Loud Squawking Feedback

It’s the end of the semester, and it’s been a difficult school year for all of us, so I thought a nice way to kick off the summer would be to share some of the volatile, hate-filled e-mail I’ve gotten in response to things I’ve written. Surely there is no finer way of dealing with angry letters than by spreading the venom around to others.

Apparently, some editions of “Snide Remarks” have really annoyed people. And thanks to e-mail, you can now dash off epistles of fury in a matter of seconds, without giving yourself time to collect your thoughts, take a few deep breaths, and perhaps consult a spelling dictionary.

All of these letters are being reprinted EXACTLY as I received them. I have not added or changed anything, except for occasional parenthetical remarks that are obviously me talking.

First we have a gal who was writing to complain about how I made fun of Shakespeare in my Feb. 2 column, but who was also thoughtful enough to take a few moments to make fun of the way I look. I quote:

And ah, Eric, you ever think about putting a new picture on the front of your column? It only adds to the lameness of your not-so-funny article.

So we see the sort of constructive criticism that BYU students are willing to give. Here was a girl merely requesting that I obtain a new face. What smaller favor could there be?

Though I try to avoid it, I occasionally wind up using “sarcasm” in my column. And sometimes, readers like to “turn the tables” on me and use that sarcasm back at me. Here’s a letter written in response to my Jan. 26 column, in which I mentioned that women are far more obsessive about their weight than men are:

ha, ha, i’m still busting a gut from your last ‘snide remarks’ column. did you pick up on that sport, that was sarcasm? i found your article to lack humor and your focus on looks tends to be a bit high schoolish. am i wrong in voicing my opinion? … your sexist comments about women were very insulting, but i’m sure plenty of the ‘men’ at this institution would applaud you on your comments.

This e-mail, decrying sexism, was written by a man, thus demonstrating the time-honored BYU tradition of Getting Offended by Proxy. This is where a group gets made fun of, and they think it’s really funny, but people who AREN’T part of that group write in saying, “How dare you make fun of that group.” If I wrote a column making fun of blondes, the brunettes would get offended in their behalf, and the blondes would think the column was funny (assuming someone read it to them).

Another point on this last e-mail: When did it become OK to ignore all the rules of punctuation and capitalization when sending e-mail? I must have missed that memo.

But at least he used decent grammar. The women who got upset when I made fun of their precious “Titanic” — and it’s only been women so far — have apparently been so over-wrought with emotion and anger that they have almost forgotten how to even speak English.

What you are about to witness is, I swear to you, an actual e-mail, written by two freshman girls — it took TWO people to write this letter — and they were dead serious. Please brace yourselves. I have italicized my favorite parts.

Usually my roommate and I read your column and laugh, but this time, you went too far with your attack on Titanic. You for one, criticized girls for seeing movies over and over. They don’t just see Titanic, there’s a little known fact there that girls have feelings more than typical guys do, and they happen to enjoy movies that catch their attention. Some people have noticed Titanic more, it is a movie that not only shows a nice love story, which girls happen to love, if you haven’t noticed, it is also a history of a very important event in history. It is good for people to know this, and to see this history, to realize the mistakes that people make, in order that they are not made again. [Oh, THAT’S right. “Titanic” was an EDUCATIONAL film.]

So maybe the love story isn’t true, with Rose and Jack, but it added to the dramatics of an actual story, and we feel that it is important that people see this. If you are offended by the sex scene in it, I can see how that could be, that is not the whole movie. Having Rose sketched naked isn’t the whole movie either, and people seem to only see that, and not realize the truth. Many more points are shown, the actual sinking, the amount of deaths, and the prized things that were associated with it.

In your criticizing of Leonardo DiCapprio, it seems as though you are jealous of his looks, or of the fact that girls happen to enjoy seeing him act. This shows that possibly you are jealous of an actor, which would be quite natural of a guy who has been in tons of movies, and made more money than you will in your whole life. He also has more girls swarming over him than you could ever imagine. Sorry if you don’t like this movie, but we feel that maybe you shouldn’t be so critical of it when so many other people enjoy it.

There is little I can say about this letter. I responded to the authors and suggested that they were so emotionally involved in the movie that they had let their emotions do their thinking for them (something women are not generally known for). I said if they had disliked “Titanic,” they would have thought my column was funny, but since it was the emotional pinnacle of their entire lives, and since Leonardo is so cute, their emotions wouldn’t let them find any humor in it.

This time, the two girls wrote back separately. Here’s what one of them said, in part:

As for your comment that Leonardo’s acting talent being marginal, I see him in a whole lot more movies than I’ve ever seen, um, well, YOU in. So obviously he has a talent more than you do, hu? [Oh, brilliant argument. I don’t see him writing for any newspapers, do you? Hu? Hu?!]

How dare you say that I’ve ‘Let your emotions take over and dictate for you what’s funny and what’s not.’ You have no idea what my emotions said about that movie, or about your column. The main reason we wrote you an email was for what you said about the MOVIE. Not about Leonardo DiCapprio. [Like writing angry e-mail in defense of a movie is less crazy than writing in defense of an actor.] You ought to re-read things before you go and try and put someone down, which is exactly what you have done. … For myself, I will no longer read your stero-typic column, for I feel no need to see you find pleasure in putting others down. Isn’t BYU a place we come to build people up? I guess it is in all ways except for Eric Snyder’s opinion column.

I agree. This Eric Snyder person, whoever he is, should be stopped, and I’ll be the one to stop him, too, or my name isn’t Eric Snider.

The other girl said this:

Personally I don’t see how making fun of anyone or anything can be humorous to you. I guess I am just the type of person who doesn’t critisize. I am not critisizing your article, I am just commenting on it.

Thanks for the clarification.

There have been more e-mails, of course, in which people practice Getting Offended by Proxy. Some of them also participate in other BYU activities, such as Missing the Point, Not Getting the Joke, and Jumping to Conclusions, such as the conclusion that when the national anthem is playing, it is impossible to think patriotic thoughts and keep walking at the same time. But there’s no time for that now. I’ve got to get ready for summer, which is my favorite time of year, because winter really stinks.

Dear Eric:
How dare you make fun of Winter!

I thought there would be feedback from the people whose letters I mocked in this column, but I never got any. Maybe they were afraid to write to me anymore.

I wanted to mention the letters I got about the National Anthem/flag ceremony column, which I alluded to in the last paragraph, but there just wasn't space. I urge you to read it anyway, and to also read the complete details of the other letters referred to. They're so much fun.