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Roger Ebert on Video GamesWith 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 GalloStarting 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 DunnAfter 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 PartyNo 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 MayoUnamerican. 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."
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