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…
I 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.
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?
Until next time, push the button Frank.