It’s been weeks now since the demise of the Internet Movie Database massage boards and I don’t miss em one bit.

I mean *message* boards–see? I’m already forgetting what thought it was an addiction. And maybe it was, in its way for its while. The depths of dependency were sometimes dark — by god, I remember like it was a month ago, stopping at the library to return The Interview and Virginia Heffernan’s Magic and Loss, and taking a terminal to log in: Gmail, Facebook, the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, and IMDb (that was before you, this here blog, so no hard feelings, k sweetie?). I had become adept, ctrl-Aing, ctrl-Cing and ctrl-Ving faster than you could say Father Mulcahey. I wanted to know if I had mail, and I wanted to know if anybody faceposted something kitten…but what I really wanted to know was what the boards were talking about.

Because the boards talked about all things constantly, in ebb and flow. Movie boards to talk about screenwriting, directing, sound, cinematography, subboards for every movie, every tv episode, every character, every actor, every crew member. Be you God, Wilson the volleyball, the assistant best boy on Exodus starring Paul Newman, Paul Newman — all had their own dedicated discussion boards. Apocalypse Now was a board of great quality with never enough quantity. Kubrick boards were generally lively and intelligent to the end, Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining guaranteed deep discussion. 2001 was always busy and heated; 48 years later that movie continues to inspire passionate, expansive, insightful discussion.

The number of movie boards was practically effectively infinite, and then there were dozens of other well-attended discussion arenas that couldn’t have cared if the movies lived or died. Music, books, religion, science, sports, tv, philosophy, politics, and on. They had their own lives, a community consciousnesses connected through the boards. Philosophy was a bit slow, but Science was engaging and surprising, and you could always be sure to get a reaction on Religion. And Politics… especially in these unimaginably Trumpian times, Politics was a shit show of staggering proportions.

Overall, the forums resembled a big old primitive brain, not as complex but still pretty magnificent, at least for a human creation. Well, maybe not the Soapbox… but even that ill-scented hive of scum and villainy had a right to exist. Rotten as it could be, it’s still a durn shame such a humming hub for human hubbub was dubbed to be scrubbed. Mmmhm.

According to my profile, I registered in 2007. That’s believable, especially if you subscribe to the notion that time passes. I never used to… but then I sat and watched a carrot grow, and let me tell you. Some of us require our own proof: that was mine, and the result is that now today I accept the year 2007 at face value. What a long strange trip it’s something. Those message boards had been an open odyssey of exploration and awareness for so many, so so many…

…for some of us, at least. You wouldn’t believe how many aggressively destructive losers (I mean users, hm) never seemed to substantially change. Strange creeps from America to Pakistan (and yes, the occasional Canadian wretch), burbling impotent rage and with malice and forethought damaging lives because they could, exercising what surely seemed like the only meagre measure of remote-controlled authority their existences could muster.

The remarkable thing about many of them was their commitment to one identifiable name. Ben REDACTED because he’s a vindictive weasel, naeemak, these sorts of characters (nobody is who they truly are online), dfordiamondz, JackHapus, CapnDilty, they may have been hated, despised, reviled, or merely beleagured incessently by so many, but they did stay identifiably themselves. I like to think it was a generous admission of submission on their part, a public service so the mass bulk of other users could always find them for more slapping and heaping upon.

Whyever the reasons they stayed willing targets, there was certainly a sort of masochism in the electroair, at least on the lesser boards. It seemed as if a wave of ‘give your name a bad name and make it worse until you eventually become infamous’ mania ran perpetually unchecked. And of course, that was it exactly–the notoriety, the hate, the fact some people somewhere are paying ATTENTION. It was message board as unsanctioned therapy camp, and the attention-craving, self-hating and lashing out was sometimes ugly to behold. Did the occasional breakthrough make all the animal chaos and raw base humanity worth it? Are you really asking me that now?

That was, as I said, on lesser boards. On the late, great, ultimately suicidal Politics board, they kept their names the same because of ideals, and rock hard beliefs… because of godam REASONS, mister. People there meant what they said, and they were dying to represent, to be a voice, to be anysomeone. Changing their names would be counterproductive : why submit yourself to an endless crawl out of obscurity, forever proving and reproving yourself, instead of building upon your bad name?

