Holier Than Thou: A Conniving Comment Culture
By Charlie Mic
As did every child in my generation, at a young age I watched the classic Disney movie Bambi. As darling as the movie was, it dealt with serious issues like sexuality, death, the responsibilities of a father figure who was never there, more death, more sexuality, and that weird fucking owl. One of the more memorable quotes in the movie was reluctantly recited by Thumper the rabbit at the behest of his mother: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Despite the obvious grammar issues with this quote, parents ‘round the world indoctrinated their kids by echoing its merits. This is acceptable, nay, encouraged by me (since I am grand poobah of the Parent Corps, self-appointed of course) because kids are pretty damn ignorant of things like tact and social grace. I’m not going to go so far as to say children should be seen and not heard, but I remember telling Grandma that her grits were nasty and not feeling a bit of shame. I remember complaining aloud about the way my Aunt smelled (she had sweat gland problems), and I distinctly remember informing my Mother that she did a horrible job of buying me presents one Christmas because I did *not* receive the Bravestarr action figure of a bipedal robot horse holding a shotgun it had affectionately named Sara Jane(it’s a real thing, look it up, and I wanted it dammit). Point is, I shouldn’t have said those things. I was unknowingly being very rude, and probably hurt my smelly aunt’s feelings. So, as a kid, I can understand needing someone to put your criticisms on a leash and encouraging the rhetoric of a cartoon rabbit.
Despite what I said before, NEVER do this to your child.
As an adult, however, hopefully you and I have mastered tactful and appropriate criticism of family and close friends. That being said, what about your criticism for intangible things like all manners of entertainment pieces? Different values held by different people can cause one picture, movie, game or book to be looked at in different manners. Some people look for entertainment that embraces their values as religious folk, while the mass media tends to ignore these movies because removing the senseless violence and cussing from a movie and replacing it with a faith that not everyone believes in makes it inherently less popular with most people. Another reason you probably haven’t seen these movies highlighted is that some of these movies are completely uninteresting or just have unbearably low production value due to the studio knowing they will not get a positive return on their money if they hire expensive scribes and producers, but some of them are actually pretty good. I warn you now, if you choose to watch movies like Fireproof or Courageous there will be a moment in that movie where you will either be intrigued by the values of the characters or completely turned off. Some people just don’t see that as entertainment, while others draw inspiration from it the way a superhero geek draws inspiration from <insert favorite Marvel movie here>.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that the people who like those types of movies are going to discuss it a little differently than those that think it is low-budget, propaganda-based garbage. Here’s the first thing I want you to take away from this article: HAVING DIFFERENT OPINIONS IS TOTALLY NORMAL. An opinion is usually based on the values of the person who has it, and I’m pretty sure we don’t all have the same values. Right? Right?!?!? Well, let’s look at a quote from another fictional character, Ian Malcolm:
“…I think cyberspace means the end of our species because it means the end of innovation. This idea that the whole world is wired together is mass death…put three people on a committee and they may get something done. Ten people, and it gets harder. Thirty people, and nothing happens. Thirty million, and it becomes impossible. That’s the effect of mass media – it keeps anything from happening. Mass media swamps diversity. It makes every place the same. Bangkok or Tokyo or London: there’s a McDonald’s on one corner, a Benneton on another, a Gap across the street. Regional differences vanish. All differences vanish. In a mass-media world, there’s less of everything except the top ten books, records, movies, ideas. People worry about losing species diversity in the rain forest. But what about intellectual diversity – our most necessary resource? That’s disappearing faaster than trees. But we haven’t figured that out, so now we’re planning to put five billion people together in cyberspace. And it’ll freeze the entire species. Everything will stop dead in its tracks. Everyone will think the same thing at the same time. Global uniformity.”
Ian Malcom doesn't think the internet is a sexy as he is.
Here’s the kicker: This quote is from 1995. Seventeen years ago, before Twitter, Myspace, Facebook and Youtube came along to accelerate the process that Dr. Malcom is talking about. In some ways, for some people, these applications and others are being used to exchange ideas and promote intelligence and cultural awareness, among other things. On the other side of that coin, most everyone learned to use the terms “epic”, “fail”, “win”, “smh” and pretty much anything with a hashtag to back up any idea or point they intend to make. These sites have evolved our culture so much that even respectable news agencies are using information from them with no possible way of fact-checking or accurately determining credibility. I wish that Kim Kardashian would tweet that she is pregnant with Kanye’s baby so that it will make worldwide news before anyone actually asks her about it personally, and then a day later publicly note on her Twitter account how stupid everyone is for relying solely on the internet for credible updates.
