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Commenter Spotlight: La Donna Pietra

Posted by Tony Hue on August 12, 2014

La Donna Pietra

Illustration by Luigi Savino

We're in the midst of another exciting movie season this summer, with surprise hits like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Boyhood. At Badass Digest, you'll find a community of passionate movie junkies obsessing over the latest box office or movie trailer releases, delving into pop culture, cult classics, and more.

BAD (awesome acronym isn't it?) commenter La Donna Pietra is like that stranger you always see at your favorite coffee shop; her presence reminds you that you're at the right place. When you mention a recent movie or TV show to her, you're hardly surprised to learn that she has already seen it. She's like a walking IMDB ready to dispense opinions about anything including the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer, and that's what you've come to expect and love about her. Read on to find out where she finds her inspiration for meaningful discussions.

Q: What are your favorite sites to visit and why?
Badass Digest, because the writers and commenters are the ideal blend of informed, friendly, and obsessive about movies. If you're looking for the latest Bond movie gossip or monster semiotics essays or the first mention of that fantastic foreign film everyone will be talking about in two years, they've got you covered. I never fail to be amazed at the depth of random knowledge about art of all kinds in the commenter base, and even the smallest throwaway news post has the potential for hilarity or a discussion thread with unexpected insights. BAD also has a low tolerance for sexist bullcrap, which is a welcome rarity online.

Complex.com is a great place for both immediate news items and in-depth analysis of all kinds of pop culture stuff, from TV shows to sports to music, and the writers are even more fanatical about shoes than I am. (Disclaimer: it's also the main source for my freelance writing.)

Q: What types of stories lead to good discussions?
If the subject or presentation changes a reader's perspective in some meaningful way, it's guaranteed to spark some back-and-forth. That said, a story doesn't necessarily need to be about a contentious or hot-topic issue to get people talking in a meaningful way. Some of the best conversations I've had online have been in the comments of posts about truly superficial stuff, because people tend to be more open to examining issues when they're less inclined to stick with deeply-held assumptions.

Q: How do you know you’ve captured your thought well?
If I can make someone else laugh and think at the same time, I've achieved my goal.

Q: Why did you choose the screen name or avatar you did?
Nearly seven hundred years ago, Dante Alighieri wrote a series of poems called the Rime Petrose about a woman known only as la donna pietra, or "the stony lady," and I was a very pretentious 19-year-old literature nerd once upon a time. A great artist and friend of mine named Bevin Brand created my avatar based on a Pietro Magni statue known as La Leggitrice or "The Reader," because it depicts a literal literary stony lady. These days, I'll read almost anything if I can find some sort of cultural relevance in it.

Q: What kind of feedback or reaction are you looking for when you comment?
Ideally, either an opportunity for a long drawn-out argument or a chance to learn something. I'll also take drink offers, rapturous praise, and total agreement.

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