Monday, August 14, 2006

The Tuttle Rebuttal

This site was recently featured in GreenCine Daily. Judging by the comments, reader reaction was mixed, from cautious support to ambivalence. One reader, HarryTuttle, was quite aghast at the whole affair, dismissing it as inconsistent. We believe this was borne from a misinterpretion of our statements, and we encouraged him to voice any specific qualms he had. Harry has done so with gusto, but we believe he still misses the point, and we respond in turn.

HarryTuttle: If Murali told the press already [about forging a teaching certificate to get a job] he doesn't need you to break the news...

Clayfoot: The very "blogosphere" itself revolves around disseminating existing news and ideas and adding one's own commentary to it. That post is no different from any other.

Besides, if we're trying to illustrate how we've come to conclusions about Murali's behaviour, wouldn't it be stupid to ignore strong circumstantial evidence like this?

What's absurd is your nitpicky suspision of every word [Spoken by Murali in the media about a friend 'Kelly', whose suicide partially inspired 2:37]... Try to trust him for a second and read it again. Give some rhetorical licence to what he says. The fact he doesn't recount the story precisely (intentionaly or not) doesn't make it untrue.

If Murali's tongue had slipped in one instance, we wouldn't have brought it up. However, he has repeated the same story in the media several times, creating the exact same impression: Kelly recorded the video immediately before committing suicide.

How did the tape get into the mail?

What's your claim here? That someone cannot record and send a video before suicide? Or that it's not possible to cry during recording if the suicide is (actually) delayed by the posting of the video?

By your implicit suggestion that recording the suicide video was not immediately followed by the final act, you contradict the story as told on multiple occasions, replacing it with one amended to be more plausible. Perhaps it's even the truth. We don't know, but we think we have apt reason for questioning the words of somebody we perceive as something of a mythomaniac.

We have found no evidence, beyond Murali's claims, that suggests his friend actually existed. Until we have more specific evidence of this, however, we are forced to rely on what we have, which is pointing out the inherent flaw in the story itself. We are not going to make up fake evidence, even to try to prove something we strongly believe. We are trying to conduct this as ethically and honestly as possible.

Decency begs not to ask for petty details in such circumpstances... are you from the police?

Of course, this is made very difficult by the sensitive nature of Murali's story. Anyone who questions these things - the suicide of his friend, his own suicide attempt - is inevitably going to come off as being extraordinarily cruel. We are very mindful of this. We are not callous people, and we hate being in this position.

However, our opinion of Murali, built from what we have seen, allows us to entertain the possibility that something could be amiss. We implore anybody able to definitively resolve this either way to come forward and do so.

Now in the hypothetical you're right, what's your motive to bring it up but for gossips? Since when directors are polygraphed to give interviews?

If the claim is correct, surely that makes Murali supremely insensitive, exploiting the public's sympathy on such a touchy issue, purely for furthering his own career and 2:37's success? That is not "gossip" in the here's-what-she's-wearing-this-week sense.

We are all for freedom of artistic expression, though while the boundaries between fact and fiction can be toyed with, they should be able to be ultimately delineated. Should we really believe in a Blair Witch haunting filmmakers in a forest, or that the events in Fargo actually took place since both were hinted at being real in some way? In the same vein, if a filmmaker's generally unquantifiable effusive hyperbole drifts into mentioning specific events and people as factual, the burden of proof for these statements should increase in a corresponding fashion.

Pot calling kettle black.
You write well. Quit living off other people's achievements and get on to work on your own original creation.

Thank you for the compliment.

This lovely disclaimer doesn't excuse your insistant and jealous bickering.

It is not jealousy that sparked this. We have tried to make this clear repeatedly. We are instead somewhat miffed that Murali, who appears to liberally stretch the truth should do so continually unchallenged, especially considering he threatened us for even hinting at the notion.

This caveat lector is a legal disclaimer, and a reminder to those who comment that we don't automatically publish their submissions.

We continuously receive unsubstantiated comments from readers making accusations about Murali. Many of these comments contain material that would be considered defamatory, which would leave us with a legal liability. We're not a gossip column - there are some standards here.

Fake multiple accounts might be a fraud on IMDb, not posting anonymously though, not posting unverifiable lies, or just stupid comments...
However official critics published in official papers have a responsability to follow ethics. Faking a critic is illegal. Faking an anonymous forum poster is not. Cite some laws proving otherwise please if you're so obsessive.
If it's true it makes Murali looks bad cause he shamelessly promote himself... that's all.

I hate to say it, but you've misread us again. (We appreciate that all this material verges on unwieldiness.)

