Roger Ebert on Video Games
With one simple statement made in 2005, Roger Ebert was able to infuriate an entire demographic, gamers. Ebert stated the video games are "not art" and "inherently inferior to film and literature." He cited a reasoning that video games require player interaction whereas film and literature is controlled by the author only.
The storm stirred up by these comments included backlash from video game designers, publishers and gamers, many of which who publicly disagreed with Ebert's position. The debate lasted over five years, with Ebert coming out again in 2010 to state very clearly on his blog, "video games can never be art."
It was obvious that over time his position did not change, including statements asking, "Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art? Bobby Fischer, Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus never said they thought their games were an art form. Nor did Shi Hua Chen, winner of the $500,000 World Series of Mah Jong in 2009. Why aren't gamers content to play their games and simply enjoy themselves? They have my blessing, not that they care."
Roger Ebert vs Vincent Gallo
Starting what would become an official celebrity feud, Roger Ebert didn't make any friends when he published his review of the 2003 independent film "The Brown Bunny." After seeing the film do poorly at the Cannes Film Festival, Ebert went as far as to call the flick "the worst film in the history of Cannes."
While many agreed with the verdict, writer, director, producer and star Vincent Gallo had choice words right back. Gallo fired back by calling Ebert "a fat pig with the physique of a slave trader." The war of words continued with Ebert stating, "one day I will be thin and Vincent Gallo will always be the director of "The Brown Bunny."
Rather than letting it go, Gallo went on to add claim he'd put a curse on Ebert's colon. As strange as the comeback was, Gallo later regretted the move after learning that Ebert was diagnosed with cancer.
Roger Ebert on Ryan Dunn
After the June 2011 death of "Jackass" member Ryan Dunn in a fiery car crash, Ebert hastily tweeted, "Friends don't let Jackasses drink and drive." Though little was known about the cause of the crash at the time, Ebert assumed from a photo, which showed alcohol use, posted by Dunn hours before his death that alcohol was involved.
The comment sparked extreme backlash from both "Jackass" fans across the Internet and Bam Margera, a fellow "Jackass" member and best friend of Dunn. Margera fired back, "I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of sh*t roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents" and "About a jackass drunk driving and his is one, f*ck you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat f*cking mouth!"
Ebert went on to quote Margera and respond directly one day later with a posting on his blog. He offered somewhat of an apology, but stood by his comments in the end. "To begin with, I offer my sympathy to Ryan Dunn's family and friends, and to those of Zachary Hartwell, who also died in the crash. I mean that sincerely. It is tragic to lose a loved one. I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel. It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true. I have no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death. What I knew before posting my tweet was that not long before his death, he posted a photo on Tumbler showing himself drinking with two friends."
Roger Ebert on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party
No stranger to political controversies, Roger Ebert made no attempt to hide his liberal views, including a dislike for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, in a series of Twitter messages in early 2010. He asked, "How many Presidents have needed a teleprompter less than Obama? How many ex-governors have needed one more than Palin?" Ebert also called Palin out in a subsequent message that stated, "Palin made $100,000 for her Tea Party speech slamming over-spending and greed."
His comments were met with strong opposition from conservatives and Tea Party members, many who called Ebert out as showing his unattractive true colors, questioned his views as uninformed commentary and degrading him for being a multimillionaire who cowardly hides behind Twitter to impress his fellow elites.
Ebert didn't relent, even writing the Los Angeles Times with a full statement on his views of the Tea Party members. "I write about the TeePees because it's so sad how they've been manipulated to oppose their own best interests. I am a liberal."
Roger Ebert on Cinco de Mayo
Unamerican. That was the title given to Ebert in 2010 after he weighed in on a scandalous news story involving five teenagers at one California high school who were sent home for wearing shirts depicting the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. Taking to his Twitter account, Ebert wrote, "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."
Born and raised in Illinois, with one simple Tweet Ebert started a war with right-leaning fans, who fired back with death threats and many colorful words. Caleb Howe, one RedState blogger, responded personally, noting, "You know, @ebertchicago, I'm not as expert on flag etiquette as you. Tell me, which do I fly when you die of cancer?"
Ebert had little patience for the personal and crude attacks from those he considered part of the Tea Party, especially after losing much of his face and his voice in a battle with thyroid cancer. He replied, "Dear TeePee tweeters making fun of my cancer: You want ugly? For that you have to look at a mind, not a face."
Roger Ebert on Dick Cheney
As much as Roger Ebert blatantly remarks on various topics with inflammatory statements, sometimes his attacks come in tiny bits within his film reviews. This was the case when he called out former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney in 2008 as part of his review for "Taxi to the Dark Side."
Ebert started his critique of the film with a line from the movie, "We have to work the dark side," but also took a moment out before talking about the film to sneak in a stab at Cheney. "So said Dick Cheney a few days after 9/11, discussing the war on terror. Is this what he meant?"
Out of context, the comment is not completely horrible, but considering the film was about the use of torture techniques in the war on terror, he was essentially accusing Cheney and the Bush Administration of breaking U.S. and international laws with their illegal interrogation and torture techniques. As much as I'm sure he would have liked to expand on that, he did go on to actually review the film, giving it four stars.
Roger Ebert on Creationism
Not that he was really asked for his opinion, but in September of 2008 Roger Ebert posted on his blog a series of questions and answers about creationism. Ebert discussed everything including when the Earth was created, how dinosaurs and Cro-Magnon Man fit into the picture and everything you'd ever want to know about Noah and the Great Flood. He even provided a photo that claimed to show a footprint of a fossil that allegedly is 200 million years old, which Ebert cited as proof dinosaurs and human walked the Earth together.
