Some diatribe about wokeness

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Star Wars Fans Are Having A Meltdown Over Red Letter Media’s Acolyte Review

Last week, YouTube long-haulers Red Letter Media released a video about the new Disney+ Star Wars show, The Acolyte. Except, it’s not really about The Acolyte, at least for the first 45 minutes.

The video is actually an insightful — if clumsy — dissection of how entertainment conglomerates like Disney, fawning access-obsessed fandom influencers pretending to be journalists, and right-wing grifters are all part of the same ecosystem. One you could, if you wanted, just ignore. And viewers are not happy about it. YouTube disabled counts for the dislike button, but the comments underneath Red Letter’s Acolyte video are rough. Especially the earliest ones, before the group’s subreddit swooped in to run defense.

If you aren’t familiar with Red Letter Media they’ve been talking about Star Wars (and other things) on the internet since 2009, when the group’s founder Mike Stoklasa released “Mr. Plinkett’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Review,” a review that was too long to upload to YouTube at the time, but one that, also, essentially, invented modern film criticism on YouTube. (I haven’t watched it since 2009, I can’t say how it’s aged, etc., etc.)

The curious thing about Red Letter Media over the years is that they have, mostly, stayed above the fandom culture wars. I think this is largely thanks to the fact they live in Milwaukee lol. But while they’ve basically been saying the same thing for 15 years, the world of fandom entertainment around them has changed quite a bit.

Not only have sci-fi and fantasy franchises become big business — the biggest business — they’ve also become a political proxy war. Gamergaters and all the other fandom-specific reactionary movements that continue to spring up, like Comicsgate, r/saltierthancrait, and, most recently, anti-Sweet Baby Inc truthers, believe that diversity and inclusion initiatives are the reason their favorite movies, shows, and video games aren’t as good as they used to be. And they spin elaborate conspiracy theories to insulate them from the truth that they’re all basically just old, pathetic losers. And they spend their days raging over lib propaganda deployed by the brand safe YouTubers, paid Disney shills, and corporate press junkets that orbit Hollywood’s biggest IPs. Disney announces their first-ever homosexual goo, the poor indie director they plucked out of nowhere to lead the project does a million interviews about how goo is gay now, a million redditors go ballistic, and then everyone screeches into YouTube about how either goo representation is finally here or how goo was better before it was woke.

It’s same dynamic that YouTuber Jenny Nicholson talks about in her newest video about Disney’s Star Wars Hotel. And Red Letter Media’s best version of this thesis, up until their Acolyte review, was The Nerd Crew, a satirical podcast they release from time to time. This episode is my personal favorite and, I think, sums up their thoughts pretty concisely. Even funnier, here’s a real nerd crew-style podcast recoiling in horror watching their Acolyte review and realizing it’s not going to be some diatribe about wokeness.

I don’t think it’s an accident that, one, all of this has felt less important as franchises like Star Wars and Marvel sputter out and fail post-pandemic and, two, a lot of these reactionary weirdos are circling back around to video games to rage over as video game adaptations have finally started to break through into big, mainstream hits.

That doesn’t mean that angry right-wing nerds are disappearing from the internet — in fact, if you keep reading today’s issue, you’ll see their energies have turned to more serious matters — but I do think this stuff feels a lot more insular and dumb than it did 10 years ago. Without popular influencers leaning into it, it all sort of fizzles out. And as Red Letter Media concludes in their Acolyte video, I think a lot of people have realized that if you don’t like something you can just not watch it.

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I Put My Thoughts About The Debate In A Video

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Important Bluey Lore

How Seriously Should We Be Taking Project 2025?

If you’ve never heard of Project 2025 before, it’s right-wing manifesto created by the Heritage Foundation that aims to be the blueprint for installing a dictatorship in America. You can read what they want to do here, but the broad strokes are that they want to completely dismantle most of the government and smash anything they think is “woke”. Kevin Roberts, the head of the Heritage Foundation, feels particularly emboldened about the project after this week’s Supreme Court presidential immunity ruling, calling for a “second American revolution”.

