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The Critical Race Theory Panic Is Working
Back in March, I first wrote about Christopher F. Rufo, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, who tweeted out what has, since then, become the main Republican strategy for dominating America’s attention economy right now. “We have successfully frozen their brand— ‘critical race theory’ — into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions,” Rufo wrote. “We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.”
Critical race theory is the first real conservative info war project of the post-Trump era and it’s unfortunately working very well. It’s also interesting to look at because it says a lot about the current shape of social platforms. Instead of finding the new crop of right-wing influencers to seed out this idea on a national level through viral content, conservative strategists went the opposite direction. The anti-critical race theory is spreading via small Facebook Groups and Pages and other forms of local social networking.
According to data work by Kevin Reuning, an assistant professor of political science at Miami University, in late March-early April, posts about critical race theory spiked on local Republican Facebook pages. And, since then, they’ve only surged higher. The local Facebook page push was then following by conservative media outlets covering, which then caused more mainstream national news outlets to cover it and voila! You’ve got yourself a cultural panic. Right now, over 20 states have drafted or are drafting bills banning the academic practice. And, just as Rufo predicted back in March, no one actually knows what it is they’re banning.
Here’s one extremely funny — and terrifying — example of how out of control the hysteria around critical race theory has become. AL.com recently asked Alabama State Rep. Chris Pringle to just even try and define critical race theory. He couldn’t.
What is this critical race theory educators would be forbidden to teach? Pringle has seen enough legislation to understand the law requires specificity. Many bills begin by laying out their legal definitions. How would his bill define critical race theory?
“It basically teaches that certain children are inherently bad people because of the color of their skin, period,” Pringle said.
That sounded very serious, indeed. Nazi-like, even. So I asked Pringle if there were any critical race theorists he could point to who have been spreading such toxic garbage?
“Yeah, uh, well — I can assure you — I’ll have to read a lot more,” he said.
This is all, of course, maddening because it’s just so stupid. The politicians pushing for this don’t care enough about their constituents to actually know what it is they’re banning. The gotta-hear-both-sides news coverage of this from huge national outlets is ridiculous and only making things worse. And the platforms like Facebook that allowed this to happen so easily need to dismantled for the good of society.
But the most frustrating thing of all is that once critical race theory has successfully been vanquished (whatever that means), conservatives do this exact same thing with other right-wing boogeymen. Trans people in bathrooms seems like the next logical place to take this. The Republican party is still struggling with the vacuum left behind by Trump and until they find another strongman to fill it, they’re just going to subject us to months of confusing and ridiculous moral panics that spread out non-linearly on Facebook, clogging our feeds with absolute shit. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!!!
Is This The Worst Video Game Trailer Ever?
This week was E3, the largest trade event for video games. By all accounts it was a complete and total disaster. Due to COVID restrictions, the event was remote this year and the Twitch chat, in particular, was a horrendous experience.
During the SquareEnix portion of the event, users became so angry at the amount of Marvel-related content being shown that they started spamming “hyperrealistic Among Us cock ASCII art” in the chat. Although, seems like Nintendo had a pretty good day yesterday.
But the real terrible star of E3 was this tailer for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin which has to be one of the worst video game trailers I’ve ever seen. As Polygon wrote, “Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’s hero Jack wears a T-shirt” lmao. And Tumblr user ryo-maybe said it looked like a Fast & Furious movie. Do yourself a favor, watch even just a bit of this trailer and you will immediately understand how bizarre and weird this is.
Casey Frey Comes Out
If you aren’t familiar with Casey Frey, he’s one of the most consistently funny creators online right now. His woodchopping video is a modern masterpiece. Frey revealed on YouTuber Theo Von’s podcast earlier this month that he’s been in a relationship with a man he met online.
Frey seemed a little awkward in the interview describing how the relationship started — he’s first one with a man, he said. He claims he was “on a bender” when they met and they “just kinda vibed out.” It’s honestly a weird interview all around. And it’s probably worth pointing out that Frey went on Von’s show dressed up AS Von. The top comment on the video is, “This interview sounds like two dudes with a mutual friend talking waiting for the third friend to come back from the bathroom.”
Since the interview, users found Frey’s boyfriend online. He goes by @yung_thiccums on most platforms, but his accounts are all private. There aren’t a ton of details about Frey’s relationship, which, honestly, fair enough. Also, Frey’s been pretty quiet on social recently, in general. He hasn’t uploaded anything to YouTube for about two years and this is the most recent thing he’s tweeted:
The Walgreens Video
On Monday, Lyanne Melendez, a local TV news reporter from San Fransisco, posted a video of a man on a bike stealing a garbage bag-worth of groceries from a Walgreens. The video went very viral and kicked off an extremely Tumblr-circa-2013 debate on Twitter about whether or not shoplifting was morally right. Predictably, a bunch of conservatives watched the video and started shrieking about the downfall of society while a bunch of leftists did that weird grammatical thing where they write stuff like, “no,,, this is Good actually.” Some people were also mad that the security guard didn’t do anything to stop the man on the bike from absconding with the bag of toiletries. Except, that’s literally what OSHA guidelines stipulate for keeping employees safe during a theft incident.
Anyways, a bunch of sites packaged the whole thing up as a big “debate”. According to MarketWatch, over a dozen Walgreens in San Francisco have closed down due to theft in the last five years. Walgreens hasn’t commented on the video. But, now, if you head over to the #Walgreens hashtag, you can find literally every single kind of political ideology that exists.
