I try to find a little bit of humor in everything. I think that it is good for the mind and ego, as it helps to breed sound perspective and humility. This mindset may explain why I find the premise of wedge salads to be hysterical.
For those who don’t know, a wedge salad is one forth of a head of iceberg lettuce, a chopped up tomato, bits of bacon and a dressing made out of moldy cheese. Albeit delicious at times, a fourth of a head of iceberg lettuce should never be considered a full meal and should never ever constitute a $12 price tag. With its minimal ingredients and high profit yield, I like to think of it as the lazy man’s salad.
Something that I have never found to be funny are death threats.
Marshall Fine is a film critic. He has been one for 50 years. When he wrote his review for The Dark Knight Rises, he did exactly what he has done for the last 50 years; he gave his honest, objective opinion about the movie. The criticism he received about his criticism was far from honest and objective.
On the popular movie site Rotten Tomatoes, several over-zealous fans posted a few disturbing comments. One commenter wrote that he thought Fine should “die in a fire,” while another said he would like to beat Fine “with a thick rubber hose into a coma.” The comments on the movie review for the latest Batman installment have since been disabled by the site’s editor-and-chief of the site, Matt Atchity.
Whether or not Fine’s critique can be deemed correct in the high courts of Internet public opinion does not matter. What matters is that people that did not agree with this particular critique and decided to express themselves with gratuitously violent commentary.
I don’t understand a lot about the internet. As far as I am concerned, trolls are an inhabitant middle-earth. And I have no idea what the hell a meme is. But, after reading some of these threats, I began to wonder, at what point do people on the internet start thinking to themselves, “I don’t agree with what this person is saying so…I guess I’m just gonna have to kill them”? This is not a logical thought process.
Threatening to kill someone in the comments section of a website is the lazy man’s death threat. It shows that no effort was given. It has no finesse or style, only empty and misplaced anger. It’s the wedge salad of death threats.
I don’t mean to subvert the seriousness of the threat to take someone’s life. On the contrary, I think internet commentary has caused society to lose perspective on what exactly is being threatened when someone says that a person should “die in a fire.”
The culprit? Anonymity.
Anonymity tends to make people do stupid things. People in masks can be vigilantes and crime fighters, but all too often they can be cowards. Words are words, my friends, and whether they have a face and a name behind them does not matter. They still cause damage.
Atchity has said that the site is considering implementing the Facebook commentary system, so that commenters would no longer be able to post anonymously.
I think that all active members of the Internet community should make a promise to use our wit and intellect to express ourselves. I know that that majority of you are smart individuals, so prove it! When you disagree with someone don’t threaten their life, instead logically disprove their opinion. It takes a lot more time and effort to comprise a coherent retort than it does to say, “you deserve to die.”
But above all else, know when to leave well enough alone. Know when to walk away. People can be stubborn and won’t know when to back down. I would know. I’m Italian.
So I am begging you (yes, you sitting in front of the lit up computer screen fingers poised at the ready to lend your opinion whether it is desired or not), please understand that your beliefs are valued but remember that others will disagree, and you have to accept this. YOU DO NOT NEED THE LAST WORD. Especially if the last word threatens the emotional or physical well being of another person.
And for the record, Batman can take care of himself. I don’t think he would want to be vindicated in the comments section of Rotten Tomatoes.
(Image via Shutterstock).