I’m getting off topic, but just know that I believe that Ian Malcolm’s prediction is partially coming true. Look at any site that provides updates about movies and find an article, ANY article. Read the article, and then scroll down to the comments section. You will see a few opinions resonated multiple times:
- · Michael Bay’s movies suck, always have sucked and always will suck because there are too many explosions. BAYSPLOSIONS!!!11!1!@#$%^^&&*
- · Any movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Nic Cage is going to suck, despite their successful history.
- · If a movie is PG-13 rating or lower, then it isn’t doing the source material justice. Every slightly violent concept should be expanded to an NC-17 rating with heavy doses of gore and explicit sexuality.
- · Most new movie posters and trailers that come out will be scrutinized to a level that makes you believe that every person who comments is in their last year as a film major before they go off and change the way movies are done forever.
- · A few movie posters and trailers will NOT be scrutinized despite their obvious flaws that can even exceed the flaws of the posters and trailers mentioned above. The reason for this is that someone who is associated with the film is someone who the internet has told everyone to like.
- · Everyone will Wikipedia stuff and comment like they are 60 years old talking about the original source material for a comic book character as if they picked up the #1 Comic for a half-penny from the General Store before they continued down the Oregon Trail on their dinosaur.
Some of the opinions you will read have genuine merit, but most of them don’t actually add anything to the discussion nor present anything originating from the commenter’s own intellect. I believe most of these comments have less to do with the topic at hand and more to do with the person wanting their Identifier (Chat handle, internet name, screen name, GamerTag, whatever) to be seen associated with a popular or funny viewpoint so that they will be, by association, accepted as funny or popular amongst the frequent users and viewers of that website’s forums or comment sections. Positive or negative, these people NEED you to know that they have an opinion and that it is valid, in order to validate themselves. If anyone else has a differing opinion these same people feel that their validity is threatened, and thus their popularity or comedic value is threatened. They must retaliate with obscure facts, a reaffirmation of their opinion and/or an insult to the other person’s validity to establish their superiority. I won’t go as far as to assume anything about anyone’s personal lives or mental state. You probably thought that there was more to that sentence, but there isn’t. I won’t.
I want to go ahead and put out a disclaimer: I do not post in forums or comment sections. Yes, I realize I am writing in extreme detail about things that are purely my own opinion and I do consider myself to be funny. The caveat to that is the part where my opinion is all there is on the Brain Droppings section of the powerupsnotincluded page, so don’t be surprised if you come here and you find my personal feelings about stuff splattered incoherently on the wall like it’s a prison cell for the criminally insane. If you have an opinion differing from mine and want to discuss it with some class and respect, I don’t mind you sharing it in the comments section below.
With that out of the way, I will tell you the second thing I want you to take away from this article: HAVE AN OPINION, AND LET IT BE YOUR OWN. Don’t be one of those people who say “Yeah, I’m a Patriot’s fan!” and then can’t name anybody on the team other than Tom Brady. That’s like false claiming, and in the right context can get you killed by people of a rival gang or just people from Oakland. Seriously, can the Raiders lose a home game and there NOT be a stabbing or shooting in the stadium or parking lot afterwards? Relating this to video games, don’t be all “Halo is WAY better than Call of Duty!” when you’ve never played CoD. The vice-versa is just as ignorant, Black Ops 2 players. Whatever fanbase you are a part of might overall feel a certain way, but I’m willing to bet only half of them actually have the experience to back up their opinion and say it is their own.