I think my main takeaway from this is how it feels very tied to the way Americans are currently rethinking labor. There are a lot of people who have been extremely economically radicalized by this past year (and the four before them) and there are a lot of other people who don’t seem to realize that. And so we end up with these weird moments where a bunch of people with pre-COVID notions of American capitalism get completely and totally dogpiled by people who have very different ideas of what should be fair and just for the country’s working class. Speaking of rich people showing their whole ass online…
Chrissy Teigen’s Back On Twitter (Again)
About a month ago, Chrissy Teigen left Twitter. You might be confused because she also left Twitter back in March, citing bullying and harassment she was experiencing on the app, writing, “This no longer serves me as positively as it serves me negatively, and I think that’s the right time to call something.” She was back on the app by mid-April.
Then, Teigen left Twitter AGAIN in May after tweets and DMs from her in 2011 surfaced where she told Courtney Stodden to kill herself. And, apparently, Stodden wasn’t the only person Teigen was bullying. Well, Teigen is back online now.
She reemerged via a Medium post in which she wrote, “I was insecure, immature and in a world where I thought I needed to impress strangers to be accepted. If there was a pop culture pile-on, I took to Twitter to try to gain attention and show off what I at the time believed was a crude, clever, harmless quip.” lol relatable as always!
All of this Teigen drama prompted Esquire’s Jack Holmes to write a really good response piece titled, “Just Be Rich”. It was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by a1973fordpinto. Holmes writes:
You are getting paid large sums of money to do interesting things—star in movies, play concerts for tens of thousands of people—and also, basically, to just exist. Why are you tweeting? What are you doing here? As someone who has a professional obligation to marinate in the ocean of awful, it instills in me a cocktail of mad and sad to watch others do it willingly.
Holmes answers his own question, assuming its a combination of social media-based cults of personality being good for business and “rampant narcissism and malignant insecurity.” Which is correct, but I think there’s another piece to this.
Teigen was a successful model long before she was a Twitter personality, but it was her relatable posts that created the “Chrissy Teigen” we now know of. And this isn’t to say she’s not talented, but she used relatable digital content to created her public persona and at no point did she try to jump ship the way the Kardashians have over the years or even the way young social media stars like Chase Hudson and Bella Poarch are doing right now via music careers. Gen Z influencers understand that you get big on a platform and then try and leave that ecosystem so you no longer have to monetize raw relatability. It’s unsustainable! But Teigen never did that and now she’s dependent on Twitter buzz to sustain her cult of personality. And if that’s the game you’re playing, then this is the kind of public flagellation you’ll feel compelled to do to keep it going. You live the by post, you get canceled by the post.
A Redditor Poses An Important Question About The Hulk
This post was unfortunately deleted by the mods, but you can read a screenshot of it here. The TL;DR is that a woman was watching Thor: Ragnarok and told her boyfriend how hot the Hulk was in that one scene where you can see the Hulk’s butt. Apparently, the boyfriend was not happy about this and it devolved into a big argument. A lot of commenters are saying this is fake, but here’s what the commenters who played along had to say:
“info: what the fuck”
“NTA your bf sounds insecure because he’s not as beefy as the hulk is”
There’s A Big Snake On YouTube
So this didn’t pop up on my own YouTube homepage, but it was flagged up by lesspopmorefitz in the Garbage Day Discord. He said that it seemed to be stuck in a lot of people’s recommendations lately, similar to what happened earlier this month with JCS - Criminal Psychology’s mega viral “What pretending to be crazy looks like”.
It’s pretty fascinating when this sort of thing happens because it feels like we’re getting a sense of what the god’s eye point of view of YouTube looks like and it’s always weird.
The big snaked video is called, “What If Titanoboa Snake Didn't Go Extinct?” and it has 23 million views. Like the “pretending to be crazy” video, it also doesn’t look like any nefarious is happening here. It’s just a well-made video about a big snake.
Fox Has A Whistleblower… Sorta…
In this video, now-suspended reporter Fox reporter Ivory Hecker announced that she had been secretly recording her bosses and leaked it all to Project Veritas, a right-wing guerilla “news” organization. Hecker claimed she had proof of widespread censorship at the station. The way Hecker talks about it in the clip, you’d be forgiven for assuming that she had quite the bombshell on her hands. Well, no, it turns out the bulk of the censorship she was alluding to is that her editors were not allowing her to report on… Bitcoin lol. I, for one, am shocked that a local Houston news station was blocking brave reporting about cryptocurrency.
Lady, I’m completely and totally independent and even I understand that no one wants to read about Bitcoin. Speaking of which….
Kim Kardashian Is Shilling Shitcoins Now
Kim Kardashian and a bevy of other influencers are promoting a bunch of different sketchy crypto coins right now. Kardashian is recently told her followers to check out a coin called Ethereummax. The coin is currently worth $0.0000001426 and it’s all-time-high is $0.00000019. Not sure about this one, Kim!
Also, regardless of influencers are saying, things in the crypto world still are not great. The market has still yet to properly recover from May’s significant dip. Not even a super huge investment by MicroStrategy has been enough to get things back on track. And if the bear market does turn back into a bull rush, there could be other problems on the horizon.
Over on the Sidechannel Discord on Monday night, I interviewed Data & Society’s Cristina López G. about El Salvador and Bitcoin. It was an awesome conversation and you can listen back to it here. Also, I’m still grinding on Mirror.xyz, trying to start a crypto zine if you’re active over there.
And, finally, my buddy Mitch sent me this tweet which appears to be a screenshot of Mark Cuban getting frog reax in a crypto Discord???
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a really good Tumblr post about rich people’s pools.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***