Critic v Trolls: Dawn of Hate Mail

The Aisle Seat went online in October of 1995. In the last three days, I’ve received more hate mail than I have in the last twenty years combined. The source of all this anger is my review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Of particular irritation to the writers of all this hate mail is the beginning of the review, which was excerpted as my pull quote on Rotten Tomatoes:

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the worst superhero movies ever made. It is worse than Batman & Robin. It is worse than Catwoman. It is worse than last summer’s Fantastic Four (or at least more disappointing).”

I didn’t mean it was a lot worse than those other films — they’re all terrible — but they had at least one or two elements that interested me on some level, whereas BvS had none. While I knew some people would strongly disagree with that sentiment, I wrote it for one reason, and one reason only: I really do think Batman v Superman is worse. I wouldn’t have said that if I didn’t believe it. Still, people accused me of making hyperbole, click-baiting, and attempting to piss off fanboys to drive up my web traffic. None of that was true.

The reaction to my review has been mystifying. People half my age have lectured me on comic books, despite the fact that I was into comics long before they were even born. I’ve lost Twitter followers. One person I have known and been friendly with on social media for years unfollowed me on Twitter and unfriended me on Facebook because of my review. That same creep then went on Twitter and said some things about me that were unkind and untrue. Angry readers have reached out to me via email, tweet, and Facebook message. I have been mocked and ridiculed in the forums of websites devoted to superhero movies. A couple strangers said I look like a child molester. People told me that I should kill myself. Why so many fanboys care so passionately about a bad review of a comic book picture is beyond me, especially given that there are so many important things to be concerned about in today’s world.

Do I care about getting flamed? No. I’m just glad people are reading my work and that it’s sparking debate. I don’t respond to trolls, except with the link to a hidden page on my site that attempts to humorously express my profound lack of concern regarding their anger.

Besides, troll rage is kind of funny, and that’s why I’ve decided to share a few pieces of hate mail here. (I won’t include the really dark stuff, which I may address later.) Below are actual messages I’ve received, unedited and unexpurgated, followed by some silly personal reaction to each of them. I’ve redacted email addresses, which are private. Twitter is public, though, so I’m leaving identities as they are. (Please do not harass anyone!) Enjoy!

hatemail1

This is a fairly typical response — admitting the movie is flawed, but asserting its greatness anyway. And saying a review is bad simply because you don’t agree with it and are afraid to consider its ideas? Now that’s some hardcore bullshit.

hatemail2

More bullshit? I’m starting to sense a theme emerging here. It reminds me of this scene from an old Mel Brooks movie. I guess I’m Mel and the trolls are Bea Arthur.

hatemail3

Well, at least now I’m just writing the standard kind of shit. Is that an improvement?

hatemail9

My entire professional credibility rested on this one movie? Why didn’t anyone tell me? If I’d known that, I would have given BvS four stars!

hatemail4

I’m the worst critic ever? Do I get some sort of prize for that? A coffee mug, perhaps? Incidentally, this guy writes for a fanboy movie site. How well do you suppose he’d handle someone doing this to him? I bet I know.

hatemail7

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You got me. I watched a different movie. Warner Bros. cut together a special, sucky version of Batman v Superman just for me. And I would say that my horrible and negative mentality is one of my most endearing traits!

hatemail10

 

 

 

 

10 gallons of bleach? I’ll stick with my beloved Diet Pepsi, thanks.

hatemail5

Awesome! That’s exactly what I was going for in my review! Score one for me!

hatemail6

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Tyree was so incensed by my review that he reached out to me both on Twitter and via email. (He tried to fool me by using “Great article” in the subject line.) This message is a fabulous honor. There are literally tens of thousands of reviews linked to Rotten Tomatoes, maybe even hundreds of thousands. For mine to be the worst of them all…well, I believe that’s quite an achievement. I do have to ask one thing, though: How am I the idiot when Tyree 1.) says I should never write anything again, then immediately tells me to write something “without obvious bias”; and 2.) doesn’t know that it’s “an idiot” rather than “and idiot”? Kettle, meet pot.

hatemail8

 

This one is my absolute favorite, and not just because of that ridiculous profile picture. First of all, he completely (and hilariously) misuses the word “prolific.” Second, he describes BvS as “realistic.” This is a movie about a guy who dresses as a bat and a flying dude from outer space teaming up to fight a giant monster. Third, he says Sin City is from the same publisher as Batman. Any serious comic book fan — and I consider myself one — knows Sin City was published by Dark Horse, not DC. Maybe I’m not the one who needs to “research the truth of the source material.”

There was a lot more hate mail, but these examples pretty well sum it up. Like I said, I’m thick-skinned, so my feelings weren’t hurt by any of it. However, there is something dispiriting about this mentality. When I was growing up, liking superheroes and comic books got you bullied. Kids who liked them were considered “dorks” and “nerds.” Now these things have moved into the mainstream, and the people who are heavily into them have become the bullies — threatening, ridiculing, and harassing those who fail to appreciate them in the “right” way. Superhero fandom was never meant to be like this, and those who go this route are an affront to everything comics are supposed to stand for. They are Lex Luthor or the Joker, but they erroneously think they’re Superman or Batman.

Life goes on, and so do movies. My review will soon be forgotten, replaced by whatever the next faux outrage is. The trolls will move on to other people. My heart goes out to the next victims.