An hilarious, horrifying story about a teacher whose life is poisoned by Internet slander.
How to Cyberbully Your Teacher (English Edition),
by Daniel Curzon (Winner of the National New Play Contest for Godot Arrives)
The Dark Side of the Internet comes in the form of a teacher “review” website that allows anyone at all, even non-students, to post “reviews” of teachers, anonymously without consequence to the “reviewer,” thus unleashing the nastiest sides of the human species – a website where blackmail, extortion, defamation, plain old lying for the sake of lying, and Machiavellian deviltry rise and reign. For a loophole in Title 4 7, Section 203 of the U.S. Legal Code, never intended by Congress, allows students (and teachers as well) to take advantage of the new technology to try to destroy others.
“Daniel Curzon is indeed an important, influential, enlightening, and entertaining author.” – Robert Patrick, author of Kennedy’s Children
pages 484, B&W 5 x 8 in or 203 x 127 mm Perfect Bound on Creme w/Gloss Lam
Prolific playwright, novelist and gay activist Daniel Curzon now applies his caustic wit and elegant prose style to knee-jerk political correctness on campus and grade-grubbing, semi-literate students making vicious online judgments of instructors, often without ever showing up in the classroom.
Curzon taught two decades in the English department at City College of San Francisco. In a disclaimer, he insists that the corrupt “animal farm” where his beleaguered hero Professor Nathanael Tack teaches (“Shite College” in the city of “Santa Francesca”) bears no resemblance to CCSF. But the details of Curzon’s indictment are delicious nonetheless: wracked by “neo-puritan guilt,” Tack’s benighted colleagues—Charlotte Wiggley, Haywood Wire, Dean Calvin Visigoth, etc.—stumble around campus (where we find the comically named Helen C. Keller Visual Arts Building and the Lowe-Rankin Dining Room) petrified that the students they’re supposed to be enlightening will rate them insufficiently malleable or meek.
Curzon has a firm grasp of the absurd and an eye for telling detail that recalls Evelyn Waugh or Joseph Heller. Tack must endure the boy from Bahrain who wants to skip weeks of classes to oversee the “honor killing” of his sister; the nasty illiterate who thinks his “educashun” is imperiled by bigotry against Dutch-Americans, and a band of militant bicyclists who beat motorists with bicycle chains.
At the heart of Curzon’s funny, often angry, narrative are the perpetrators of a bogus campus website that excoriates and libels teachers they hate. One of the tamer posts: “ . . . she carrie’s a big chop on her shoulder.” Tack is, of course, a central target of the witless cyberbullies. He is also gay, so he must withstand slurs and work tricky relationships with his unstable lover and his teenage son.
At almost 500 pages, Cyberbully runs long, and Curzon’s deep sense of grievance can be exhausting. But he’s an eloquent social satirist, and this hilarious portrait of one man’s battle against ignorance and folly is relentlessly entertaining.
We have seen in recent months the horrendous consequences of Internet culture— the brutality of trolling, cyber mobs, the advent of post-truth narratives, the exploitative exposure of private lives, etc. But the unleashing of our basest instincts in the crucible of anonymity has crawled deeper into our society, past this month’s viral agitprop or alt-right chatrooms. It has come to live in our very educational institutions, inculcating a malevolence and lack of empathy in our children— our very future. Author Daniel Curzon, in his brilliant and brutal book, How to Cyberbully Your Teacher, has struck the heart of the matter through the narrative form, taking the grim facts and abhorrent details of this reality and presenting its truth in a compelling, emotionally raw story that unveils the ultimate consequences of cyberbullying on a private, personal, and human level. Mr. Curzon’s skills as a novelist (here, in the non-fiction genre) are readily apparent; his command of character and dialogue instantly sweeps the reader into this perverse reality, establishing the disquieting and deeply unnerving cultural norms of the contemporary educational institution from the very outset. The author’s ability to approach both the social ramifications of cyberbullying, as well as the individual psychological (and professional) fallout of anonymous attacks, speaks to his passionate investment in the subject matter which, through his evocative prose and dramatic prowess, instills a passionate investment in the reader herself. This is a profound and essential conversation that needs to be had today, and Mr. Curzon has delivered us a first step, in this forceful work, towards facing the problem head-on. (Review by Charles Asher from Phi Beta Kappa Review)