Usually my Around the Web posts are full of pink fluffy bunny ain’t-the-Internet-grand kind of links. Oh, sure, I do link to the occasional train wreck but that’s rare. I really prefer that strategy because I tend to be an optiministic (if slightly cautious) person by nature.

But everyone loves a good train wreck from time to time. And here they are.

What’s the purpose of this? To balance the tendency towards Web utopianism with a pinch of human nature. I think that on the whole the web is vastly beneficial to the world but I’m also not delusional enough to think there’s no downside.

DC’s Blog Closes Comments, Gives Up On Even Trying To Talk to You Jerks

In today’s installment of “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” news, The Source, the official blog of the DC Universe, has closed down their comments section following a brief but intense flamewar that broke out on a recent post and spiraled into personal attacks against readers, creators, and members of the DC comics staff.

As for what could possibly have inspired so much anger from the readers that the Source had to lock the whole site down to keep things from getting worse — well, it won’t surprise anyone who has spent more than five minutes reading any given forum on the Internet that the vitriol was based on a subject of absolute, life-or-death importance: Who runs faster, Superman or the Flash?

TA under fire after Facebook blunder

A York University tutorial assistant (TA) is under investigation after comments deemed unprofessional were posted to her Facebook page concerning the academic level of her tutorial students.

The TA in question, Bianca Baggiarini, posted comments to her Facebook status Feb. 22. They stated, “My student’s papers are making me dumber, so very stupid; by the minute. Please, make them, stop. They are infecting me with there huge and apparent stupidity, and I fear they will start to effect in my opinion the way I myself right papers [sic].”

And from a later article, TA apologizes to students regarding Facebook comments

Yeah, the whole Rebecca Black thing. Sigh.

I retweeted this joke by @HeyItsLiam: Rebecca has such the opposite of star power, I can only call her a black hole of talent.

@maisquared responded: I don’t think negativity towards a 13 yr old girl is cool, neither is cyber bullying.

Actually, I do hear what Mai is saying. I agree, very slightly.

(That is, I agree about the negativity; to call the joke “cyber-bullying” is unfair. It wasn’t intended for Rebecca Black to read)

I was devastated when I received my first negative reviews in national publications, at the age of 24. I can’t imagine how horrible it is to be thirteen and an object of immense, international ridicule.

“Friday” is more than bad. It’s ludicrous. It illustrates a kind of shiny blandness, cheerful boringness, that’s all over the place in our culture. It’s a perfect parody of Disney product intended for tweens. Its stupidity is surreal. It’s absolutely appropriate to mock it.

It also means that a thirteen year old girl that’s essentially an innocent bystander–she looks like a prop in that video, placed like a chair on a set–is taking a massive psychic beatdown.

Rebecca Black Means The (Internet) Fame Game Has Changed

Indeed the focus of Rebecca Black’s ABC/Good Morning America interview was the extreme negativity of the comments (“I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty. I hope you go cut and die”). In an age of readily available tools for discussion, the value of our pop-stars is now in the extent to which we can use them as topics for social media blathering (Rebecca Black is trending on Twitter, of course) whether or not that blathering is positive.

The most fascinating part of the Black story is that she’s actually famous now, which was exactly the reason her parents gave $2,000 to ARK Music Factory in the first place. From Black herself on her unlikely fame, “I think that’s an accomplishment you know, even a person who doesn’t like it, it’s going to be stuck in their head. So that’s the point of it, it’s a catchy song.” Exactly.

Get used to this kind of stuff. As society advances technologically, culture becomes a parody of itself, and we enjoy the parody, intentional or not, more than anything sincere. But what becomes of the Antoine Dobsons and the Rebecca Blacks, our Internet culture folk heroes?

Says Chen, “From an industry standpoint. I think if you’re an Internet phenomenon you get put in this meme box, which means you can only do certain meme things, like put out merchandise related to your meme, or appear on talk shows joking about your meme. The mainstream industry kind of picks them up gingerly, with slight disgust, and throws them into stuff until they’re sick of them.”

‘Cut and die’: the web loves to hate Rebecca Black

But while the sheer absurdness of the song has made it a viral hit, Black is now feeling the ugly side of internet fame. She says she feels “cyberbullied” and has received death threats.

