I’ve had some weird comments in my day. I am still particularly tickled about that time I was accused of being in the pay of Louis B. Mayer’s family and I have had to deal with infestations of overzealous Valentino fans but this particular comment takes the cake. All the cake. There is no more cake because of this comment.
What is this great devourer of cake? The twelve-part, 3,760 word comment left on a 2,100 word review. Yes, it was neatly labeled PART ONE, blah blah blah blah, END OF PART ONE. Heaven forbid it should be read out of order.
I made an offhand remark about a particular author’s work not really being my cup of tea and apparently unleashed some kind of writing frenzy. I was lectured on my clear lack of taste, my inability to enjoy older entertainment (let that one sink in) and given a full biography of the author in question. I didn’t publish the comment because of course I didn’t. (If your comment is longer than the original piece, may I suggest starting something we on the interwebs call a “blog”?)
I’m not exactly sure what this person was trying to accomplish. If they had said something like, “I am actually a huge fan of the author in question and would like to share some of the things I enjoy about their work” then we could have had an interesting conversation. As it was… I backed away slowly and tried not to make any sudden movements.
How about you? Do you have a crazy comment story to share? (Remember, this is a family friendly site so please keep everything to a Pixar PG.)
I was once called “racist against white people of the 1920s” for saying blackface is not okay even in an old movie and that even back in the day it was damaging.
Oh lordy! The old “calling something racist out for being racist is more racist than the racist thing” chestnut.
I’m really glad you posted this, because I’ve been wanting to reach out to someone sensible about a comment that came in yesterday. Possibly it was the same perpetrator as yours. He wrote over 4000 words in response to a 853-word post. Admittedly, I knew I was opening up a can of worms with the topic: frame rates, but I tried to keep it light and let it be known that I’m not worried about the precise technical details.
Most of his comment is a lengthy transcription (or maybe a cut-and-paste) from Kevin Brownlow. Posting it would actually be a copyright violation, he used so much of the text.
I have his email, and I guess I feel a bit of a responsibility to respond, in part because he seems to have put so much time and thought into it. He claimed to be commenting in order to “educate” me, and this seems like a teachable moment to educate someone about basic nettiquette. On the other hand, it would mean he might respond with even more lengthy emails and comments. Is this a “don’t feed the trolls” situation? Do you have advice or thoughts?
Yowza! That’s nuts! My first crazy long comment was from a guy who went on for 1,400 words as to why a particular edition of a silent film was bad because it had a 5 second snippet cut. I was really busy when it came in, out of town, as a matter of fact. I agonized on what to do and then I realized that I was getting stressed and so I clicked the “delete” button. It was cathartic. I added a little section to my comment policy stating that long comments may not be approved and I have never looked back.
Here are some reasons to be ruthless:
1. Long comments mess up your search engine optimization. Basically, search engines will base results on THEIR words and not yours. Plus, as you say, copyright issues.
2. It sucks up your time. I calculated that it takes 10-15 minutes to read a comment of such length. It probably would take another 30-60 minutes to craft a response. That’s a lot of time you could be using on more positive, productive writing.
3. It’s a dirty trick. I know the Gish gallop refers to shady information but it’s the same idea. Flooding your comment section with so much verbiage makes it impossible to craft a suitable response.
If this person is someone who has never commented or interacted with you before, I would just delete it and call it a day. If they are a longtime commenter, you will probably want to reach out and explain matters. You seem to be concerned that this person will become a barnacle in your email, which seems to be a legitimate fear. You don’t owe anyone your time and I think your instinct to nip things in the bud is a good one.
“frame rates”? Indeed, I, myself, have many words to enlighten people about sprocket holes.
I’ll post them just as soon as I finish Jonathon Swift’s “Meditation Upon a Broomstick”
All Swift references are immediately approved!
