John Cusack bitches about cranky, obsessive grammar “trolls”

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Okay, don’t hate me, but I had absolutely no idea that John Cusack was on Twitter. That makes me think highly of Twitter, honestly. I wouldn’t have thought that Cusack would be into it, but apparently he is, and apparently, he’s a horrible speller. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Cusack has birthed strange words like “breakfasy” and “hippocrite” and has given a more literary title to his new movie: “Hot Tub Tome Machine.”” Most people ignore his horrible spelling, but some people bitch and complain, writing things like “If you’re going to be political, maybe learn how to spell Pakistan, and all words in general.” This whole thing has become such a big deal (probably not) that the NYT interviewed John about the Grammar Police and how he feels about them (below is my edited version):

JOHN CUSACK tweets with his iPhone and, much like the characters he plays, his style is fast and loose. “I’m pretty new to it, and if there’s a spell check on an iPhone, I can’t find it,” he said by telephone. “So I basically get in the general ballpark and tweet it.”

“The vitriol was so intense that at first I didn’t think they were serious,” Mr. Cusack said. “Because, like, who would care?”

They do. A small but vocal subculture has emerged on Twitter of grammar and taste vigilantes who spend their time policing other people’s tweets — celebrities and nobodies alike. These are people who build their own algorithms to sniff out Twitter messages that are distasteful to them — tweets with typos or flawed grammar, or written in ALLCAPS — and then send scolding notes to the offenders. They see themselves as the guardians of an emerging behavior code: Twetiquette.

For his part, Mr. Cusack has refused to be silenced. In early April he issued an ultimatum, threatening to block from his account anyone who sniped at his spelling or grammar.

It didn’t work. The people he blocked would return with new account names, “and they’d behave like cranky, obsessive trolls,” Mr. Cusack said.

He has been trying a new strategy, he explained by e-mail: first, he spells things wrong on purpose to get the critics riled up, and then “I blockthem executioer style now with no warning!!”

[From The NYT]

Well… how do I put this mildly… TEAM CUSACK. I’m all for good grammar and everything, but I’m a horrible speller and when I’m writing, I often make grammatical errors and copyediting mistakes. Sometimes I pick up on them myself, sometimes one of you will point out a mistake. What bothers me is a Grammar Police person who is really snide about pointing out a mistake (of mine or anyone else). I don’t care if someone is like, “Hey, psst… it should be ‘convoluted’ not ‘convuhiuh’.” That’s fine, and thank you for pointing it out, and I correct it and it’s cool, everybody’s human. What I hate is the attitude of “Don’t you proofread you dumb bitch?” By the way, if you write that, I’m probably going to ban your cranky, obsessive troll ass, just like John.

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55 Responses to “John Cusack bitches about cranky, obsessive grammar “trolls””

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  1. Melanie says:

    I think I am in love with him.

  2. meme says:

    He’s nuts and I like it! His sister is great too.

  3. KateNonymous says:

    I’m kind of over John Cusack and have been for a while…but I have an iPod Touch and find it really hard to type on. I’m always hitting the wrong key, no matter how careful I am. It would be less of a problem if I could use a stylus, but the device doesn’t work that way.

    So while in general I’m in favor of accurate spelling, we all make typos from time to time, and some devices make those mistakes easier.

    Plus, “flawed grammar” on Twitter? Really? With only 140 characters, there’s limited ability to form sentences that could be diagrammed. Sheesh.

  4. Celebitchy says:

    lol @ “if you write that, I’m probably going to ban your cranky, obsessive troll ass.” I do this too, so if we make a typo or error be nice! It’s not easy to write fast and Kaiser writes way more than I do. I would like to see those grammar trolls try to crank out 12-15 stories in a day and do it without errors.

  5. e says:

    I can see both sides. On one hand, people could be nicer about pointing out grammar and spelling mistakes. On the other hand, I have felt like ripping some people a new one after reading some of their “writing.”

    Our standards have gotten so low. Even teachers don’t use grammar properly. I also think this post is a little hypocritical. I seem to recall some unkind remarks on this site about Lohan’s illegible tweets. She is obviously an idiot but it is not fair to slam her and then complain when you get slammed yourself.

