TeeVee Mailbag VII: When Readers Attack
William Shakespeare wrote that and he wasn't just some limey full of hot gas. Because whether you're an Elizabethan playwright 'round about 1600 or just a bunch of schmoes with a TeeVee Web site circa 1997, nobody likes to feel that their efforts are unappreciated, their presence barely tolerated, their seemingly wry and clever comments treated like week-old doggie droppings.
And yet, here at the ol' TeeVee Mailbag, if ingratitude were water, we'd be smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Nary a day goes by that we aren't treated to a hearty serving of vitriol with a side order of loathing from the likes of you. And it just about breaks our collective hearts.
Because after all, what have we done to merit your scorn? We just run a little Web site, having a little harmless fun by aiming some well-deserved life-affirming malice at TV. We don't ask for much in return -- no money, no fame, no free and easy TeeVee groupies -- except for maybe, every now and again, a kind word. And snacks; we'll readily accept snacks.
But an occasional "Keep up the nice work, fellas!" or "Your repeated trashing of Tori Spelling really makes me chuckle!" -- that's too much to ask, apparently. Instead, we get diatribes, missives, unsolicited junk mail from people promising us that we can make thousands of dollars through some hare-brained pyramid scheme. And believe us when we tell you, it's driving us to drink, some of us more than we drank before these last ugly few weeks.
It all started when we got that e-mail from "Alex," a writer on the apparently rib-tickling orgy of comedy Over the Top. Alex, apparently eager to keep that cushy TV money coming, was quite perturbed that a good many of us Vidiots predicted Over the Top would be among the first three new shows to be canceled. Enraged to the point of blindness, Alex loaded up the scattergun and fired:
And frankly, we have to apologize to Alex. Over the Top wasn't among the first three shows canceled. Rather, it was number four.
We regret our error. Let us know if you need a job reference.
Speaking of Over the Top, the dedicated legions of Tim Curry fans continue to wage their jihad against us for our thoughtless treatment of the one-time star of "Clue." Roxanne Leigh unleashed the following Curry manifesto:
Now granted, we aren't tuned in to what is "hip" and "cool" and damn few of us know what time it is the world, but we felt compelled to write Roxanne back to suggest that since Over the Top has been dead and burried for two weeks now, perhaps she should learn to let go. And we also made sure to point out that it's "genius" -- not "genious" -- and that perhaps the National Honor Society standards in Houston are getting a bit lax.
Roxanne was not amused by our seemingly playful teasing.
And, really, how can you argue with that? Especially Madonna and that cure for cancer she's been working on.
It's hard enough to take Roxanne's criticism -- she's a National Honor Society member, after all, and none of us landed on her list of "geniouses" -- but then Ronald J. Whalen came around and dumped a bucket full of salt into our open, sucking chest wound:
Well, those stinging words sent us through a whole gamut of emotions. First, anger. Unpleasant? Sadistic? A bunch of stupid jerk-offs? Us? Just how does Ronald J. Whalen get off on telling us that -- the big, puffy loser! Why if he said that to our faces, we'd punch him right in the snout! Who would be the stupid jerk-off then, huh, buddy? Huh?
Then, denial. Ronald J. Whalen couldn't possibly have meant that about us, could he? He must have meant to send that to some other Web site. Besides, Steven Weber blew in "The Shining." And as good a writer as Tom Shales is, it doesn't change the fact that he's obscenely fat.
And finally, acceptance. Good God... we are bunch of mean, old, cruel sadistic SOB's. Knauss' hygiene is terrible. Jason Snell monopolizes the conversations at parties. Michaels -- unresolved issues from his childhood make him a thoroughly awful person to be around. Pete Ko? A sneering jackass. Ben Boychuk? A violent idiot. And James curses like a sailor, and is a Negro, to boot!
Have we all been so blind that we couldn't tell how offensive we were to sensitive souls like Ronald J. Whalen? Yes. It appears that we have been.
Troubled by this sudden rapture, cut to the quick, emotionally fragile, we received this letter from "Smilin' Jay," a subscriber to our e-mail list.
To which we say, et tu, Smilin' Jay?
Well, the people have spoken in a loud, clear voice. And to paraphrase Sally Field, you hate us. You really, really hate us.
Well, we know when we're not wanted. So effective immediately, we'll be disbanding the Web site and replacing it with something more acceptable to our readers' delicate tastes. So starting tomorrow, this address becomes the home site for "Hooray for Kitties! Your Online Guide to Raising Kittens." As for us, we're running away to join the circus.
We hope you're happy.
Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.
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