I should clarify — few if any ever managed to actually keep their original name. After sufficient abuse reports, even the barely-bot-moderated IMDb boards doled out chastisements. First was a red warning reminder re: the posting ‘standards’, and the level of severity went up from there. Penultimate punishment was the dreaded history wipe, every post you ever made erased from existence. The next step was total nukage (as nobody ever called that devastating blow). You’ve already guessed it: your board identity and account fully deleted. It was worse than detached from the matrix. You weren’t even cut loose drifting in space. You. No. Longer. Existed.

For a few minutes at least. The neat thing was how this utmost penalty was a vaunted trophy for some. Why not? Accounts were free and infinite. You could spew the darkest bile of your inner superultrasshole in anonymous public, receive the maximum personal feedback of total deletion, and immediately register a freshie with almost exactly the same name.

Don’t get me wrong, I dig the gag. It’s within the rules, and I’m not innocent of playing loose within the confines myself. Should I be ashamed to admit that, where those maniacs constantly changed accounts and kept the name, I kept the same account, first registered as Ant_Man_Bee (I’d recently discovered Captain Beefheart; years later I changed it to tin_teardrop) and instead switched screen names hundreds of times over the, so I learned, subsequent nine years? At first I did it as a challenge to myself : come up with a unique name all regularlike, forcing creative inspiration and so on in service of a post-modernist monolith of impermanent artistic endeavor no one would ever see, not even me. I’d enjoy the process, but the whole thing as a whole thing would never exist. (You may ask, was I doing this in Paris in the 20s? No, stupid, but you might be forgiven for thinking so.)

It was years later before I learned of ActWon’s tireless work keeping track of such important things. Turns out my frivolous efforts were, in their own fashion, monumental indeed; after all, not many users warranted their own category… Oh stop asking, yes it was fun. And for the time I thought it a big part of my life. But since it ended and I don’t much care, I’m finding the ease of transition into post-life too easy to diminish. It does make me mildly lament the lot of some of the true board addicts, those poor narrow souls who for whatever reason (shy, disabled, trapped in loveless marriage, possessed of too encrusted a soul for public exposure) claimed to have only the boards for communication and outlet.

Though IMDb gave us several weeks’ notice (during which discussion raged over where they should all end up, and several new boards were coined), for a community that over years had seen, among uncountable other things, couples unite, friends meet irl, angry dispute turn to fondness, at least one suicide, and that loser criminal Ben harrass and doxx people and befoul whereever he inflicted his cyberstench–I don’t care what he claimed to be, disabled or Pakistani. He posted pix to make himself look like a real person (with a giant wang) so who’s to know? All the community at large agreed upon was that he was an online piece of shit. But wildly infamous in a small pond, and that’s what twisted fucks like that want.

So where is he now? Jumped to another forum no doubt, as most have. I’m happy not to be doing that, so I’m shoveling Ben to the back, so far back that as far as my perception is concerned he no longer exists. As far as your perception cares, you lucky youse, he never did exist. And as far as his limited perception knows, he’s still all there only ever was, is and will be at all. For all we know he’s methodically destroying another innocent psyche as we speak, like he did with poor silly Ashley… Part of me has to believe I occasionally broke through to some meagerly rational part of him and he’s a better person for it. He sometimes intimated as much… I don’t care anymore. The people whose existences he’s making worse care, and I wish their Ben-beleagured lives well.

But not ours, so cheers! Drinkum if you gotum.

Online forums are like an anthill. You can smash it, bust it up, scatter it wide, them ants’ll just make another community. The dissolution last month of some of the most popular discussion boards on internet 2.0 were a disturbance to some, a life-changing deal to others, and an absolute invisible pip to most of you. Nobody’s life matters to everyone, but everyone’s life is pretty important to itself. Reminds me of something I read in Peter’s Quotations,

“If an Aborigine drafted an IQ test, all of Western civilization would presumably flunk it.”

Stanley Garn said that, and following it in parentheses is presumably one of Dr Laurence J Peter’s own additions: (An intelligence test sometimes shows a man how smart he would have been not to have taken it.) Nice one, Dr Peter. What it means, of course, is that what makes waves for you might not make waves for me. But there’s enough waves to go around, and they’re all real, real waves. If we accept that everyone’s as real a person as we are, well… then I guess things start to get complicated.