  6. Melanie says:

    Grammer freaks should be banned. They are like that kid in school who likes to correct the teacher. NERDS!

  7. ering says:

    About 75% of my job is being good at grammar. That being said, I try not to comment on other people’s terrible grammar, especially on the Internet, but I’ll certainly never follow John Cusack on Twitter.

  8. Sarah says:

    Never, ever proofread Kaiser, you’re hilarious off the cuff!

  9. I have been in love with this man for far too long, and he just keeps getting better…

  10. Icecat says:

    What bothers me the most about this is; Who has this much time on their hands? Who freaken cares? It’s twitter, it’s not like he’s writing a thesis or something.. sheesh. Mind your own business people..

  11. Cheyenne says:

    e: Our standards have gotten so low. Even teachers don’t use grammar properly.
    =======================================

    Tell me about it. Time magazine once printed a letter written by a teacher to a parent of a fifth grader:

    “John is failing in his studies he act as if he dont Care. John wont to do his homework at all he had a assignment to do and he fell to do it.”

    After that letter was made public the school fired the teacher. She went to a law firm to sue the school. A guy I know works in that law firm and he told me when they saw the letter, they refused to take her case. None of them wanted her teaching their kids.

  12. Chelly says:

    A lot of ppl shoot u down or talk crap over typos or misspellings especially on this site. It’s a way for them to feel btr abt themselves, over the net! Blah. Anyway, I loved JC in One Crazy Summer…my absolute fave movie! ;-)

  13. Gwen says:

    Everyone makes mistakes.

    That said, it’s very frustrating to live in a culture where many people have trouble speaking their own language. There is a lot of anti-intellectual sentiment out there these days and I don’t think it benefits anyone. If you want people to take your ideas seriously, you need to be able to communicate them properly, and that requires a certain precision of language.

  14. Green Is Good says:

    “if you write that, I’m probably going to ban your cranky, obsessive troll ass.”

    Ha ha ha ha!!!!

  15. d says:

    oh, god, gwen, I’m with ya 100%. drives me crazy.

  16. Zoe says:

    I think the bigger picture for me is that when someone doesn’t take the time to check their work, it comes across as lazy and if you aren’t going to bother to make it the best it can be, why should anyone have to read it? The truth is that bad grammar actually detracts from anything good a person writes, because they can’t understand what word is supposed to be in place of something misspelled and they focus on that instead of being able to see the full picture of what is being said, or if something is poorly punctuated it doesn’t flow well and again detracts from the writing. I am appalled when I see major sites not proofreading, especially when they have the money to hire someone to edit. Like CNN.COM, where I see spelling errors constantly on the headlines alone daily. There really is no excuse for it. Especially in this day and age where even the less fancy bloggers have computers with spell-check. Caring about the quality of how something is written is just as important as what you actually have to say, and if you truly value what you have to say, you should make it as accessible and well-rounded as possible. It’s a mistake to just say ‘Well, I’m a bad speller and everyone else should just deal’. Grammar trolls wouldn’t be out in full force if people just took two seconds out to hit a spell-check button so others could actually understand what they are saying. Heck, even writing comments, there’s a built-in spell check. Come on folks, it’s not that hard. If you don’t have the skills, get the computer to do it for you.

  17. simplicity says:

    LMAO

    I had a post in a member group, and it wasn’t only my spelling, but my grammar that was problematic. I feel fortunate when I have spell check, or additional help. I know I need it.

    And when I’m tired, posting and making continual errors, “I want to ban my own cranky ass.”

  18. Rachel says:

    I police grammar. I was an editor, and it’s just ingrained. However, it has its place. And the internet is not that place. Especially when so many people use their phones (like me). You type things in and fire them off, then realize you made some ridiculous typo. Who cares? It’s the freakin internet, not a treatise on the state of our economy!

    P.S. John, I love you, but please wash your hair. XOXO

  19. evs says:

    I normally am not that big of a stickler, but at least at first his tweets were verging on incoherent most of the time. Maybe it has improved, but it was seriously so bad that, even as much as I loved John Cusack, I had to unfollow him and even made it hard for me to take him seriously. These were not just “Oops, I hit y instead of t” errors.

