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Deep Ranting: Hypocrisy and The Modern MSTie, or How To Alienate Half A Fandom In Just One Post

I have been on the internet since 1996. In what has been almost exactly twelve years of staring at text (and, uh, various images) on a glowing screen, I have had the pleasure (and displeasure) of being a part of numerous fandoms and communities. Those communities range from the pleasant and welcoming, to the obnoxious and offensive. The people within those communities vary even more greatly. Naturally, every community and fandom has its kind, generous citizens, or its humorous, life-of-the-party types. And of course, every community has its griefers, or its fanboys. You know, the ones who won’t leave you alone until you fit their definition of what a fan should be, do, and say.

Recently, I got into a small tussle with a commenter over one criticism I made. I called a Brain out on a particularly lame type of joke that, honestly, I had hoped they wouldn’t start using, or at least overusing. That was the extent of my criticism. The commenter then decided that this meant that I now hated the entire episode — nay, the entire project. Truly, a leap to a conclusion that would look quite at home on Coleman Francis’ moist, sauce-stained sketchpad.

[There’s not really a smooth transition here, but I’ll put the rest of the article behind the cut, since it got pretty lengthy. This also creates the illusion that I’m a professional.]

Okay, so, am I writing this just to settle a score and/or make fun of one lone commenter? No. I’ve tussled with many a troll in my day, and I’ve come to realize that they’re thoroughly inconsequential. I say, bring ’em on. I can be just as big of an asshole as they can. No, I’m writing this because this behavior is a sad trend that’s developed among some MSTies. It’s this strange, nonsensical hypocrisy that, consciously or unconsciously, forbids any criticism of the show itself, whether it’s directed at Rifftrax, MST3K, The Film Crew, or Cinematic Titanic. Oversensitive, irrational devotion and fanboyism is not uncommon, particularly on the internet, but it especially bothers me amongst MSTies.

Why? Because our entire fandom is built around mocking and criticizing imperfection and failure. Mystery Science Theater 3000 took movies that either had bad actors, inept directors, miniscule budgets, or atrocious writing and the staff of Best Brains, Inc., tore them to shreds. They even, however jokingly, wished death upon simple film crews who probably had little or nothing to do with the quality of the film in question. You see, my point is, if you are a MSTie, then you are a fan of harsh criticism and cynicism. You are a fan of identifying shortcomings and pointing them out, bluntly and for laughs. Think about it. That was the core of the show, and certainly that remains the core of the Brains’ current projects.

Does this mean that I’m advocating being insensitive assholes towards the Brains? No. Of course not. My love for the Brains and their various projects runs deep in my veins. I’ve been a fan for over twelve years. Do you honestly think I’d write this damn blog, if I didn’t genuinely like them and enjoy their series? What I’m advocating is something similar to the old adage, “Practice what you preach,” i.e. don’t be a hypocrite. And that’s what you are, if you enjoy the Brains hassling these b-movie actors and directors — most of them well-meaning and trying their best — yet you cannot stand to see someone lift an equally harsh voice in protest of something those same Brains have done. MST3K was never perfect. Rifftrax will never be. The Film Crew will never be. Cinematic Titanic will never be. And you know what?

That’s okay, and it’s okay to say so.

Why do you think the Brains used to hide the first season of MST and the KTMA episodes? Because they thought they were crap, more or less. Did you honestly enjoy every single “I thought you were Dale” joke in season eight? How about the “Roman Times” storyline? “Jed”? Didn’t think so. So, what’s my point? Lighten up. Think about just what exactly we’re fans of. Remember those cliche, overquoted lines: “It’s just a show, and I should really just relax.” It’s just a show. An imperfect show run by imperfect people, just like 12 to the Moon (for example) was an imperfect movie brought to life by imperfect people. So, chill out, dudes. Or, failing that, just shut the hell up.

In closing, however, I’d like to remind you that you should always be respectful to the Brains. Admittedly, I’m not sure how respectful the Brains actually felt towards Joe Don Baker, but this is the one area in which I’m willing to possibly differ from their approach. I’ve actually rejected at least one comment from this site because I felt it was inappropriate and slightly cruel towards a Brain. On a similar note, I am harsh on those who attempt to post information on illegal downloads of current Brain projects, such as torrents of Rifftrax commentaries or Cinematic Titanic episodes. Why? Because it’s disrespectful to take money from them instead of giving it to them, when you can afford to. Am I making sense? So, think twice and loosen up — but do so responsibly. You get me?

To summarize, I will quote Wil Wheaton: “Don’t be a dick.” Thank you, and goodnight.

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4 Responses

  1. And if you ever want to see just how harsh and cranky a Brain can be, go read Kevin Murphy’s excellent A Year At The Movies. I’m convinced that Kevin is my crotchety Brain soulmate.

  2. I disagree with you on the political humor — especially since the Brains job is to make fun of things that are deeply flawed and politics are deeply flawed. As far as I’m concerned, satire has a place and if obscure jokes about twentieth century serialist musicans (which my wife has to explain to me) aren’t out of place, jokes that reference the front pages of our newspapers seem to me to be fair game.

    That said, there’s no reason for anyone to have a snit-fit over that kind of difference of opinion. It’s like being invited to step outside because you think Patrick Stewart should have worn a hairpiece. Good lord.

  3. Actually, I don’t have a problem with political humor in general. I just think that Bush jokes have been driven into the ground, over the past seven years. In my opinion, they stopped being funny before his first term was up. He’s just such an easy target, and there’s very little that can be said that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over. There are plenty of other political jokes to be made, as The Daily Show certainly has proven time and time again.

    I’ll never understand why people have to pitch such a fit over a difference of opinion. Defend something all you want, but don’t be an ass if I want to tear into it. Know what I mean?

  4. I’d like to echo the love for A Year At The Movies. So wonderful!

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