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The Groypers Know About Your Newsletter
American conservatism right now is extremely fractured and confusing. You have traditional Republicans, MAGA diehards waiting for Trump to announce a run for a second term, QAnon influencers gaining more and more actual real world influence, the still very much 4chan-influenced Gen Z far-right Groyper movement advocating for a white ethnostate, violent far-right militias and extremists, and, most recently, a growing network of trans-critical center-right columnists and newsletter writers (who are obsessed with internet drama).
These groups very rarely agree on anything and have extremely tedious ideological battles with each other all day on Twitter. One topic they have fought about often over the last month is Israel. Traditional Republicans and many Trump diehards support Israel, while white nationalists, far-right extremists, and some of the newer center-right newsletter guys tend to be extremely against America’s support of Israel.
Earlier this month, Nicholas Fuentes, the de facto leader of the Groypers, got into a bit of a Twitter spat with Michael Tracey, a journalist who has scoffed at masks during the pandemic, been dismissive of January’s insurrection at the Capitol, and is, of course, critical of trans people. Tracey recently moved to Substack, where he published a post recently attacking American conservatives for defending Israel’s recent missile strikes in Palestine. Fuentes, like many young white nationalists, is also aggressively against American conservatives supporting Israel, but took issue with Tracey ignoring the Groypers’ long-standing hatred of Israel when writing about why so-called America First Trump supporters would side with Israel. All of this led to this exchange between the two:
Fuentes’ response went viral, being shared by folks like the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel. It’s an astoundingly clear-eyed explanation of how young far-right leaders like Fuentes see this new network of so-called liberal free speech newsletter warriors.
Over the last six months, writers like Tracey have begun to amass large audiences on places like Substack because they’re tapping into a real desire for a “return to normalcy” among older white middle-class Americans who feel completely exhausted by, but are also very obsessed with, the country’s ongoing “culture war”. And these readers don’t trust traditional news outlets, which for the most part, did completely shit the bed covering the Trump administration. Most importantly, these people don’t want to feel conservative, but also only want to read conservative talking points. And writers like Tracey are happy to oblige.
Fuentes’ tweet is a darkly funny reminder that even though Trump is doing open mic nights at Mar-a-Largo now or whatever, far-right influencers still understand the internet as a 24/7 info war. Fuentes is intent on continuing Steve Bannon’s 2015 playbook of using internet content to push “the Overton window” of society further and further to the right and the Substack writers like Tracey, whether they think they are or not, are part of this. Because everything this.
Far-right internet users, particularly younger ones, are actually pretty good at showing how they see the world. Yes, they weaponize irony, but I tend to think most of their memes are actually pretty good windows into how they operate. For instance, here’s a meme I came across earlier this month. Notice among all the other kinds of conservatives here, there, in the top right corner, is “the Substack Guy.”
The meme was tweeted by Matthew Foldi, a writer for the Washington Free Beacon, who captioned it “Which con are you?” It’s still a good picture of how young conservatives like Fuentes view the world.
Regardless of whether or not you think the info war of the Trump era is over, it isn’t. The interest groups that helped him get elected and seized on his presidency to make America a more racist and violent place did not magically go away. And, most importantly, they see your Substack posts and they do not care if you don’t think you’re helping them, they think you are a “useful tool” for their agenda and are happy to use your content to wage their war.
A PR Firm Is Looking For Influencers To Push Vaccine Disinfo
Earlier this week, BBC producer Charlie Haynes tweeted out postings from a “mysterious London based PR agency” looking for French influencers who are comfortable pushing disinformation about the Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines.
A French science influencer named Léo Grasset, who has a YouTube channel called DirtyBiology, also posted about “a partnership proposal which consists of breaking down the Pfizer vaccine on video.” Grasset, in his tweet, said the client wanted to remain anonymous and was offering a huge budget.
French outlet Numerama published the name of the agency that was pushing the disinfo campaign. They’re called Fazze. Amid all the attention on Twitter, their website briefly went down and their Instagram went private, but they work in influencer marketing, which they say, “focuses on influential people and not on the target market. It can identify individuals that can potentially attract buyers for your product.” Pretty boilerplate marketing nonsense.