I don’t blog on silent film, but do blog on other topics (blog not found through this email address), I usually try to do a short biography on someone not well known, or cite historic facts that they wont let me cite on Wikipedia (as it’s original research). I don’t blog much these days due to health issues (lack of energy) but my usual response is “hey they also did such and such” or “I knew him back in the 50s” or even a “finally somebody doesn’t talk trash about my uncle”. Yesterday, I posted for the first time in over a year – and I got a fast (within 15 minutes!) response consisting of citations of some of the information I used. With no explanation of why they sent it. Did they think I read their mind and used their information? Did they figure citations would help someone doing a term paper? Why? Why, indeed! Odd….
Wow, that’s super random! I once got an email from someone who just said “(Movie Star Name) posters?” Um, what are we expected to do with this sort of stuff?
Most of the comments on my blog are pretty sane — often more sane than the blog itself — but God help you if you don’t fawn over somebody’s favorite. Got a blistering comment just yesterday from somebody who was steamed about a short post I wrote seven years ago where I quoted Joan Crawford ripping Norma Shearer (always a hoot, in my book). Told me to get off the net!
I published it but didn’t reply.
What I don’t understand is why does anybody care what I think? I have 350 followers, maybe 20 of them are active, tops, I don’t get paid, I have no influence, I don’t want to have any influence. I just write to find out what I think about things and then publish it on a blog because without the threat of other people’s eyes touching the prose, I wouldn’t have any incentive to work out the kinks in the idea.
To loosely paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, expressing rage at a blog post is like putting on a full suit of armor to attack a banana split.
You’ve hit the nail on the head with some of these more… enthusiastic commenters. I mean, the area of interest is so narrow and specific that I doubt we’ll destroy Norma Shearer with an earth shattering kaboom.
I have a visual of this person who went on a rant…some hairy sad sack who lives in his mom’s basement who is wearing his favourite Dungeons and Dragons outfit complete with sandals drinking a high caffeine drink while eating twinkies and a McDonald’s burger…together. He has nothing better to do than write this right after he wrote how the pentagon has been infiltrated by lesbian zombies from Mars. he probably is a regular at Radio Shack. My ex use to work there and he got some doozies! One nut was talking up a storm and then said to a collegue of his.. ” yup, it’s best to bathe in the magical pools by Mother Goose’s castle.” I kid you not. I have, thankfully, not had any zanies except a spam or 2
Nothing can beat the madness that is working the night desk at a hotel. My brother did that for a while and it was INSANE. One guest converted their room into a dungeon. Like, a literal dungeon.
Fortunately I don’t get much in the way of crazy comments, but I do remember one lady who commented on my blog post on Betty Draper from Mad Men who seemed to believe that beating one’s children was normal in the Sixties. Worse yet, she didn’t seem to have any real objection to it! I have to suspect she had a very sad childhood….
Oh my, that’s awful! I honestly and truly hope she gets some help because that’s a terrible thing to carry around.
My main problem is people who think that racism was perfectly okay with all minorities back in the 1910s and 1920s and it was all jolly good fun. In all fairness, part of that little problem is Lillian Gish’s smug assurance of same.
I get very few comments but I did get one recently, as well, from someone responding to a review of a film that includes a pretty out-there blackface scene. The comment, to me, was somewhat convoluted, but it morphed into this person’s opinion of today’s Middle East conflict. I write a classic film blog. I wasn’t ever going there.
Yeah, there are some people who can inject politics into anything. It makes family gatherings quite awkward 😉
I had a person ask me about the value of some material they had, a few stills and believe it or not a one reel cut down of an Abbot and Costello FIl from one of the myriad of little places that sold the stuff in the 60’s and 70’s. This person became quite perturbed when I told them it was about $5 for the film, and the stills looked to be reprints from much later than the original date. so they had very little value. This person became insulted as they knew the material was worth in the thousands and up. I wished them well and we both moved on.
It’s astonishing how many people believe that old automatically equals valuable. Even 100+ year old books go for pennies unless their condition is pristine and/or the edition is rare.
Randy Thom of Skywalker Sound told a story about someone who’d send a letter of complaint regarding a scene in which the actor had blown across the neck of a bottle (not sure of the movie) on the basis that the fundamental note of a bottle of those dimensions would differ from that laid by the sound editor.
Oh my, that is a case of too much time on one’s hands, methinks 😉
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