  20. ElizabethM says:

    With regards to my own writing, I’m a spelling Nazi. With regard to the writing of others, I don’t care how they spell as long as the typos don’t affect my ability to read their work. Having said that, I, too, was excited to find out John was on Twitter until I read some of his tweets. They are ridiculous in how poorly they are written. I was stunned at how bad they are. This is John Freakin’ Cusack and I want to see smart writing (love his brain!)! But alas, it seems he is okay with the typos (which are probably more about keying errors, rather than spelling errors) so I doubt he will try to improve.

    However, unlike the douchebags who troll the Internets desperately trying to make people look bad, I simply don’t follow John’s tweets. No complaints to him, no heckling from the peanut gallery, no expecting him to conform to my wants…..I let him be him and I leave him alone. And badly spelled tweets aside, I still think he’s a cool guy who I’d enjoy having beers with.

    He’s a great guy and doesn’t deserve to be treated so poorly. Good for him for taking a stand.

    Conversely, if you want to read some clever, well written tweets, check out Caprice Crane. Funny, funny lady.

  21. Melanie says:

    @16. Where is the built in spell check of whence you speak, my lady?

  22. Lala11_7 says:

    I understand both sides of the story…however, being someone who comments or post on the internet…I have the viewpoint of…what I write is a representation of who I am…and…try as I might, I can’t leave an error unchecked…(if I catch it…if I don’t and can’t edit it…oh…well)

    I won’t go after someone who does post mistakes or bad grammar…but that’s just part of my paradigm of being a positive reinforcement in this universe…rather than being an a**wipe who gets off on others mistakes…

  23. anon says:

    I agree with Gwen and Zoe here.. (Melanie, it’s grammar! No ‘er’, please tell me that was on purpose) It’s the Idiocracy we seem to live in now and so many aberrations of the English language exist that people think the misspelled words are correct.

    In professionally written stories (high profile blogs or news sites) grammar should be proofed without fail. I can’t tell you how many times I have read the most elementary mistakes in stories from news stories in many cities. It’s depressing. Either the editors of those sites are lazy, not bright or no one employs editors anymore.

  24. becky says:

    CB, I had to do produce huge volumes of writing when I worked for a newspaper. I also do medical transcription and type anywhere from 8,000 to 11,000 lines of transcription every two weeks (at 65 chars a line, that’s a lot of typing). I am expected to produce a medical document that is 100% accurate, and grammar mistakes make me look like a sloppy, lazy transcriptionist. I could lose my contract. Some of the typists I work with are simply embarrassing with their mistakes and are doing a disservice to the patient, doctors and nurses who have to read that permanent record.

    That being said, while there is a lot out there that depends on good grammar and English skills, John Cusack on Twitter is not one of them! Yet seeing huge media outlets publish headlines with grammatical mistakes is embarrassing. No wonder most people (including me) do not know or cannot learn a second language; it’s imperative to know your own tongue before learning another. I suppose it’s best to know when to say something and when to just let it go. I say John Cusack gets a pass; CNN, not so much.

    @e, Cheyenne, Gwen, Zoe: Well said.

  25. manda says:

    those were total typos, not spelling mistakes. No one thinks “breakfast” is spelled “breakfasy”. I can’t stand people like that.

  26. Juice in LA says:

    think someone said this earlier, but he could just be a horrible typist.. like me. I type so poorly, but fast.

    ok I should read all your comments first… good thing you don’t have a “redundancy police” here at CB!

    TEAM CUSACK!

  27. lucy2 says:

    Agreed, on professionally written pieces, I expect correct spelling and grammar, but on posts or stuff like twitter, a typo or two isn’t the end of the world. I type REALLY fast, and though I usually catch spelling errors, have been known to skip whole words!

    The only time typos/grammar issues bother me is when the post is illegible due to the errors, or when someone is correcting another person, or worse calling them some variation of stupid – if you’re going to call someone else out, you’d better make sure you get your own stuff right!

