The Online Right Is Tearing Itself Apart (Again)
This week, Elon Musk allowed over 60,000 formerly-banned accounts to return to Twitter. According to Insider, employees are referring to it as the “Big Bang”. Far-right youtubers, QAnon influencers, and violent extremists are all coming back to the platform as we speak. The site has also stopped policing COVID misinformation, as if there is anyone left who could have actually moderated it in the first place.
And there has been an insurrection-level of glee from the right wing on Twitter since Musk took over. To use the parlance of 4chan when Trump became president, Musk is our guy, they say. But I think the general destructive excitement on the right at the moment is hiding the fact that it’s probably more divided than it’s ever been. And Musk’s Twitter revamp is not helping.
Mapping out the bizarre universe of the online right in the US is never easy — and is always changing — but as we leave 2022, it basically looks like this: At the top, there is the MAGA wing that think Trump won the 2020 election and now the DeSantis bloc, which is more closely aligned to the buttoned-up think-tankers that were kicking off about critical race theory last year. Below that, there’s QAnon, which has since absorbed a bunch of other esoteric conspiracies and turned into a decentralized death cult, along with your more standard right-wing grifter-influencers running traffic scams on Facebook and YouTube, and the newer wave of weird cyberlibertarian dark enlightenment crypto evangelists and reactionary Silicon Valley CEOs who want to turn American into a corporate monarchy. And then, finally, you have the straight-up seditionist militias, violent incel spree shooters, the Gen Z mens rights activists and pickup artists on TikTok, and the openly white nationalist Groypers, led by streamer Nick Fuentes. Oh, and whatever the trust fund fascists and occultist podcasters are doing in Chinatown right now. And, in a weird way, Twitter bans were a really valuable way of holding this loose coalition together.
If one of these goblins was ever suspended, the rest of them could all loudly screech about cancel culture safe in the knowledge that they would no longer have to deal with them. There are things that bring all these groups together, the big ones being a hatred of trans people and a dream of turning America into a fully-privatized ethnostate, but there’s actually a lot they don’t agree on.
Now that all the accounts are coming back, they have to actually exist on the same timeline and it’s not going well. As Mashable reporter Matt Binder pointed out this morning, now they’re all just accusing each other of being pedophiles and threatening to sue one another for defamation. Whoops!
And these schisms are happening everywhere. Kanye West, who will not be banned from Twitter for his increasingly blatant antisemitism, is now working with Fuentes and washed up British right-wing influencer Milo Yiannopoulos, and causing drama all over the MAGAsphere. Last week, the three had dinner with Trump at Mar-A-Lago and created a massive controversy, with many of Trump’s allies condemning the meeting and then Trump’s other allies condemning Trump for disavowing the meting. West and Trump reportedly got into a fight about who would be who’s running mate in 2024. And Yiannopoulos has since said the whole thing was set-up to “make Trump’s life miserable.” And then this week, the trio went on a livestream with right-wing youtuber Tim Pool, where West eventually stormed out after Pool refused to agree with West that he was being targeted by a Jewish conspiracy.
Before Musk, West would have been banned from Twitter and slowly shrunk in relevance the way many deplatformed users have over the years. Instead, Fuentes and Yiannopoulos seem to be running West’s Twitter account, conducting Twitter polls about the Mar-A-Lago dinner, and retweeting Musk’s desperate tweets to Apple’s Tim Cook.
I’m not saying that we can write these groups off, but I think it’s also important recognize that these people are petty and spiteful and don’t work well together. They love drama and are addicted to posting and, I believe, the majority of them care more about monetizing attention than they do any coherent political project. And I don’t think letting them all back onto Twitter is going to go as smoothly as they think it will. No one can resist the gravitational pull of self-destructive Twitter drama, but that’s especially true for these people.
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The Chocolate Man Is Back
There’s an ongoing joke on Tumblr where users react with anger at new videos posted by chocolatier Amaury Guichon. There’s this sort of “what has he done now” kind of response you see from folks on the site. Unfortunately, the thumbnail for the embed will ruin the reveal, but let me tell you, when I realized what it was that he was building in this new video I, audibly, out loud to myself in my room, said, “oh, fuck off.”
What Is “Rizz”?
There’s a lot going on right now, so if you haven’t been paying close attention to TikTok, that’s understandable. Here’s a new piece of internet slang I haven’t seen anyone really talking about: “Rizz” is a term for your public pickup game.
It was coined by an influencer named Kai Cenat, who has three million subscribers on YouTube and another three million on TikTok. Cenat got his start on Twitch and according to Know Your Meme, the term “rizz” started circulating on his streams last December. I’ve seen some people call Cenat a pickup artist, but I actually think that’s a bit reductive. He’s more in line with creators like SNEAKO, who wrote I about a few weeks ago. There’s a new crop of misogynistic tough guy zoomer influencers who you could look at as sort of post-redpill. And what’s interesting (and troubling) about these creators is that their whole schtick is a lot stickier on TikTok.
