Advertising, PR, reviews and Avatar

Cecily’s posts about lousy PR pitches reminded me that I wanted to go over my advertising and review policies.

Advertising: I accept ads through BlogAds.  I accept most ads that are submitted.  I reject them if I can’t tell what they’re selling, or if I’m offended by either what they’re selling, or how they’re selling it.  The most common reason I reject ads is that I think they’re preying on parental fears.  If I’m really enthusiastic about the cause or the product, I might mention it in a post, but buying an ad doesn’t automatically get you a mention.

PR: I can’t think of a single case where I’ve chosen to interview someone based on a PR pitch.  I’m can pretty much guarantee that I’m not going to discuss your product on the basis of a press release.

Reviews: I always disclose if I’m being paid to do a review (e.g. through MotherTalk).  But I won’t do a review even for money unless I think it will be of some interest to my audience.  I know I don’t want to read reviews of cleaning products, and I assume you don’t either.  (Trust me, no one is offering me enough money to pretend that I like housework.)  I’m not going to spend my money on $60 layettes, and I’m not going to waste your time with reviews of them. 

Books are a special case where I worry more about myself than my audience — I think book reviews are often interesting, even when I have no intention of reading the book — but I’m not going to take one on unless I think I’m going to enjoy reading the book.  If you send me a book to review other than as part of a blog tour, I’ll try to get to it, but I don’t make promises.  If the book doesn’t interest me enough to finish it, you’re probably happier if I don’t review it anyway, right?

On that note, here’s T’s review of the final disk of Avatar:

Avatar, Book 3 Fire, Volume 4, concludes the long-running series.
For those (like myself) who have enjoyed it very much, that in itself
is a melancholy and somewhat frightening notion.  Sad, because we won’t
get to watch any more new episodes, and scary because they might well
screw up the ending.  It’s been done before, with works substantially
less ambitious than Avatar.  So if you’re intently searching out
reviews, you’re probably wondering:  Did they pull out a cheesy deus ex
machina to resolve everyone’s problems and make everything happy
sunshine land?

Well … yes and no.
They do not change the rules as regards the conflict we’ve seen
coming from day one:  The fight against the Firelord and his armies is
HARD.  Everyone pulls their weight, everyone puts their life on the
line, everyone makes sacrifices.  You get the matchups you expect and
require:  Aang vs. the Firelord, Zuko vs. his sister.  The loose plot
threads are tied up so neatly, and with such precision, that toward the
end I was able to predict the dialogue word for word on more than one
occasion, simply because there were only a few possible things left for
people to say to each other.  That’s not to say that it’s stilted or
trite … the stuff is heart-warming and incredibly powerful … just
that it proceeds with a powerful sense of dramatic and emotional
necessity.  As General Iroh puts it:  people are compelled to meet
their destinies, and they do so with the tools we’ve seen them honing
throughout the series.
But there’s another item that’s not so well addressed … because
the writers actually tacked on more ambition as the series was coming
to a close.  They opened up a can of worms I never thought they’d go
near:  the hard reality of fighting leading to violence and death.
It’s a kids show.  They’re allowed a pass on this subject … they
really are!  If they wanted to say "Aang is a wise, peaceful, loving
soul who would never hurt anyone, and who uses his avatar powers to
kick butt for justice" and leave it at that, they’re allowed.  So I was
impressed when an episode early in the disc ended with the following
Zuko:  Violence wasn’t the answer.
Aang:  It never is.
Zuko:  Then I have a question for you:  What are you going to do when you face my father?
I’d been expecting that the series would end with Aang defeating
the Firelord, who would then self-destruct in some fatal last attempt
to enact vengeance.  But it becomes clear that’s just not in the
cards.  If Ozai is defeated, he’ll want to live, in order to plan yet
more world-stomping mischief … and letting him live will ensure that
nobody ever has peace.  What’s a decent, caring person with the weight
of the world on their shoulders to do?
Aang’s attempts throughout the remaining episodes to answer this
question in a way he can live with create conflict in places I didn’t
expect it:  Particularly a serious and powerful conflict with the past
Avatars.  The series becomes once again, at the end, what it was at the
beginning:  A coming of age story.  Aang is torn between himself, the
needs of the world, the pressures of his friends, and the well-meaning
advice of the past Avatars who are the closest thing he has to parents.

In the end, the answer that he comes to is imperfect, and yeah
maybe something of a gimmick.  You can hear a lot of back and forth
about it on fansites if you go looking.  But you won’t hear it here:
The writers asked a question that, in the abstract, has no good
answer.  Heroic violence vs. respect for life … if they had an answer
that fit the bill in all times and all places, without resort to
gimmicks … well, that’d be great, but surprising.  As it is, I’m glad
just to have seen the question so well addressed. 

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