As I have already written on my comment to you on Daily GreenCine and on this page itself, using multiple accounts to commit fraud on the IMDB may be somewhat unethical, but in the grand scheme of things it is a trifling indiscretion and is certainly not a crime. We have never said otherwise.

In our original post, MSN P[r]omo, we indirectly pointed out that Murali was likely using fake accounts on the IMDb to promote his film. This was done in a humorous context, with no editorialising on our part; we did not say this behaviour was unethical or illegal.

Murali then sent us a legal threat, which claimed that we had acted both unethically and illegally in MSN P[r]omo. This was untrue, offensive and hypocritical.

So, we thought that we would defend our claims. We weren't going to be bullied. We doubt you would put up with it either.

So, we called his bluff and raised the stakes.

Do you have a proof IMDb deleted these posts and not the author(s)? If not then you feed your fire with assumptions.

All the deleted threads are marked as being deleted by the administrator, not the poster. The users still exist, but have not, so far as I can tell, resumed commenting on 2:37 or any other film.

Pointing to Murali's bad spelling is shameful of you! and assuming that if a poster can't spell AND praise 2:37 must prove it IS Murali is ludicrous, not to mention insulting.

Why is pointing out his spelling shameful? He is a literate adult who not only speaks English natively, but works as a professional writer! That aside, spelling and praising the film are only a two of the confluence of other factors we drew from to form our perception of multiple accounts, you appear to have overlooked the others. Others have previously used Murali's writing style and grammatical errors to reach conclusions of fakery.

You don't trust what anonymous claim to be online? Welcome on the web! What else are you going to uncover? Water is wet btw ;) This policing of IMDb posters is not your job, how come you got invested of such mission? You just love denounciation? You really think you have the high moral ground there? You fancy yourself Woodward & Bernstein?

No, we don't fancy ourselves Woodward and Bernstein. Maybe closer to the guy who wrote this.

Even if it's him, or his crew, the cheap scoop isn't worth this sort of indiscreet spying, since it's not illegal. All he risks is a ban from IMDb.

Isn't 'indiscreet spying' an oxymoron?

Again, this is not about "scooping" Murali with his newfound stardom, nor pointing out how horrible it is he might lie on the internet, it is about proving that our suspicions are justifiable, nullifying any potential basis for further bullying legal action he may have.

What do you have against Frenchmen?

Absolument rien.

25 users voted for the film and you complain about a ballot stuffing of 11 votes??? gimme a break...

Okay, take a break.

This is a tangential claim, at best, but it's legitimate.

I guess the Cannes direction selecting the film proves it is plagiarism-proof, since you didn't see it, what entice you to purport such gossips if not jealousy? And you think you're impartial?

We have not accused Two Thirty 7 of plagiarising Elephant, but we are clearly aware that reviewers, who we assume don't have an axe to grind with Thalluri, are making the comparison. Why shouldn't the Cannes selectors pick out a film that shares aspects with a past winner, anyway?

Again, judgement is to be withheld until actually either of us actually see the film, though we would be idiots to ignore the fact that virtually every reputable review published so far has made the connection between the two films.

There remains another instance of plagiarism, in the form of "Jean Pierre" (we doubt he's really french) plagiarising Ms Michelle Wheeler's review of the movie. That is not open to dispute - she's even thanked us for pointing it out.

Footnotes : you're desperate for pseudo-evidences...

You're referring to the fact that several of the suspected fake accounts have similar number sequences in their names. Again, it's tangential, which is why it's a footnote. If we performed proper statistical sampling, though, what would you think then - academic rigour or unhealthy obsession?

Who cares? What's your accusation? He stole 5 mins from his first-time Cannes standing ovation? Get real...

Firstly, Thalluri's claim of a seventeen minute standing ovation is at odds with an independent claim stating it was five minutes - a difference of twelve minutes, not five as you say. This raises the question what kind of person, having attained his dream of entry into Cannes, is not satisfied with a marvellous truth and must instead exaggerate it to a degree that teeters on the brink of farce. A frank, honest account of the event would have been more impressive (because it'd be credible) than the mythology he may otherwise concoct for himself, at least in our view.

abc website says: "2:37 owes a big debt to Gus Van Sant's film Elephant, which also followed a group of teenagers in their intersecting paths in a suburban high school; and it's a debt Thalluri has acknowledged from the outset."

And what Murali says on the mic is he wrote the plot before seeing GVS's Elephant (about Columbine massacre), which has nothing to do with 2:37 (suicide whodunnit). Then says he borrowed the mise-en-scene (intertwined long takes) from GVS after watching the DVD.

Did you guys see either of these 3 films?

Again, the fact that 2:37 (apparantly) so closely resembles Elephant is, in and of itself, no particular cause for concern. Rather, it is the combination of all these elements that leads us to bring it up.

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