Comment sections have roots in the stages of the chitlin circuit, the system of all-black venues that thrived during Jim Crow. In those days, hostile audiences were separated from performers by a barricade of chicken wire, designed to deflect the inevitable rain of beer bottles that crowds were permitted to hurl at performers as a means of expressing disapproval. Much of the toughness and ingenuity in hip-hop is descended from those bygone days, though the venues are now electronic rather than physical. Rappers' performances are viewed through a computer screen, which now serves as the metaphorical chicken wire separating viewers from viewed. In the modern scenario, those unruly crowds thrive in the comment sections of the internet. Cheers and jeers are pounded out on keyboards and flung to the ether in the same spirit of impulsive hostility that once drove our ancestors to fling bottles at their heroes. It's not any easier to hit a performer with a nasty comment than it was to bean James Brown with a bottle, but the action remains as futilely explosive and fun as it must have been back in the old days.