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Shining a spotlight into the void
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What We Know And What We Don’t Know About The Chris Chan Case
Chris Chan, real name Christine Weston Chandler, is a 39-year-old trans internet creator with autism who has been the target of almost constant abuse and obsession by several very old online communities since 2007. Chan has been long-regarded as the human embodiment of “internet cringe,” bullied for years for her web comic Sonichu. Users stalk her, compiled wikis about her and her family, attempted to frame her for sexual abuse, and have tried basically every other form of internet prank you can imagine on her. Chan’s “fandom” was always extremely niche, but as the YouTuber ContraPoints speculated in a video last summer, Chan may be the most-documented human being on the internet, if not ever.
Over the last few weeks, rumors began spreading that Chan was allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with her elderly mother, Barbara. These rumors came from a leaked audio recording, which started spreading on communities like 4chan and Kiwi Farms first, before becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Kiwi Farms, if you’ve never heard of it, is one of the internet’s most toxic communities. The site recently lost its domain registrar, DeamHost, after the users on the site were tied to the suicide of nonbinary emulator developer Near.
It was unclear at first how legitimate these new incest rumors about Chan were. Her relationship with the internet has always been engulfed in misinformation and viral chaos. She also routinely reacts to the harassment by saying or doing shocking or ridiculous things, which only incites further trolling and abuse.
Last week, Chan was arrested, while being livestreamed by Ethan Ralph, host of an alt-right internet show called the Killstream, which was kicked off YouTube for hate speech in 2018. Chan was charged by Greene County police with incest, a Class 5 felony in Virginia. She’s facing up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
Last week, The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia’s local paper, published a frustrating and upsetting account of Chan’s bond proceedings. Chan demanded the judge address her with female pronouns, stomped her feet, continually asked to get her personal belongings back, and told the court that she’s “famous on the internet.”
Then, in a moment that, for extremely online millennials, felt a bit like watching the old decrepit house in your town finally get bulldozed, Chis Chan’s story was picked up by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last week. Carlson, interestingly, side-stepped the more 4chan-y elements of the Chris Chan saga, and instead weaponized her transness. Carlson gleefully mocked Chan’s pleas to be referred to by she/her pronouns, and used even the possibility of her being housed in a women’s correctional facility as an example of wokeness gone too far.
Meanwhile, online, the Chan narrative has begun to change. This weekend, two users, a young woman and a young man, were doxxed and accused of orchestrating the Chris Chan incest confession. According to chats currently circulating on Twitter and Google Docs, these users have been organizing an increasingly sophisticated harassment campaign against Chan for months. The plan, allegedly, was to use the incest audio to blackmail Chan into killing herself. It is almost impossible to separate out misinformation and rumor from what is actually real here.
In the screenshots being shared, one of the users describes how she befriended Chan, stole money from her, and pushed Chan to describe incestuous sex acts while being secretly recorded. The two users are also accused of habitually bullying other students at their school in Texas. "We did it. WE BROKE THE INTERNET,” one of the users wrote on the day of Chan’s arrest, according to one screenshot. “We’re the best trolls in history.”
Kiwi Farms users, outraged that all of this could be an elaborate operation against Chan, a figure they both completely and totally revile and also semi-deify, singled out one of the Discord users, a young woman, and began calling the university they believe she attends. They also believe that her father is a CIA agent (because of course).
Then, yesterday, Kiwi Farms was taken down by a DDoS attack after they published a full dox of the young woman. “The attacker has been working on this since the Chris news,” the account wrote. “The level of precision in the bandwidth indicates to me that this is not a regular rent-a-DDoS. I've never seen a DDoS service that lets you specify specific amounts of bandwidth like this attack is doing.”
So here’s where we are with all of this: Chan was denied bond, her next court date is scheduled for September 16, and the investigation is still ongoing. Her story has been turned into a cudgel for America’s growing anti-trans movement. Chan’s biggest obsessives are beginning to suspect this was all a set-up and have singled out a young woman as the main perpetrator of the prank. Kiwi Farms, the infamous message board that tracked her every move, has been DDoS’d out of existence, at least for the time being. The site’s admins are blaming the young woman’s father, who they believe is a CIA agent, for the site going down. And users on Reddit, Twitter, 4chan, and Discord, are now trying to engage in online vigilante justice to defend Chan against the two users they believe were responsible for all of this.
It’s a rats nest of misinformation, cyber warfare, and online harassment. And we’re only two weeks into this. And I suspect things will only become weirder and more confusing as the Chan investigation continues. She has lived the last 15 years of her life embedded in the darkest and most rabid parts of the internet. And now the legal system is going to shine a big bright spotlight into that dark void and what we see will be not comfortable or easy to process.
A Good Tweet
The Suicide Squad And The True Future Of Streaming
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad was released in both theaters and on HBO Max over the week. It’s good, I liked it. As a fan of both Gunn’s splatterpunk work, like Slither, and also his feel-good franchise stuff for Marvel, I thought this was a weird and jarring, but ultimately extremely fun mix of the two. If you liked The Suicide Squad, you should check out Doom Patrol on HBO Max, which I would say does this whole thing a bit better.
