In the roughly year and a half that I have been blogging and article writing, I have found that, as a relatively new contributor to the land of Internet discourse, the general tone of discussions and debates that I've been involved in have been surprisingly reasonable. The comments I've gotten on "He Had on a Hat" and on my articles for other online writing have, while often in disagreement with my ideas and opinions, remained relatively positive and reasonable.
All that seemed to change, though, once I started posting videos on YouTube. For some reason, on YoutTube, unlike blogs and web articles, the member comments are much more raw and the opinions more unbridled. I began posting videos on YouTube innocently enough. There was some stuff I was kinda expecting certain types of reactions to. Like, for instance, the responses to this scene from the 1972 movie Catlow, in which Leonard Nimoy lets it all hang out...
Typical comments from other YouTubers went something like this:
"To see Leonard fighting naked is the hottest thing ever! O.o"
And so on and so forth...but even in this case, there were a few comments that surprised me:
"oh man, you don't really see anything important. So disappointed :( lol "
Then there was this little edit I made featuring a montage of Chuck Heston's religious epic roles set to Johnny Cash covering a Depeche Mode song
There were several potential sources of outrage there from fans of either Heston, Cash, Depeche Mode, Jesus or all four but, nope, not a single comment.
Even when I called the fan classic Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on its lack of originality....
Nothin'. Trekkies? Trekkers? Geeks? Nope.
No contest on that one either.
Then I dug up this little gem featuring a very young Christopher Walken on an episode of the original 1960's version of the TV series, Hawaii Five-0:
While many of the comments I received either praised Walken or commented on how young the guy looked (many of them bringing, not surprisingly for YouTube comments, Walken's "ass" into the discussion), a couple of commentators took issue with the text I wrote accompanying the clip in which I referred to lead H50 actor Jack Lord as "stiff".
They opened by quoting my own words:
"'Lord, an actor whose performances could sometimes be as stiff as his hairpiece, is just a little better than usual working with the young Walken.' That shows how much the writer who wrote that piece knows about Jack. Copying the 'stiff' label is ignorant and shows he doesn't know the difference between serious acting and stiff acting."
I quickly pointed out to this poster that implying that I knew nothing about acting or of Jack Lord's work was, to put it mildly, a majorly erroneous a assumption, most especially in my case. Anyone who knows me or reads "He Had on a Hat" regularly knows what I'm talking about.
Even on that heated discussion, though, I was later able to make peace with the Lord fans who clearly misinterpreted me as being a Jack hater.
The YouTube comments, though, really seriously heated up when it came to this clip of William Shatner interviewing controversial radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh on Shatner's talk show, Raw Nerve.
While I quickly received a number of Rush bashing and Shatner praising comments, the Limbugh fans out there (and, yeah, there are a lot of them) soon took notice of what they perceived as a one sided discussion.
Here's one of the more colourful additions to the conversation:
"Rush is the best. I want to tell you little pinhead libtards who are clueless which looks like most of the people in here are. Since we are talking health care, I've had type 1 Diabetes all of my life WITHOUT INSURANCE FOR MOST OF MY LIFE. During the Clinton admin, I went to the gov health clinics that Clinton shut down after 2 years in his term. It was the worst health care I have ever seen. The medicine was low grade, doctors were clueless about the disease, and it was full of racist brainwashed blacks...you pinhead liberals complaining you don't have anything BOOO HOOOO. Get a job you stupid stinky idiots. If you don't like what you have find something else and work hard. Stop thinking the gov should do everything for you. Stupid lazy idiots. Celestial Woodway is a racist. You people don't know shit. I have the experience and I know what I'm talking about. So stick your Obama dildo up you ass."
Woah, okay...I, in no uncertain terms, absolutely object to the use of the term, "stinky".
Seriously, though, a great many responses to these highly objectionable words went through my head. I felt that engaging the guy (and, yeah, I'm assuming it's a guy) would just dredge out more and more of the same extreme rhetorical hyperbole. So I cut right to what I felt was the real heart of the matter by saying:
"I am glad to see that the discourse remains civil and reasonable."
After that, I never heard another word from that person ever again.
Yep, that's how the Internet and YouTube comment section debates seems to work. You can call people "racists", "libtards" and even go so far as to label them "stupid stinky idiots". You can respond to these kinds of statements in kind and inevitably escalate the hate even further. But, if you take on a calm and moderate tone, well, that just stops everything cold. Some things are simply just not tolerated on the Internet.
Until next week, have fun out there in cyber debate land, all you stinkies...