Daily Archives: April 8, 2007

You didn’t think they wouldn’t start biting back, did you?

“TO Alicia Estrada, a professor of Central American studies who was ejected from a screening of Mel Gibson ‘s “Apocalypto” last month after grilling him about the historical accuracy of that Maya epic, which he directed, she was not a “heckler,” as Mr. Gibson’s representatives called her, but a dutiful academic asking of him what she asks of students in her classroom”

Well of course she wasn’t. It was a Q&A session following a screening. Ms. Estrada’s infraction was her failure to fall to the ground and kiss Mel Gibson’s feet as required.

“To Kyle Doss, an audience member who helped spark Michael Richards’s tirade at a Los Angeles comedy club last November by yelling “You’re not funny” following a racially charged joke, he was not a heckler, but a champion of tolerance. “I think freedom of speech should have some kind of limit,” Mr. Doss later told a reporter.”

Be that as it may, Mr. Doss was indeed heckling Michael Richards — a time-honored tradition in comedy incisively explicated in Lenny Bruce’s classic “Palladium” routine. But now we get to the NYT’s real point —

To Jean Sara Rohe, one of the students who assailed Senator John McCain about Iraq at his commencement address at the New School last May, she was not a heckler, as newspapers later called her, but a crusader for peace, doing what her “conscience called for.”

Well let’s not go all grandiose, Ms. Rohe. You were simply calling the Senator on matters the press — our presumed representatives — pointedly fails to follow through on. And that’s because the press has for a great many years been John McCain’s bitch. It’s a simple matter: he answers their calls, gives them “copy” and drives around in a bus called the “Straight Talk Express” — a moniker remindful of Wonder Bread’s claim to “Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways.”

“For decades, hecklers who railed at entertainers, politicians and athletes were confined to the margins – they were often drunks or crackpots, tolerated (just barely) by polite society, like litter on a city street.
But no longer do these self-styled cultural assassins merely snipe from the shadows. Lately, hecklers have moved toward the mainstream, making headlines, torpedoing careers (ask Mr. Richards), and exploiting a new stage of their own on video-sharing Web sites like YouTube, where clips of their antics are seen by thousands. “

Oh you can find all sorts of stuff on YouTube.

“But what is driving all this vitriol? One factor, at least where the Internet is concerned, said Mr. Addis, is that “sex sells, but hate really sells,” and helps bloggers draw traffic. Mr. Kennedy believes that Internet meanness, which flourishes on media gadfly blogs and pop culture Web sites like televisionwithoutpity.com and PerezHilton.com , and independent movie review sites like mrcranky.com and rottentomatoes.com , has bled over into public discourse, a point echoed by P. M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who founded the school’s long-running Civility Initiative.
The psychological term, Dr. Forni said, is the “disinhibition effect,” where people express themselves more openly or bluntly online than they would in person. The old filters – namely, good manners – atrophy offline, and the result is a cultural narcissism: people think that only their feelings and opinions matter. “

The Culture of Narcissism ? Who brought Christopehr Lasch back from the grave?

Pauline Wallin, a clinical psychologist in Camp Hill, Pa., said that Americans tended to be relatively courteous in public, toward performers and one another, for the half-century leading up through the ’70s. But people have become brattier as the children of the Consciousness Revolution, encouraged to indulge their inner child, have come of age. “The baby boomers were self-centered and had self-centered children because they thought ‘Everything is for me and my child,’ ” Dr. Wallin said. “Now these under-30s have grown up and just assume what was cute for their parents is now cute to everybody else.” But she did stress that not every spoiled child is a heckler waiting to happen. “You also have to have that hostility within you. Heckling is a self-centered, narcissistic activity.”

Yes, we know the drill — it’s all Bill Clinton’s fault.

At the same time, it is growing more sophisticated. Arianna Huffington, the political writer who founded HuffingtonPost.com said “smart” heckling now plays a role in the public discourse, giving people with a point of view another way to express it. She cited, for example, Max Blumenthal, a liberal political writer and blogger who often posts on her Web site, who videotaped his hectoring of conservative pundits at the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference. His encounters with Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter went viral on YouTube.
“There will always be dumb heckling,” Ms. Huffington said, “but the Internet, blogging and the ease of making video have made it possible for the smart heckler to have the last word.”

Thanks for that refreshing bit of sanity, Arianna. But the NYT has naughty children to spank (ie. its readers.)

“Senator George Allen a Republican from Virginia, helped derail his 2006 re-election campaign when he mocked a rival campaign worker, who had been videotaping an Allen campaign event, as a “macaca.” The man was of Indian descent, and many construed the term as a racial barb.”

Well it was a racist barb. But the NYT would rather commit ritual seppuku than say so.

Penn Jillette, the comedian and magician, explained that his partner, Teller, originally developed his silent persona as a means to flummox hecklers when he was getting his start in fraternity houses and small clubs.
The duo experience far less heckling now, however, as their stature has grown. “Heckling has a lot to do with ticket prices,” said Mr. Jillette, who does not appear in the movie. “Once you get to a certain point and you’re established, then your audience becomes the police, and people feel very uncomfortable heckling.”

Yep. Heckle the wrong person and —