Being a writer of both humor columns and theater reviews, I am afforded twice the opportunity to make people hate me. Here are some samples of the vitriol that fills my mailbox. Enjoy!
First we have a reaction to my review of Hale Center Theater’s “The Other Side of Love,” an alleged comedy in which the audience is invited to watch the first 10 minutes, then write out their own script based on how they think it will go from there, and then watch to see if they’re right (trust me, they are). I reprint the response here exactly as I received it:
“I think that you need to think some things over buddy! You are a college student writer who most undoubtedly has absolutely no experience in the theatre world, much less the knowledge to critique a show! Nobody cares what your rating is on the show, most people come to see the show because you don’t recommend it, show’s how much people value your expert opinion!!!!”
This person hit the nail right on the head. Except for the parts about my being in college, having no theater experience, lacking enough knowledge to critique a show, and most people seeing shows because I don’t recommend them, he got everything right. An insightful lad, and not afraid to use exclamation marks!!!!
A letter I got regarding “Snide Remarks” began this way:
“I certainly hope that the Daily Herald doesn’t actually pay Eric D. Snider for the column that he writes.”
Right, because as with so many businesses, most of the work here is done on a volunteer basis. We’d hate to see the Daily Herald succumb to the capitalist fad of paying its employees
Another time, I made a reference to the Boy Scouts and their practice of knot-tying. This was highly offensive to a certain reader:
“… I was furious, then discussed, [I’ve been discussed quite a few times, too, so I know how that can be] and then sorrowful that someone like yourself that can create a column in the first place, would stoop so low. Boy Scouting is a whole lot more than tieing knots. … [She goes on for a while, ignoring the fact that I never said knot-tying was ALL there was to Scouting, just that it was something commonly associated with it.] You sir, have touched a nerve that should ripple through out this whole valley….that is, if anyone takes the time to read your column. [Translation: “Since I didn’t like it the first time I read it, I can only assume everyone else shares my tastes and never reads it.”] You owe all of Scouting a strong and profound, ‘I am sorry, for my stupidity.’ [I actually owe a LOT of people that apology.] I will be interested to see if you are couragous enough to write it in your column.”
OK, I’m sorry I said the Boy Scouts teach knot-tying. I hereby retract that highly libelous statement.
Then we have one of the good-humored residents of Evanston, Wyo. Here’s what he had to say after the second time I poked fun at his fair city (town motto: “We Got Us Some Fireworks!”):
“It amazes me that you continue to allow Mr. Snider the forum in which to savage the good community of Evanston and the state of Wyoming. … He is an embarrassment and a liability to The Herald and the city. I am astonished that the governing body of the city has not expressed outrage over Mr. Snider’s remarks. [Maybe the mayor of Provo has better things to do than worry about a local columnist who makes jokes about tiny towns in other states.] … Regrettably, Mr. Snider’s seditious sense of humor will only strain the relationship between citizens of Evanston and Provo.” [Yeah, that’s pretty much a United States/Soviet Union thing in terms of scale and importance.]
But the stupidest letter I ever received — and there was a lot of competition in this category — came from someone who said that I “did not give ‘Steel Magnolias’ (at the Villa Playhouse) the credit it deserved.” She then went on to extol the virtues of this play, ending with the admonition that people should ignore me and just go see it.
The thing is, I ALSO raved about the play. In fact, every positive thing she said about it, I had said, too, in my review. Here she was railing against me for not giving it the credit it deserved, but then she was no more complimentary of the show than I was.
It takes a special kind of person to write a letter so bold in its incoherency. I just hope that special kind of person starts taking her medication more often.
I was in the practice of responding to angry letters on this Web site, but I seldom had the chance to do so in the paper itself. So it was nice to do it now and then.
The woman who wrote the stupidest letter I've ever received was, it turns out, on the Daily Herald's editorial board for a while -- and the policy is not to print letters written by people on the editorial board. Somehow hers slipped through the cracks, though, and on to the opinion page. The opinion editor was angry when he discovered this, because the woman should have known better. She is obviously not known for her rational thought, though.