Barry Deutsch

A Deplorable Nexus

#deplorable | #WhatTheyVotedFor

"Shame on The Daily Beast for stealing this joke headline from our draft folder, we [puts finger to ear] ah, I see" [@pointclickbait, via Twitter, 29 August 2017]

The tweet is not a joke. Or, as Brian Patrick Byrne really does explain for the Daily Beast:

On Friday, Persson, who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014, tweeted “(pizzagate is real),” to his almost 3.9 million followers. The tweet immediately caught the attention of a vocal crowd of supporters that continues to believe a debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats led a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.

When The Daily Beast asked Persson to clarify his beliefs on Friday, the 38-year-old responded: “I feel more like people are picking one of two sides emotionally in this incredibly insanely huge binary split, much like politics.”

However, shortly afterward, Persson embarked on a verbose defense of Pizzagate. The man who publicly called Zoe Quinn, the initial victim of Gamergate, a “cunt” in June, rallied up even more support among ardent believers, writing: “People are saying there’s a lot of suspect codewords including the word ‘pizza’. That place has very disturbing art and social media.”

Persson was referring to Comet Ping Pong, the name of the pizzeria from where conspiracy theorists falsely believe Clinton, and her former campaign chairman John Podesta, operated a child sex trafficking ring in its basement, despite the shop having no basement. The theory was born out of what believers say are coded messages in Podesta’s emails, like “pizza” for “little boy,” made public by Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential election.

And, you know, while it is easy enough to appeal to any excuse to recall Elton John, but sometimes the answer is simply no. We already know this story and its sickness, and while it is easy enough to say this is all about supremacism and lulz, at some point these facts are supposed to mean something. We might suggest this is an astonishing nexus of deplorability, but would be overstating the circumstance. Predictable is hardly astonishing, and a steaming heap of blended whatnot does not a nexus make.

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@pointclickbait. “Shame on The Daily Beast for stealing this joke headline from our draft folder, we [puts finger to ear] ah, I see”. Twitter. 29 August 2017.

Byrne, Brian Patrick. “Minecraft Creator Alleges Global Conspiracy Involving Pizzagate, a ‘Manufactured Race War,’ a Missing Tabloid Toddler, and Holistic Medicine”. The Daily Beast. 29 August 2017.

(h/t to Barry Deutsch.)

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Overthinking the #Brodumb

#fandom | #brodom | #brodumb

Detail of Ampersand by Barry Deutsch, 19 January 2017

Some days it is easy enough to overthink things. To wit, I keep thinking some wise commentary goes here. Just click and read. I mean, it’s not like I need to stop and explain this one, right, boys? We all know what this is about, right? Even if we need Barry to explain it for us?

No, really, just click the damn link; as you can see, the explanation even comes with pictures.

What? Do I have to tell you she’s hot, or something? I … y’know … I mean … okay, whatever … er … ah … moves you … or, y’know … whatever.

(sigh)

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Image note: Detail of Ampersand by Barry Deutsch, 19 January 2017

A Disappointing Discussion

Detail of 'Ampersand' by Barry Deutsch, 1 September 2010.

This is not none of my business:

And even though I wanted to reply, to put each of those scared little baby men in their place, I held my tongue, I privated my account, and I waited in my car outside Ralph’s daycare until my hands stopped shaking and my heart slowed down.

I did this because unlike these men, with online pseudonyms, it’s me online. My face, my name. And because I am afraid of retaliation, I had to hide on the Internet the same way I’d have to run and lock my front door if this man had said that to my face.

That. Is. Rape. Culture.

It’s a group of men who are so threatened by the existence of female opinion that it’s nothing to them to toss off a tweet like that. Because, can’t I take a joke? Because, why am I such a bitch when a man just wants me to smile? Because, what business do I have posting a *gasp* selfie and telling men how to treat me?

This exchange, in the big scheme of things, is nothing. Really, these people are nothing to me and I could just keep ignoring it and pretend it never happened and hope that they let me slide out of their part of the Internet and stay on the sunny side. I’ve watched my husband die in my arms so on the scale of Shit That Matters, a few tweets… don’t.

Even in the big picture of the cesspool that is Twitter (Jack, dude, get it under control), this is nothing. Women experience worse. Every day.

That’s why this matters.

And this is stupid.

No, not what Nora McInerny Purmort has to say. No, no … that’s not what’s stupid. That she or anyone else still needs to say it is what’s stupid.