On the boards, the mental warfare was always complicated. But aside from the wealth of potential sociological education now never more to be gleaned, I lament the loss of a community I could always rely on for movie matters immense and teensy. For now where will I go to investigate the meaning of the numerous apparent fourth-wall breaks in The Revenant? or explore whether Travis Bickle was cracking up the whole time? How do the three seashells work? What really happened at the end of Clue? Where will I go to argue that Michael Douglas’s character died falling through the glass roof in The Game, or discuss the painting at 26:44 of Speed Racer? How was Warren Oates so damn good in Two-Lane Blacktop? How amazing is the ending Of Beware Children at Play? or Society?

If I want to find someone to talk about Legend Of The Phantom Rider, it won’t be anyone I know, or anyone they know.

Now I guess it won’t be anyone.


to PongLongPiddyPang
to Miggy_B_Nono
to Motorscooter
to Splang
to MaxTwentyfourCharacters
to TwentyNineCubits
to PresentTenseOfShatner
to AllTheTea_inShatner
to Shatnastic *
Shatner Database by dragonspinach
For those interested in tracking the presence of IMDb accounts past and present
with “Shatner” or a variation in at least one of their usernames
to PorkinsCantHoldIt *
to Moogiecookie *
to Hambang *
to tubeythetube *
to bubeythebube *
to Bachube *
to Novacobain *
to Cobrapants *
to Scumjeetrananwerjs *
to ForeignTonguewich
to MrNothere
to Mad_up *
to Matt_Sterbait *
to Shishkeshatner *
to MrFineSandwich *
* Missing names supplied by another User
to Shiitarzan
to KnifeKnowHow
to IMDaBuser
to FantasticPlaneteer
to SundayMorningSidewalk
to Amanofwealthandtaste
to Thunderslab
to Monkle
to glockenheiselrampinhooper
to IMDb_Sweeney
to Pantalon_the_dry
to Oopies_a_ball
to BannyDoy
to Snorklebot
to TeepeEbunGhole
to Slappyslippy
to Dew_Drop_Inn
to Gungalingus
to BantuStevenGoldstein
to BurnsandStickleton
to RogieVachoncake
to ChingerlickinFicken
to JoeTurkelsGlasses
to suckamo
to PunchyMonkey
to DensitysElbow
to Hobero
to Peup
to uberPeup
to DrPeuper
to Count_Peupula
to Peupcheut
to Sneupypeup
to Peupeupaneup
to HangonSleupy
to Peupseup
to Alleyeupeup
to TuglinRayCarmody
to Grog_for_Gorgon
to Yobeerme
to Beermy
to nubble *
to YabbaDabbaDoobie
to SotrayNojivac
to StumpycooCoo
to Torquetorque
to Baloneyonie
to BalzacDeep
to MenAreFromMarsJookysFromUranus
to Pootkin
to ilopillllli
to snoochybootchie
to Lobstertaco
to Lambo_FirstBaaPt2
to LaugherOfWeeps
to skunkmadness
to smartydumbdumb
to monchichit
to ScrappyDoodoo
to HulkSmaaaaash
to DrBoomstick
to Aguywhowearsdresses
to KingOfThePopes
to BradDouriffic
to JoeyLawrenceWhoa
to SheLikesMalakasDino
to TheBrownLiquor
to TheGoldenDong
to Cunky
to hI6
to Latin_for_AuGratin
to Kibgle
to Schnargbargle
to Gorlack_the_Magnizicaf
to Chacha_a_Gogo
to JohnnySelfreferentialusername
to Clownpatter
to Superiorinferior
to Oolly
to Shatnerthustra
to ErnestBorgten
to RockChewerRedmouthTheBrave
to Goonygugue
to Slobberroskithegreater
to BillySol
to BaconOnBacon
to ArtistObliviousThe
to Monkeybut
to Mozamibique