Also, I want you all to remember that you are adults. If you aren’t, then act like one for the sake of maturity. You wouldn’t nitpick Grandma’s grits when the eggs and pancakes are amazing, you would just find a way to either choke it down without making a face or say “Man, I’m full” before getting to it. It’s a small detail, and you have to admit that overall Granny makes a badass breakfast. In the same respect, don’t complain about one small aspect of a movie or game when the whole product is overall entertaining. When I first watched 28 Days Later, I didn’t enjoy seeing a man’s genitals in the opening scene of the movie. The rest of the movie was pretty good, so I let it slide when formulating my personal opinion. Also, I can’t STAND it when people refer to The Watchmen as ‘That movie with the blue penis’. It’s, like, 2 seconds of the movie and the camera doesn’t zoom in or anything on Dr. Manhattan’s junk. If you’re a ten year old girl I can see how that small detail might have affected you in a larger way, but other than that people should get over it. What’s another movie with penises in it so I can make everyone uncomfortable with three references in a row…Any Given Sunday! Football player’s junk is out in the locker room, a place where that realistically happens often. It’s not like he was using it for anything at the moment, geez people get over it. Uncomfortable yet? Either way, you’re in luck because I don’t like talking about man-meat for more than one paragraph at a time. Told you I was funny.
These three are asking you which one of them is "biggest".
A lot of movies and games, to the delight of many fans, have scenes of sexuality that go unnecessarily far, cussing that is not required for the movie/game to be enjoyable and other content that renders the particular movie/game as something I refuse to expose my kids to. I can play Skyrim all day long, but Fallout 3 I have to play when the young’uns aren’t around. I get it, the words that come out of your mouth when you might not live another day in a shithole wasteland because you either got gutted by a terrifying creature or raped/killed by bandits might not be the most kid-friendly words. I understand that…but I would consider letting my kids play that game at a much younger age if the bad language wasn’t there. This is an aspect that causes me to have a slightly negative opinion about an otherwise great game. Case in point: The Incredibles. Tell me you weren’t entertained by that movie, despite the fact that it didn’t have a single cussword or family-unfriendly scene. Single dudes or parents that have older kids might not even consider this when formulating their opinion, but I have to. The best Batman games of ALL TIME, and I can’t let my kids play them because of the language. Top Gun. Avatar. The A-Team. Scott Pilgrim. SO many entertaining movies have those one or two things about them that make it unacceptable to show to my kids. I sometimes do it anyways (I used Avatar as a testbed to see how my kids handled the cussing, and much to my delight they did not adopt the speech patterns of Sigourney Weaver), but I do some explaining beforehand and in most cases I am steadfast not to show it to them at all. Again, these things would not affect the opinion of a dude without kids and rightfully so. My opinion, due to my values, is going to be different. Other people might peg some movies as being too light on the mature content that I would see as just right. So, using the two things I said I wanted you all to take away from this article, I HAVE AN OPINION AND IT IS MY OWN and IF YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION THAT IS OKAY.
And finally, as my last piece of advice for all you comment commandos out there, I ask that you have a purpose when you comment or post. Have something to add to the conversation, don’t just echo the crowd like a parrot with self-esteem issues (and a keyboard, and the mental capacity to communicate via written words…dammit I took it too far again, didn’t I?). Have your own opinion, even if it is similar to someone else’s opinion and you want to agree with certain aspects but disagree in others in order to further detail the argument to cover all aspects of the subject matter being discussed. Don’t just say “I disagree” and leave it at that, it doesn’t do anything for anybody. If you don’t really have an opinion, realize that you don’t HAVE to comment or post. Don’t just devolve into name-calling or copy/pasting something that someone else said that you thought was witty in order to validate your online credibility with others you will probably never meet. This ‘Holier Than Thou’ attitude is one that is prevalent on the internet, but that doesn’t mean it is the one you have to adopt. Stop telling people to ‘keep calm’, or that you are doing something ‘for the lulz’ just because you want to be a pompous asshole and invalidate someone’s argument for your own gain.
I was trying to find something topical, but this amused me so screw ya'll.
So, in closing, instead of calling someone a dickmonkey, douchecanoe(you know who you are), douchemonkey, doucherocket, dickcanoe(doesn’t really work), polesmoker, jizzmaster zero, or just plain chicken(NOBODY calls me Chicken!), think about what you want to say and give YOUR opinion with some sort of clarity. I’m not saying don’t criticize stuff or people, because sometimes stuff and people suck. Thumper’s quote from Bambi may have worked for kids, but it just doesn’t work for adults so I’m going to change it:
“If you don’t have something worthwhile to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Thanks for reading. If you have any comments, be sure to share!