In just one comment that illustrates the reaction of the web to Black’s song, SFGate.com wrote that it “may be the ultimate combination of horrible lyrics, horrible songwriting, horrible auto-tuning (apparently to hide horrible singing), horrible cameos (c’mon, USHER!?!), horrible visual effects, horrible dancing and horrible horribleness. It’s so horrible, people are wondering whether the production is real or if it’s an elaborate joke.”

And finally, a case where a self-published author responds to a blogged book review in, shall we say, a rather unfortunate way. And it just takes off from there.

The Greek Seaman / Jacqueline Howett

The review:

However, odds of making that final click are slim. One reason is the spelling and grammar errors, which come so quickly that, especially in the first several chapters, it’s difficult to get into the book without being jarred back to reality as you attempt unraveling what the author meant…

The author’s response, exerpted from several comments:

You obviously didn’t read the second clean copy I requested you download that was also reformatted, so this is a very unfair review. My Amazon readers/reviewers give it 5 stars and 4 stars and they say they really enjoyed The Greek Seaman and thought it was well written. Maybe its just my style and being English is what you don’t get. Sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea, but I think I will stick to my five star and four star reviews thanks.

*snip*

Look AL, I’m not in the mood for playing snake with you, what I read above has no flaws. My writing is fine. You were told to download a new copy for format problems the very next day while they were free at Smashwords, so you could choose any format you wanted to read it in and if their were any spelling mistakes they were corrected. Simply remove this review as it is in error with you not downloading the fresh copy i insisted. Why review my book after being told to do this, and more annoying why have you never ever responded to any of my e-mails?

And please follow up now from e-mail.
This is not only discusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me AL.

Who are you any way? Really who are you?
What do we know about you?

You never downloaded another copy you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail

Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.

Your the target not me!
Now get this review off here!

*snip*

I know its you AL talking, stop hiding and stand up and be a man!

I want this review removed or its just considered abuse.

Hmm never did get involved in your forum for reasons, now I know why.

Let’s just say the entire Internet then turns on the poor author prompting this response much later on in the comments:

Please, everyone, be careful. Much as the author did everything wrong and spectacularly shot herself in the foot splashing her blood all over the internet, this thread is quickly turning into a witch hunt and it’s ugly.

Do as you would be done by.

http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/03/greek-seaman-jacqueline-howett.html

The degree to which people then rturn on the author prompts this comment:
Anonymous said…

Please, everyone, be careful. Much as the author did everything wrong and spectacularly shot herself in the foot splashing her blood all over the internet, this thread is quickly turning into a witch hunt and it’s ugly.

Do as you would be done by.
March 28, 2011 2:17 PM

Comments

  1. #1 bill
    March 30, 2011

    to call the joke “cyber-bullying” is unfair. It wasn’t intended for Rebecca Black to read

    I don’t think that matters, when you know she’s likely to see it, plus a lot more like it. Of course she’s going to go looking for what people are saying on twitter and facebook. It was a dick move on Mike’s part.

    Obdisclosure and the reason I’m commenting on this: in a dick move on my part, I made similar jokes on a friend’s thread on facebook.

    What we both should have done: focused on the slimy “pop mill” behind it, who make Stock/Aitken/Waterman look like angels, been more careful to separate criticism of performance from criticism of person, and not pile on a kid who was already getting beat down.

  2. #2 John Dupuis
    March 31, 2011

    I agree 100% bill. I even feel a little guilty with this post, drawing attention to the issue. FWIW, I haven’t even watched the video myself and probably never will.

    What I find dismaying is the way these Internet pile-ons happen all out of proportion with the original “sin.” Our reaction to the Black vid should have been, “Meh, 13 year old with stage parents made silly video.”

  3. #3 Bob O`Bob
    April 2, 2011

    Rebecca Black: crying all the way to the bank.

    A lot of the ridicule is so transparently jealousy.

  4. #4 John Dupuis
    April 2, 2011

    Sure, Bob, I hear ya. Of course, it would be nice to be able to make a little money for yourself without being subjected to so much psychic punishment.

  5. #5 Lynn
    April 2, 2011

    I don’t get it. It’s not a bad song, it’s not a bad video, what’s the fuss all about? Plenty of pop-stars putting out plenty of crap but not getting this kind of hatred.

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