To Be, Or Not to Be… Myself

I belong to a professional critics organization called the Online Film Critics Society ( The website where I post my film reviews is, but as many of you know, I play a character there who takes credit for what I write and say. Sure, it’s a bit of a gimmick and certainly plays to my theatrical nature (blame my mom), but a recently proposed change to the OFCS bylaws for admission and membership felt a bit targeted, only because the language:

5. Write under their real names, or under reasonable, professionally established pen names (e.g., Mark Twain for Samuel Clemens). A member may write under an obviously fictional name, or “in character,” only if the member is also identified by his or her real name in a non-obscure place on the website(s) where the members’ reviews are published. Writers who obscure their identities in order to remain anonymous may not be members of the OFCS.

Here is how I responded:

I am also curious about the new amendment there, and so would like to “plead the fifth.”

On my site, I make no secret that I play a character, Grim D. Reaper, which is also the subject of videos and podcasts that I use to call attention to the site. Like any mascot, I do blur the line between myself and the character. It’s a gimmick, it’s advertising, and for my regular visitors, it’s expected (you should see the Halloween requests I get to show up in character).

However, on the OFCS, Rotten Tomatoes, and virtually anyplace my reviews are posted online, they are credited as by Kevin A. Ranson, while on my own site, I am listed as “Grim’s Ghostwriter.”

The current wording of “five” makes that interpretation a bit gray. Are you suggesting that someone who NEVER chooses to reveal themselves is not admitted or allowed, or that someone who merely obscures the fact?

I’m relatively sure Samuel Clemens nor Stephen King ever physically appeared or introduced themselves as Mark Twain or Richard Bachman. At the same time, I’d also like to point out that no one has ever proposed banning the San Diego Chicken for representing the Padres

Finally the question (too late!)…

Am I doing “my thing” correctly due to a good understanding of this idea and within the newly proposed guidelines, or do I need to further expose myself? (clothes will remain on in case anyone asks.)

One thought on “To Be, Or Not to Be… Myself

  1. I don’t see why they should care if you write reviews as you or as Death. Unless they are paying you, it should not be any of their business. For my 2 cents, it should be sufficient that you have the “ghost writer” credit at the bottom. Some of these people can get a rather bloated view of their own importance. Anyone with a brain can figure out it’s a character for the purpose of entertainment; and you aren’t concealing your identity – it’s written right there. Besides, the Reaper spin on reviews is more fun than those other websites!


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