To Hiss or Not to Hiss

Americans love competition – from presidential poll numbers down to the Oscars.  But as both these debates heat up (and I’ll leave it to you to decide which one you think is most important), we might want to remember that our opponents and their supporters are not necessarily untalented or idiots or even untalented idiots.   Yet if you sincerely believe they are, consider whether you really need to say it in the many live or written forms now available to us.

Oh sure, you can mask your critiques with intellectual language, as I often do.  Or you can be especially insulting and right out there with it, as, well, anyone who disagrees with me often is.   Case in point —

Several weeks ago I was lured into the appealing Facebook trap of commenting on a post about a film.  Yeah, I loved “Black Swan” for its daring outrageousness.  But a whole group of people who I later found out were mostly feminist film scholars didn’t, and actually hated and were offended by it.   After biting my lip I had to weigh in with my two cents (okay, maybe three and a half).  I tried to be even handed and respectful.  Until one woman turned her nose up (can you do that on Facebook?) at my post and blithely wrote that people in San Francisco and Manhattan were specifically going out to the film to laugh at it, the implication being it was that bad, that insipid.  She then turned her nose up even more and chortled ,“I don’t think serious filmgoers take it seriously at all.”  Really?  Well, luckily, I wasn’t armed.  I made my case again, but not without first writing indignantly – “Excuse me, I’m a serious filmgoer who just happens to…”  Okay, so you get it.  And on and on it went…

I didn’t care that all those people disagreed with me, I thought.   Can’t we just have an intelligent argument and examine our differences without my opinions being minimized and insulted?  Why were these people so small-minded?  Then this year’s Writer’s Guild nominations were announced and “I Love You, Phillip Morris,” a film I’ve proclaimed was retro and offensive in its representation of gay men to more than one…, okay many people, received a nod as best adapted screenplay.   How can my fellow writers nominate that homophobic piece of crap, I thought (well, shouted) to myself?   As a gay man, I’m mortally offended.  Anyone who’d like that film is a cretin, an idiot.  And worse yet, they don’t know anything about screenwriting.  And you know what, they probably support gay bullying, too!!!”  No wonder films today suck!! No wonder our political system is in shambles!!!  I’m moving to ____  and changing my profession to _____.  That way I can have a happy life doing _____ and never have to deal with any of these ______  ever again!!

Uh, oh.

My internal diatribe (the non-intellectual word is hissy fit) made me reluctantly – very reluctantly – almost but not quite yet embarrassingly reluctantly – realize how much we all personalize issues important to us.   Some of us express it through our “art,” others choose to shine a light on it through other work.  Or in their personal, day-to-day exchanges with friends, relatives or significant others.  And yes, even with some other class of people (not yet sure what to call them, are they really friends?”)  in a Facebook post.

Our audience might not agree or they may dislike our opinions entirely.  But all are equally valid.  Maybe some ideas are better expressed or more popular than others.  Yet even the cretinous idiot who disagrees with you (not me) might get it right occasionally.  And should be respected.  Okay, even the ones who disagree with me, too.

“You mean I really have to…?”   (pause)  “Oh God, really?”



Hey everyone and welcome. This space will feature thoughts, musings, information, humor, referrals, advice, encouragement and humor — not necessarily in that order. The title comes from my official title as Pendleton Chair of the Ithaca College program. I love my job here, especially because when I was given this title it immediately reminded me of that great line from “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen’s neurotic comedian alter ego Alvy Singer, talks with his equally neurotic first wife, Robin, at a pretentious cocktail party he doesn’t want to be at.

Robin: There’s Henry Drucker. He has a chair at Princeton. Oh, and the short man is Hershel Kaminsky. He has a chair in philosophy at Cornell.

Alvy Singer: Yeah? Two more chairs they got a dining room set.

I have waited my entire life to be a character OTHER than the New York Jewish neurotic hypochondriacal short guy in a Woody Allen film.

I don’t know what those chairs blog about but aside from my views I want to be able to refer you to smart, funny and intelligent people, articles and websites. Maybe even a few cool movies, tv shows, events, songs and/or show tunes.

Stay tuned.