to Worriedabouthebeaver
to KingTit
to Mongo_isPawn
to Smorganborgen
to NappyCamel
to Malamuter
to HarryPants
to Unbehagen
to GogglesPizano
to SeezeChandwich
to BorbOrigmE
to Gorlan
to Spookiuka
to BJtheBear
to Shanklirn
to BobbyBoogie
to Niggapleze
to JohnJohnnyJohnJohn
to BabyFoofaneu
to MilkyWayMoses
to Goongagaloonga
to ShatneredMyPants
to RevengeOfTheShatnerds
to MeAndMyShatner
to ShatnerUpandKnockemdown
to AsknoStrately
to Gosling_vs_Seagal
to Neilbeforezod
to smurfinsmurf
to FuknyChompo
to GooGhOb
to VascoDaBLAMMO
to TheBeastNeedsMoreTorque
to Bargshnargle
to yourlittlepony
to Bavariathebeer
to MyLittleBuddy
to PorkypadapadapadapaPig
to Squshy
to Bubblenugget
to Nodontron
to KingOfThePopes
to TOdayaNdeverydAY
to OldStylePil
to Foofanew
to Hummanahummana
to Slammo
to DoWhatThouWiltShallBe
to IAmPostingThis
to SandwiseHamwich
to MiggyBNono
to Booleanpingpong
to OriginalHitsbyOriginalArtists
to StaffMeetingOfRa
to RollingInTheDerp
to Pizzatacowich
to Oneoftwofuzzyends
to Walternuts
to Batsiht
to BunnyHooHoo
to QuantumBobby
to theOtherWhiteMark
to Hammergut
to Handsandwich
to SpongiformRegatta
to JamesBondWillReturnInPantyRaid
to Borbortheclownfacedone
to Slammo
to GrasperGrohns
to Smorgasborgcollective
to EllEmenOhp
to BonoboCardigan
to SlorchToTheLeft
to TheWickedSandwichOfTheWest
to Fingerfalloff
to FireEsclarm
to YouFeelShameThenYouGetOut
to Warmony
to Rockadoodle
to threedimnensionalfish
to AssistantDA_Mudshark
to HappyDooDahDay
to WmShakespearesTheTempestBledsoe
to HairPeace
to RollOutTheBanana
to ThePassionOfHammyHamster
to Bananapirhana
to Assvole
to Latrino
to Phyofam
to Tacopalypse
to JohnSmithjonesjr
to Markatthemoon
to BartyBilly
to boomBOOMBoomb
to Wibberlywobberly
to Marmotasciuridae
to clozapineontherocks
to ChimpanA
to MortalTeacozy
to OxygenJones
to torpleTORP
to Croutonandon
to DirkGentile
to AllfortheloveofyoU
to ZzaPpPaA
to ScoobyDoobyDoobie ? *
to Trisplet
to DorfOnDrugs
to MeltonBridley
to HeyChacha
to JudahBenWa
to StickyAnson
to Puppypartay
to ZutroyKalbotBlechenstein
to MulroneyMcDermot
to DayNaDa
to NeverBurpedISwear
to TheoryofMu
to Arrrrandarrrrr
to SweetbladeJohannson
to Grimblegromble
to Brblebrrble
to Scrooloos
to Soccerkickingpacman
to HammyHamwich
to shishkarobert
to TheSacredOneWhoAscends
to VivianTheVenusianfromVesuvius
to Fivefourthreetwoetc
to Pantsypants
to TheHandleStealingVandal
to abitStabby
to CryMeALiver
to JoeyJeremiaujh *
to SuperIcky
to Yawnperor
to Tingtangalang
to AustinTaeshus
to Slartibillybartyfast
to sosaysyou
to NutsOthepArtYrobot
to Towtoe
to BringSprucesteen
to Markfromthebible
to exigere
to applebrownbernie
to onetoetwotoe
to ZorbaTheFurrier
to Pyackmiann
to YahooSpurious
to DrFrankensteins_OnStar
to BobaHitMeOneMoreTime
to JackskinSnakeit
to KnightIndustriesTwoThousand
to NuttyCooCooSuperKing
to GertFrobesEarlobe
to CoalSack
to Unvious
to Boolsheet
to PobodysSherfectNithead
to SilenceIsFoo
to Frankenstance
to BoisenberryBostwick
to FuzzybooboO
to purpleShatnerple
to PitterPatnerOfTinyShatner
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to LeadingScientist
to JuneCarterCredit
