Wikipedia is a great many things to a great many people, and we often take for granted the army of dedicated writers and editors responsible for its versatility – people who, just like the encyclopedia itself, are complex, multifaceted and perhaps inscrutable. With this series of interviews I hope to elucidate the underrepresented, the modest and the invisible.
The following interview was transcribed from a Skype voice call:
Zane: Thanks for taking the time for this interview.
Mr. Smith Goes to White Castle: No problem, I always enjoy educating others.
Z: So, what kind of things do you do on Wikipedia? You mentioned in our e-mails that you’re very active, and-
Mr.: I’m a writer, a critic, a journalist, a curator of great works, and a humble janitor.
Mr.: Mostly film synopses.
Z: So, tell me about what draws you to Wikipedia.
Mr.: I’ve always loved talking about film, and on Wikipedia everything I say is saved in a master article for all to see. For the furtherance of the medium. My expertise is quite the commodity, you see.
Z: So you find Wikipedia to be a good environment for film discussion?
Mr.: I find I am able to cultivate the rich herb of discussion in even the most harsh and arid of intellectual deserts. And on Wikipedia I can earn medals for my number of contributions.
Z: Do you have a favourite contribution?
Mr.: (Clears throat) “Betwixt the careless mundanities and careful indemnities of the domestic purgatory vis-à-vis Edward’s microcosm of typical American suburbia, he soon grows encumbered by platitudes and restless with envy.” I’ll stop there, because I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending – not everyone has seen Edward Scissorhands!
Z: I don’t, uh… I don’t think that’s in the Edward Scissorhands article.
Mr.: Well, Wikipedia is all politics. A lot of people disagreed with Ebert too.
Z: Well, being publicly editable is often a point of contention for Wikipedia. Does that ever make it hard to do a film justice?
Mr.: Oh, never. I make sure everyone else understands that our priority is to respect the Wikipedia plot synopsis as the piece of entertainment that it is. Never betray your audience.
Z: That’s movie magic for you.
Mr.: Don’t worry, Hollywood. The integrity of your work is safe in the hands of Mr. Smith Goes to White Castle!
Z: And do you have a favourite genre?
Mr.: Quentin Tarantino. Definitely.
Z: Uh, I mean genre of film. Do you have a-
Mr.: I knew what you meant, son. I don’t think anyone with a modicum of proper taste could argue that Quentin Tarantino isn’t the father of his own genre. The progenitor of his own renaissance. Do you disagree?
Z: Well, I always saw his work as being more in the action-drama category, but I’m flexible.
Z: Finally, can you recommend any films you’ve seen recently?
Mr.: No, I haven’t seen any films since 2002.
Z: I don’t understand.
Mr.: Why deal with the crowds, the ticket counter or other people? You can find everything you need about a film on Wikipedia!
Z: So… Can you recommend any films you’ve… read recently?
Mr.: Oh, Star Trek Into Darkness was fantastic. Intense, fun and well-formatted. A must if you’ve read the first one. It’s definitely my pick for featured article, or at the very least, the Oscars.
Z: Well, I think that about covers it all. Thank you for your time. I’ll let you get back to… it.