Cooling Down the Hot Takes

I’m going to let you in on a secret: thinking up something interesting and juicy to write a blog post about four days a week is a hell of a challenge, particularly when that's only part of my weekly work-load for the site. It’s a good challenge, for the most part, and is continuously pushing me to write about stuff I might not otherwise, and when I find something in my daily life that seems like it might make for a good blog post, I pursue it aggressively. 

For example, last week I saw a trailer for Daddy’s Home 2 and discovered, to my surprise, anger and horror, that the movie co-stars noted racist, homophobe, misogynist and anti-Semite Mel Gibson as Mark Wahlberg’s dad. I was viscerally angry. I damn near shook with rage, so I figured that would be worth writing about for the blog. 

So I wrote a piece whose title reflected both my feelings about Mel Gibson’s comeback and the article's overall tone: “Fuck Mel Gibson and Fuck Daddy’s Home 2.” I was pissed and I sensed that others might feel the same way. I was right, but not necessarily in the way I had hoped or anticipated. 

Oh sure, plenty of people shared my disgust towards Gibson and anger at Hollywood for apparently welcoming him back. But a lot of people felt anger and rage towards me instead. I have only myself to blame. When you write a piece called “Fuck Mel Gibson and Fuck Daddy’s Home 2” you can’t exactly be shocked when some people respond to it with, “Oh yeah, fuck you for judging and condemning Mel Gibson and not every other artist who has every gotten into trouble or done something unforgivable, you fucking hypocrite.” 

And that sucks. I don’t want this to be that kind of a site. I don’t want this to be the kind of site where people see some ginned-up hot take that gets their blood boiling so without even reading the piece they post something apoplectic and vitriolic about what a piece of shit the article’s writer must be for publicly expressing an opinion they don’t agree with. 

I realize, looking back, how provocative the post’s title must have been, although I am continually surprised by the number of people eager to defend Gibson on moral as well as creative terms. I love the commenters here because you take the time to actually read the articles you’re commenting on, and are eager to have a smart and civil and respectful conversation about the stuff that obsesses us. 

I don’t want that to change and I realize that, as the site’s owner, Editor-in-Chief and sole writer, I play a huge role in establishing the tone not just of the site but also the comments. So while “Fuck Mel Gibson and Fuck Daddy’s Home 2 was the most-read and shared blog post in this site’s history (by a great deal), I’m not going to write pieces like it in the future that are so overflowing with rage. 

I will continue to rail against the Mel Gibsons and Donald Trumps of the world, but not at the expense of this site’s civility. I want this to remain a happy and welcoming place where commenters can have lovely conversations that do not devolve into online screaming matches almost instantly, and being more civil and restrained myself seems like a good place to start.

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The Big WhoopNathan Rabin