We saw this in the response to the Vancouver hockey riots last week. After a real-life mob let loose on the city, ironically a virtual mob formed to shame, harass and threaten the individuals who were photographed participating in the riots. Roger Ebert expressed astonishment at the vitriol and was then himself attacked as a defender of the rioters like Nathan Kotylak. Yesterday, he clarified himself on Twitter:
O Canada! I wasn't defending Nathan. I was recoiling from some of the venomous remarks on the Facebook page.While that was exchange was winding down yesterday, he became embroiled in an even bigger online spat. Ryan Dunn of the Jackass movies was killed overnight in a fiery car crash. Many people posted information on this on Twitter in the morning including Ebert who tweeted,
"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn, RIP. His Porsche flew through 40 yards of trees. http://bit.ly/jn2qWVNothing unusual there. He posts RIP, quotes the article and provides a link. But soon afterwards, he followed up with this tweet.
Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive.True enough. The reaction, though, was immediate. People jumped on this as a criticism against Dunn rather than his friends. Many accused him of leaping to conclusions about drunkenness and speeding. That was hardly mere speculation, however, since a picture posted online (shown above) showed Dunn (left) drinking with friends just prior to the crash. One of the friends has since been identified as Jackass production assistant Zachary Hartwell (right), who was the passenger killed in the crash.
Fuelling much of the anger towards Ebert was blogger Perez Hilton who posted a brief article "Roger Ebert Responds Insensitively To Ryan Dunn's Death." Interestingly, however, most of the flood of comments on the article were in complete agreement with Ebert. Ebert noticed this and tweeted the following:
Perez Hilton's readers agree with me and not with Perez about my tweet on Ryan Dunn. He drank, he drove, 2 people died. http://bit.ly/k6Uh9YOf course, this just fueled the backlash even more and started something of a twitter war. Some barbs were mild, such as this tweet from Sofia Coppola (Coppola was in a relationship with Jackass associate Spike Jonze):
Others were seething with rage, such as these two tweets from Dunn's Jackass colleague Bam Margera.
I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of shit roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 centsFrom there, it escalated into outright hate speech and nastiness on both Facebook and Twitter. People took to swearing and insults about his health problems and appearance, without the slightest awareness of any hypocrisy on their part in complaining about Ebert's supposed insensitivity. Complaints by Dunn's mourners led to Ebert's Facebook page being taken down this morning. It has since been restored, but is being inundated with ugly comments, many wishing him harm or even death.
About a jackass drunk driving and his is one, fuck you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat fucking mouth!
Ebert backtracked and posted an apology of sorts this morning. He began by saying "To begin with, I offer my sympathy to Ryan Dunn's family and friends, and to those of Zachary Hartwell, who also died in the crash. I mean that sincerely." Of his offending tweet, he wrote:
What did I mean by that? I meant exactly what I wrote. I wasn't calling Ryan Dunn a jackass. In Twitter shorthand, I was referring to his association with "Jackass." I thought that was clear. I note that Bam Margera uses the word "jackass" in the same way in his tweet.He goes on to say:
I don't know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to tweet. That was unseemly. I do know that nobody has any business driving on a public highway at 110 mph, as some estimated -- or fast enough, anyway, to leave a highway and fly through 40 yards of trees before crashing.Some people may find that he's still not apologetic enough, but if anything he is bending over backwards. We do know some of what happened, and that Dunn had at least six drinks before he got into his car. Therefore, he was drinking and driving. As for the speeding, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that a car flying 40 yards through the air would be the result of speeding.
Anyhow, this hasn't apparently quelled the rabid, angry masses who continue to bombard his Facebook page with vicious hatefulness. This is still ongoing, and there are too many of these to keep track of. But it is clearly an ugly mob mentality that is shooting the messenger for merely speaking the truth.
Here is just a sample:
David VallezThese fans of Jackass may think they are defending the honour of an idol, but really they are just leaving him a hateful and repugnant legacy.
PIECE OF DOG SHIT. FUCK YOU ROGER
[UPDATE, June 22] Last night, Roger Ebert tweeted two more final comments before returning to his usual stream of film and general interest messages.
I should clarify: Anyone who drinks and drives is a jackass. That included me in my drinking days. Some are lucky enough to find sobriety.That second tweet links to a two-year-old column in which he confessed to being a recovered alcoholic. These comments provide a context -- that his original "insensitive" tweet was criticizing himself as much as anyone and that he was speaking from personal experience.
My name is Roger, and I'm an alcoholic. http://bit.ly/1MyzCH
The vandalism on Roger Ebert's Facebook page has been removed and he has blocked comments on his wall. The flaming continues, however, with over 2000 comments left on his post which explains that he blocked comments because of the obscenities.
Details are slowly emerging about Ryan Dunn's death. TMZ and others reported the crash was so violent that the Coroner's office was unable to determine if they died from the impact of the crash or from the resulting fire. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that in the past 13 years, "Dunn was cited at least 23 times, including 10 stops for speeding and careless driving and three more for driving with a suspended license." The Daily Mail reports that a friend said that Dunn was ordering drinks for the whole bar. Reports are now emerging that Dunn's blood alcohol content (.196) was more than twice the legal limit (.08) and was traveling between 132 and 140 mph, more than twice the speed limit (55mph).
A private funeral for Ryan Dunn will take place today.