Roger Ebert’s “Jackass” Tweet Draws Criticism

By Donel DeFreese 06/22/11

Roger Ebert’s tweet did not sit well with friends and family of Ryan Dunn, who died Monday in a car crash.

“Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”
Photo via pa-smug

No stranger to pissing people off with his opinions, and perhaps the world’s best known movie critic, Roger Ebert’s tweets about Ryan Dunn, who died in a car crash Monday, did not sit with friends, family, and fans of the “Jackass” star. (See earlier story here.) Ebert’s first posting read: “His Porsche flew through 40 yards of trees”—and included a link to an article about the crash in which Dunn's car flew over a guardrail and caught on fire. Ebert’s follow-up comment—“Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive”—was immediately picked up and reposted on all manner of social media, resulting in such an outcry that even Facebook briefly removed Ebert’s page (which has almost 60,000 fans) for a violation of its terms of use. (It’s now back up, and Facebook claims it was all just a big mistake.)

The tweet landed Ebert at the top of Google Trends, and generated more front-page news than the accident itself. The arguments for and against the critic’s statement ranged from free speech issues to matters of civility and timeliness. Was it too soon, was the accident even alcohol-related—and what does Mr. Ebert know about drinking and driving? Oops, that last one might not hold water: Ebert is a recovering alcoholic. At first, Ebert stuck to his guns and restated the facts—Dunn drank, he drove, and two people died. Ebert has since softened his stance, noting on his own blog that perhaps he should have waited before firing off the tweet. But it is a sad fact that Ryan Dunn put up Tumblr pictures of himself drinking just hours before the crash. Is it ever too soon to talk about drinking and driving?

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