    I find it a bit funny that it bothers John so much he talked to the NYT – why not just ignore them? As for those setting up additional accounts to criticize him after he blocks them…wow. Get a life!

    I do like him as an actor, though his recent films haven’t been great. I keep hearing bad things about him in real life though. :(

  28. padiddle says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else find “Hot Tub Tome Machine” to be incredibly hilarious?

  29. Mairead says:

    Oooh – what a splendid idea John has given me, I might just join Twitter just so I can unleash the Twetiquette :D

    Everyone makes typos and in tweets, status updates and comments it’s not the end of the world. Unless you forget a crucial letter in the word ‘county’ for example :lol: But deliberately misspelling words and using indecipherable “txt spk” is really unfair to your reader who may not know your shorthand. And in the case of bloggers or celebrities such as Cusack, is likely to have followers who aren’t fluent in English and will make it impossible for them to read. Personally, I think that sort of nonsense is the height of conceitedness.

    On the spell-check, it’s not on Internet Explorer *ptoooee*, but it is on Firefox, Safari and Chrome. It’s like the little squiggly red line you get under spelling errors in Word. You right click on the offending word and it will give you corrections to select from.

    One note of caution; when it comes to grammar “spiel cheque is knot always you’re fiend”
    *fires a copy of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” at Melanie’s head* :p

  30. Lois says:

    Besides grammar and spelling mistakes, which I sometimes make, pronunciation mistakes in live interviews are annoying. My big gripe is peoople who say “I AXED you a question,” or “You can’t EXCAPE from death or taxes.”

    People complain about newcomers to English-speaking countries having trouble communicating, but as another poster said, it must be tough for them when they’re trying to learn from us, and we can’t speak or write our own language properly.

    Commenters on websites get more leeway in regard to spelling and typos, but don’t people who post the gossip items on established sites like this one get paid a salary to produce legible writing? Or do Kaiser, Perez, etc. write this stuff for free? Not that I notice a terrible number of erros on this site, and of course there must be time constraints.

    But if the writers here are paid, that means their responsibility is greater when it comes to proof-reading, right?

    You expect a dentist to be able to fix a tooth more skillfully than your buddy Raz could, and you expect a professional writer to know the difference between “they’re,” “their,” and “there,” while you’d give your buddy a pass if he misspelled one of those in an email.

  31. Jeri says:

    T & Y errors the worst, I think not, I find the easiest errors to make are hiting the key beside the one I meant to hit.

  32. becky says:

    Hah! See, I found a typo in my own post. Mea culpa. But, I do proofread when it counts. lucy2, I know exactly what you are talking about. I tend to type a sentence, decide to phrase it differently, and accidentally leave words hanging around that have no business being there.

  33. hellen says:

    Sad to say, Cusack has lost his Cute Quotient and seems to be on his way to Randy Quaid-ville.

  34. Kim says:

    In school perfect grammar is key. On Twitter who cares. Twiiter is for idiots anyways. Sorry John I like you but who cares what anyone is doing every moment of the day.

  35. Melanie says:

    @ Mairead. I misspelled grammar! LOL! Well, like someone famous said, “People who can spell a word only one way lack imagination.” That is a paraphrase (I think) Now I am going to get the hell out of this thread because I am scared.

  36. Joseph says:

    My Mom tried to quit smoking with those white inhalers…she died of lung cancer at 56.

  37. danielle says:

    Team Grammar Police! An occasional typo or misspelled word is one thing, incoherence is something else entirely. When it gets that bad, personally I wonder if the person is all that bright. And no, I didn’t spell check this (lol)!

  38. Meimei says:

    I’m from Finland, and my first language is pretty much as far from English as possible.

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth trying to spell properly when even the native speakers can’t. Typos are one thing, but sometimes I have to read things aloud to figure out what the writer wanted to say.

  39. Lois says:

    I found a typo in my own post as well.

  40. Jewbitch says:

    I use my iPhone all the time. Sometimes the auto correct is great, sometimes, I hate it. Like, when I want to say fucker or fuck. Damn it! I want what I type!!! Not ducker or duck!!!
    Oh, and I LOVE John Cusack. (but sersly. Go wash yourself John. Looking a bit greasy in those pics!)

