4 Things the Internet Needs to Calm Down About
What would you say is the worst viral thing the Internet has ever produced? "Gangnam Style"? Lolcats? That fucking "ERMAHGERD" meme that makes you want to track down every person who has ever used it and lock them in a shipping container with open beehives?
Nope! It's anger. Yep, I'm calling anger a meme. On the Internet, pure, unadulterated anger is viral as hell, and if you're not violently overreacting to insignificant topics, you're not a part of the clique. It's roaming the Web like a colony of fire ants, forever crawling out of your monitor and chewing on you until you get angry too, over stupid shit like ...
When a major movie announces its stars, the Internet instantly turns into a composite creature of rabid ox butts, toothlessly snapping at the object of our aggression and spewing bullshit everywhere. Often, the "That actor sucks!" party takes over within minutes: Everyone who knew that Jack Reacher is an 8-foot-tall ubermensch in the books was appalled to find out he was going to be played by Tom Cruise. The few people who knew that what works in a book doesn't always translate well on screen and bothered to point out that Cruise actually has a pretty decent track record of playing unstoppable badasses were quickly drowned by the outcry. And just like that, the movie lost all chance for credibility before we saw a single frame.
Daniel Craig experienced the same fate when he was cast as James Bond because he had the audacity to be blond. We just screamed and screamed, until we actually saw him in the role.
For some, the screaming hasn't stopped since.
And then there is Batman vs. Superman. Movie Batman has always hinged on the script and the director: The Dark Knight himself is literally nothing but a chin poking out of a latex suit and some alluring eye shadow everyone tries to ignore. With the right script, Alice Cooper could play the role. There's no reason why Ben "two Academy Awards and a recent string of great movies" Affleck can't. Even so, the second his casting was announced, the man had to put all his chairs on eBay thanks to the reaming he took from the Internet. I remember this because I was out there with the digital mob, mindlessly screaming into the void over the casting of this pretty boy actor who didn't fit the Batman movie playing in my head.
"Say, that scenario sounds kind of familiar."
Of course, this is something of a bat-trend: Michael Keaton turned in a generally well-received performance in the role, despite the fact that his casting was shat on like a statue. Christian Bale enjoyed more than his share of "Fatman" jokes for initially bulking up too much. The only modern Batmen who weren't ridiculed too much before we saw the film were Val Kilmer and George Clooney.
Although that's probably because we were busy mocking other things.
The thing we never, ever learn is this: We cannot know how well the actor fits the role until we actually see the movie. We only rant about casting choices to have something to be furious about.
Oh, and it's a self-fueling engine, too: Those rants we read and write only make us feel even angrier. If someone ever manages to harness Internet hate as an energy source, all we need to do is cast Justin Bieber as Deadpool and we're set for eternity.
Sex and Relationships
For a medium that is 95 percent porn, the Internet is surprisingly quick to scream "Blarrgh, gross!" when it comes to actual real-life sex and relationship issues. People protest gay marriage until they're blue in the face, despite the fact that it doesn't affect them in any way unless they're gay themselves.
"I AM MAKING HATE NOISES BECAUSE INTERNET GOBLINS TOLD ME TO."
This is particularly weird, because the Web long ago took away our innocence. Illegal stuff aside, literally everyone online has their own little bag of relationship expectations and sexual fantasies that range from holding hands in the park to sweet Jesus what the hell is that fuck fuck fuck EWWWWW. Before the Internet came along, most of us kept these little kinks in a dark, slightly sticky corner of our minds. Now your dreams are just a Google search away, whether you're a guy who just wants a shy glance at boobs or the Grand Bonemaster of the Bicycle Boning Society. Both of those fantasies are somewhere out there, hanging out on the Web just like you and me and our little secrets.
Now, here's where the anger comes in. A person can express online hostility in four distinct ways: contempt, spite, raiding, and outrage. Incidentally, animals are only capable of three types of anger, which technically makes your dog better suited for the Internet than you.
"Back off, man, I've got this."
In the nudelicious environment of the Internet, these strains of hate bleed into our ideas of sex and relationships, creating clashes left and right and sometimes concentrating into little communities of like-minded (and often awful) people. Too much raiding in the sex mix, and you get those fluffy-hatted "pickup artists" who go by names like "Mystery" and "Starscream" and "Butt" (I think -- I'm not going to research their actual monikers), dress like pimps on acid, and talk about women in terms of conquest. Too much contempt, and you could wind up thinking that it's society's fault you don't have a girlfriend. Too much outrage, and ... shit, that fits pretty much every one of us, doesn't it? Every time we've "jokingly" bullied someone because of their perceived sexuality (when was the last time you casually called someone gay online?) or screamed at them because of their weird fetish, we've been the person who adds two fingers of outrage to their sex cocktail.
