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Thursday, January 25, 2007
How To Annoy Dorian: Comments
There are certain types of responses which over the years I've noticed occur with startling frequency in online discussion venues, be they bulletin boards, forums, or blogs. In general, they're the responses of people who don't have anything to say, yet feel compelled to talk. There's also a more than healthy desire to antagonize or play the victim.
(Not here, mind you. My commentators are, almost to a person, sophisticated, intelligent, witty and dead sexy. I know this for a fact. I mean, they're reading this site after all, so they must be.)
I've identified three general types. The first is the complaint that you can't have an opinion about a work until you've experienced it, in its full and complete form, for yourself. Granted, certain opinions have more or less merit based on their owners familiarity with the topic under discussion, but this particular complaint, as it was brilliantly summarized for me by my friend Andrew once, is more along the lines of "if you don't put your hand into every open flame you come across, you're prejudiced against fire." It's the insistence that, despite all the available evidence, and against all your past experience, your unwillingness to expose yourself to something is suspect, if not out and out wrong, because you haven't sat through a two hour movie by a writer and director whose work you've never thought was good in the past, starring an actor you hate. Or because you haven't read all fourteen volumes of the fantasy series, even though you've never enjoyed any multi-volume fantasy novels in the past. Or bought the first one hundred issues of that artists magnum opus, despite really not finding the art style aesthetically pleasing.
The second isn't a specific response to anything, but more a pattern of behavior. It's the "Thin Skinned Asshole" who haunts the internet (and, sadly, the real world). These are the folks who go out of their way to be rude and obnoxious. In fact, they're usually proud of being rude and obnoxious. They will in fact quite frequently use the term "Asshole" as a badge of honor. Until, of course, you finally have enough of them and say "fuck off, you asshole." At which point, you're the person being rude and unreasonable. Because you weren't willing to take their abuse with a smile, I suppose.
My particular favorite aspect of this behavior is that after the initial "I'm an asshole! Boy, I'm an asshole! I just love being an asshole!" "Quit being an asshole." "What! How dare you!" exchange, the inevitable rejoinder is "Man, you women/gays/whatever need to learn to take a joke."
The last type of response is the touchingly naive belief that sales are an indicator of quality. There's even a set, predictable pattern for these responses: "If X is so bad, why does it sell so well?" Because we all know that the only things that sell well in this country are those of the highest merit and quality, and that appealing to the lowest common denominators in the general public will never reap you financial rewards. That's why The DaVinci Code was the greatest novel of all time, and Britney Spears the most accomplished singer.