The Year in Culture
The best Internet comments ever: It's not a world for chickens or Hitler
At CultureMap we pride ourselves in our intelligent readership. Generally reader comments encourage discussion and even make points that articles might have missed. But for every 10 instructive, interesting comments, there's always one or two that sneak in and make us say "huh?"
The Fresh Prince of SoMo's April Fool's Rehab:
On occasion someone misreads a headline or takes literally what an author intended in jest. Last spring Steven Thomson penned an April Fool’s column outlining his drug intervention. Thomson claimed a cough syrup addiction and having taken to wearing his “now-signature three pairs of sunglasses” and a “Winnie the Pooh onesie lifted from a CVS in Stafford.”
A concerned reader responded:
OMG. you are not right, good luck in rehab.
Another reader had similar difficulty picking up on the spoof, and, in a fit of disgust, left a lengthy response to Thomson’s rehab follow-up article “Taking Narcissism to the Nines.”
See you in your next round of treatment. Sorry, sonny, it was taking narcissism to the nines that landed your shallow, self serving ass in rehab in the first place, and if you got treatment anywhere other than the treatment center of your dreams- "where I'll have the time and space necessary to swim out of this ocean of cough syrup," then you should know that.
But it seems you just aren't getting the point. If you are fresh out of wrecking your life, and harming anyone who loved you with an addiction, then it hardly seems auspicious for you to be here lauding the benefits of being a self serving asshole.
Like I said, see you next time. You are a multiple treatment retread waiting to happen.
Sadly, it was the reader who didn’t get the point, as we’re happy to say our dear Steven was always (and still is) syrup-free.
A Smart Debate:
Over in the land of smart comments (the typical responses), John H. Mann'sarticle about bringing young children on planes evoked articulate arguments from both the pro-kid and anti-kid sides. One comment suggested a potential solution:
This is your problem, not mine. There is no reason why I should suffer through the hell of flying with screaming children all around me. However, since children can't be relegated to the hold like dogs why not have a family section in the back of the plane like they used to have smoking sections?
While comparing children to dogs might make parents balk, a family section on an airplane seems reasonable.
Haters Make Me Famous:
As a lowly intern this fall, I raised eyebrows with a record-breaking ratio of hate comment to words published. (No worries— if Indie Houston has taught me anything, it’s that “haters make us famous.”)
In what turned out to be a surprisingly controversial article, I argued against slutty costumes, asking, “How did Halloween become Whore-o-Ween?” Anonymous comments accused me of everything from prudishness to promiscuity. (Many have since been deleted by the authors— phew!) A certain guest swore:
I'd choose suicide over having to read another one of her negative pieces of garbage.
The suicidal reader then left me three more comments. I found this a bit baffling but ultimately was glad for the assurance he hadn’t followed through with his threat.
Christopher Columbus was so not gay:
Perhaps we’re too subtle with our humor or our angles a bit too wacky. Readers responded with equal disdain to a Christopher Columbus Day and National Coming Out Day article that listed outlandish reasons Christopher Columbus might have been gay. (E.g., “He hung out with Queen Isabella a lot. Queens love queens.”) Commenters clearly had expected a history lesson, telling CultureMap:
the arguments [sic] /evidence is real bs.
Another guest noted:
a lot of your facts have to do with modern things he had no say in because he's dead.
LeBron James and Hitler:
Caroline Gallay taught us of the danger Hitler’s name with a LeBron James’ news brief. LeBron was up for Time Person of the Year. A quick skim of her three-paragraph piece reveals that she mentioned Hitler (who won the award in 1938) to illustrate that the award isn’t meant to recognize good deeds but rather the most influence — whether good or bad. (Side note: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ended up winning this year, though many argue Julian Assange would’ve been a better pick.)
LeBron fans and foes alike attacked the comment section, eventually sending Gallay to Deadspin fame (or shame?), accusing her of unfairly comparing the basketball star to Hitler. It was “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler!” on the message boards from then on.
One of our favorite comments joked that, considering the Hitler hoopla, Mike Godwin ought to be up for Time's Person of the Year. For those missing the reference: Mike Godwin is author of Godwin’s Law which holds that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." From now on we’ll tread lightly when it comes to the H-word.
Getting chicken with it
Our favorite comment arrived late this year in response to staff writer Sarah Rufca comparing Julian Assange to James Bond villains. A reader identified only as “Stupid Bimbo” told Rufca:
thanks for sharing the most biased peice [sic] of garbage i have read in a long time.
He linked to this Photoshop masterpiece of Rufca and Assange as copulating fried chickens.
For comments such as these, even our most prolific writers have no words.
Editor's note: This is the 15th in a series of articles CultureMap will be running this last week of 2010 on The Year in Culture. The stories in this series will focus on a key point or two, something that struck our reporting team about the year rather than rote Top 10 lists or bests of.
Other The Year In Culture stories: