*******I’m going to go ahead and leave the comments closed on this just to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. I wanted to make a couple of points very briefly:
1) Nobody should be directing their ire toward Beth. None of this was her decision, just like Coral was not her decision. I have spoken at length with the parties involved and made my views known. I agree with much of the sentiment expressed here.
2) While none of us are thrilled about the situation in general, it’s important to note that we weren’t told that we can’t post the meltdown anymore. We were told that we could no longer publish certain comments. Erik alludes to this below, but we basically decided that we’d rather have no meltdown than a PG meltdown.
Tomorrow let’s just get back to talking some Bama football, aight? *********
No point in burying the lede here.
The Meltdown officially died yesterday, and it was not from neglect. Nor did the Meltdown pass into the void because of waning interest — to the contrary, it was and continued to be a great source of weekly traffic, especially from those outside the fandom who came to RBR specifically and only for this one weekly feature.
No, it was instead drowned in the bathtub by those with such powers under the guise of violation of terms of service and changing mores. The option was to whitewash the undiluted rage and poor behavior of fans freaking out, or to terminate it all together. (If you will notice the front page, in fact, the most recent edition has already been pulled, where Texas went full Texas. And I certainly was not responsible for doing so.)
As I’m not in the babysitting business, nor am I in the business of patrolling speech or wasting dozens of hours of time to get stories yanked, I let it die (its appearance had been a bone of contention for a few weeks now). One does grow weary of banging heads into a wall over it. It becomes exhausting to have Josh being harangued because I went to the mat for this piece. And ultimately it was fruitless to continue to explain why context matters.
So, I went back and forth on how to break the news to you, and how to frame it in as witty a fashion as I know how. I considered “contextual cluelessness killed comedy,” or, less charitably “hue-haired harridans harried, then hated humor.” (Admit it: social media has a uniform — Betty Page bangs, cat-eyed glasses, dyed hair, and 782-page tweet storms. You’re laughing because it’s true).
Instead, I settle now for just the brutal truth, as well as an explanation.
I’ve been with you for a dozen years now, and I try to give you only that, as you’ve earned: we are a corporatized, sanitized, homogenized product. For the fourth time in god knows how many years, new faces and diktats emerge, new guidelines are foisted on long-time readers, the verboten list grows, the heterodox becomes ever less welcome. Mala prohibita creeps ever more into the online spaces. The one thing that does not change, and has not changed in a dozen years, is the reason for it: purported change itself.
But, this is where my joking alliteration about context and humor matter. Because, at its heart, the context and manner not only matter, they are central here. And that is where the explanation of the Meltdown becomes necessary.
Ready for a brutal truth that lies at its heart?
Sports fans do not change.
They remain the same profane, impolitic bunch they’ve always been. Likewise, the context matters. Meltdown has always been about shining light on bad behavior. Were this site in the business of authoring sexist, racist, homophobic or other speech deermined to be on the Naughty List, that would be quite one thing. But, seeing as RBR was founded by two liberal bros, and yours truly is by every definition of the word a plain Jane, old school, civil libertarian Democrat with a multiracial family and a dead gay brother, that has not happened. Ever. Will not happen. Ever.
The -isms and -phobias decried in 2022 were no less acceptable or accepted in 2006: it’s not some grand revelation from 2022 to a benighted world of 15 years ago that dropping n-bombs is unacceptable. It was always not okay. Exposing idiots, making fun of their freakouts, is the point. It has always been the point. Meltdowns aren’t funny by dint of profanity or the naughtiness of the words themselves. They’re funny because the behavior is so poor. Mockery is the tonic for cretins everywhere, and has been since at least Aristophanes.
Thus, while Verge writes about Pogo tweeting “grotesquely homophobic” statements; this vertical cannot comment on the same behavior emerging from Miami fans. While Vox may pen an entire article on YouTubers using a racial slur, or antisemitism, Roll ‘Bama Roll is out of that business. And it is perverse, because we are in agreement that all are shitty things to say or be or do. The difference is, we did it by laughing at them, not authoring 2238-word thinkpieces on why self-evidently bad behavior is bad.
The context matters, because — if anyone cared to actually put it all together — we’re in agreement on how to treat people and speak to them. To use the adversarial language of tribalism, apparently the only way people know how to treat one another any more, we are on “the same side here”. We’re not a “them.” Our readers aren’t a “them.”
Racist freakouts, sexist jerks, and meathead gay-bashing sports fans won’t stop existing simply because the Meltdown is no longer with us. (If you put your fingers in your ears and say “la la la”, it really does not go away. I promise. Quelle surprise!) The only thing that has changed is that you will not have a glorious 8:00 a.m. thermonuclear jerk to mock, and we will no longer derive the traffic from exposing the world’s fools.
One might have even called such exercise for all those years, “reporting.”
Only we did it with derision.
We were laughing at them, not with them.
For those of you who came for the Meltdown all this time, those lurkers from other fan bases, and our long time readers who perused this piece with morbid fascination for 16 years, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
People haven’t changed, no matter protestations to the contrary. Faces do. Policies do. Political expediency does. And the acceptable manner in which it is permitted to to shine light on bad actors did.
Requiescat in Pace, Meltdown: 2006 — 2022.