State of the Blog: The Final Word on the Marie Prevost Project

This post is my detailed explanation of the brief notice I now have at the top of all my Marie Prevost Project posts. I continue to have problems with people wanting more info about Marie Prevost from me, and as much as I want to, I cannot delete my posts or even correct the mistakes in them — on the off chance there is a copyright issue in the future, I need a strong internet trail of where my posts were published and when, including leaving them as they were originally, which means keeping all my errors. Because the posts have to stay up, I decided a short blurb at the top of them would be the best, with a link leading here.

The subject matter here will not be new to most SBBN regulars or anyone following me on Twitter, by the way.

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Over the years, I have received about 15 emails from people doing their own projects on Marie Prevost. Several of them have been very nice; these people are working on a documentary, some fictionalized accounts of her life, fanfic, school projects, books, and other awesome projects I fully support and wish those people the best of luck in. A couple of people sent me scans of their own stuff just to say thanks for what I had put on the blog. This is great stuff. If you fall into this category, my post here is not talking about you, please know that.

The problem has been several people who wanted more than what I posted on SBBN and essentially demanded I give them all my research. They also often claim I have no copyright on what I’ve written and posted to SBBN. All are men, all have acted as though I would be swooning in delight at their attentions, all propose situations where I do all the work and they get all the credit and money in exchange for a “thanks” somewhere in their book. This seems natural to them, apparently. I have been bullied, physically threatened, called names, insulted, lied to, all manner of things from people who want more from me than the blog posts I already published.

What’s worse, or at least as bad, is that much of what I wrote in those old posts is incorrect, and I’ve said so for over a year but none of the bullies care.

Now, I wrote everything in the SBBN Marie Prevost Project posts in good faith at the time, but usually with only moderate research online and after reading a few books. Once I started doing my own primary research and had the help of a couple of exceptional researchers, I realized so much found online or in those books is wrong; therefore, what I posted was often wrong, too.

There are other serious issues with researching Marie that I won’t even go into, because I no longer give out any information that might help people do research on Marie. Everyone is on their own.

A full length, comprehensive and factual book about Marie Prevost will take the kind of time and money I don’t have right now, and I would bet none of the bullies who has emailed me has that kind of time or money, either. If they’re the kind of people who think everything they read on blogs is true, that everything women do can be appropriated by men, that a little online research is all one needs for a proper bio, then no, they have no idea what they’re doing. They just don’t.

Recently, someone wanted all the research I had not yet blogged about for free because they “just didn’t have time” to read books. He hadn’t even heard of Marie Prevost until last year, and refused to do research unless it was all online. I didn’t give him any of my research. Ultimately, he used SBBN posts and other webpages about Marie for a biography which is now being published by a house infamous for its inaccurate and cheap bios. He, of course, wanted more free stuff from me once he inked a deal with the publishing house — free info from me for a book he is making money off of. When I pointed this out to him, he acted as though I was stepping on his dreams, then complained that he wouldn’t make much money anyway because Marie wasn’t famous enough.

Prior to that, a newly published author emailed me claiming a very well-known biographer — you would recognize her name instantly — had told him since there was no book on Marie Prevost, he should take my blog posts and write his own. He thought I was a rube who didn’t know better, and said he’d give me a “thanks” in his book in exchange for the info I had on Marie. I said no, objected to his condescension, and reminded him he couldn’t just cut and paste huge swaths of my blog for himself. He could use anything from the blog as a source, and would have to properly credit SBBN in footnotes or the bibliography.

In return, he threatened me, called me names, repeatedly stated that because I was a woman in Kansas I was worthless, especially compared to a man living in L.A. like he was. He also made a veiled religious reference (he was better than me because he was Catholic, apparently), then outlined (twice!) how he was going to steal my blog posts and pass them off as his own anyway, with his publishing house and the big-name female biographer friend of his both legally backing him up.

All because I demanded the bare minimum of human respect. All because I want SBBN to be credited properly in a bibliography, when applicable.

Honestly, I don’t want to stop anyone doing a book on Marie. That said, it would be nice if people who refuse to actually do research didn’t publish books on her life, because that’s disrespectful to her, and, to be selfish for a moment, it’s just going to make my job harder in the future. Check out Larry Harnisch’s series on Ted Healy’s death; Larry’s intense, exceptional research wasn’t enough to get Wikipedia to remove an obviously false, salacious claim on Healy’s pages, because the false claim was published in a book. Therefore, to Wikipedia editors, it’s a source, who cares if it’s an obvious lie or not.

That’s going to happen again to Marie, you know. The exact thing I was trying to combat with my SBBN Marie Prevost Project posts ended up encouraging multiple people to write half-assed books with very little research, and probably with quite a few errors, which will be perpetuated as fact.

I guess the final elephant in the room is whether I’ll be writing my own book on Marie. I might, but I am not going to half-ass a book, so if I write anything it will (a) not be discussed nor published on the blog, and (b) be years down the line, if at all. Much of my frustration here is that I know I am not ready to write the kind of book Marie deserves, both in research — there is so much to do — and in my own writing abilities, and it boggles my mind that people who can’t even do proper research think they’re ready. I suspect they’re thinking of themselves rather than of the full implications of what they’re doing, and can always say “But I heard Marie was a Satanist on Bob’s Blog Bonanza, so it has a source, stupid. Besides, you’re just jealous.” And people will back them up, and classic film buffs on certain forums will cheer that “finally” there’s a biography on this lesser-known actress, and their relatives will give them 5-star ratings on Amazon, and Wikipedia will quote it, and 193 new Tumblr posts with pictures of Marie’s corpse will circulate through the internet, and life will continue as usual.

