Miscellaneous

On Nerd Etiquette, Nerd Douchebaggery and Rob Liefeld (Updated)

0

Thumbnail image for liefeld_cap.jpg

?Update: You guys are right. Well, the haters are — I’m being a huge hypocrite here. About 90% of Topless Robot coverage is mean-spirited towards someone or something, and even though I hope that I have genuine reasons for my disdain, I’m still insulting people. So for me to condemn this kid for dissing Liefeld to his face (henceforth known as the Liefeld Incident) is utterly hypocritical.

And yet, while I have no problem running my internet mouth off, the Liefeld Incident makes me totally uncomfortable. I’m fine doing the former each day, yet would not do the latter. Is there a line? I think so, but I honestly (and obviously) can’t tell you what it is. Is it because it was in person? Is it because it was for obvious personal notoriety? Is it because Liefeld’s such an easy target? Or because he’s been a punchline already for so long? I clearly have no idea. Maybe some or all of these things. All I know is that seems too much to me, despite what I do on a regular basis.

I will say this — there is nothing on the site that I have said that I don’t believe. While I might not go hunt Channing Tatum down to tell him to his face I think his acting sucks, I would never deny anything I typed. Everything on TR is mine, including the mistakes (including the original, stupider version of this post, which is now after the jump). When you guys catch me writing something wrong — which happens all the fucking time — I don’t cover my tracks. So if Tatum asked me if I said he was a “black hole of acting talent, sucking in and destroying every emotion that wanders into his path,” or if Michael Bay asked if I said he “raped continuity,” I’d say yes instantly. I’m not saying this is noble in any way. I’m just saying I’m not that ridiculous a hypocrite.

Last thing: regarding the site, nothing’s going to change — not what I cover, how I write about it, and what you can say. Look — we’re nerds. We’re passionate people, and we’re easily riled up. I’m not going to censor arguments or anything like that; if you can’t freak out here about something pitifully nerdy, where can you? But there’s a difference between “you suck for dissing Enterprise” and “you suck for being gay.” I’m fine with the former, and will not abide the latter. Honestly, I’m mostly pissed today about people using other people’s IDs to say shit they won’t say themselves. As much as I disapprove of what the Liefeld Incident kid did, at least he didn’t hide it.



You may have heard that some guy went up to Rob Liefeld at this last weekend’s Wizard World Chicago and demanded an apology for Heroes Reborn. This guy also bought him a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way,
and handed it to him. This event has been discussed throughout the
nerdosphere, some folks thinking it hilarious that Liefeld got called
out publicly, and many people appalled at someone being a massive
asshole to another human being. You might have been waiting for TR
to comment on it, and I’ve wanted to — but I’ve had a hard time
working it out. Because I utterly disapprove of the act, and feel bad
that Liefeld was put through it. I think it was a horrible, shitty
thing to do. And yet here I am, running a website and say mean shit
about people every day. I mean, it’s not like Topless Robot
doesn’t make fun of people, usually for their lack of talent — I’ve
called out Channing Tatum several times just this week (and it’s only
Wednesday!). I’ve threatened to skullfuck Fox executives over their
handling of the Futurama reboot. Hell, we’ve all made fun of
Liefeld himself here, time to time. So how can I justify this, but
condemn a guy being a dick to Rob Liefeld in person?

First and
foremost, I think “in person” is key here. Whether we’re just having
fun or gutless bastards hiding behind internet anonymity, here on Topless Robot,
we’re not trying to make people feel bad specifically. To go up to
anyone and try and hurt their feelings is just horrible. I wouldn’t go
up to Channing Tatum and tell him to his face he’s a horrible actor
(and not just because he could totally beat me up) — that would make
me a horrible person. I don’t want to do that to anybody, and god knows
I wouldn’t want anyone doing it to someone I cared about.

I’m not saying that I’m proud of making fun of Tatum and other people on TR,
nor am I clueless enough to believe it wouldn’t hurt these people’s
feelings if they read it. But I can partially justify this to myself by
Topless Robot being a humor site. I say horrible things about
people to make other people laugh. While this isn’t particularly noble
or worthwhile, I do that there is a thick line between being a bitchy
nerd and doing what that guy did to Liefeld. I wouldn’t do that. Maybe
I’m fooling myself here, but I hope that means something. And I’ve
never deleted a comment making fun of me, how unfunny I am, how I’ve
never touched a women, or how many dicks I eat. I figure that’s the
least price I have to pay for doing what I do. That’s only fair play.

To
me, it all boils down to not being a huge dick to someone. To actively
try and hurt someone, whether it be a Fox executive or Rob Liefeld
makes you a horrible person. I’m already a bad person for talking a ton
of shit on the internet about people; I really, really don’t want to
cross the line. And I don’t want people who read TR to do that either. That’s why I included that note the other day about no hate speech during the Doctor Who/Torchwood kiss. I don’t want anyone to feel bad for enjoying that. Hell, I don’t want any Topless Robot readers to be shitty to any other Topless Robot readers.

So
I’d like to make the announcement that I’m banning shittiness to each
other from the site. That means no hardcore insulting. You want to tell
someone their opinion is stupid? That’s fine. We’re all nerds, that’s
what we do. But no hateful, personal attacks. I’ll be deleting more
comments nowadays, because I’m sick of this shit. Oh, if you want to
make fun of me, that’s fine — that’s still the price I pay. Besides, I
love hate mail. And no masquerading as other people and using their
commenter names. This has happened a lot recently, and I’m fucking sick
of it. If it happens again, I will ban whoever does it. Period.

To sum up — don’t be a dick on TR.
Or in real life, if you can help it. Let’s just stick to being bad
people and saying terrible things about movie stars, Hollywood
executives, comics creators, videogame companies, to each other, the way Evil Flying Jesus intended.

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.