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to Lookintomy
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to TheyCallMeMrBelding
to FullTangClan
to Erkel
to ThePenultimateAirbender
to TheFlaredTaper
to ClassyJack
to DontDreamItBeeIt
to BoomBoomWashington
to Paddy_whack
to HonkyDonky
to BubbaBubalu
to ScutumUnguent
to Pastafazoola
to JackHapus
to Turtleclub
to PeanutButterJerry
to Primuscapere
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to leatherpooch
to HeadOfHerman
to Sprickenzee
to TenFootSandwich
to ThatsMeOnTheLeft
to Scaredydog
to Motorboatmotorboatmotorboat
to CamaroCut
to Fourmm
to UncleGumpy
to Doneandgonedone
to Tonguefree
to Roobadoo
to MarisaPtomaine
to TheModestWazoo
to CrazyStinky
to TheNeverAsker
to gROwNBAbY
to MicronautStratastation
to NuclearBiotron
to TheCheezler
to fubaby
to superballboy
to I_am_blue
to Animourous
to MissTarantulation
to zwagtun
to Wytpowr
to Aflafla
to SharePee
to HangPaw
to kfissh
to cannibaby
to BigbigBird
to Kittytwister
to snugglable
to yousoloveme
to Limpyarm
to Looklick
to Powerpaw
to Becaged
to Harbledargy
to FancyPantses
to Klegs
to BigEdHead
to Gilbertest
to Lookerup
to SmallColdOne
to Chooglin
to catsass
to wetsnack
to AskyTheTeller
to Xamdu
to Rodenbachcrisis
to Softuch
to ContextualEyes
to IHaveALittleMonkey
to Krelmore
to OneOneIsOne
to OPeeChee
to KanchoKancho
to TheBoogieManGetsDown
to pilill
to CaptainMarbles
to NeonPoobah
to Hawrooo
to Atheixmas
to Porpoiscupine
to SpaceWhat
to KimJongMeKimJongYou
to Walt_Samatta
to PutinerThere
to Yo_estoy_jodido
to Aiyiyi
to Perfectless
to ObscureAppelation
to UncleMorePour
to Conkala
to DayOfTheBrokest
to RockRockRockRockRocknRoll
to WayneGibbous
to TheWhomper
to GarySpiveyLovesYou
to Hase_by_gelitin
to ScrappyDu
to Rhiaphomet
to MoreIcePlease
to Superduperduperman
to HighSpeedCrashatner
to KingOfSandwiches
to DishatnerpanHands
to ExactlyInfinity
to CassiusGoldstein
to UwandaPSathis
to ZutroyBlech
to CurlySpam
to TofurkeyPorn
to CornelWest
to HnyahHyah
to HearMeHearME
to MyNameIsSomething
to CosmologicallyConstant
to nemo_saltat_sobrius
to TheSelfishElvishShellfish
to tin_teardrop
to LoisOfTheLowes
to FastAndBulbous
to GungaDinfluenza
to USvsUSA
to TalEWacker
to ThinkingMachineSuperComputer
to TheBlahBlahKing
to Scratchyscratchy
to DonutsMakeMyBrownEyesBlue
to BurtCocaine
to AdamWeishaupt
to TorTheSlor
to MiloTazz
to EddieVanChowder
to Begending (?)
to ThrowYourHamsUpInTheAir
to vx1257225144
to OccipitalJones
to BangShangaLang
to iaMNoTAMaDMaN
to AnitaChickensandwich
to Replicantaloupe
to TenOnehundred
to SirRender
to WhatTheFtrumpck
to RecalcitrantParabola
to Tronaldump
to The_IsSilent
to MrBunBun
to TheBigGibeht
to ChickenDuckWomanThing
to StraightUpYo
to TruckinOn
to JimmyMudpieLoopyStewartJrEsq
to BillD_Thwall
to Abunchasome
to SmallViselikeObject
to OlSnakepants
to RogerTheFishwife
to aBathosphere
to Smellanie
to HappyMarsden
to SurfinCIA
to HeyLamp
to EyeballTown
to GrantCanyon
to Bright_Bart
to DepheatingRub
to IMDbyebye
to RayRaggy

R.I.P. us all, every one.


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