The Suicide Squad, critically, did great. It has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and the online buzz for the movie has been really strong. Unfortunately, in terms of actual money, the movie hasn’t done great at the box office. It made a little over $25 million in North America over the weekend, and about $35 million internationally, way under what other pandemic movies like F9, Jungle Cruise, and Black Widow have pulled in this summer. And it, once again, has people questioning what went wrong.
First, probably worth mentioning, we’re still in a pandemic lol. Also, as many have pointed out, making a sequel to the critical and cultural flop Suicide Squad and naming it basically the same thing is probably not great marketing! But what’s most interesting of all is that The Suicide Squad has added to the growing trend of streaming-theater hybrid releases doing worse financially than traditional theater releases. Even more interesting, The Suicide Squad performed better in the UK, where there is no HBO Max.
Though, The Suicide Squad might also be a sign that even the way we’re judging these things is totally broken. As Joe Adalian (@TVMoJoe) tweeted, using box office metrics to judge hybrid releases doesn’t make any sense and it’s not what the Hollywood press does to Netflix and Amazon. And Adalian is right. Judging any movie added to a streaming service for new sign-ups would be like trying to analyze how many people downloaded the YouTube app to watch a single Logan Paul vlog. We also still don’t even know what timeframe we should use to judge the financial worth of a streaming movie. Why does opening weekend even matter for a movie that will live, assumingely, forever in an algorithmically sorted content library?
Which is why, I think, James Gunn’s go-to talking point regarding The Suicide Squad hasn’t been about opening weekend ticket sales. “Movies don’t last because they’re seen on the big screen,” Gunn told Variety. “Movies last because they’re seen on television. Jaws isn’t still a classic because people are watching it in theaters. I’ve never seen Jaws in a movie theater. It’s one of my favorite movies.”
And, while this may be in line with Gunn’s typically older-punk-rock guy defensive posturing, I think he’s also the closest anyone has come to actually understanding how people actually interact with streaming movies. Yeah, sure, some people may race to watch one opening night, but, more likely, they’ll stumble across them on a random afternoon and they’ll be part of the reason they don’t cancel whatever streaming service it is they’re watching them on.
Some Good Church Bell Content
This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by purpleaardvark and it rips.
An Olympian Follows Their Passion
Japanese boxer Sena Irie, who won gold in the women’s featherweight division in boxing at the Olympics last week, told the Asahi Shimbun that after the Olympics, she planned on retiring.
“After the Olympics, I will start looking for a job,” she told the paper. “I love frogs, so I want something to do with frogs. Or, games. Because I love games.”
You should go read the whole article because it’s very fun. Irie talks about her love of manga, and, most importantly, how much she loves frogs.
In fact, as Twitter user @thegallowboob discovered, Irie has an extremely good Instagram dedicated to, what else, frogs. You can click in below and check it out.
Tucker Carlson Was Censored In Hungary
Tucker Carlson had a good time last week totally not gearing up for an eventual presidential run by filming his entire show from Hungary. During his interview with far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban, around the 8:30 mark of a video you can watch here, Carlson referred to China’s Xi Jinping as a “totalitarian thug,” which Orban absolutely doesn’t acknowledge at all, instead taking the question off in a different direction.
And then, in a transcript of the interview, sent out by the Hungarian government to reporters, there was no mention of Xi Jinping at all. Why, you may ask. Well, under Orban’s administration, Hungary has become the most China-friendly country in the EU, according to a recent report by The Diplomat. Orban is trying to build a Chinese university in Budapest and been directing EU policy towards China’s interests.
Just imagine, you fly your show to Hungary for a week, hoping to show off to your Republican buddies back home how to properly build a neo-fascist totalitarian ethnostate and you end up getting get censored by the Chinese government. Sad!
Tumblr Users Try And Boycott Post Plus (Sorta)
In July, Tumblr announced that it was adding a new feature called Post+, which would allow users to put a paywall in front of their content. I wrote at the time that this sounds nice and much-needed. I think Tumblr users tend to be really interested in making things and supporting each other financially — it’s still largely a community of creators — and having a few monetization options seems cool.
Users did not react as kindly to it. There’s always a fair bit of grumbling when the site adds new features, but the grumbling has persisted and users attempted to go on a “blackout” over the weekend.
“as most of you know, Tumblr has tried making post plus a thing, and unfortunately, after all the surveys and posts we made against it, their making it a thing anyway,” one very popular post about the blackout read. “another Tumblr user whom I forgot the name of, decided to make a point to Tumblr that we do not want, never wanted, nor needed, post+. and to make this point, we are gonna hit Tumblr where it hurts.”
And it does seem like a lot of accounts went dark. Though, the community isn’t totally coordinated about what it actually wants. Some users are pushing for a tip jar instead of a subscription model (which I actually agree would probably be better considering the site’s key demographic are college kids). But for the most part, it just seems like there’s a serious lack of trust from users that Tumblr has their best interests when it comes to management payment information.
There aren’t any more protests scheduled after this one, but as the Post+ continues to roll out to more and more users, I assume users will escalate things in a very weird and strange Tumblr-y fashion.
Two Tweets About The Future, Which Is Now The Present
A Truly Epic Song About Feeling Feelings
This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by harryj. (This is the same guy who got the big breakfast btw.)
Some Stray Links
“The bizarre Minecraft meme Penis SMP has spawned a world of its own” (I wrote this one!)
P.S. here’s a good meme.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***