And, yes, I get to be disappointed that we must have this discussion.

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Overdue

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, 'Girls'.

One note about the passing of time is that the ravages of age compel me to recall―

It’s one thing to have swallowed “the red pill” in a small town in which your pick-up artist (PUA) exploits are likely to become general knowledge, but it’s another thing entirely to be an “alpha” on the prowl who also writes a blog and does a podcast about his conquests — especially after they become general knowledge.

Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop's owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and blog their ideas and behavior.  (Uncredited photo via Salon.com)That is precisely the situation that two PUAs — Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens — find themselves in after Ashevilleblog published an article (based on information gleaned from an anonymous blog) about the owners of Waking Life Espresso and the online accounts of their exploits at Holistic Game and a Twitter account by the same name.

It’s not surprising that the West Asheville community is protesting and boycotting the coffee shop — especially the female members of it, who learned on Twitter that they’re not human beings so much as “an endless supply of hot young pussy,” or that “there are no ‘special’ girls,” merely “cool ones and lame ones.” The lames ones, according to the Holistic Game blog, “could help themselves immensely by reading a few classic novels and working out a little [but] they get attention regardless, so the motivation to better themselves isn’t present.”

(Kaufman)

―that not so long ago the idea of a pickup artist was regarded somewhere between being hapless, charming, and forgivable to the one, and admirable to the other.

This is, in its turn, worth mentioning because in the twenty-first century American society seems especially prone to forgetfulness about matters historical. It is one thing to point out the obvious but esoteric Schwarzkopf cycleα, for instance; but quite another to see a decade like the eighties so forgotten―fashion is one thing, but it’s not just Republicans who forget Ronald Reagan’s presidency, or the fights over abortion or condoms or even marital rape.

The idea of the pickup artist is particularly reviled right now, and for reasons we might consider exceptionally obvious. But it seems strange, in the age of #NotAllMen and #JustNotMe, how many of my peers seem a bit cloudy on the issue of how important it was for guys to get laid―by a girl!―when we were younger. And it’s one thing to invoke ego defense, but, really, what drives such suppression? Can self-indictment really be so powerful? Because, I swear, they’re not all running from memories of evils committed. And just how many self-inflicted wounds, such as it is, could they possibly visit upon themselves? Deutsch-20141009-detailOr is it possible that we really have been wandering so catastrophically astray for so long without even knowing it? The proposition seems unrealistic for both magnitude and necessary complexity. Yet one point at least remains occulted: How can we possibly forget?

Still, though, the question of the pickup artist has to do with refinement and ritualization of so much masculine privilege and subordinate expectation breathing life into one of the darkest and most persistent corrosions of our human clay. And as purity cult roars its disdainful lament, we ought not wonder why this most superficial art of charlatanry also finds itself bearing the sort of scrutiny it simply cannot withstand. The pickup artist is a distillation of what hashtags of wounded masculine pride would hope to ward off.

This is an unfortunate truth: The days of the pickup artist will never be over. But this is a time in which the mythopoeic station of this lonely, notorious art can be uprooted and redefined according to what it actually is and does.

And, you know, it really is about time.

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Image notes: Top ― Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, “Girls”. Middle ― Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop’s owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and promote their ideas and behavior via social media. (Photo via Salon.com) Bottom ― Detail of cartoon by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.

α The Schwarzkopf cycle is a superficial frame for viewing history, starting with the period between 1953-91. At the front end is Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., who helped overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq; the latter is when his son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., led American forces in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, whose influence and respectability depended in large part on the American response to the Iranian reaction to Shah Reza Palavi. Explicitly: From father to son, it was still the same mission. And we are, of course, still working to clean up that mess, today.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “North Carolina coffee shop on the rocks after misogynistic owners outed as podcasting, blogging red-pill enthusiasts”. Salon. 22 September 2015.

The Unbearble Burden of Wealth

Detail of 'Ampersand' by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2011, via LeftyCartoons.com

“What about when I get to the convention? Last time, I was sitting in a box. This time, I may not even get a ticket!”

Anonymous Bush Donor

Among theses you just don’t hear much about was one that arrived in a college catalog some years ago, showing off the work of their graduates. A Master’s degree was awarded for a paper connecting the French Revolution to fashion styles demanding distressed clothing. Think professionally-ripped, stone-washed skinny jeans circa the hair-glam years. And, to be certain, it makes sense. Tattered, battle-weary revolutionaries stumbling home victorious; ’tis a romantic image, we might suppose, if the horrors of war count for romance.

