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Violence Shocks Critic Who Received Death Threats over 'Dark Knight' Review

There's no comparison, says reviewer Marshall Fine, an Ossining resident, between the online furor and the tragedy that took place at a Colorado theater.

Marshall Fine was taken aback by death threats this week after he wrote a negative review of The Dark Knight Rises on RottenTomatoes.com.

This morning, he was shocked by the deaths at a premiere of the movie in Colorado.

"There were so many nasty comments which they construed as death threats," said Fine today. "There were also some fairly misogynistic comments towards Christy Lemire from the Associated Press, who had the second negative review, that they stopped the comments and are rethinking their comment policy, in terms of whether or not they should allow anonymous comments anymore."

Fine said he was taken aback when he started seeing the responses to his review—and by the media attention.

"I was surprised at the volume of the thing—how big the response was to my review—it did surprise me. I got a lot of emails from friends saying 'Are you okay?'" said Fine. "I personally don't feel as though I was ever specifically threatened. I don't feel threatened by anonymous comments on a thread on a website. I didn't get threatening emails. I didn't get telephone calls or anything. It's pretty easy to be courageous and make threats anonymously when you're sitting in your basement on the Internet."

Now, he is watching the Colorado shooting story unfold online and on television at his Ossining home.

A Huffington Post blogger, he wrote about the contrast this morning.

"It's tragic and it says a lot about how easy it is to get these kinds of weapons and go into a theater and do something like this," said Fine. "I think that when all the facts come out, we'll find it had nothing to do with the movie itself. This is a guy who was looking for an opportunity to do something and thought, 'Where can I find the most people in one place while they're showing that first showing—that'll be packed—that's where I'll go.'"

On his website, hollywoodandfine.com, Fine wrote today regarding the tragedy in Colorado and the online threats against him. Here's the opening:

Me and Batman: Some perspective

As the minor media frenzy about me being the first critic to post a negative review of “The Dark Knight Rises” reached its mini-crescendo on Wednesday (when I actually had six requests for interviews – five of them from Canadian outlets – about so-called “death threats” on Rotten Tomatoes aimed at me), I kept thinking to myself, “This must really be a slow news week if I’m the headline.”

As if to prove the point, actual news happened last night in the form of a tragedy, when someone walked into a suburban Denver multiplex and killed more than a dozen people. And it happened at a midnight show of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

So let me say two things: First of all, while there is nothing yet in the news reports about the deranged individual who shot those people, I’d be willing to bet there was no relationship between his crime and the movie itself. He would have done this anyway; “TDKR” simply offered a location where he was guaranteed to have a crowd on which he could open fire.

Second, while I’ve been held up this week as the “victim” of death threats, at no point did I ever actually receive a personal threat. Anonymous and violent rants posted to Rotten Tomatoes (and even a couple to my website)? Come on – I mean, I understand why Rotten Tomatoes closed down comments for the movie because some of the stuff posted about me and Christy Lemire of Associated Press was pretty vile.

And I understand why Indiewire used the words “death threats” in their headline. As we used to say, that’s what sells newspapers (or, in this case, drives page-views).

But I did not feel threatened. As I said in a couple of interviews, there were no crowds with pitchforks and torches storming my house. These were just people spouting off, venting anger; I happened to be the target. But it’s not as if I was receiving phone calls or even emails directly; I was the subject of anonymous posting. It’s easy to have courage when you’re sitting alone at the keyboard in your home, behind the cloak of anonymity.

Read more on his blog post at hollywoodandfine.com.

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