I’m not sure if it’s algorithmic, generational, or just the way culture moves now, but this post-redpill cohort of pickup artist creators (I’d throw Andrew Tate in there too) are driving a lot of trends on the app in weird and often obscure ways. Hopefully, Gen Z figures out how embarrassing these guys are just as we did 15 years ago.
Turns Out Republicans May Have Been Taking Sam Bankman-Fried’s Money Too
An important revelation from a new interview with FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried: He claims he donated the same amount money to both Democrats and Republicans, but never disclosed that he was donating to the right. If he’s telling the truth, that would make him the fourth biggest donor to the GOP, according to writer Matt Stoller.
You can listen to the full interview with SBF over at Tiffany Fong’s YouTube channel. Fong is an independent crypto reporter and has been publishing different phone calls she’s been having with SBF, which are fascinating, if not, utterly confounding to listen to.
A.I. Animation Is Evolving Super Quickly
The above video is from the YouTube creator PromptMuse, who focuses on the emerging uses of A.I., particularly in graphics effects work. She walks through the process of creating a character on the Midjourney A.I., using another A.I. to animate its face, and then building it into a full model with Google’s DreamBooth. It’s a lot of jargon, but ultimately what this string of largely free tools lets you do is pose an A.I.-generated character in any way you want. It’s extremely cool.
While we’re talking about great leaps forward in A.I. animation, the #FakeZuck deepfake is startlingly good. We are so close to our first deepfake libel suit. I can feel it.
And, before we leave the world of the machines, researchers at Disney released a paper on their face re-aging network, or FRAN. It’s what they use to de-age all those Marvel and Star Wars actors.
This “Seven Nation Army” Cover Goes So Hard
I came across this video last night on Tumblr and it’s a few months old but I had missed it when it first went around. I think I like it better than the original?
Chuck Tingle Wrote A Horror Novel
Chuck Tingle, the pseudonymous author behind such internet classics as Angry Man Pounded By The Fear Of His Latent Gayness Over A Dinosaur Transitioning Into A Unicorn, Pounded By The Gay Color Changing Dress, Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt, and Pounded In The Butt By My Book "Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt," is publishing a horror novel called Camp Damascus that sounds extremely good.
It’s described as a “searing and earnest horror debut about the demons the queer community faces in America, the price of keeping secrets, and finding the courage to burn it all down.”
Tingle put out a trailer for the book, which comes out next year, on his newly-activated Tumblr. What’s craziest of all though is that the music in the trailer is from the seminal insect-themed grindcore band The Locust? Which rips.
I apologize if not a single thing in this section made any sense to you, but I assure you, it’s all very cool.
A Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a New England Hallmark movie.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
Kai cenat isn't the best role model, but to compare him to sneako, or describe him as a misogynistic tough guy is just wrong. I'm somewhat aware of him because I'm chronically online, and he's the opposite of a tough guy, he's short, high-energy, screams a lot, dances a lot, talks a lot, and jokes a lot.
Characterizing him as a misogynist is also a really far stretch. I'd describe him more as willing to use women for content, women he interacts with on social media are usually attractive or famous women also clout-chasing for their own followers, where the most misogynistic argument would be that these women are just reduced down to their beauty. And in the context of the hood world, where men are valuable only for their wealth and clout, this is better described as just superficial culture instead of misogynistic or anti-male culture.
The worst thing I've seen from him is transphobia, which is pretty prevalent among the hood culture he's from and appeals to, though that's not an excuse.
There is this misunderstanding among older people when popular streamers have Tate or someone on, and there's this association that because they're hosting Tate, they agree with his views or want to platform them, etc., when the streamers are usually these dumb cloutchasing kids following their own hustle/clout culture, with a completely different mental model where platforming isn't in their vocabulary, they see a controversial figure and they know they'll get views, so they'll get them on. Kai is part of that cloutchasing, "W" community but it's more of a chaotic chase for the algo, internet fame and popularity, than anything else. Whatever's trendy, they'll follow
I don't like that chocolate guy didn't take a huge bite of the table, if you're gonna make something that big edible a giant bite is called for. I give him credit for not making gross stuff like the cake fad though and actually kinda liked the video. I agree on the seven nation army video that went super hard.
I liked your breakdown of the layers of the right wing movement online, it was both thorough and relatively succinct. The phrase "insurrection level of glee" was really good too. A lot of right wing drama is spilling over to the split over the current gay marriage bill, but it'll be interesting to watch it all play out over the next primary season.
I'll make sure when I'm on tiktok to look for instances of rizz, I'm so siloed I only come across a trend when it's been kinda hornified. Definitely was not expecting a garbage day return mention of the top G Andrew Cobra Tate (thought that dude fell off a cliff for a while).