Pitchfork bashing has taken on a new form: full feature length. From the creators of “Meet the Spartans” and “Vampires Suck” comes an once-in-a-lifetime movie. This movie turns around everything you’ve ever thought you’ve known about the writing duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. All those terrible movies they made, gone out the window. Whatever sin they have committed to the screen before has since been forgiven with this ‘tour-de-force’.
“The Devil Writes Pitchfork” received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. At the Cannes Film Festival they won the Palme d’Or. When they gave their speech, they explained they did all those previous terrible movies in order to build up to this final statement. Both of them stated they understood what people had thought of them. Crass, crude, dumbing down our culture, a virtual toilet bowl collecting the refuse we strained out of our society’s anus, they heard it all. Jason told the audience it was important to keep this project under wraps. For mocking the Pitchfork subculture takes time and effort, neither thing they’ve employed on any of their other movies. To ensure the movie would not be ruined they filmed in near-secrecy.
We begin the movie in a darkened bar on a ship. A gaunt looking man stares blankly at a tall person identified only as “Ryan”. They exchange a few words as the camera passes over legions of dead twenty-somethings impeccably dressed. Finally he puts on a record of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” as the ship goes up in flames.
After that we see the NYPD going over the scene. Policemen gasp at the amount of cool, relevant bros who died. Brooklyn lost a great deal of their tastemakers that night, one particularly hip cop says while scrolling through his IPOD. Only two survived the onslaught: some Russian scenester named Vlad and an entry-level kid who didn’t know much about music blogs called John “Entry-Level” McEntire. Vlad mutters incoherently about a mythical music snob legend known as “Ryan Schreiber”. Bringing in a translator and police sketch artist they set forth to draw a picture of this man.
Despite being a total N00B about music John had been granted near full immunity from mocking by those high up on the music food chain. Brought into the police station on a minor Sonic Youth discography violation, he begins to tell the tale in New York City several weeks ago to Nick Drake, a depressive young detective from upstate New York:
Five music pirates of the highest caliber are brought in on illegal downloading charges by the RIAA. While the five of them sit in the cell, they conduct a scheme to leak a huge deal of MP3s, creating a loss of millions of dollars for the music industry. In that process, they will gain so much street cred they will be virtual gods of the music blog-o-sphere. John, the N00B, is there alongside a techno fan from the UK who speaks in a near-incomprehensible accent called Adam, Rothgar a huge metal fan from Scandinavia, and Will, a man well-versed on obscure, limited edition releases. Next to them is Kevin Shields, a man trying to go clean from stealing music who wants to ‘support the artists’ which is met with harsh criticism. Kevin is trying to clear his name with the help of a local musician who is leading a “Riot Grrrl” revival called Kathleen Hanna.
All of them head out to California to leak music from Best Coast, Wavves, No Age, and countless other similar artists. They blog about those releases extensively. By attracting so much hype and attention, they work with another group of like-minded people to get a rare bootleg from an early Bob Dylan concert. Upon meeting the corporate types in a parking garage, they kill them accidently only to realize the alleged ‘rare bootleg’ is actually a re-issue. Tempted to go back to New York they are approached by a representative of Ryan Schreiber called Mr. Stapler. Offered more un-leaked MP3s and cocaine than they’ll ever know what to do with they are also presented with a huge amount of money and dossiers on everything any one of them had ever downloaded ever. What they need to do is defeat the gang from Russia on a boat to steal the MP3s and cocaine away from them.
Nick asks who Ryan is. John explains Ryan is a near-mythical tastemaker for the review site “Pitchfork.com”. According to John, Ryan works through so many different groups of people and bloggers that no one even knows if they are working for him. A story is told, which John believes to be true, about the kind of person Ryan Schreiber is:
“Once, when Ryan was a small-time blogger at Pitchfork, his house was invaded by other Russian bloggers trying to encroach on his release reviews. When Ryan arrived, they asked him to recant some of his previous scores for bands they thought were over and under-rated or else they would hurt his family. They requested Ryan put up the since-long deleted review of John Coltrane’s “Live at the Village Vanguard”. Instead of caving in to their demands he did something unexpected. Ryan shot and killed his entire family rather than have to recant anything he’d ever written or repost anything he’d taken down from his site. Leaving one man alive to tell the tale, he went after anyone who hosted the text from his embarrassing early ‘creative writing pieces’ style reviews. He even killed those associated with them and hid underground.”
Some in the group questioned whether or not to deal with Mr. Stapler. Will tries to escape and is killed. Their attempts to kill Ryan’s representative fail as the representative threatens each one of them personally. For each one had taken MP3s and hype from his boss it was time they repaid that debt. Going on the boat will be tough as the Russian gang takes MP3 leaks very seriously.
Keith tells John to stay back that he doesn’t know how much danger will be on this boat. If anything goes wrong John could contact Kathleen, who could deal with Ryan “her way”. On the boat, the group soon discovered there were no hard drives filled with MP3s and no cocaine. Eventually they all were killed, and John says he saw Ryan in the shadows kill Keith.
Upon hearing this story, Nick reveals the real reason Keith’s group went there: to kill someone who could identify Ryan. Most likely those Russians were the same ones who Ryan massacred much earlier. Ryan wanted Keith's group there so he could slip in and out without detection. According to Nick, Keith was Ryan. Nick told John he was left to proclaim Keith’s innocence. Going further, Nick says John has no taste of what’s cool or not and that’s the reason he’s kept alive.
John posts bail. Taking a few items (including his plush headphones) he walks out. Looking around his office, Nick realizes he stole names from objects around his office, such as his Stapler. Running out the door, he passes by a faxed police sketch which shows a picture not of Keith, but of John. Outside he turns his head in all directions failing to see John.
By now John is busy listening to Captain Beefheart and Faust. He gets into a car driven by “Mr. Stapler” and drives away.
This may be Jason Friedberg’s and Aaron Seltzer’s best movie yet.