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A Tragic Tale of Tools

#lulz | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Trying to explain #pizzagate reminds of an old lyricα: “Baring your soul was the in thing to do. It’s fun and it’s easy for an empty-headed fool.” And it’s true, those recalling the period closely―and thus painfully―enough, yes, the line works well enough. Indeed, we might cringe recalling Iron John and the mythic Fire in the Belly, but the vinyl memory also brings to mind a trend of men exploring their feelings, shedding fear about shedding tears, and, of course, reinforcing the stereotypes they would ostensibly otherwise break by pursuing their feminine sides. It is then, merely coincidental―or, you know, not, given how the interconnectedness of all things is most affecting of our lives when asserting through the historical record―that scattershot assertions of traditional masculinity find themselves so close to an invented scandal asserting child sexual exploitation by one group while relying on an opposing group wallowing in child rape fantasies.

Never mind. Andrew Breiner takes his turn for Salon:

But a small number of people on message boards like 4chan and Reddit were more interested in seemingly mundane emails about small social gatherings and parties hosted by Podesta and his friends. Specifically, they noticed that these emails mentioned pizza a few times.

Boldly disregarding the simple explanation that the emailers, like most Americans, eat pizza regularly and find it to be an easy food to serve and eat while socializing, self-appointed Internet detectives decided that “pizza” was a complex code for pedophilia. Using this code, Pizzagaters claim, Podesta and his well-heeled pals could brazenly discuss their plans for throwing disgusting sex parties exploiting enslaved children, in between exchanges about Clinton’s campaign strategy and setting up conference calls.

It’s important to note that since the theories that would become Pizzagate began on 4chan and Reddit, sites known for trolling people with cruel, complicated pranks, it’s likely that many of the conspiracy theory’s originators were joking―coming up with absurdities to entertain themselves.

But it took a very short time for /r/Pizzagate, the now-closed Pizzagate-focused Reddit subforum, or subreddit, to fill with people who appeared to be true believers. The theory also became popular on Reddit’s “The Donald,” a hub for Trump supporters. From there, Pizzagate caught the attention of conservative fake news sites, minor white supremacist celebrities, and supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It’s been amplified for unknown reasons by Twitter bots traced to the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Vietnam.

To the one, we can only reiterate the question of whether or not Trump supporters are complaisant assets to the machinations of international interests, but perhaps more importantly we should note, to the other, the question of lulz.

That is to say, we might recall Brendan Gauthier’s report for Salon in September:

Perhaps the most noteworthy admission came from a 4chan user who openly acknowledged the big scary alt-right’s satirical (and inflammatory) edge: “CTR shills still not realising that pol is a board of satire and our only mission is to meme the retarded manchild to the white house for the lulz.”

This is one of those weird facets we might wish to pay some attention to. Overseas twitterbots are sufficient to move a soft-headed religious fanatic to terrorize a pizzeria as a means of taking up arms against Hillary Clinton; the lulzaholics ought to be proud, but what about the rest of Donald Trump’s supporters?

In the end, it’s all the same. They get played by Russian trolls, international misinformation bloggers, and botnets around the world because they want to.

It is easy enough to remind that it always has been about supremacism and lulz; as the excuses fall away, what else will be left?

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α Memory insists it comes from a Seattle band from the late eighties into the early nineties called Chemistry Set, but that vinyl echo is really dusty.

Image note: Naota gets screwed. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, “Fire Starter”.)

Breiner, Andrew. “Pizzagate, explained: Everything you want to know about the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria conspiracy theory but are too afraid to search for on Reddit”. Salon. 10 Deceember 2016.

Gauthier, Brendan. “Pepe’s post-debate identity crisis: Online alt-right turns on Donald Trump after his presidential debate fiasco”. Salon. 27 September 2016.

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Comic Relief (Facebook Feeley Mix)

Facebook trending widget, 13 May 2015, 19:55 PDT: "A.J. Feeley: Former NFL Quarterback Says Tom Brady Used Broken-In Balls in 2004 Game"A world without copy editors.

Or, rather, a world without copy editors who aren’t utterly demoralized for being reduced to redline spotters.

It doesn’t matter that they turned the greenlines off; greenlines don’t see Freudian ghosts everywhere.

Ah, Facebook!

And, you know, given that the company has unethically screwed with users before in the name of some twisted assertion of social science, we would not blame those who wonder if maybe this isn’t deliberate. You know, two really depressing notes, and then Feeley on Brady’s balls being broken-in.

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Image note: Facebook trending widget, 13 May 2015, 19:55 PDT:

A. J. Feeley: Former NFL Quarterback Says Tom Brady Used Broken-In Balls in 2004 Game”

Literacy in the Time of Facebook

This is what it comes to.

Either Empire viewers are really, really stupid, or Facebook is.  Flip a coin.One of the underappreciated qualities of whatever excrement happens to be “trending” via social media is that we can discern a little something or other about the audience. You know, like a “Most Popular” sidebar in which we discover that for everything else going on, people would rather read about Rhianna going on vaction, or Jennifer Lawrence nude, or, hey, how about Martha Stewart having a threesome.

This is what we do with literacy.

I suppose, then, that while it is easy enough to say we shouldn’t be surprised that the season finale of a popular television series is trending, I’m not certain why the trending aspect is the fact that a finale is a two-hour episode.

But, you know, it’s Facebook, so … right.

Yeah. This is what we do with literacy.

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Image note: Facebook “trending” widget, 19 March 2015, 1:49 PDT. Apparently people who didn’t watch the show need to know how long it was. Wait a minute, that doesn’t work, does it? Why would we care? Oh, dear. That means either Empire viewers are really, really stupid, or Facebook is. Flip a coin.