A new Dutch “dark comedy” film follows a journalist who hunts down and murders mean internet commentors. Described as a “journo power trip,” it will receive its US release next month.
“The Columnist,” known in its original Dutch as “The Pussy Whore,” follows the story of Westworld’s Katja Herbers as Femke Boot, “a depressed newspaper columnist who is dealing with pressure from her publisher to complete her book and a seemingly endless stream of online harassers.” Instead of ignoring them like any normal person, the film follows Boot after she decides the best course of action is to hunt down and murder the commentors who have been saying mean things about her.
By the end of the film, she has shot a teenage boy described as “the ringleader of the online bullying,” and attends her book launch party covered in blood, which the audience believes is an artistic statement, with everyone clapping her bravery. Director Ivo van Aart and writer Daan Windhorst, whose short story the film is based upon, said they “hoped the film would be a wakeup call about online bullying and abuse.”
Unsurprisingly, the film has received rave reviews from critics, with “The Columnist” currently having an 82% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has been described as “an excellent black comedy thriller about the price of free speech and its problematic consequences,” “a gleeful joy,” “smart, stylish and subversive,” and “an enjoyable-enough look at getting mad as hell and deciding not to take it anymore.”
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However, the film received much mockery online, with the concept of a journalist deciding to murder people who were mean to her being dismissed as simply a “journo power trip.” One user said that the film was “the most embarrassing concept” he’d ever heard in his life, with another pointing out that “nothing says ‘stable human being’ than physically harming people who criticize you.”
A report from 2017 revealed that the brains of journalists show a “lower-than-average” level of executive functioning, which, according to Business Insider, results in them having a “below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking.” The study blamed the tendency of journalist to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, and high-sugar foods.
National File reported last year that DC journalists interact with “microbubbles” of themselves on Twitter, completely disconnected from the wider world. “Most of the time, what happens on Twitter does not reflect the real world. But in the case of political journalism and political elites, generally speaking, what happens on Twitter is reality,” said Yee Man Margaret Ng, who conducted the study, arguing that Twitter is a “reflection” of their lives offline.