The Trump Presidency: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
“One year after the presidential election, John Oliver discusses what
we’ve learned so far [delegitimizing the media, whataboutism, and trolling] and enlists our catheter cowboy to teach Donald
Trump what he hasn’t.“
This article is the absolute gold standard of tracking the evolution of a certain segment of online geek culture as it went from lonely snickering failures to unabashed self-aware Trump supporters.
I cannot praise this work highly enough, or excerpt it shortly enough to accurately encompass its scope and clarity and illumination into what I thought I already knew.
I have never seen any examination of the borne-out consequences of 4chan “culture” that was as thoroughly wrought as this. It is brilliant.
It must be read in full to be understood, and it is a long read.
Still, to give you an idea, here are some choice paragraphs to provide an incomplete skeleton of the fully-fleshed work:
And thus the campaign proceeded like the video game it wasn’t. Menus of “target lists” were drawn up, their enemies (mostly women they wanted to harrass) labelled “warriors”. 4chan users pretended a furious amount of mouse clicking and virtual action would somehow translate into a concrete reward appearing in their computer screens, like it does, say, in World of Warcraft.
All that work cracking Skype accounts with wordlists did not yield the tangible reward of evidence of a cabal. The real world behaves differently than a video game. There were shades of grey. It disappointed. What you did and what you got for your efforts were muddled. It was more challenging than the safe spaces of a video game, carefully crafted to accommodate gamers and make them feel — well, the exact opposite of how they felt interacting in the real world — effective. In the fantasy world of the game, actions achieved ends.
It was almost as if all these disaffected young men were waiting for a figure to come along who, having achieved nothing in his life, pretended as though he had achieved everything, who by using the tools of fantasy, could transmute their loserdom (in 4chan parlance, their “fail”), into “win”.
To younger generations who never had such jobs, who had only the mythology of such jobs (rather a whimsical snapshot of the 1950s frozen in time by America’s ideology) this part of the narrative is clear. America, and perhaps existence itself is a cascade of empty promises and advertisements — that is to say, fantasy worlds, expectations that will never be realized “IRL”, but perhaps consumed briefly in small snatches of commodified pleasure.
Thus these Trump supporters hold a different sort of ideology, not one of “when will my horse come in”, but a trolling self-effacing, “I know my horse will never come in”. That is to say, younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets — only his own — because, after all, it’s plain as day there was never any other option.
Trump’s ventures of course, represent this fantasy: this hope that the working man, against the odds dictated by his knowledge, experience, or hard work will one day strike it rich — Trump University, late night real estate schemes, the casinos. Trump himself, who inherited his wealth, represents the classic lucky sap.
But Trump also equally represents the knowledge that all of that is a lie, a scam that’s much older than you are, a fantasy that we can dwell in though it will never become true, like a video game.
Trump, in other words, is a way of owning and celebrating being taken advantage of.
Trump embodies buying the losing bet that will never be placed.
He is both despair and cruel arrogant dismissal, the fantasy of winning and the pain of losing mingled into one potion.
For this reason, the left should stop expecting Trump’s supporters to be upset when he doesn’t fulfill his promises.
Support for Trump is an acknowledgement that the promise is empty.
He is both the “promise” (the labyrinth”, the “alpha”) and the empty center (“the promise betrayed”, the “beta”), in a sublime, hilarious combination that perfectly reflects the worldview of his supporters.
In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:
2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.
3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.
And after that, the tone turns there-but-for-the-grace-of-god personal before providing further examination of how the left and its stance on gender fails to help that third pillar.
Excerpting more would only lengthen this post. Suffice to say, the last fifth of the article takes what is already priceless and shines it to a mirror finish. I want to keep it under glass on a velvet cushion.
Oh, and it turns out the author has a Tumblr, too. @daleberan. Go read his work. Read it and learn more about your world.
During a rally on Saturday, Trump attacked European refugee policies by quoting a terrorist attack that happened in Sweden - according to him, at least. “You look at what happened last night in Sweden, who would believe this?” Literally nobody. Cause nothing happened the other night in Sweden.
In late January, a photo of Trump and his close circle went viral because it was the literal definition of a boys’ club. The kicker? The president was signing a law that blocks foreign organizations from receiving federal aid if they provide abortions or even abortion counseling. On Friday, Isabella Lövin — Swedish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate — posted an eerily similar photo.
neoliberals: I don’t know why black people are so outraged about the latest outrageous racist thing against black people, when we should obviously be more concerned with the thing that white people are outraged about. Really, don’t we have more important things to be concerned with right now?
me: Why do they always try to concern troll us, and imply that our valid grievances are divisive, minor distractions? Unless it’s another black person being murdered by cops, why are we always expected to put our issues on the back burner to rally around whatever white people decide is “more” important? Black people are perfectly capable of being concerned with multiple issues simultaneously. We can be concerned with Bill Maher’s casual racism, and “allies” who used prison slave labor, and lack of media representation, and Donald Trump, all at the same time. It’s dismissive and paternalistic when people suggest otherwise