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The Radicalization Of Giggle Palooza
Read to the end for a good thread about the creative process
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Your Grandparents’ Meme Page Joins The Insurrection
Giggle Palooza is a Facebook page with 1.6 million followers. It was created in 2011 and is essentially just a super basic meme page for old people. There’s a ton of Garfield on this thing.
The screenshot above is what the page looked like in August 2019. As you can see, some of it is vaguely conservative, but for the most part, the memes it’s posting are a pretty harmless mix of email FWDs, bad cartoons, and old people jokes. The coffee one in the lower left is sort of funny.
Giggle Palooza’s main feed, right now, however, is awash in far-right propaganda and paranoid fascistic ramblings. Last week, Giggle Palooza appears to have briefly gone offline for sharing insurrectionist content.
According to screenshots sent to me by a Garbage Day reader named Henry, four days after the coup, Giggle Palooza shared a now-deleted live video created by a pastor named Wade McKinney, who warned that next week President Trump will declare 30 days of martial law and take back the country. (A mirror of the video is still up on YouTube because of course it is.)
From what I can tell, Giggle Palooza is primarily run by a man who identifies himself as Rodney Hunt. He is a Trump supporter and has appeared in videos wearing Trump 2020 gear before. He is also possibly a QAnon supporter.
Hunt was a fairly standard conservative and Giggle Palooza reflects that. The page regularly posts extremely patriotic images, celebrates the American military and law enforcement, and shares a lot of Christian content. Hunt also loves Minions.
I wanted to figure out exactly when Giggle Palooza radicalized. So I scrolled through six years worth of its memes on its images section. Over the years, the images it has posted would occasionally get political, but in a normal shitty novelty T-shirt you would buy next to a casino kind of way.
Giggle Palooza would react to whatever was going on in the conservative news cycle. It made memes criticizing the Obama administration. In 2016, it had a brief All Lives Matter phase. The first mention of Donald Trump in a meme on the page was April 2016 and, in 2017, it celebrated Trump becoming president. In November 2018, a bunch of way more intense political memes briefly started appearing, before dying down. But it has remained overwhelmingly just goofy Facebook chum for conservative old people.
I figured I would have to scroll just as far back on its wall to figure out when it began interspersing these cutesy memes with right-wing conspiracy theories. Turns out I actually didn’t have to scroll very far back at all.
As of last spring, Giggle Palooza’s wall had almost zero “news” content, only memes and those weird Facebook text macros that boomers love. Then, as lockdown started to really take effect last April, the started posting anti-masker jokes. A week later, it shared a Fox News clip about the Justice Department dropping the criminal case against Michael Flynn. A week after that, the page shared an anti-lockdown Matt Walsh tweet. A few days after that, Hunt posted a photo of himself in a QAnon shirt. A week after that, the page shared a Dan Bongino video. On May 30, it shared a Ben Shapiro post about the SpaceX launch.
Then the Black Lives Matter protests begun. In June, Giggle Palooza made a few posts about the protests. Some of its posts were removed by Facebook. Still, though, as of July, the page was 99% meme content. On July 4, Giggle Palooza shared a fairly apolitical Sean Hannity clip. On July 21, the page shared another Hannity clip about Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis gun couple. The next day, the page shared a Trump press conference.
By August, Giggle Palooza was posting #SaveTheChildren content. Its posts were regularly getting flagged by Facebook fact checkers. It was sharing articles from The Blaze. It was posting local news articles about child trafficking. On September 16, the page posted a status update: “This election is a good versus evil election. If you can’t see which party is doing all the evil you aren’t having your eyes open.”
In another status update the same day, Hunt wrote, “If phones [and] internet go down don’t freak out. Just know some really bad people are getting taken down.”
By September, it was sharing posts from Trump’s Facebook page. The memes were slowing down. It was all Dan Bongino, The Blaze, and Hannity. Under certain posts, Giggle Palooza subscribers even tried and push back against the overwhelmingly far-right content. A user in one comment section dropped in a Lincoln Project clip. During one week in October, the page went two whole days posting only right-wing propaganda, including a post from Ben Garrison. Giggle Palooza on October 18 told its users that Trump was planning to send his political enemies to Guantanamo Bay.