Project 2025 is a fascinating document because, it’s, uh, definitely frightening, but it’s also another example of the Republican establishment trying to impose some kind of structure to Trumpism. I mean, the entire thing is pretty much dependent on Trump doing what they want. While Trump is, obviously, a wrecking ball, I wouldn’t say he has a real ideology beyond saying he’ll do what he thinks is popular and then trying to cash in shamelessly off the back of it.

It’s also yet another attempt by conservative elites at trying to bundle together all the right-wing culture war talking points you see online and turn them into something actionable. Which hasn’t ever actually worked. Republicans emerged from the 2010s culture war more fractured and broken than the Democrats, which is quite a feat.

So to answer the question I posed at top, I’d say I’d be more worried about this if there was literally anything Republicans agreed with each other about besides misery. (Still kinda worried about it tho.)

Threads Turns One, Is Big

Threads turns one today. I wrote a big barn-burner of a post when it launched last year and I wanted to look back and see if I still agree with my initial take.

“My verdict: Threads sucks shit,” I wrote at the time. “It has no purpose. It is for no one. It launched as a content graveyard and will assuredly only become more of one over time. It’s iFunny for people who miss The Ellen Show. It has a distinct celebrities-making-videos-during-COVID-lockdown vibe. It feels like a 90s-themed office party organized by a human resources department. And my theory, after staring into its dark heart for several days, is that it was never meant to ‘beat’ Twitter — regardless of what Zuckerberg has been tweeting. Threads’ true purpose was to act as a fresh coat of paint for Instagram’s code in the hopes it might make the network relevant again. And Threads is also proof that Meta, even after all these years, still has no other ambition aside from scale.”

Oof! Well, I do still think all of those things are true. But there have been a few positive developments in the last 12 months. I think Threads’ fediverse sharing is pretty nifty, even if no one has figured out what to do with it. I also love the redesign that looks like Tweetdeck, the best website.

Threads now has 175 million users, and I can admit there’s a bit more life on it than there used to be. I’ve also figured out where it fits in, personally, for me. There’s a bunch of journalists on there and its algorithm is pretty good at surfacing a bunch of good news content right as I load it. Which means, I open it about once a day, look at some posts, close it, and move on. So I guess that’s good?

The Children Yearn For Myspace

(App Store)

The number one app on the iOS app store right now is Noplace, which used to be called Nospace, but they changed it due to similarity with Myspace. Though the app’s Myspace for Gen Alpha vibe is still there. There’s profiles, top 8s, badges, and a chat feature.

Not sure if young people know that Myspace did not actually have real-time chat, at least at the start. Funny to imagine young millennials getting excited about checking a bunch of inboxes all day. Luckily, we don’t live our entire adults lives doing that now. Anyways…

What is interesting here is that Noplace CEO Tiffany Zhong created the app as a reaction against entertainment feeds on apps like TikTok and Instagram, assuming young people do want somewhere semi-public to socialize. Which was a smart bet. The harder thing though will be preventing Noplace from becoming as toxic as all the other teen social networks that have come before it.

Chappell Roan Ska Cover Let’s Goooooo

No, The Hawk Tuah Girl Did Not Say That She Wasn’t Voting For Trump

This clip has been making the rounds, with users claiming its proof that Hailey Welch, the Hawk Tuah Girl, is not voting for Trump. Unfortunately, if you watch the entire thing, she’s actually playing a game about which famous man she would “hawk tuah”. Please don’t make me explain what that means. And the part that was clipped was her saying that she would not “hawk tuah” Trump. Again, I do not want to explain this any more than I have.

Before this was debunked, I saw a lot of liberals holding this up as proof that there’s s ome great, silent anti-Trump Red State majority that we were suddenly getting a view of. Because we’ve hit peak election year summer, where everything has mean something in the context of November’s vote.

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