The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, via email

I got an angry email last night, in which I was lectured and told I don't understand something. I was fairly surprised – I barely get any email, and it tends to be on the polite side when I do get it. It actually hurt my feelings, but I have nice friends and they helped me feel better very quickly, and then I decided to turn it into a blog post, because I'm all about the blogging.

First, some commentary. As mentioned on this blog, I run a Twitter bot which responds to people who mention RoboCop, with the phrase "I'd buy that for a dollar!". In case you haven't seen RoboCop, here's a quick quote from wikipedia, just for context:

RoboCop explores larger themes regarding the media and human nature.

In the Criterion Edition DVD commentary track, executive producer Jon Davison and writer Edward Neumeier both relate the film to the decay of American industry from the 1970s through the early 1980s, with the abandoned "Rust Belt-style" factories that RoboCop and Clarence Boddicker's gang use as hideouts reflecting this concern. Massive unemployment is prevalent, being reported frequently on the news, as is poverty and the crime that results from economic hardship.

It's easy to forget that this was actually a pretty damned good movie with some decent themes behind it.

And here's the phrase in use the film. It's used a total of 3 or 4 times, and this is one of them.

That clip is from the fictional television show It's Not My Problem which shows up several times in the movie. The main character, Bixby Snyder, constantly finds himself surrounded by scantily clad women and being lavished with good fortune and wealth, even though he's a total scumbag loser. "I'd buy that for a dollar" is his ridiculous meaningless catchphrase. Importantly, even though the show is clearly awful, whenever it's on screen, people absolutely love it. It's on in mini-marts, at gas stations, etc, and the characters of the film laugh at it constantly.

So, here's the email I got:

Here is my twitter: (removed)

With all politeness, please ensure that I am never plagued by your annoying fucking bots ever again.

And while I have you, did you even UNDERSTAND Robocop? That it was a goddamn satire? That the whole "I'd buy that for a dollar" thing was a jab at how fucking annoying it is when a character is just a catchphrase that people laugh at mindlessly even though it makes no goddamn sense whatsoever in context? And how people mindlessly repeat that catchprase no matter how stupid or facile or fucking ANNOYING it is?

Because I don't think you did

You are repeating a catchphrase which was conceived entirely to satirize catchphrases.

So in conclusion, tell your stupid goddamn program to leave me the fuck alone and go learn how to properly interpret satire

Hey look, it's a textbook example of the "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory":

Actually, until I posted it here, it was an audience of one. It's really an example of the Online disinhibition effect. Even though his Twitter profile has no apparent URLs, he was easy to find. He seems like a very nice person who dabbles in writing film criticism online. And yet he was a total asshole to me. So, it fits the mold of the Internet Fuckwad Theory in general.

First things first. If someone asks to stop receiving tweets from my bots, I do that right away. I got this email on my phone late in the evening, and even though I don't like being treated rudely, I still got out of bed blocked him from receiving tweets right away. As mentioned before, I am sorry if my bots annoy you – please let me know and you'll never hear from them again. I've maybe gotten a dozen requests like this, and all except for this one have been very polite.

Still, I could have done without the lecturing, especially because it's of dubious value, and I think I have a pretty good grasp of the content. Robocop is a satire of modern society, and if anything, it's more apt now than it was in 1987. My newest fan seems to think it's a satire of the entertainment industry or something like that, but I disagree.

RoboCop takes place in a world of extreme dichotomy. Old Detroit is run down, crime-ridden, a truly awful place, but in many ways an extremely plausible vision of the future. Most people are poor and struggling, but the minority with wealth and power (the management of OCP in the film) are doing great. They have flashy cars, expensive clothes, they snort cocaine and party all night long.

There is a plan to replace the entire city, with a corporate-run, utopian "Delta City". It's pretty clear that the corporations will benefit and everyone else will be screwed. And this is the frame through which we see It's Not My Problem – the show is force-fed entertainment that targets the lowest common denominator. The fact that the phase "I'd buy that for a dollar" is nonsense is actually critical to RoboCop – if it made sense, then the underlying decay of society portrayed in the film would not be nearly as obvious. My new friend seems to miss that.

Futhermore, television has other roles in RoboCop. Alex Murphy (the cop who is turned into RoboCop) also has a catch phrase and several affectations he borrowed from his son's favorite television cop drama. There's a number of advertisements for products all crazy in some way or another. Frankly, viewers of the film are bombarded with the obvious importance of television and media to the overall structure of the film.

So, back to the criticism of the bot. I'm told that "You are repeating a catchphrase which was conceived entirely to satirize catchphrases," and that I need to "learn how to properly interpret satire". I disagree, and here's why.

This is a bot that has tweeted over 265,000 times in 2+ years. It tweets the SAME PHRASE EVERY TIME. Almost by definition, the output is nonsensical.

Now, let me ask a quick question. Have you signed up to Twitter recently? When you do, you're presented with a list of people that Twitter thinks you should follow. Today, this list looks like this:

That's the top of the list, which frankly is the cream of the crop. After all, there is a President on it. But the next page or two is full of Kardashians, a Bieber, lousy comedians, and stars from MTV shows. Twitter wants me to follow Jose Canseco, who is mostly famous for steroid abuse and not making any sense on Twitter. For the longest time, Twitter tried to convince me to follow Chris Brown. You know what Twitter? Fuck you, I don't follow bullies. They want me to follow Deepak Chopra, whose primary skills on Twitter are plugging his new books and outputting total crap like "Established in Being, perform action."

Currently trending on Twitter at the time of this post: 'NoPantyDay'. Every couple of days, there's a fake 'RIP random celebrity' trend. It's all bullshit.

99% of the content on Twitter is total garbage. It has no intrinsic value. Twitter is the place where celebrities (or their handlers) tweet about their new products and how awesome their lives are. Are there good things about Twitter? Of course, but they're getting harder to find.

So, given the lack of worth in what Twitter is actually offering, does it make @for_a_dollar seem a little different? Maybe almost… satirical?

I've never stated as much, but if anything, @for_a_dollar is intended as a piece of art. I leave it to you to decode the meaning.

Filed under: emails, twitter