“My heart’s just fine as long as my stomach’s not empty.”
For a brief period last month, my YouTube account was, without warning, suspended. All previous episodes of B-Movie Bonanza—or at least those hosted there—had been taken down. Flummoxed, I contacted the powers-that-be for an explanation. What I received in return was anything but. I was told that due to my indiscretion, an indiscretion that continued to elude me, the suspension of my account would stand. They also encouraged me to carefully read over their rules and guidelines for uploaded content. Begrudgingly, I followed their supplied link and studied the dos and don’ts.
I took silent stock of the material included in my silly little movie commentary podcast. Do any episodes contain nudity, sexual situations, or pornographic material? Absolutely not. Do any episodes contain explicit or excessive violence? No, sir. Do any episodes promote violence toward either gender, or members of minority groups? Don’t remember ever in my life donning a swastika, so that’s another negative. Do any episodes contain spam or scams? Well, no, not unless you count my continued efforts to get listeners to buy my books. Last and most importantly, do any episodes contain copyrighted material? Since every commentary is a Brandon Ford original, i.e. 90 minutes of my nonsensical rambling without any music and/or audio/video samples of the films I discuss, that would be another no. I listed all of these facts in a detailed e-mail. Needless to say, when I received a response stating that they were standing by their decision, still offering no clear explanation, I was beyond befuddled.
I kept thinking back to late spring, when I started uploading rare/obscure movies to my YouTube channel as a coping mechanism. I’d just gone through a pretty gut-wrenching break-up (I still say there’s a special place in hell for those who terminate meaningful relationships via text message), so I really needed the distraction. And distract me it did. I spent hours each day going through my film library, picking and choosing rarities of all sorts. I uploaded the files to my channel hoping that subscribers would, when not viewing these hidden gems, have a listen to B-Movie Bonanza and maybe pick up a few of my books. This little side-hobby went on for a couple of months. In that time, I uploaded dozens of features. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down when a certain independent DVD distributor who owned the rights to one of these obscurities decided to report me to YouTube, thus earning my account a strike. I wrote an extensive essay about the experience on my personal blog, Brandon Ford’sSleepless Nights, which can be found here.
In hindsight, the strike was a mere slap on the wrist. My YouTube activity would be restricted for a period of 30 days and then I could go back to uploading content exceeding the 15-minute time limit. Also, the strike would be wiped from my account in 6 months, leaving me in good standing. I was more than a little paranoid, however, and didn’t want to risk losing my channel. As a pre-cautionary measure, I removed everything that wasn’t 100% mine and, just to be on the safe side, signed up with Vimeo so listeners would have a separate space to absorb my lack of film knowledge and stupid little anecdotes, should there be any further trouble.
Even though this was all behind me (my strike was even recently lifted), I couldn’t help wondering if previous uploads played a role in the suspension of my account, despite their removal close to 6 months prior. I wasn’t dumb enough to mention these files in my responses to YouTube, but continued to fight them tooth and nail. I claimed their decision was not only baseless, but absurd. Nothing on my channel violated their terms and conditions, so what was the problem? I felt as though I’d been sent up the river on the grounds of some trumped-up charges. Finally, I received an e-mail stating that, after some further investigation by the YouTube team, my account was back up and running. No apology, no explanation, no nothing. It wasn’t until I logged into my account that I received the answer I’d been searching for all along.
A disclaimer spread across my screen the moment I entered my password. It seemed that the Creepshow 2 episode of B-Movie Bonanza violated their terms and conditions, so it had been flagged. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what I could’ve possibly said during this particular commentary that would cause such outrage. I gave a listen. At approximately 17 minutes in, I briefly mentioned the original violation that earned my account a strike, the movie that caused all the drama, and the independent DVD company who reported me. In addition, I called the two guys at the helm a pair of “douchebags.” Ahhhh... Now things were starting to make sense.
Even though I’d removed their priceless gem from my channel and the incident was over with, it appears someone’s been keeping tabs on my YouTube activity (I can only assume to ensure I hadn’t uploaded any other fecal matter they hold rights to). The same someone probably didn’t appreciate my schoolyard name-calling and pulled a wah-wah-wahhhh. Uh...I mean, reported abuse. And then I thought back to just two weeks prior, when my Vimeo account was mysteriously suspended. Hmm... Coincidence? I’m guessing not.
After a similar e-mail exchange with Vimeo customer service, my files were once again available for streaming. Could these doofballs really be cyber-stalking me? For a micro-second, I felt like Shelley Duvall, driven to extreme states of paranoia, safe and warm beneath the protective coating of a tin foil hat. But I got over that pretty quickly. Nevertheless, I decided not to upload this particular episode to YouTube, since it also mentions my previous encounters with those...uh...fine young gentlemen and, Criminally Insane is an early project by the same writer/director of the piece of shh---I mean...cinematic masterpiece that started this whole mess. So, it looks like this one’s going to be a Vimeo exclusive.
The source for this gem of an episode runs 1:01:56 and can be found on the E.I. Independent triple-feature DVD, which also contains Nick Millard’s Crazy Fat Ethel 2, sequel to Criminally Insane that utilizes half the original footage a la Silent Night, Deadly Night, Part 2, and Satan’s Black Wedding. Listen, enjoy, and I’ll be doing everything in my power to get this song out of my head.