***

To sum up:

1. Yes, SBBN posts can be used as research for your projects, but you must credit them appropriately.

2. SBBN posts may have errors. You should do your own research instead of reading my blog. I mean this.

3. You can’t just copy and paste things from my blog (from any blog) and use them as your own. Blogs are sources. Know the difference between sourcing info and copyright infringement.

4. I will not help you do more research on Marie Prevost.

5. I will no longer respond to emails about your own projects on Marie Prevost. I’ve been through enough over the last few years.

6. I will, however, be paying attention to any and all Marie Prevost books or projects that show up, for reasons that should be apparent to anyone who has read this far.

7. Seriously, just do your own damn research. Why are you even doing a book on Marie Prevost if you don’t care enough to do your own research on her? Please, you owe it to yourself and to Marie to do real, honest work on your project. Many of us already are, actually, and you lazy jerks need to catch up with the rest of us.

14 Comments

  1. Chris H says:

    This sure sounds like it’s been an instensely aggravating time!

    This whole bunch of events has given me an idea for a new crime story I’ll write. It’ll be about a woman working on a biography of some deceased actor/actress, and is mysteriously harassed by several people. I guess this actor/actress was involved in some kind of criminal activity, and stole the ill-gotten-gains, hiding it somewhere, and this biographer may unwittingly have the information leading to where it was hidden. I’ll have to put this idea to paper and start writing soon enough!

    1. stacia says:

      I like this idea – I want to read this when you’re done!

  2. KC says:

    I can’t believe these people! What the hell! Why even bother to bully a blogger who is doing everything she does out of love for her subject? This does explain why there are so many terrible books out there. Lazy jerks.I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this.

    1. stacia says:

      Thanks KC.

      I can’t figure out what they get out of being jerks, either. What’s on the blog can just be credited as a source; they get to use it for free, put it in a footnote, move on with their lives. To demand more info without even a please, or to just steal the posts — as though no one will figure that out within two days of the book’s general release — boggles my mind.

  3. bergersmicer says:

    Stacia, if it wasn’t for your blog I wouldn’t have watched The Marriage Circle. Blogging is about sharing and we’re very appreciative of your diligence and generosity. Good for you for sticking to your guns!

    Paul

    1. stacia says:

      The Marriage Circle is one of my favorite films! Marie is great, and Monte Blue has that one sublime moment… love it. Thanks for your kind words!

  4. Thomas Duke says:

    I was wondering, can you help me on a book report I am writing for remedial college English class? By “help”, I mean write the entire thing for me. Just an FYI: I will punch you if you don’t. Thanks.

    But seriously, what a total cock.

    1. stacia says:

      You laugh, but I have gotten a couple of emails from kids wanting me to send them tons of info for their school reports. Not on Marie, but one was on Mary Pickford, the other Bette Davis. Both were a lot more polite than some of their elders.

  5. Well handled!

    You’d just better write your book because it’s the only one I’d buy on the subject! With apologies for any additional male bullying interpreted within my demand.

    1. stacia says:

      Thanks Cliff! I’m certain I won’t be getting to the book any time soon — like I said, I want to do it right, and that means travel, paying for access to some online archives, maybe paying some researchers as well.

  6. NeveR says:

    Wow, this is cautionary. What unbelievable assholes people can be. I’ve been approached by a would-be Basil Rathbone biographer who also seemed to assume I would hand over all my material and do the rest of his research for him, just for the price of a thank-you in his Acknowledgements. But at least he was a lot pleasanter about it than your guy. And presumably you would have happily co-operated with this jerk if he’d just been prepared to honor your contribution.

    It seems as if virtual writing still isn’t regarded by some a being “proper.” If it’s on a blog it’s not really anyone’s intellectual property and anyone can make use of it. It’s an attitude that has to change.

    1. stacia says:

      Oh NeveR, I just now saw this, sorry for my late reply! Sounds like you had the same issue I’ve had, and I’m sorry to hear it.

      As for cooperating with the guys, I don’t know if what I would have done counts as cooperating. Any of the polite people who emailed me with their documentaries and school projects got a good luck, a reminder to double check because my posts have a few errors, and sometimes I had some suggestions — usually whether some specious info online is true, what books to read, etc. But in general I don’t give out more than what’s already on the blog, and in part that’s because I often have incomplete info and all I’d be able to say is “I know X and Y, and you can try for Z, but I’ve done 4,000 watts [1] of research and haven’t figured Z out yet.”

      Curiously, no one has ever emailed me to say “Hey, that bit you wrote about Those Bitter Sweets is wrong,” or anything like that.

      [1] I measure research in watts. I’m very scientific.

  7. WaverBoy says:

    Wow…another reminder of how rotten humans can be, especially sexist lazy male would-be authors. I’m so sorry to hear about your problems with these assholes. I dearly hope you end up writing your book on Miss Prevost; I’d buy it on street date.

  8. Ella Plank says:

    I know I am way late on this. I have enjoyed your blog, applaud your efforts AND your ethics AND your respect regarding Marie. I hope you will consider writing a good biography on her someday. I would buy it and no doubt love it. The one we need writing about her is someone who respects her and that is clearly you. I am sorry you have had to put up with so many terrible people, hiding behind their keyboards and taking big.

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