Up Your Shaft, and Other Kind Wishes

July 27, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

Generally speaking, I am amused by hate mail. Sometimes, it's banal - along the lines of: "You suck. You wouldnt know a good movie if it bit you on the ass." (Real e-mail from a couple of days ago.) Those are boring and are punished for their lack of entertainment value by immediate deletion. But there are some really creative hate mails. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten any recently. Too bad, because reading them are almost as enjoyable as panning an awful film.

I have noticed a trend about hate mails concerning my review of The Devil's Rejects. They all appear to have been written by illiterates. This leads me to draw some harsh conclusions about the film's fan base. Here's an example: "i have a hard time understanding your review on the devil's reject. did you actually watch the film before you criticized it? for a man that's obviously not a fan of horror it makes you're opinion completely biased. normally i wouldn't care but then i saw your review of hustle and flow and i was just really annoyed that you gave that movie 3 stars." And another: "could you do me a favor and tell me when they say otis is spaldings kid you fuck tard they never say because hes not so dont comment on shit you dont know i thought you kind of people were supposed to be smart try some research before you open your stupid mouth"

At least the first person (female, based upon her name) used punctuation, although not always correctly. The second e-mailer didn't bother with that. Apparently, there are a lot of keyboards out there without SHIFT keys. (I know, I know... it could be a cell phone, but that's no excuse for sloppiness or laziness.)

I wonder about the ages of these respondents. Based on past experience, e-mails of this sort are written by kids between the ages of 12 and 16. That brings up the alarming possibility that there are children seeing this movie. Read my ReelThoughts of two days ago to learn my opinion about the too-lenient MPAA rating accorded to The Devil's Rejects. In theory, no one in this age group should have been able to see the movie (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian...), but the high percentage of sneak-ins makes the R a sham. The only time multiplexes pay attention to who's seeing what is when there's an NC-17 film. Then armed guards are posted and people looking like Rip Van Winkle have to provide ID. Would-be blockade-breakers are either shot on sight or forced to walk next door and sit through Bewitched.

Now I'm certain there are some intelligent fans of The Devil's Rejects out there who could write me a witty piece of hate mail. Go ahead, make my day. Tell me what you really think of me and my review, but do it in such a way that I'll pay attention rather than flush it. (Hint: using the phrase "fuck tard" is not a good start.) And you'll know you have gotten my attention if I return fire. But, when sending off epithets, leave my wife, mother, and cat out of it. They didn't see the movie, so they don't have an opinion.

By the way, although I ignored the first e-mail, I responded to the second one, primarily because I was in an ornery mood. (Seeing crap like Stealth will do that to a critic - I must remember never to answer e-mail after coming back from something that gets less than two stars.) For the record, here's what I wrote: "The official press notes state this [referring the family relationships in the film]. It's interesting that all of the negative comments I have received about the review appear to have been written by illiterates like yourself. Have you ever heard of punctuation or capitalization?"

Tomorrow: It's About Time.