One Little Tweet

It’s hard to believe one little tweet could have caused such uproar. Now, to be fair, in the grand scheme of things the firestorm that erupted in my tiny corner of the social universe wasn’t even a blip on the radar. But for me the events that unfolded on Monday, April 7, 2014 were much more than I bargained for.

Let me give you a wee bit of backstory…

Frank Conniff b&wI am as big a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as you’re likely to come across. I go back to 1991 with MST3K. I own every single episode, host Turkey Day marathons and even opened a fan art shop on Café Press. All that to say… I love TV’s Frank.

Frank Conniff is one of the great comedic minds of our time. His performance as TV’s Frank, the lovable, goofy second banana to mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester is brilliant. I don’t say that lightly. It truly is brilliant.

I started following Frank Conniff on Twitter on March 17, 2010. I was honored, humbled and not just a little bit shocked when he returned the follow (I still have the email which is how I know the exact date.) I knew what I was signing on for. Frank, like many comedians, is a left-wing liberal. I’ve known that for years. Even though that’s not my particular brand of politics, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of making with the funny I don’t let it bother me. I have friends who are conservatives, liberals and all points in between. I think we shouldn’t be defined solely by our political affiliations.

There’s always been a tweet here or there that comes into my phone that makes me think “Oh, Frank” and then I go back to my day. But lately TV’s Frank’s tweets have been a bit more on the angry side of liberal than I’m keen with. So I decided I would stop following Frank on Twitter. I found it sad that someone as funny as Frank felt compelled to express so much anger. But it’s how he feels so he has every right to express it.

Since his was the 5th Twitter account I ever followed and because of the place MST3K holds in my life it kinda felt like a big deal. It’s really not a big deal for Frank who has more than 33,000 followers (I barely have more than 60), but for me it felt like something more. So I got on the Twitter machine and composed a tweet mentioning it and went back to my day.

Much to my surprise Frank actually re-tweeted me! But it makes sense when you understand that comedians tend to thrive off negative commentary. It’s part of what make many comedians great. If I had tweeted that Frank Conniff is a comedic genius he wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

What happened next was completely unexpected. A few of Frank’s followers began to respond. Over the next few hours there were more than 15 responses, 20 tweets favorited (some of mine, some of the responses – some even Frank favorited!) and I had 4 new Twitter followers.

Again, in the grand scheme, this was pretty much nothing. But in my world it felt like a deluge. Some seemed to share my sentiment. But most comments ranged from sarcastic jabs to general meanness. To be perfectly clear, Frank never made a single comment.

I even had one guy on Twitter ask me to join forces with him to destroy Frank and his liberal cohorts. I’m not sure what that even means or how one would use Twitter to accomplish such a feat, but I declined. I’m not interested in “angry conservative shtick” either.

Frank Thank You Tweet

It really got me thinking about how our society connects appreciation of art as an endorsement of all the artist’s world views. You see, I still think Frank Conniff is an amazingly talented comic. Rejecting his tweets isn’t rejecting him. I’ll keep on re-watching MST3K and Cinematic Titanic all the while enjoying the brilliance of TV’s Frank. I just won’t be following him on Twitter. That’s all.

What I wonder is if our society has become so politically polarizing that any disagreement becomes an impenetrable wall? I don’t want to turn this post political, but when it comes to film and television do we operate in an “ignorance is bliss” mode? Do we enjoy an artist’s work as long as we don’t know that they support/oppose… fill in the blank?

I don’t know anything about Francis Ford Coppola’s political views. But I do know that The Godfather is the greatest film ever made. Would I think less of it if I found out we disagreed on politics? Not at all.

Would I think less of him as a person? That’s impossible to answer. I don’t know him as a person. I don’t know Frank Conniff as a person either. I only know them as artists. I will let their art speak for itself.

Whadya think, sirs?

Comment below or tweet at me, it’s apparently all the rage (@CMSelby). You can also now like the Captions Facebook page.

Until next time, push the button Frank.

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4 thoughts on “One Little Tweet

  1. Chris, I have often pondered the notion that by watching a movie or show, liking on FB or following on TW, etc., etc., I may actually be supporting darkness. For example, if I know that a certain actor has a drug or alcohol problem, does my ticket purchase help support his delinquency. After all, none of us are as far away from each other as we may think. It seems that in this world, no matter what we participate in as part of our economy, we may be connected to something ungodly. Maybe the Amish and Mennonites have had it correct all along. However, until God reveals to me that they do, I will be in this world bringing the “Light” that I am in, that is God through Jesus, to whatever I am doing, wherever I am and however life is treating me. (1 John 1:7) Each step of the way I will be listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know how long to stay and when it is time to go. I believe you were doing the same thing in this situation. Yet, just because God has asked us to go, doesn’t mean He won’t bring us back at a later date to shine his light once again.

    Question…has art simply become a place of darkness that Christians go to hang out with their crucified flesh where it is easy to begin decaying? If so, it would be easy to say the same thing about our support of various sports teams, wouldn’t it? Or, are they still fields ripe for the harvest?

    1. Greg, I wonder if we feel the same about the great artists of history. Does my appreciation of Vincent van Gogh’s art endorse his lifestyle or world views? Does it make any difference that he’s no longer alive? Does my mechanic need to share my views on politics or religion to effectively fix my car? Does a chef need to do the same for me to enjoy their food? Should Christians only drink milk from Christian cows? Or how about the flip side? If a mechanic does hold my same views but can’t fix my car should I still bring it to his garage? If a restaurant has bad food, lousy service and a terrible atmosphere but I know the chef agrees with my religious views does that change the fact that the restaurant stinks? If a movie communicates a message I endorse but the acting, writing, directing and cinematography are terrible do I overlook that because of the message? I think your’re right. It’s something we all have to decide for ourselves how important each issue is and how we respond.

  2. I totally agree. I always find it interesting when people decide they can no longer watch movies or television because they have found out something out an actor’s personal life. One could make an argument for no longer shopping/eating at a particular place because the company gives a portion of revenue to an organization that goes against their moral values. As a consumer you have the right to choose where your hard earned money goes. But whether the entertainer carries the same political and/or moral values of a person does not negate their talent or the quality of their entertainment. One of the things I love about watching movies or television, or reading a really great book, is getting completely drawn in and lost in whatever it is. I loved watching Leonardo DiCaprio slowly lose his mind (or was it already lost?) in Shutter Island. And who didn’t love watching Jennifer Lawrence become Rosalyn or Amy Adams become Sydney in American Hustle. While DiCaprio is pretty vocal about his stance on US energy, I don’t really have any idea what their personal or political beliefs are, and, quite frankly, I don’t really care.

    Now, you always get those people who want to say something like, “What if they thought it was okay to kill babies?” Well, that’s just dumb and I can’t enter into a reasonable discussion with you if you’re going to be stupid.

    As Christians I think there’s certainly a line that we have to draw when it comes to what we let into our minds, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of what those things are don’t usually come in the form of great performances or talented athletics or notable literature.

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