As I said above, it has 1.6 million followers and has spent 10 years sharing literally the most basic memes you could ever imagine. Since late October, though, there have been almost no memes posted to Giggle Palooza’s wall. It is now posting QAnon content and warning its followers that a military dictatorship is imminent. It is fully radicalized.
As much as Facebook wants to downplay or outright deny what its platform does to people, it’s undeniable that something is happening here. I mean, if it can happen to Giggle Palooza…
The page, incidentally, hasn’t changed its “about” section. When you first visit Giggle Palooza, it still greets you with a nice cheery upbeat message: “Post a laugh, have a giggle and most of all it's all for fun. Life is too short not to giggle now and then.”
The Potato Cake
This video hit like four different group chats I am in all at the same time yesterday. For a brief moment, my entire digital experience was nothing but potato. Anyways, this looks dope. Anyone who says they wouldn’t try it is lying. I feel like this would be especially good with spicy mustard or something.
The Most Sensual Canoe Video I’ve Ever Seen
This was sent to me by a Garbage Day reader named Louise. I love it. This video is from 2007. It was filmed at the Midwest Canoe Symposium. This is apparently “freestyle canoeing,” which I guess is like normal canoeing, but you aren’t trying to go in any particular direction?
A Redditor Is Deradicalized By Anime Girl Streamers
This was posted to Reddit’s extremely good QAnonCasualties subreddit a few days ago. The OP explains how they were pulled out of the Q cult:
What got me out of QAnon was something that was frankly rather silly. Late November 2020, I stumbled upon Vtubers (Gawr Gura to be exact), and I spent less time with the QAnon community before severing it entirely. I know it sounds silly and somewhat pathetic that this out of all things got me away from QAnon but I am glad it's had that positive impact.
This is, of course, objectively funny. V-Tubers, if you aren’t familiar, are streamers that use motion capture suits to look like anime girls. But, as funny as this, the comments beneath this post really provide a good look at how one of the main ways people get sucked into QAnon is because they feel bored, lonely, and unimportant. Here’s one comment I thought that was particularly good:
Anecdotally, this makes a lot of sense. I have a former friend that's really into QAnon and he really just has nothing going on in his life. he's 35, unemployed, living with his dad. He's only held an occasional minimum wage job.
QAnon must have made him feel super important. Suddenly he was part of something big and it made him feel important. It so quickly devoured his identity that there's just no way to get out unless he can develop a new identity to replace QAnon.
Oh, and, uh, in case you were curious. Here’s what the V-Tuber Gawr Gura looks like:
According to the V-Tuber wiki, Gawr is from the Lost City of Atlantis, knows a lot of shark facts, and is good at rhythm games.
Twitter user @devtesla made a good point about this, which was that V-Tubers might be the only kind of internet content that is as regularly long and rambling as QAnon videos.
Gawr We Go One, We Go All, I guess.
A TikToker’s Mom Accidentally Got Him An Ahegao Shirt
On Wednesday, I wrote about a French guy who went on TV in an ahegao (anime cum face) face mask. I am not exactly psyched about how common this stuff is popping up these days.
The TikToker above, @oniincteam, has been posting a series of videos about his mom accidentally getting him an anime porn sweatshirt for Christmas. You can click through and watch them all. Warning: They’re a little rough, but they’re also kind of cute? This was sent to me by Garbage Day reader Dana.
One Last Piece Of Sea Shanty Content, I Swear
My frenemy Mitch sent me this. One time, when I was living in London, I went to a Zara and was sort of in a hurry. I think I was about to go traveling or something and realized I didn’t have enough clothes. Anyways, I grabbed a pair of pants and shirt that both looked fine, without trying them on, and off I went. I got to my hotel later on and finally tried them on. The pants were the weird stretchy Love Island man tights you see in the video above and the shirt was cut like the dude on the far left’s, where it bunches up around your stomach to make it look like you have abs. Except, I don’t have abs, so the whole outfit just made me look like Dr. Robotnik.
Let’s See How The Donald Is Doing
Cool and normal stuff, as always.
P.S. here’s a good thread about the creative process.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***