Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Hecklers, Anonymous

During one of the classes when I mentioned Eddie Izzard, one of my students mentioned a documentary called Heckler. I went to look it up, because I love when comedians pwn hecklers.

Here’s Jamie Kennedy (who, coincidentally, produced the documentary):

Jimmy Carr does it extraordinarily well. Here’s one:

And here’s another:

But it’s not just comedians. Here’s Kevin Smith:

And even Bill Clinton pwning some idiot “9/11 truth conspiracy theorist”:

I mean, seriously. Some people are just douchebags.

Thing is, Heckler turns out to only ostensibly be about heckling; over the course of interviewing Jamie Kennedy, Carrot Top, and Bill Maher (among many others), it slowly became a rumination about criticism. In doing so, it raised some terrific points about critics and their relation to, for lack of a better word, “art,” and especially about the way the Internet has changed things. It featured appearances by writers from and Giant magazine and questioned the idea of random dudes commenting about cinema. Kathy Griffin made an analogy between Internet commenters and hecklers, which I thought was apt, except for one crucial difference:

At a comedy show, the comedian gets to be face to face, even if across a room, with the person.

On the other hand, the Internet allows a degree of cowardice when someone like Shecky Gangrene or, as is most often the case, Anonymous wants to crap on somebody. I swear, I’d often heard quotes attributed to Anonymous before, but the Internet exponentially increased Anonymous’ body of work, which is mostly restricted to little more than saliva-spattered vitriol. I’ve rarely seen Anonymous actually be supportive; usually Anonymous uses the old “I’m sorry, but I’ve just got to be honest with you” to make personal attacks and mostly horrifying comments they’d never make in real life to someone’s face.

And while I’ve never gotten altogether much attention from Anonymous because I’m just a mostly unknown writer still making his way in his work, any attention from Anonymous can feel like too much. Most of the negativity I’ve encountered has come from Anonymous (who most often really, really doesn’t like me). Anonymous most often believes that the ends justify whatever means it is necessary to use, and frequently makes the case that anyone who has earned any degree of spotlight whatsoever must grin and bear it because it comes with the territory and one must develop thick skin.

To which I say: bullshit.

Bill Maher and Dr. Drew (ftw) address it best in the documentary by making two points: first, honesty does not excuse douchebaggery (that’s Dr. Drew), and second, as Maher notes, entertainers can’t develop thick skin. We need some degree of sensitivity because that’s our role in the culture we need to be part of.

Which I think is an awesome point.

The documentary is well worth checking out. Here’s the trailer:

I think my favorite part was the segment dedicated to director Uwe Boll, who challenged his critics to boxing matches and summarily beat the shit out of them. It’s absolutely hysterical to watch as the movie switches back and forth from idiot bloggers making asinine comments like “No, I’ve never watched one of his movies, but I’ve heard their awful” to selfsame bloggers falling to the canvas, culminating in a shot of a twenty-ish blogger lying on the curb, post-fight, wearing a tank top with Sharpie-written “Hi, Mom!” on its back while puking into the gutter.


  1. Jimmy Carr’s first video is only funny in certain settings, like the commedy club he’s at. It’s not so much fun at a church… that you were invtied to… by your freind… who has a fuck buddy with her…

    You might not like a movie. You might not like a comedians routine. You might not like speech being made. But it’s repsectful to either listen untill there done or not go to a performance you probably won’t like. I couldn’t tell if I would like the x-men franchise untill I saw the secound one. I hated it and complained about it on line. I didn’t go to hollywood to yell at Brian Singer. I didn’t go see the third because I knew it probably wasn’t up my alley. I didn’t protest it. Why? Because those three things are a waste of time and ridiculous.

    If you go to a a Maryilin Manson concert you will see a picket line of protestors. When Kevin Smith made Dogma Catholics protested it too despite not having seen the movie. In that documentary you see people yelling random crap at people during a performance. They paid money to go the shows probably knowing they would do that.

    These people are mentally ill… or permentally stupid.

    Good blog. This is a subject I never thought about before.

  2. I’ve never liked Jamie Kennedy’s stand-up or his movies. And he’s an even bigger douchebag in person, so in my opinion he has nothing going for him except the cameo he had in one of the best horror flicks *ever* (“Scream”, of course).

  3. I’ve only time to view the first two vids. I wouldn’t classify the Kennedy and Carr “hecklers” as actual hecklers unless you and I have different takes on definition. Especially the latter vid where Carr completely sets up the woman in the audience.

    You say cowardice, I say anonymity. The Internet allows a degree of anonymity which affords anon posters the opportunity to express honest opinion and commentary. Some of it’s loathsome, yes, but I value “tell me what you really think” and am more likely to find it on the Internet than during a guarded face to face conversation with a stranger. Mendacity comes in several flavors, and I prefer vitriol to saccharine. I like knowing how I’m perceived online by Anon because I write for Anon. If I’m communicating “asshole” to someone, that’s future information I can use. I’m not saying the customer is always right, but If I hope to sell books, I need to consider the ugliest perspective of my detractors.

  4. The fight scene with Boll is probably a lot less funny when you realise that he intentionally hid the fact that he was a trained boxer from those he challenged and refused to fight anyone with similar training. Sure, most of Boll’s detractor’s probably haven’t seen his movies, but tricking them into a legalised beating is hardly something to be proud of.

  5. @Noise: I rewatched it in light of your comment, and nope, no less funny.

    Ain’t Boll’s fault some people can’t do research.

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