Christy Lemire, a smart and respected critic for the AP, didn't like The Dark Knight Rises. Her review was well-written and reasonable. When she posted it on Rotten Tomatoes she was greeted with comments like this:
The Bat Jihad strikes again. Lemire isn't the only victim; Marshall Fine was the target of a ton of abusive language and death threats. Reports Matt Singer at Critic Wire:
Some commenters approached their death threats with a wink, quoting Bane's line to Batman that Fine's punishment "must be more severe" and that they didn't give him "permission to die" yet. Others were more direct in their hatred. One comment, since removed, kindly requested Fine "die in a fire." Another from "Jake B," showing remarkable restraint under the circumstances, just fantasized about beating Fine "with a thick rubber hose into a coma." Way to take the high road, Jake.
Several Rotten Tomatoes commenters vowed to destroy Fine's website, Hollywood and FIne, and they appear to have succeeded, at least temporarily; the site was unavailable for much of the afternoon, no doubt thanks to the massive influx of server-crushing traffic. As of 3:00 PM, the site was back up, and Fine's review ("The third Batman film in Nolan’s trilogy and also the weakest") was still standing.
Rotten Tomatoes was forced to go to tweet a reminder that any commenters who broke their basic terms of service (which I'm sure include things like 'Don't make death threats') would be banned from the site. That they would feel the need to do this only hours after the first negative reviews hit shows the force of the onslaught. There are thousands of hate comments still standing, with many having been deleted by a surely overworked moderator. And the Mujahabateen keep coming.
I'm familiar with these people - they've been coming after me ever since I dared find Batman Begins disappointing and subpar. I cemented the problem by giving The Dark Knight a radically low 8.5/10 instead of the only acceptable score, a 10/10. And they've been sharpening the knives in anticipation of my coming The Dark Knight Rises review - you may have seen one of them spamming the comments on multiple articles with a treatise that begins "DEVIN FARACI IS A CUNT."
We joke about furries and hentai pervs and steampunks as awful fanbases, but in reality they don't hold a candle to this special and disturbing group. Ignorant, enraged, often misogynistic and fundamentalist to the extreme - James Rocchi's 3 star review of the film at Movies.com has led to a deluge of commenters furious he only said the movie was good, not the greatest thing to ever grace screens - this modern Batman film fanbase has actually become frightening.
This is the end game of the sickness of fandom. Passion is one thing, but it can be twisted into something dark. That's happening here. These people have tied their identities and self-worth into Nolan's Batfilms so strongly that the smallest slight feels like a deep, personal attack. These sad, mentally unhygienic people lash out with fury. It's ugly and sad and makes me ashamed to be a nerd, to share a pop culture space with these people.
I know that our fan culture can be better. It can be supportive and inspiring at the best of times. But every year I see less of that and more anger and hate and ugliness. I want to remind you guys of my Take Back The Nerd: Five Ways To Be A Good Fan piece from back in May. Let's aspire to be a great community that, at the very least, doesn't threaten to kill people who don't like movies we haven't even seen yet.
UPDATE: Rotten Tomatoes has turned off commenting on reviews for The Dark Knight Rises. They will be instituting a Facebook-based commenting system to make sure cowards can't spew hate behind anonymity.