I think ROX #80, “The Potable Gourmet,” is one of the funniest episodes we ever made, a sublimely ridiculous true-life comedy. It still makes me laugh when I watch it, and I don't laugh easy.
This episode was to focus exclusively on mixed drinks, rather than merely featuring one or two drinks on the side. A simple concept. It went awry, of course, and that was wonderful.
However, not everyone involved in the production felt the same. One person in particular — no need to name names — recently contacted us and said he was ashamed of the show. He went so far as to ask me to remove his name and image from the site. It was also clear he didn't want ROX #80 shown anywhere ever again.
You might wonder what he was worried about. It was no one thing in particular. It was many things taken together. He simply felt he came off poorly throughout the show, and that I had made him look bad through my editing of the video. For what it's worth, I stand by my work. My job as editor is to tell a story, and I told it the way I saw it.
Moreover, I don't think he or anyone else involved in this episode have anything to be ashamed of. Except maybe TBlack.
This was certainly not the first such complaint we've received. A few hundred people have appeared in the show over the years. We do not please all the people all the time.
To give the most extreme example: Some people think we made Police Chief Steve Sharp look stupid in ROX #59. Well, maybe we did. But he remains in our shows and on our site.
Chief Sharp never lodged a formal complaint — he just lied about us in the media — but others have. Each case is unique, but there is one constant: We've never censored our content based on such complaints. We have stuck by our guns and stayed true to our vision, however imperfect it may be.
But I mention Chief Sharp for a reason, because he illustrates the point. If we acquiesed to everyone who didn't like the way they were portrayed in the show, where would we draw the line? Such a policy would castrate us.
ROX — the TV series and the accompanying website — is my lifework. It is my greatest achievement. It is art. I am proud of it and I stand by it. Part of what makes this project exciting is that it deals with representations of real people and real events. It's tricky and risky and it's made us lots of friends and a few enemies over the years. Be that as it may, I still feel about the show as a painter might feel about a portrait. If the subject of the portrait doesn't like the way he or she looks — that's too bad, but most painters would not hide their work from public view just because of that.
One noteworthy aspect of this show is the scene where we drink a recently deceased man's ashes, dissolved in Scotch whiskey. This was not faked; I was there and I can assure you it was quite real, an unplanned and spontaneous tribute. I thought it was touching.
Indeed, the only thing that could be said to be “staged” in this show is the scene on the porch at the end, which was deliberately added in order to emphasize that, despite the seeming conflict during the show, we were all still friends.
I'm unhappy to think that our show has made anyone unhappy. But I take solace in the thought that it provides merriment and laughter to many.