Sometimes this is not entirely unjustified.
It's quite impressive, really: We've managed to take a primal need like boning and turn it into an anger management test where everyone gets an F.
Hey, speaking of primal needs ...
Here's a fun experiment. Post a statement about food on a public Internet forum. It doesn't matter where -- your blog, your favorite discussion haunt, anywhere you like. The only rule is that you need to express an opinion. Then sit back and see how many minutes it will take before the first Holy Crusader of Differing Opinion posts to put you in place.
Here, I'll go: Bacon is overrated.
You're welcome, comment section.
That statement doesn't necessarily reflect my actual beliefs, but it should prove that food is almost impossible to discuss on the Internet. Hell, when a Los Angeles Times health section editor once mentioned that bacon ice cream is probably a bad idea health-wise, a food editor of that same paper almost immediately responded with a passive-aggressive, "cheerful" rebuttal.
Apart from the Internet's bacon boner, the meat-eating discussion is obviously the Big One among food arguments. Vegetarians play up the healthiness factor and the ethical and environmental issues of meat production. Meat eaters counter with the deliciousness factor and the fact that humans are kind of designed to eat meat. A flame war usually ensues.
Vegans play up the "I'm better than you" factor. And farting.
Fast food pros and cons shit flinging is also popular, what with McDonald's alone having nearly 30 million likes on Facebook despite the fact that their food has been called out almost as many times. Anti-fast food people are generally armed with a metric ton of evidence and carefully formed arguments, all of which is usually thrown out the window in frustration when the opponent swoops in with a middle finger and a "Yeah, so what?" (slightly muffled by the Quarter Pounder he's cramming into his face hole).
And then there are the many, many fringe food enthusiasts. Roadkill eaters, dumpster divers (who even have their own Wiki), raw foodists, and other people whose nutritional views vary from the norm are often quick to find out what the rest of the Web thinks of them if they announce their views in an online conversation. These people are the bronies of the food world: They've found something they're thrilled about and would very much like to discuss, only to find literally everyone else recoiling in disgust.
Luckily for them, comfort food is easy to come by.
At the end of the day, almost all online arguments about food are completely futile. Since our opinions are pretty much set in stone and we can easily summon all the expert evidence we need to back up our case with a simple search engine query, it's a fight where the only prize is dunce caps for everyone.
I hate Comic Sans. I really, really do. I was even going to order some of those "ban Comic Sans" stickers once, but luckily I passed out on the couch before I could remember where my credit card was. (I don't think anyone has ever considered that purchase sober.)
I hate Comic Sans with the wrath of seven hells because the Internet has told me to. I also immensely dislike Helvetica because the Internet has taught me to mentally associate the font with hipsters, and hipsters with bullshit.
But if I hadn't read endless rants about their evils online, I doubt I would give two rank gerbil asses about either.
Typefaces are extremely important tools if you're a graphic designer or work with typography in some other way. For the other 99.99 percent of mankind, they're a bunch of pixels. There's no reason for us to care about fonts, beyond maybe choosing Verdana over Wingdings. Yet they're one of the hottest rant subjects around: Google searching "font debate" gives you almost 54 million results. Politicians have been known to argue font issues if they have nothing else to fight about. There are even actual font scandals. Yet on Abraham Maslow's classic hierarchy of human needs, that shit doesn't even rank.
Now, some of this hatred of certain fonts is understandable. Internet people are a strange and wary folk, defined by what we see on the screen. And when the words in front of our eyes are written in a certain mildly annoying way for long enough, dull hatred for said visual is eventually going to get ingrained in our culture. And it is ingrained: Hell, we right here at Cracked love to take potshots at stupid fonts every now and then.
Still, it doesn't take away from the fact that ultimately fonts are a non-issue. Want to know what the most important standard of writing in human history is? It's this one:
"I don't know, man. The typography is real sloppy, and don't even get me started about the kerning."
That is Carolingian minuscule, the first standardized script in the history of writing and, as we have mentioned before, one of the finest inventions of the "Dark" Ages. It's the granddaddy of all standardized writing, from the Gutenberg press to "Jokerman." And if we woke up tomorrow to a world where it was the only font option on every computer -- like maybe aliens stole the concept of typography to make us stop fighting -- I bet we could still limp on. All the billions of fonts out there have never been anything more than icing: luxury products that we are privileged enough to whine about.
Except of course they aren't. Fonts are important as all hell. Just ask anyone on the Internet.