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The Full Story

Downlow.d is a deep dive audio documentary series that explores the morally complicated, occasionally inspiring, and often forgotten oral histories of the internet. 


For its first season titled “The Rise and Fall of Harry Knowles,” Downlow.d will delve into the meteoric rise of proto-online influencer Harry J. Knowles and his movie news website Ain’t It Cool News. 


This eight-part series attempts to understand how a no-budget website created in a spare bedroom in Austin, Texas flexed unchecked power and influence over Hollywood. 


Harry Knowles was the last person anyone thought would be famous. Yet through his work on his formerly venerable movie news and reviews site Ain't It Cool News, which he launched in 1997, Knowles became the internet’s ‘second celebrity.’ 


This podcast aims to demonstrate the many ways – both good and for bad – that Harry Knowles and his team of writers (aka ‘spies’) disrupted the film industry. The site quickly made a name for itself by outing bad movies like “Batman and Robin” months before their release via test screening reviews to shepherding Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy from development hell to box-office juggernaut. Ain’t It Cool News helped create a world where comic books and horror movies rule the day, and online influencers and digital angry mobs have the power to dictate the future of media conglomerates. 


Simultaneously, Downlow.d will explore allegations of corruption as well as the frequently ignored red flags behind the allegations of sexual assault and harassment that were levied against Harry Knowles by multiple women. When these allegations emerged in 2017, they became part of the initial salvo of the #MeToo movement. 


Through candid, extensive interviews with many of the frequently unpaid writers who established Ain't It Cool News, Downlow.d: The Rise and Fall of Harry Knowles is a story about friendship, betrayal, unchecked power, cultural change, and accountability.  


The series also features interviews with journalists, critics, cultural scholars, and filmmakers and explores the problems of a monolithically white and male-centered internet. The series also asks, what, if anything, we can do to make the internet and fan culture safe and more inclusive for everyone.

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