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There’s A New TV Show We’ll All Watch Now
This morning, Trump walked up the stairs to the sound of The Village People’s “YMCA,” as an anchor on the right-wing broadcaster OAN did its best impression of North Korean state TV, desperately trying to explain some hidden meaning behind the song choice for its Facebook-brained viewers watching at home. Trump says he’ll be back “in some form” soon. He’s musing about starting his own political party. Maybe he’ll start a Substack! Steve Bannon has been pardoned. Joe Exotic has not.
There feels like there is a desire — particularly within a certain section of Twitter at the moment — to simply pretend as if the last four years didn’t happen. The Trump series finale has ended and now we’re going to watch Biden, an Obama spin-off that serves as a lead-in to Obama 2: Michelle. As I type this, an NBC anchor on the YouTube livestream I’m listening to is tearing up describing the outfits of various congressional leaders entering the West Front of the Capitol. Liberal blue check brain poisoning is already reaching dangerously high levels of toxicity. The #Resistance has won, Voldemort’s Death Star has been unsnapped with Biden’s Infinity Gauntlet.
And maybe it’s always like this. At least, for people who are privileged enough to escape the actual effects of political sea changes. I’ll admit I have trouble remembering what the world was like before Trump, only that I think I felt happier more often and that everyone seemed less mean.
This changing of the channel feeling is especially surreal, though, considering the wreckage of the Trump era is so visible. Washington, DC is currently occupied by 15,000 National Guard members, hoping to quell a repeat of the insurrectionist violence we saw earlier this month. There are also National Guard members guarding every state capitol at the moment — 25,000 in total across the country. Due to the prevalence of radicalization in the US right now, the FBI had to vet every member in DC for the inauguration. Twelve members were sent home, two for inappropriate texts or social media activity. A bomb threat was called into the Supreme Court this morning. Over 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Militias on Telegram have spent the last four months planning a violent coup.
The more casual conspiracy theorists on Facebook are beginning to question if Trump ever really had a master plan. But the QAnon ARG has released a new patch for the players still in the game — Biden was part of Q’s plan all along. Members of The_Donald are trying to motivate themselves for further political violence by learning about how Poland ended communism. Blackpilled 4chan users are posting MAGA cope threads, burning down the goofy meme magic of the Trump era and replacing it with a more violent and nihilistic ideology for Groypers to hang their apocalyptic accelerationist desires on. The sad and dark truth is that we won’t really know how Trumpist aggression will physically manifest until the pandemic has been pushed back enough that public spaces open back up again.
But we are leaving the Trump era with a few small victories — far-right influencers like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos have been essentially banished from the public consciousness. Baked Alaska is currently in jail. QAnon is no longer DDOSing Twitter on a daily basis. And the insurrection has, in many ways, finally shaken any question about the realities of online radicalization. Maybe the endless cascade of Capitol arrest mugshots on various news channels and social media timeless will finally allow America to speak frankly about who exactly upholds white supremacy — real estate agents who fly on private jets, the sons of prominent judges, the sons of state lawmakers, doctors. We might be very close to a Facebook-less future.
If all this sounds conflicted it’s because I am! Things are really bad and there’s no immediate way to fix them and it’s not as if Biden seems particularly interested in even fixing them all the way. What Trump, his associates, enablers, and supporters and huge corporate tech platforms awoke, not just in America, but around the world, over the last five years, will take a lifetime to put back to sleep. We live in a fundamentally more authoritarian, more violent, less equal, and less private world than we did in 2015.
But, also, at the same time, at least right now, it’s sort of nice that everything this morning has felt like 2014. I could barely follow Biden’s inauguration speech, only that it seemed sort of inspiring in the same way that a Memorial Day car commercial is. But that’s fine. Boring is fine.
Maybe the insurrection was the end. Maybe QAnon will fully break apart this year. Maybe the militias across the country will turn back into the backwoods punchlines they were before Trump called them “very fine people”. Maybe the worst of all of this is behind us. Although, if everything does change quickly now that Trump is out of office, doesn’t that almost make it all worse? That we all chose to live like this simply because a sociopath was our leader?
Either way, I’m not ready to be hopeful, yet. For now, I’ll take boring.
Today’s The Day We Find Out If Trump Did A Face/Off With Biden
I’m not sure the 4chan community’s limitless ability to troll themselves is reflected in much of the extremely serious and literal coverage of 4chan. I suspect that’s how we ended up with a completely overblown sense of the community’s power and influence. The truth is, they hate each other because the typical user hates themselves, which means, for as often as they work together, they spend just as much time trying to sabotage each other. Anyways, Trump did a Face/Off with Biden and he, secretly, was just inaugurated president a second time.
In Case You Need A Bernie Transparency
“Jessie’s Girl” Gets A Sequel
This is really good. Watch to the end. Technically, this is the SECOND sequel to “Jessie’s Girl,” the first sequel was released by Rush for Hot Topic shoppers, Coheed and Cambria, in August. It’s pretty good!
A Good Instagram For Photos Of Bad Dutch Salads
This was sent to me by a reader named Andrea. The account is called “paellas from the low lands” for some reason, but it compiles absolutely horrifying photos of “slaatjes,” which, from what I can tell, are gross Dutch salads, I guess. Cool!
Ok, Seriously, Here’s The Last Sea Shanty Thing
TikTok Discovers The DeviantArt Knee Lover
It’s honestly kind of nice that Gen Z has TikTok to chronicle their discovery of the greater, weirder corners of the internet. The only place I could share discovers like this when I was in high school were other kids in the computer lab.
BigKneelover has been around forever. I think, though, he’s currently taking some time away from the site. Excited to watch TikTok discover the Wonder Bread guy next!
Let’s Talk About The Snopes Discourse
This tweet is complicated for me. I think Snopes is a great institution. I’ve spoken to members of the team and I think they do really important work. Snopes has been in the online fact-checking game a lot longer than anyone else and I think the internet is a better place because they’re online.
Snopes is also getting a bit of blowback right now from leftist shitposters. I’m not sure this tweet is directly part of that, but I’ve noticed a lot accounts I associate with “Rose Twitter” dunking on Snopes for being a scold. Best as I can tell, the recent backlash seems to be thanks to Snopes debunking the story about the Capitol insurrectionist tasing himself in the balls and dying. I read Snopes’ piece. It seemed solid to me, but, most importantly, I literally don’t care about whether he tased himself in the balls or not when. I find the story extremely grim and the whole thing unspeakably tragic.
All that said, the tweet above does make a good point. The buttoned up-ness of Snopes is a great example of how different the web is now than it was in 2001. Mainly, being online just isn’t as much fun as it used to be. I don’t think it’s Snopes’ fault. I think they’re just reacting to the same forces we all are. Still, I feel like of all the many things that will immediately feel strange leaving the Trump era — if, in fact, we are leaving it — the seriousness of factchecking and debunking may be one of the first things to start feeling a little wonky.
Here Comes The Sun
Bill Wurtz is back! It’s a brand new day, people. If you don’t know Wurtz’s work, he did “History Of Japan” in 2016 and a ton of other fantastic music videos. He’s my favorite kind of internet creator — not an influencer, but someone who makes art that happens to be on the internet that also happens to go viral. No formats, no multiplatform publishing strategy, no drama, just good ass content. Here comes the sun!
And, Finally, A Meme
P.S. here’s a good TikTok.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***