The A.V Club after a nearly two year stint as a staff writer at The Dissolve ended unhappily. It was a reminder that I had once ended My World of Flops of my own accord, that I had willingly put my eight-year old baby to bed with some regret and no small amount of melancholy but also a lot of optimism about the road ahead.
I had faith in my ability to create new columns like My World of Flops I could throw myself into at my new job. It didn’t take me long to develop a stable of new columns that caught on with readers, like Forgotbusters. But when I got fired from The Dissolve I understandably had no interest in continuing any of those columns. It was just too goddamn painful.
I needed to make money, however, not having a job, but having a six month old baby, and all, so I asked The A.V Club if I could resume writing My World of Flops and they said yes. For close to two years, that seemed to have worked out okay. I’d input my articles into the system and they would only communicate with me if it was absolutely necessary to do so.
That ended with an email three days before my birthday this year telling me that The A.V. Club was cancelling My World of Flops but I was being given a chance to write a goodbye column. On one level, the news could not have come at a worse time. I was just barely making ends meet at the time writing an ever-dwindling number of columns for Spitsider, The A.V. Club, Rotten Tomatoes and TCM Backlot. Now my signature column, my most successful column, the column I was known for, was being killed.
My immediate response was intense anger and hurt. As a freelancer, you are constantly reminded of how little you matter within the great beast that is pop culture media, how disposable and expendable and small you are, no matter how big you think your name might be. Now I was being told that the most valuable thing in my career was no longer considered valuable enough to justify its exceedingly reasonable cost.
For me, middle age has been about losing things—friends, hope, gigs, relationships, illusions and delusions—and trying to find the grace and perspective to cope. I have achieved some strange piece by making peace with more things than I perhaps should. When the world stopped expressing an interest in paying me money to review movies some time around 2015, I shrugged and told myself, “Well, I guess the world does not want me to be a film critic,” just as I’d figured that the world didn’t want me to review music any more around the time I personally stopped wanted to review music in 2008. What exquisite timing!
When my poorly rated, increasingly reputable basic-cable panel panel show Movie Club with John Ridley, was cancelled by AMC in 2005 due to declining viewership and the ever-changing needs of the cable landscape, I shrugged and said, “Eh, I guess the world doesn’t want me to be a guy who reviews movies on TV. No big shocker there.”
When my heavyweight former publisher Scribner rejected what would have been my fourth book with it, I thought, “Eh, I guess the world doesn’t want me to publish books on a major publisher. Can’t say I’m terribly surprised.”
But when I got en email saying that My World of Flops was being put down I had to draw a line. I could accept just about everything. I have accepted just about everything. But I could not accept that the world no longer wanted me to write about prominent failures in ways that were funny, empathetic and compassionate, sometimes all at the same time.
Thankfully, I did not have to. Because while I was, and remain, broke and desperate, when I found out The A.V. Club was ending My World of Flops I was on the verge of launching my own site, Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. I didn’t have to accept my former employer’s decision as a final judgment. I was able to change the narrative. Instead of continuing to shrink, my career has expanded over the last two months. Instead of receding gradually but unmistakably at the behest of an increasingly fickle industry, I’m creating my own world and community here, with your help, and I’m able to bring my My World of Flops with me.
My World of Flops may not have mattered to The A.V. Club but it’s a big fucking deal here at Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. We think it’s pretty fucking special. I’m not just saying that because I’m the proprietor, owner and Editor-in-Chief of the site—I’m also a fan, and as a dude who loves reading Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place it would have made me sad for My World of Flops to end before it reached its 300th entry spanning over a decade.
Of course there’s always a chance that, at some time in the future, due to declining page-views and the shifting needs of the ever-evolving media landscape I, as owner of Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place, will kill the column for what would be the third time but I will have myself to answer to myself as a reader, and I’d have a devil of a time doing so.
Support My World of Flops and Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace