Doing battle with daily dragons

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The End of the World As We Know It

In the history of miserable, cold, wet Sunday afternoons, today is probably right up there in the top 10. Without the inclination to do anything more active than wrap up in a blanket and stare at a computer screen, I thought I’d catch up with some of my frequented links.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a film buff. And like lots of film buffs, I like to know what’s coming to a cinema near me, so I often peruse Aint It Cool News, run by incredibly rotund redhead Hollywood “insider”, Harry Knowles. The site is often hit with accusations of favourable reviews for cash, but occasionally, you can also find a few scraps of news in between all the sycophantism. But I suppose the real draw of the site (for the majority of the public rather than for me personally) is the Talkback Forums, where movie fans from all over can share views on films, the industry and calling each other offensive names.

It seems a shame that educational systems around the world don’t teach the art of rhetoric anymore; if they did, we’d probably have all the 13 year old boys that haunt internet chat rooms capable of issuing slightly more verbose insults than “Oh yeah? Well you’re gay!” Think how much higher the tone of conversation on the internet would rise if every 13 year old boy could produce thoughtful and witty derisions such as, “You are an unconscionably perverted lackey and a narcissistic, gossip-mongering proof that evolution can go in reverse.”

In the particular instance to which I’m about to refer, instead coming out with a world-beating proclamation like,

“Sports are gay and everyone who plays them is Faggy Von Gaybo,”*

think of how much more satisfying it would be to pen the remark,

“Competitive sports are not my cup of tea, but this is only my humble opinion. Far be it from me to suggest that those who do partake in the rough and tumble antics of the playing field might merely be expressing repressed homoerotic urges. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)”

Not only is it polite, but most other posters will not have the vocabulary to comprehend anything past “competitive sports…” therefore stemming the ludicrous flame war that will no doubt ensue.

It is with deep regret that I must refer you the real life saga of “Strange Co” and “OBSD” from a recent AICN Talkback regarding the University of Texas’s win over USC in the national college championships.

The banter on the board in question started out good naturedly enough with little more than minor “My team can beat up your team” banter. However, at some stage in the proceedings, a gentleman with the handle OBSD (I’m sure that we could come up with any number of ideas as to the meaning of that acronym) came out with a rather sweeping statement.

American football is for closeted homosexuals
If you disagree, you are wrong. That is all.

Can you see what Mr. OBSD has done wrong here? That’s right. He’s engaging in a behaviour called “trolling” which is when someone with extremely small genitalia decides to pick a fight on any given topic. In real life, this might result in injury or death, but in the anonymous corridors of cyberspace, it merely leads to a frantic display of penis waving from all involved.

Then Mr. Strange Co has his say.

OBSD, I assume you play a sport...
For non-closeted homosexuals. If you demur, you are wrong. That is all.

Oh dear.

StrangeCo: While Le Parkour is French in nature...
It's much more badass than a bunch of sweaty musclemen wearing skintight clothes slapping each other on the ass. But if you're like the rest of America and need a trophy in order to call something a sport, then I guess I'm a big ol' homo. But still not as much as football fans.

Mr. Strange Co’s serve.

Now I gotta do this shit at work, OBSD? Alright, fine!
Yes, "I'm like other Americans" and it looks like you and I are in agreement - we both admit you're "a big ol' homo."… Only one engaged in an ultimately "gay" French "art" will debate the relative "gayness" of an actual sport. By the way, do you know how we know that you're "gay," OBSD? You rub other guy's erections while jumping off buildings. Fact. Do us all a favor - create a sport where you jump off a building and land on the ground with a splat! That's the "straightest" sport in the world! Be a man! Just do it!

Mmm, company time well spent.

Just so that you know, this is as far as I’m prepared to keep quoting this stimulating little discussion word for word a) because it gets much worse and b) it’s very depressing. Mr. OBSD goes on to suggest that Mr Strange Co. might be sexually inclined toward sleeping with immediate family members. Mr. Strange Co issues a scathing retort, liking Mr. OBSD to a popular women’s sanitary product. And so forth and so on.

To paraphrase another Talkbacker, “The information superhighway is just a global river of slime, isn’t it?”

What stunned me rigid about this whole exchange was that further down the page, after this little exchange of unpleasantries, Mr. Strange Co engages in a rather ferociously intelligent political debate with several other Talkbackers over Islamic Extremism. (Boards frequently go careering off topic) Ultra right wing Republican whack job he may be, but stupid and ill educated he is not. (He claimed to have a Ph.D, but I’m not entirely sure I believe this assertion.) This is not to say I’d wanna have a drink with this guy and would probably throw him out a window at the first opportunity if I ever met him, but he obviously knows how to argue.

So, let me get this straight. Someone with an extensive education and keen debating skills gets called “gay” by someone with an obviously inferior intellect and gets so damn, foaming at the mouth angry that he needs to resort to 2nd grade recess in order to get his “manhood” back?

Armageddon is just around the corner. I can feel it.

*Just for the record, I didn’t make up this particular invective, it’s actually included in the Talkback in question. No joke.