As disinfo researcher Erin Gallagher pointed out, this isn’t actually an uncommon tactic for spreading digital chaos. In my experience, most of the really high-level coordinated content that you would consider fake news is actually spread by agencies that function like marketing firms. They target influencers, sometimes give them money, and then seed out stories. As for why a group like Fazze would be paying influencers to discredit vaccines, the Guardian notes that the claims it wanted influencers to repeat are very similar to the content posted by the Twitter account for Russia’s Sputnik V. 🤔🤔🤔
The Curious Case Of The New CW Powerpuff Girls Script
If you didn’t know, the CW is developing a live action Powerpuff Girls series. And it has not been going well! First, set photos leaked, which revealed some pretty cosplay-grade costumes. Then, an official image of the Powerpuff Girls dropped, which basically just looked like Riverdale. And this is to say nothing of the weird Mojo Jojo Jr. casting. The show was meant to be a gritty soap opera about the Powerpuff Girls as adults reuniting to save Townsville. CW then announced this week that the pilot was getting a major reworking and being reshot.
Well, a script from the show leaked online and it was so tremendously awful that most people assumed that it was fake. For reasons I’ll get to in a second, I don’t want to share any of it, but the version I saw included multiple uses of the phrase “hate boner”?
I’m actually pretty positive that, if things had been left at that, there’s a good chance that no one would have ever believed it was real. Except, CW decided to start copyright striking users that were sharing it.
Which, whether they meant to or not, pretty much confirmed for users that the script was, in fact, real and also made them spread it even further. Parts of it are all over my Tumblr dashboard right now.
The Streisand Effect strikes again!
Two Opposite, But Equally Valid Takes On Twitter Discourse
First, a tweet from YouTube creator Carlos Maza. I really relate to this. It’s gotten to the point where I can barely look at Twitter on the weekends or after work.
And, second, another tweet, by comedian George Civeris, which I also agree with. Twitter is a virtual cage we choose to live in.
And to answer his question, I assume The Eternals, like all Marvel films, will help promote the American military-industrial complex and transnational surveillance capitalism. But I also really want to watch it.
A New Very Good “Hot Tub” Stream Dropped
I’ve written a few times about the ongoing controversy on Twitch about women streamers going live in bikinis from hot tubs and kiddie pools. Last week, Twitch announced that it would not be banning hot tub streams and actually went so far as to make a new category on the site titled, “Pools, Hut Tubs, and Beaches”. Well, there’s a very exciting new streamer that has been blowing up since they started going live in the category: Introducing Marine Mammal Rescue!
It’s a feed of otters. From Canada! It was dropped into the Garbage Day Discord by Kestrel. It’s super cute. You can head over to the Marine Mammal Rescue’s website to read up on all the otters.
Let’s Check In On NFTS
It’s been a while since we talked about NFTs. I find them fascinating, but I know that the majority of my audience think they’re boring, at best, or at worst, large-scale ecoterrorism.
There are two conflicting reports out that paint two very different pictures of the NFT market right now. According to a report from Business Insider, based on data from NFT platform nonfungible.com, the total NFT market has seen almost a 30% decline between the end of March and the end of April. Yikes. But, according to a report from Invezz.com last week, NFTs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Invezz acknowledged a dip in the market in April, but thinks NFTs could reach a trade volume of $175 million by the fall. Why do they think that? They cite attention from Major League Baseball, major football clubs, and big recent NFT auctions at Christie’s.
Whether or not NFTs are booming or busting, they are still pretty embarrassing. In fact, people are buying and selling NFT race horses on a website called Zed Run. The site even supports a “breeding” option, though it appears to be down right now.
As one Tumblr user wrote, “Congrats on reselling Neopets but for rich people…”
And, finally, in a convergence that either means we are literal hours away from a global depression the likes of which humanity has never seen before or we’re about to enter the singularity, GameStop has launched an NFT platform.
Welcome To The Nightmare That Is Jar Jar Anon
My friend Cates sent me this post this week. I can honestly say it’s physically exhausting to read and I can’t really stop thinking about it. It’s also pretty NSFW, though there are no images involved. I don’t want to spoil too much about it, but what I can say is that it involves Jar Jar Binks and it is truly cursed. Here’s one reaction from the notes:
Click through at your own risk!
A Cool Tweet About An Unlocked Safe
Here’s A Guy Smoking Weed Out Of A Pickle
This was sent to me last night while I was streaming on Twitch. Yes, this is a video were a guy smokes weed out of a pickle, but stick around for the horrifying and incredible twist!
***Any typos in this newsletter are on purpose actually***