This page last edited
March 28, 2004
In association with Amazon.com
In association with Amazon.com
In association with Amazon.com
A.J.'s Classroom - Reviews 102: The Rebuttal

Welcome back!  Wow, is it really that time again?  In Reviews 102, you'll learn some more basic guidelines for sharing your thoughts about the cinema.  This class will focus not on an actual movie review, but on the rebuttal of a review.  In the world of movie reviews, a rebuttal is used to point out facts that the original reviewer may have missed, as well as to refute information contained in the original review.  It is a persuasive argument designed to, in essence, review the original reviewer!
     
As with any lesson, we need an example.  Fortunately, a rebuttal toward my sarcasm-laced review of Cold Mountain recently found its way to my in-box.  Here is that rebuttal, minus the identity of its sender, hereafter referred to as "Mr. X":

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From: "Mr. X"
To: <ajs_place_movies@hotmail.com>
Subject: the complicatied Civil War
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 14:04:35 -0800 (PST)

You couldn't be more right that the Civil War, which
"Cold Mountain" tells a story of, was a "complicated"
chapter in our national history. If you had read the
book, you may have learned just how complicated the
war happened to be. You would have learned that the
Southern ranks were full of poor men who had no
interest in fighting for the rich man's right to own
slaves. The central character was a deserter, but one
who had killed more men for his cause than would
probably shake your hand, and taken near-mortal
wounds. He had seen enough, and a serious wound was
still festering, but now that he could stand up he was
to be sent back to the front line by generals who had
no more concern for his welfare than for their slaves.
They cared only for keeping the power to control the
people in their land as it profited themselves, and
those who wouldn't fight for them were so expendable
that they would pay roaming gangs of thugs to kill
them off. He was from a mountain town which had
nothing to gain from their cause, did not own slaves,
and most who went off to fight came back wondering
why. It was a complicated war, alright!

Your trash-talk review states that you don't know the
half of it. It does, however, speak volumes on you.
Only the truest coward tries to elevate himself by
passing judgement on general groups of people who he
knows nothing of as "spineless, sniveling,
yellow-bellied cowards". Everyone with enough
intelligence to fill an acorn shell knows that your
just a crass, ingnorant, bully jerkoff trying to
distract them from those problems of yours at someone
else's expense. I would say that you are an insult to
the cause of American free speech rights, but facists
like you are philosophically determined to destroy
that right for all but yourselves. The people of this
country will never be stupid enough to let you
succeed, but there are countries like Bosnia which are
usually up for grabs. If you're not too yellow for the
challenge.
  
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Wonderful example, isn't it?  What you may notice first is that our dear "Mr. X" has neglected to follow many of the guidelines presented in Reviews 101.  Remember, the same guidelines for writing reviews also apply to writing rebuttals!  (For those who have not yet taken Reviews 101, you are welcome to attend at your earliest convenience!)
 
Now, what to do with this rebuttal.  In this case, the fix is simple.  Anyone know where things went wrong?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Yes, that's absolutely right.  After a strong beginning, "Mr. X's" rebuttal unceremoniously falls apart with its second half.  By deleting this last portion of the rebuttal, the dignity of the opinion expressed is maintained, leaving the rebuttal open to a thoughtful response, and hopefully, continued intelligent discussion on the topic.

My response to the first half of this rebuttal is as follows:

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Hello "Mr. X",

Thank you for the e-mail expressing concern about my
views toward the film "Cold Mountain" and the causes
of the Civil War. I value the opinions you brought forward
in the first half of your letter. However, I do challenge you
to continue to learn more about this chapter of American
history, as it seems that, like most Americans, you honestly
believe slavery to be an important factor.  I allude to this
fallacy in my review as part of "revisionist-friendly rhetoric
and broad, elementary school generalisations".  I sincerely
hope that you will broaden your learning beyond fictional
novels and movies, and have included a couple good links
to start the ball rolling.

http://www.us-civilwar.com/

http://members.aol.com/teachpdlaw/civilwar.htm

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Unfortunately, "Mr. X" didn't quit while he was ahead, and allowed the focus of his rebuttal to wander into questionable territory.  Now, I do not feel it would be dignified or professional to respond to this second half myself, so I've decided to let my dark and twisted alter-ego, B.J., have a go at it.  What better way to demonstrate the wrong way to reply to a rebuttal?  Get ready folks... here it comes!
   
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B.J.'S TOP TEN RESPONSES TO "MR. X"

10: What happened... the meds wear off?
   
  9: "ingnorant facist"?  Hahahahaha!  Try "ignorant fascist" ya lowzy speler!

  8: You forgot to mention "lily-livered".

  7: And guess what? Abe wasn't all that honest, either!

  6: Oh yeah?  Well, my dad can beat up your dad!

  5: I'd like to share a new word with you... SARCASM.  Lighten up and look it up!

  4: Mr. and Mrs. America, I give you proof positive that we must immediately  
      reinstate the draft!

  3: Bite my shiny metal ass.

  2: Can't we all just get along?
 
  1: You heard him, men!  Next stop - Bosnia!  Hup... hup... hup hup hup!
  
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Apologies everyone, sometimes I just can't control ol' B.J.  Suffice to say, don't let this happen to you!  B.J., back in your cage!  Mrmph, go- go!  Ugh, there.  All better now.

This concludes our lesson for today.  You'll be happy to know that, once again, you've all passed!  World class job, everyone!  I hope that you have found Reviews 102 to be both informative and entertaining.  Lastly, kudos to "Mr. X", the writer of our rebuttal example.  Without such writings, the internet would be a much less interesting place.

Until next time, from the id and beyond, class dismissed!


-A.J.

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