COMMENTARY | Roger Ebert and Ryan Dunn had little in common before this week. Although Ebert reviewed Dunn and his Jackass co-stars in their three movies together, there weren't many other reasons to link the two together. As such, when Dunn was killed in a drunk driving accident Monday, the last person expected to cause a controversy about it was the most famous film critic in the world.
Nevertheless, Ebert started a firestorm when he wrote on Twitter that "friends don't let Jackasses drink and drive." By attacking Dunn for his drunk driving just hours after his death, it caused many fans and followers to attack him. What's more, the backlash got so bad on Ebert's Facebook page that it was taken down by the site for a few hours.
However, the critic did not retract his statements or apologize for the timing. Instead, his next Tweet alleged that when Perez Hilton posted about his comments, most of the readers agreed with Ebert's take on the incident. And now that his critics briefly got his Facebook page suspended, he is likely in no further rush to apologize.
Since it has not been officially confirmed that Dunn's crash was the result of drunk driving, Ebert's rush to judgment would appear off. Although most reports are leaning toward drunk driving as the cause, the comments could have been held off until there was official confirmation. After all, Ebert would look even worse if there was another cause found later on.
But if Dunn is found to have been intoxicated enough to have caused the crash, Ebert's commentary would likely have more merit. However, the merit of such inflammatory statements is easier to find days or weeks after someone's death, not hours afterward. In addition, it doesn't help the critic's cause that he used Jackass for a pun, as a fatal car crash is no place to involve puns or tired Jackass jokes.
Yet because of the alleged reports that Dunn was drunk -- and because he posted a photo of himself in a bar hours before the crash, according to TMZ -- Ebert can still defend the actual point of his Tweet. But even if he hadn't made a joke about the late star's show and waited more than a few hours to comment, he would still have come under fire for such a statement. However, it probably wouldn't have started this much of a firestorm if he had waited a while longer.
As fans mourn Dunn and bash Ebert all at once, it is clear that this story has gone beyond being about the death of a celebrity. But will the online war of words continue to overshadow the more serious and tragic aspects in the days ahead?
Hollywood Reporter- "Roger Ebert Defends Controversial Tweets About Ryan Dunn's Death"