Before Rob Schneider Beefed with Everyone on Twitter, He Had Major Beef with Roger Ebert
If, for whatever reason, you ever find yourself engaged in a heated argument with Rob Schneider on Twitter over his latest empty, troll-ish hate post, know that you’re in award-winning company.
Within the last decade, Schneider has followed a familiar pipeline from schlock comedy star to Republican pander-performer as he realized that the base for banal, low-hanging jokes about race, gender and sexuality lies firmly on the Fox News side of American media. The man who once made his living playing borderline minstrel roles in Adam Sandler movies now enjoys success on the conservative comedy circuit where phrases like “did you just assume my gender?” and “okay groomer” count as punchlines – Schneider dropped his Fox Nation debut special Woke Up in America earlier this year and is currently on a packed tour of red states and right-leaning towns where owning the libs on Twitter is the best way to fill a theater.
This week, Schneider was fashionably way late to the pile-on party thrown for transgender influencer and comedian Dylan Mulvaney, who, unfortunately, is best known for inadvertently sparking the Bud Light controversy that, much like springtime, faded out back around Memorial Day. After Schneider posted an incendiary tweet in which he called Mulvaney a “gentleman” and accused her of “gender appropriation,” thousands of Twitter users took the bait and began flaming the professional provocateur in his replies. Well, before anyone else gives Schneider two thumbs down, just remember – Roger Ebert did it first.
The background for the legendary Schneider-Ebert beef begins with a 2005 article written by LA Times film critic Patrick Goldstein in which he lamented how big Hollywood studios cheaped out on artistically ambitious films worthy of recognition at the Academy Awards while funding abortions like Schneider’s Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, calling it “a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic.”
Schneider shot back by buying full-page ad space in numerous trade magazines that featured the same open letter addressed to Goldstein in which he disparaged the writer for his lack of awards recognition equal to the Oscars, writing, “Maybe, Mr. Goldstein, you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for ‘Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter, Who's Never Been Acknowledged By His Peers!’” Schneider even included vague physical threats in his tirade, continuing, “"Patrick, I can honestly say that if I sat your colleagues at a luncheon (sic), afterwards, they'd say 'You know, that Rob Schneider is a pretty intelligent guy, I hope we can do that again.' Whereas, if you sat with my colleagues, after lunch, you would just be beaten beyond recognition."
The critical world took note of the attack on one of their more esteemed members, and the most influential voice in film commentary decided to weigh in on the petty attacks with what would become one of the most iconic take-downs in movie media history. When Ebert reviewed Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, he trashed the script, the crass, unfunny jokes and, most importantly, Schneider’s performance, writing, “The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes.”
However, the film itself quickly took a backseat to Ebert’s reflection on Schneider’s temper tantrums and his attacks on Ebert’s colleague, as the legendary critic noted how Goldstein was, in fact, an award-winning journalist with numerous recognitions from trade organizations and a high reputation among his peers. Ebert further noted how “Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks.”
After mercilessly trashing Schneider’s movie, artistry and character, Ebert closed with an iconic line that would inspire the title for a book of his most scathing reviews, recalling Schneider’s most emphatic point against Goldstein as he wrote, “Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo while passing on the opportunity to participate in Million Dollar Baby, Ray, The Aviator, Sideways and Finding Neverland. As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.”
Years later, Schneider and Ebert would both publicly bury the hatchet as Schneider admitted his own childishness in the exchange and Ebert wrote sympathetically about Schneider’s calling to create laughter in any way he can. After Ebert’s death, Schneider exchanged correspondence with Ebert’s widow Chaz, recalling the note he wrote to Ebert when he heard of his old foe’s cancer diagnosis, which read, "Roger, thank you for sharing your love of cinema with all of us. I hope you are back doing what you love most soon, watching movies from your La-Z-Boy chair! Signed, Rob Schneider, your least favorite movie star."
As today’s Schneider fills the internet with vitriol, small-mindedness and an all-encompassing acrimony for those whose identities don’t conform to his narrow beliefs, it’s important to remember that, at one point, Schneider was capable of accepting criticism and managed a face-turn most admirable of anyone who has ever had their ass handed on a preposterously public scale. Maybe he can do it again, even if he’s still our least favorite comedian.