The youthful founder of popular movie-geek Web site Ain’t It Cool? surveys his kingdom and takes stock.
Raised in a bohemian Texas family that specialized in collecting and selling Hollywood memorabilia, Knowles seems to have been genetically destined for his Internet incarnation. But fate also played a role: in the early 1990s, Knowles was badly injured when a cart loaded with movie collectibles rolled over him at a memorabilia show. Bedridden, he resolved to make his lengthy convalescence as productive as possible by exploring the then-novel technology of the World Wide Web on his family’s PC. Online, he discovered a number of kindred spirits who were immensely knowledgeable about film, had passionate views on the subject, and loved to dish. Establishing his site as a clearinghouse for this sprawling constituency, Knowles was soon reckoning with a large audience of opinionated moviegoers. Hollywood studio heads, movie stars, and directors also took note, particularly after director Quentin Tarrantino (who wrote the book’s foreword) praised Harry’s efforts. The author’s love for movies, his tales of Hollywood big-shots humiliated by Ain’t It Cool? diatribes, his affection for his site’s many eccentric contributors, form the core of the story. Even more intriguing, however, is the story of the Internet’s democratizing power: Hollywood studios, national magazines, and TV shows now court the opinion of a self-described overweight nerd pecking away at a computer keyboard in a bedroom in Austin, Texas, and he’s welcomed at film festivals and premieres. To his credit, Knowles has given a great deal of thought to this process, and his reflections on the fun and responsibility of being a cyber pioneer illuminate this memoir. It seems clear that it wasn’t Knowles’s detailed knowledge of film that won him a huge Internet following, but his intuitive grasp of the humanizing power of both media.
A touching story of self-discovery—and a very readable commentary on how the Internet has reshaped the way information and opinion are shared.