The late Benjamin DeMott called the modern phenomenon Omni Syndrome, in which the object is to conform to the styles and standards of the largest demographic classifications within a society. Thus the dictator plays up his revolutionary history; politicians argue about log cabins and bread bags; the rich and famous want to be seen as just like everybody else, but only as long as it advances their careers.

There was a time when being a millionaire meant something in these United States. Omni Syndrome is so easily twisted that a presidential candidate can argue that a multimillionaire is “middle class”. And now these middle-class millionaires hope to complain that their extraordinary influence is waning.

“Staffers”? Politically engaged millionaires have been reduced to hearing from aides rather than the candidates themselves? The horror.

Evidently, in this new environment, with a proliferation of hyper-wealthy donors, mere millionaires don’t receive the consideration and responsiveness to which they’ve grown accustomed. Neese told the Post that the major Republican presidential hopefuls are “only going to people who are multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires.”

One former Bush Ranger complained, “What about when I get to the convention? Last time, I was sitting in a box. This time, I may not even get a ticket!” ....

.... The piece added that there’s “palpable angst” among donors who used to receive VIP treatment, but whose phones no longer ring: “One longtime bundler recently fielded a call from a dispirited executive on his yacht, who complained, ‘We just don’t count anymore.'”

(Benen)

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A Cheeky Chickie Champloo

Detail of 'Ampersand', by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.  (Remix November, 2014.)The thing about “prevention” advocacy is that it can actually empower what it seeks to “prevent”. Consider all the things we deign to inform women about rape; there comes a point when telling women what they should and shouldn’t do becomes a quality of life issue. To wit, what about your clothes? When you go out on the town, wear clothes and shoes suitable for running, and you know, get a better haircut. At some point it sounds like this infintite prevention advocacy comes down to: “Plan your life around being sexually assaulted.” This would seem to invoke some sort of quality of life issue. Human rights. Who the hell other than women do we expect to live in perpetual fear?

No, really. Think about it. A year and a half ago, amid a string of sexual assaults and attempted abductions, Anna Minard of The Stranger (Seattle’s Only Newspaper) threw down the obvious gauntlet:

So, to review: Seattleites—and let’s be honest, we’re talking mostly to women here—as you go about your business, constantly scan your surroundings, memorizing detailed physical descriptions of people you encounter. Always know, down to the exact block, where you are and where the nearest security guard is and the hours of nearby businesses. Wear running shoes and loose, appropriate clothing—aka clothing appropriate for running away in. Bring your cell phone, but don’t use it to listen to music or text. And as you walk through the city like a human danger-scanner, walk confidently and keep your face neutral. You’re “in charge”!The Stranger

WHAT THE FUCK?

I’m sure the police department is working to solve these crimes. I’m sure they just want to remind people that we live in a city and crime is real and it can happen to you. But this is exactly the kind of shit that we are talking about when we talk about women being raised in a culture of fear and conditioned to certain behaviors and expectations—like the expectation that we’re the ducks in a giant game of Duck Hunt™ ....

.... Here, as a refresher, are the best rape prevention tips I’ve ever read:

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

That is the conversation I would like to see happening at the Seattle Police Department, and not just among women on women’s blogs. Not a convoluted and ever-growing list of how to prevent your own rape by wearing the right non-rapey hairstyle or crossing the street in the most anti-rape fashion or sleeping in past the raping hour.

That is not helping women and, obviously, it is not ending rape.

We might mention this particular iteration for any number of reasons, suffice to say that there do exist in this world social circles where the 2013 events in Seattle triggered a long-running dispute between associates, a microcosmic reiteration of a genuinely ridiculous debate.

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Required Laughter

After some absolutely depressing required reading, is it fair to say this is required humor? After all, it’s something of a bitter laugh, but also very important.

Deutsch-20141009-detailFor those not acquainted with the cartoons of Barry Deutsch, now would be an excellent time to acquaint yourself.

Additionally, we might reflect on a certain phenomenon; there really is nothing about Deutsch’s villain in this one that strikes me as unusual. That is to say, for those who attempt to engage these issues, the only difference between the cartoon and all too frequent real occasions is the last panel, when the dude just comes right out and says it.

And, yeah, that part is a bit depressing. But you might as well print a copy to carry in your pocket. After all, if you’re the sort who discusses issues of rape culture, it won’t be long before you have an opportunity—and obligation—to pass it along to someone you know.

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