Film critic Roger Ebert is taking a lot of flack for his controversial tweet in regard to the death of Ryan Dunn. Apparently, pointing out that drinking alcohol and driving over 100 MPH is a bad idea rubbed some people the wrong way. Granted, it was a dick move to post so soon after Dunn’s death. Dunn’s friend and Jackass costar Bam Margera said as much, replying “Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat fucking mouth!” Even Ebert himself has apologized for the timing of the tweet. But aside from that, he is sticking to his guns on Dunn, maintaining that “he drank, he drove, 2 people died.”
Regardless of your feelings on the comment, you have to admire Ebert’s willingness to speak his mind. And it’s even more impressive, considering the man literally cannot speak. But due to his opinionated nature, Ebert has often found himself at the center of controversy (No, I’m not talking about the fact that he gave Phantom Menace four stars). And thanks to the advent of Twitter, it’s become even easier for him to stir up trouble. With that in mind, here are five of Roger Ebert‘s most controversial comments.
You could almost hear the rage building in the hearts of gamers as they read the headline to Ebert’s infamous blog post, “Video games can never be art.” The post consisted of Ebert bashing a medium of which he knew nothing, and had no desire to learn about. The response was swift, and surprisingly cordial. According to Ebert, only a handful of the nearly 5000 comments were rude. Most were well thought out, constructive criticisms. Ebert went on to admit the stupidity of commenting on the subject given his complete lack of knowledge, although he still believes he is right. At least when he acts like a fool, he admits it.
In the wake of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, President Obama urged Americans to make a donation to the Red Cross relief fund. So that people could easily find a link to the Red Cross site, it was posted at the official White House website, whitehouse.gov. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh called into question the need to visit the White House website in order to get to the the Red Cross, insinuating that money could be misappropriated, and those who donated could end up on the DNC’s mailing list. Ebert was outraged by the accusations, and commented in an open letter that Limbaugh “should be horse-whipped for the insult (he has) paid to the highest office of our nation.”
In May of 2010, Roger Ebert weighed in on yet another controversy that had nothing to do with film. At Live Oa High School in Morgan Hill, CA, five students were sent home for wearing American Flag tee-shirts and bandannas on May 5th (a.k.a. Cinco de Mayo) out of fear it would offend students who were celebrating their Mexican heritage. The move set off a firestorm of complaints in support of the kids who were sent home. Ebert disagreed with the support, tweeting that…
@ebertchicago Kids who wear American Flag T-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.
His tweet set off a firestorm of its own. Reasonable objections to his position were drowned out by a swell of hateful replies mocking Ebert’s cancer and subsequent facial deformities. Ebert replied to those mocking his misfortune…
@ebertchicago Dear TeePee tweeters making fun of my cancer: You want ugly? For that you have to look at a mind, not a face.
In case you haven’t already figured it out by reading the previous entries, Roger Ebert is a bit of a lefty. As such, he’s not big fan of the Tea Party movement. In one particular tweet, he referred to its members as “Teabaggers” and “nutjobs.” When confronted about using a pornographic term to describe his political opponents, Ebert claimed he had forgotten “teabagger” had a pornographic connotation. Critics pointed out that he had used the term in his reviews as recently as 1998. In all fairness, it’s possible Ebert forgot what the term meant, considering he spent the past decad fighting cancer and having his entire jaw removed.
Earlier this year, Ebert decided to chime in on the decision of NewSouth Books to publish a version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with the word “nigger” completely removed and replaced with the world “slave.” As an ardent opponent of censorship, Ebert was none to pleased with the decision, and took to Twitter to complain, claiming he’d “rather be called a nigger than a slave.” Despite the context, it didn’t take long for the outrage to grow. Eventually, Ebert backtracked, tweeting “I’ll never be called a nigger *or* a slave, so I should have shut the **** up.” That’s a fair point. My only question is if you’re going to start dropping N-Bombs, why would you bother to censor an F-bomb?