Though none of these bits of information are new by any means, it was the statement made to open the blog post that turned a few heads. Ebert stated, "Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution."
Needless to say that his position on the matter, teaching creationism in schools, was not accepted by all. Interestingly enough, his critics used his own words against him in their responses. See back in 2005, Ebert also wrote an extensive rant against creationism, stating "Evolution is indeed a theory. Creationism is a belief, not a theory. In science, a theory is a hypothesis that has withstood the test of time and the challenge of opposing views. It is not simply somebody's notion about something. The creationist belief cannot withstand such tests and challenges; it exists outside the world of science altogether." Geesh, make up your mind already!
Roger Ebert vs Rush Limbaugh
Tired of hearing the often-scandalous comments that come out of Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's mouth, Roger Ebert had enough and posted an open letter to his fellow personality in early 2010. Ebert wrote, "You should be horse-whipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation."
He continued on to call Limbaugh out on the audacity of his claims that President Barack Obama was capable of stealing money donated with the intent to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Ebert went as far as printing a transcript of Limbaugh's comments as well as a whole slew of attacks on why Limbaugh was wrong.
"You are so cynical and heartless as to explain Obama's action in a way that unpleasantly suggests how your mind works," Ebert added. "You have a sizable listening audience. You apparently know how to please them. Anybody given a $400 million contract must know what he is doing. That's what offends me. You know exactly what you're doing."
Roger Ebert on Huckleberry Finn
Taking a departure from his film reviews to comment on classic literature, Roger Ebert took to his Twitter account in early 2011 to discuss recently announced changes to the Mark Twain novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." After publishers announced that instances of the N-word would be removed from a new edition of the book, Ebert Tweeted, "I'd rather be called a N***** than a Slave."
More than a few of his over 300,000 followers at the time had responses to that off-color remark and replied to his comment by calling him ignorant, disrespectful and questioning if he thought he could use the N-word casually simply because his wife, Chaz Hammelsmith, is an African American.
It was one response though that made Ebert change his tune and apologize. Urbanbohemian said, "fair point, from some1 who's likely to be called neither," leading Ebert to state, "you know, this is very true. I'll never be called a N***** *or* a Slave, so I should have shut the **** up."
Roger Ebert vs Conrad Black
Attacking the former CEO of Hollinger International, the company that owns the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert started quite the war with Conrad Black back in 2004. Ebert claimed that Black was using profits from the parent company for his own personal use. He continued on to state that the newspaper was suffering because if it.
As accusatory as those comments were, Ebert went a step further in exchanging nasty open letters with Black and calling for the newspaper staff to strike until the situation was resolved. Ebert spoke for the entire newspaper staff when he described their "building where even basic maintenance was ignored."
Black didn't bite his tongue in his replies, insulting Ebert for his "ingratitude" of a salary of $500,000. Black also denied all claims, despite other attacks from Ebert that Black's wife, Amiel, received "more than $1.1 million a year" for "no meaningful work in return."
Roger Ebert on The Last Airbender
Shortly after news broke in the summer of 2010 regarding casting for the "The Last Airbender," Roger Ebert was one of many to speak up regarding the ethnicities of the cast members. Produced by Paramount and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the film was a live-action remake of the animated series, which featured mostly Asian characters.
Ebert received a question about the casting and initially gave a fairly mellow response that stated:
"It was racist in the days when minority actors just plain couldn’t get work in anything but stereotyped roles. The situation has improved. If I’d been making "The Last Airbender," I would probably have decided the story was so well- known to my core audience that it would be a distraction to cast those roles with white actors. I’m guessing, but I suspect the American group most under-represented in modern Hollywood is young Asian-American males."
He later changed his tune when flat out calling the casting "racist" in a Tweet. Ebert also gave the ultimate insult in the end by giving the film just one-half star in his review.
Roger Ebert on Better Luck Tomorrowv
It wasn't a politician or a filmmaker that got Roger Ebert fired up this time, it was none other than a fellow critic. Standing up for his position, back in 2002 Roger Ebert got up and made a scene at the Sundance Film Festival after an off-color remark from another person at the screening.
After one viewer questioned director Justin Lin and actor John Cho about why they'd put together a good film that showed Asian Americans as "hollow," Ebert stood up and shouted back at the man. "You wouldn't say that to a white filmmaker," Ebert said, which instantly made others pay attention.
Though inflammatory, this Roger Ebert quote was very much in support of the film, which he later awarded four stars in his official review. Others took note of his statement and his praise, including Cho who explained, "What is interesting about this movie is, it doesn't say, 'This is an Asian-American movie,' it just presents Asian-American characters. The movie gives itself the freedom to paint negative portrayals."
Roger Ebert on Kick-Ass
What happens when a movie is hyped so much before its release, then is a big disappointment when it actually comes out? Roger Ebert is sure to speak out. That was the story with the 2010 superhero movie "Kick-Ass" starring Nicholas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz.
Giving the film just one star, Ebert called it "morally reprehensible" and not doing justice to the original comic book on which it's based. He widely panned the film as too violent and cheesy, noting that the premise is ordinary, but the carnage is overly deadly.
This critique was upsetting to the film's star Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who took to Twitter to confront Ebert. "It just isn't your kind of flick good sir. Don't worry about what other Chicago reviewers think. Get passed it... I got passed your review," he said.
He was not the only one though to stand up to Ebert, with Harry Knowles of Ain't it Cool News confronting Ebert as well with, "I have to say it is a little sad to see you go the route you did in your KICK ASS review. And don’t worry, while I suppose you’ll never really just get KICK-ASS… You’re no square in my book. But you may be in danger of being a ‘grown up’." Yikes.