Welcome to The Awkward White Man, a site created by writer Randy Shaffer.
Some of you may know me as that sniveling critic, R.L. Shaffer (insert insults here), from web zones such as DVDFuture or IGN. Yes, I am a former critic, but this site will be largely dedicated to my observations on the world of writing and film. I will also highlight old reviews I worked on, add a few more reviews every now and then (generally of stuff I dig), and offer news on any upcoming projects I’m working on.
All right. Let’s get real. For years I was a film critic. It was a job that I deeply loved, but eventually grew to loathe … not the profession, of course, though it does have its downsides (like getting paid dirt, for example). I greatly appreciate critics and the value that many of them offer to professionals, fans, upcoming artists and culture itself. But, it wasn’t a world for me. After more than ten years of writing reviews, I grew to deeply loathe myself for being a destroyer of creativity and art, the occasional spinner of negativity.
I absolutely loved reviewing content that I personally enjoyed. I relished in giving the camp classic, StarCrash, a perfect 10 score at IGN. But I hated tearing down films and TV from professionals who worked very hard to get something (even something bad) made. Creation, especially film production, is a feat that is not so easy, believe me.
I felt like I was part of this cultural movement comprised of destroyers. Purveyors of negative energy. That might sound corny, but just sit back and examine how we judge and ridicule ourselves, from the food we eat to the music and movies we enjoy. Some of this is necessary for cultural advancement and growth, but often it is largely mean-spirited and destructive. And most is just endless white noise. So, I made a conscious decision to choose the path less traveled — I wanted to be a creator, personal finances be damned.
For years I have been writing screenplays and stories, though none have been produced. I’ve gotten very close a few times, but no cigar. To my credit, I do have a music video to my name (see video below).
I’ve always been annoyingly afraid of success and, to be frank, I haven’t tried very hard to sell my work (yet). I could give you excuses as to why that is, but there’s no point. The past is the past. I reached a turning point in late 2012. I broke my hand in an embarrassing accident and found myself in a state of existentialism, re-evaluating who I was and what I wanted to be.
I decided to begin a book project centering on the world of swing culture (not dancing, mind you). This was a lifestyle I knew absolutely nothing about. I was, and still am, a big nerd and a huge movie geek, and the idea of people openly swapping spouses and attending sex clubs was about a foreign to me as things could get. That book was meant to segue me from the world of journalism to the world of book writing, and it worked! In 2013 alone I have completed three books: the non-fiction tale about swinging and sex culture, and two fiction novels. I’ve also completed several short stories, polished a screenplay, written an entirely new script, and I’ve got a few other projects up my sleeve before the year’s end, including one more book.
I’m not writing this blog to brag about myself, though I will shamelessly promo stuff I’ve worked on. But honestly, I write this blog to encourage. That’s what this site really is about. Any reviews I’ll post on here will be positive in nature. They’ll be pieces of entertainment and art that I like; things I love, and things that are important to me … or to culture. I’ll offer a different perspective than one you might have read about elsewhere. I might even defend some of those films I would have torn down in the past. I’ll also share with you books that I’ve read, from indie authors to well-known artists. I’ll offer news on any personal projects I’m working on. And I’ll discuss some great films on Blu-ray that I’m watching.
If you want some additional rants from me, follow my Twitter. I can certainly still be a critical bag of ass at times. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and as a writer, I have more than a few. But this site is about the positive spirit of creativity, and all the wonders, perspective and joys of art. I hope you like what you find, and I hope this site inspires you to go and create.