  41. Anastasia says:

    Hi, I’m an English teacher, LOL.

    1. I don’t enjoy Twitter and fail to see the point.

    2. I don’t care much how other people spell when it comes to social networking.

    3. The point of common standard usage is so that we can understand one another. If someone’s usage is so poor it interferes with my understanding of it, that’s where I draw the line, no matter what the context.

    4. I get hives when I hear English teachers employ incorrect usage. Other teachers, too, but English teachers really get to me. If we aren’t the models of proper usage, who is?

    5. Why does Jon Cusack look so greasy in those pics?

    6. I’m over him and I think he’s a little crazy these days.

  42. Isobel says:

    It’s hard to quit smoking if you’re still drinking like a fish.

    I’m just sayin’.

  43. Anti-icon says:

    He is my pretend boyfriend and I can’t even work my IPhone after 3 years, so this makes me love him even more. So cute and keeps his shit private, like a good celeb should (though I think he a playa.)

  44. Ana says:

    This makes me laugh. I’m horrible at spelling and sometimes it seems as my writing gets worse as time goes on.
    The other day, I was trying to write, “I am excited…” and I wrote, “I about excited.”
    I would love to learn a lot more about grammar, but it terrifies me.
    I am able to pick out some flaws when reading, I often do that with my boss, the DM and the newsletters they send out. Just like them, I’m not perfect.
    Often, if there is a word I can’t spell I just find one that means the same thing that’s easier. Or if I’m on the computer I type it into a search engine and it will tell me! Lol.
    Some people are just naturally horrible at it. My boss has asked me how to spell “those” and “animal.”

  45. Lisa says:

    He looks dirty in these pictures, with a huge zit on his forehead. When was the last time he washed his face?

  46. canadianchick says:

    Bahaaha grammar trolls-love it! Looks we have a few trolls on here, I mean hear, oops I mean xxhere. Bahahahaaaa, thanks for the new lingo John Cusack. And yes I also love his sister.

  47. VP says:

    @Katenonymous – I have the same problem with the touch. It randomly capitalizes words, too.
    @Anastasia – I had a college English teacher (TA, but still!) write “I’m OK, Your Ok” on the board. I can’t remember the context, but I do remember that inexcusable error.

  48. Vibius says:

    I say we change english to a phonetic based spelling.

  49. Cheyenne says:

    What drives me up the wall is people who never bothered to learn the difference between there, their and they’re. And people who never heard of past participles. I saw a sign in a classroom (made by the teacher) that said “Stay Focus”.

  50. Meimei says:

    “I say we change english to a phonetic based spelling.”

    Aid lav tu sii piipl riiding tis alaud…

    Or, “I’d love to see people reading this aloud” in my kind of spelling. :D Although the letter r doesn’t work too well, because the English r is, in a way, too soft.

    Now I’m officially too tired to comment.

  51. EMV says:

    He is such a great actor! People who police tweets and care about other people need to stop throwing stones from glass houses….they have WAY too much time on their hands. However, if you are typing about political topics I do have to agree that you should at least spell things correctly for their own sake.

  52. ElizabethM says:

    Alrighty then, I checked out his tweets again and have to say, they’re better than they used to be. At least they are readable now. He must be getting the hang of the tiny keys.

  53. dj says:

    Zoe is my queen! Also Anastasia valid and accurate point.

  54. Lady D says:

    Becky, I too spent years as a newspaper editor, and I am now 1/4 of the way through a medical transcriptionist course. I graduate in February. What upset me the most about typo’s was when they appeared in obits. I was always on my team to spell properly. People who suffer from the death of a dear one, do not need the added grief of seeing their loved one’s name spelled wrong. To me, it smacked of dis-respect.

  55. texasjo says:

    Love John Cusack, and think it’s cute he might write breakfasy for breakfast, as the “s” and “t” letters are right next to each other. Why should a wonderful star have to proof his work on Twitter. I was a typing teacher, and word processor in another life. Sending e-mails, or Twitters and such can be written in shorthand, actually. They are not thesis. And, I’m glad he takes the time to do it.
    Love the adjectives about grammar trolls, etc.