On two separate occasions this week I managed to offend some people strongly on Twitter. In the first case, it was mostly one guy. In the other, quite a few people were upset. …And I mean, right out of the gate, screaming FUCK YOU ASSHOLE -level upset.
Sometime in the near future I hope to have time to parse through the specifics of this, and let my pedantry flag fly. But I’m too busy with work and family right now, and it’s theoretically a holiday, so that has to wait to be done with the care it deserves.
For now, I’ll say: I don’t think even my biggest un-fan would say that my humor, writing, etc. relies mostly on being mean, offensive, and (sorry, this word was tired even 15 years ago) “edgy.” The short version is: it’s never my goal to get attention mostly by being an unrepentant dick, and I don’t think any fair person could say that’s what I do — in any aspect of my career, including my years of MST3K / RiffTrax.
But when you’re in the humor and art biz, it is INEVITABLE that you will offend people, maybe many people, over time. And sometimes they have a good case for suggesting that you’re an unrepentant dick, and other times they don’t. A lot of stuff falls in the middle on that unrepentant-dickery continuum, too.
Humor is VERY subjective, and can become very personal. My goal in life is not to make people feel shitty about themselves and the world, unless — perhaps — it’s a person who is making the world a significantly shittier place. Even that type of humor can go sour quickly, in my opinion.
All this is to say: I’m not trying to hurt people. But nobody in comedy can take care of everyone’s feelings, all the time, and function for long. IM - POSSIBLE. And sometimes if a person says: “You hurt me and people like me with that remark,” I think twice, and feel bad about it, and apologize, and resolve to do better in the future.
And sometimes I consider it and think “Sorry, I don’t feel so bad about that. Can’t help you with those feelings.” This is especially true when I think the person has fundamentally misinterpreted the intention or meaning of the joke, Twitter crack, rant on the city bus, etc. I happen to think this was true of BOTH my recent Twitter tussles, but sometimes it also does come down to: “I see this subject differently than you do.” …at which point, there’s nowhere to go but hopefully you can end it civilly. (And while I love Twitter for many things, it’s a terrible place to debate heated issues.)
However! If instead of saying a version of “You hurt me etc. and here’s why etc.”, you come at me guns-a-blazin’ and poo-a-flingin’, and expect me to feel guilty about your feelings..? And be [*shudder*] “educated?” …Well, then we will get nowhere fast. You might feel Internet-powerful for a second (it fades SO fast, kids), but you won’t get much empathy from me. You probably won’t even get my attention for more than a second, because it’ll be easy for me to say: “Unreasonable, poo-flinging jagoff. Blocked.”
Holy crap, this was the SHORT version.
Truthfully, I may or may not have time to post a more substantive piece on this anytime soon. (By substantive, I mean analyzing these two particular experiences this week in their specificity. I am a goddamned pedant, I am not kidding.)
But in the meantime, in the interest of keeping the peace and offending nobody: cute bunny 4 u. (as seen above!)
Happy Independence Day. May you be free of non-cute bunnies, and tyranny!
[UPDATE: one of the first bits of Twitter feedback I got, like a minute after posting this —
“you still don’t get it, and your non-apology doesn’t help.”
Oh, I think I do get it.
So, being clearer: I am not apologizing above.
As for “doesn’t help?” Doesn’t help what, exactly?
Maybe it doesn’t help your feelings of rage and aversion and I HATE YOU ASSHOLE or whatever. But as I tried to say as civilly as possible above, there may be nothing I can do about that. And if you come at me like a jerky, condescending undergrad, I actually don’t want to do anything about it. Sorry, I’m an artsy-fartsy comedy-type, not Gandhi. (Even he would have lost patience with Twitter trolls.)
I may try to parse through the specific Twitter mess in the future if there’s time, because I think it DOES merit more care than Twitter poo-flinging allows, or than I have time for now. If that doesn’t satisfy some Twitter debate-masters, and you unfollow / boycott / etc., knock yourselves out. Announce it to the world, and savor your victory. I accept that so hard it’s not even funny.
But for now, this will have to do. And I reserve the right to wake up tomorrow and say “Eh, it’s not worth it.”]