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Plugging Along, Afraid to Go Outside
The modem would chirp and chatter and a few minutes later a portal would open to all the pirated music a young boy could dream of. When I was growing up, I was fascinated by the computer in my parent’s basement. I could have never imagined that the ramblings of dial-up would one day grow muted, yet alone that the experience of the internet would become seamlessly integrated into my minute-to-minute lifestyle.
In many ways, it’s incredible. In some ways, it festers my resentment.
I am utterly addicted to the notifications on my glass rectangle of escape. This is the byproduct of careful design choices and—if I’m being honest—a level of self-control mishaps. During the pandemic, my animosity for social media has deepened.
I keep wondering what degree of “normal” will return post-pandemic. I already worry that I’ll have to re-learn social interactions and reform social circles. This era of time has shown who deeply cares about me and who I feel I need to have around.
I know it's been a slow year,
Nothing much to show here
But strictly speaking,
I'm still on track
Serial Liars Lie, Newspaper Prints Lies
Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman are among the least savvy political operatives I have encountered during my time covering the political right-wing, and that’s saying something. I’ve often wondered if they ever actually intend to dupe people with their preposterous lies.
Anyway, these two blundering oafs managed to trick The Washington Post.
Early Monday morning, a fresh Twitter account started tweeting out videos it claimed showed Burkman's home being raided by what appeared to be dozens of FBI agents. Finally, some people thought, the duo's antics had caught up with them.
I will admit that I initially (although, to my credit, briefly) was left with the impression the raid had actually occurred. But the longer I thought about it the more I thought: “We are talking about Wohl and Burkman, here. Come on.”
The Daily Dot was among the first to creidbly cast doubt on the alleged FBI raid, with reporter Zachary Petrizzo noting that the FBI garb worn by some of the men pictured closely resembled that available to buy on Amazon. The Daily Beast followed up shortly after with a story that quoted an actor hired for the hoax production, who provided “documentary evidence to back up his assertions, including emails from an address bearing the name of a company Wohl once ran.”
To its credit, The Post fessed up to getting had in an editor’s note and a follow-up story. Reporters Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi noted that The Post had failed to meet industry standards regarding the type of stories.
News organizations usually are reluctant to report on police activities without direct confirmation from an authoritative source; in this instance, Burkman and Wohl were the only ones to confirm the events in the original version of the story.
Despite warnings far-and-wide about the dangerous of misinformation online, the message has yet to sink in to the degree it should. Serial liars often lie. A newspaper of record should know better.
Rage Against the ‘Cuties’
Right-wing audiences and now several Republicans in Congress are finally standing up for what really matters. I’m not talking about healthcare, living wages, or even fair taxes—that’s trivial. I’m talking about the new-to-Netflix film Cuties.
Cuties is an award-winning film by French Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré’. The plot line of the film follows an 11-year-old as she comes to age and tries to find her place in her community, offering a critical look at the roles that femininity and self-image play with young girls in Western society.
As The New York Times reports, the film was released in France without much controversy. But in the United States, the film has become a cultural flashpoint for QAnon conspiracy theorists and members of the U.S. Congress, alike. NYT reports:
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, sent a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Netflix, the company’s executives or the filmmakers violated federal laws “against the production and distribution of child pornography.”
Similarly, Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, called on the Justice Department to “take swift action.”
Cruz has not even viewed the film. Cotton won’t say if he has.
Much of the outrage against Cuties was sparked by Netflix’s choice of poster to advertise the film. Here’s how Netflix advertised the film versus its original in France:
For right-wing keyboard culture warriors, the poster seemed to be a slam-dunk. An image of young girls in hyper-sexualized poses was easy fodder to get mad online about. But Slate’s write-up of the outrage behind the movie noted this important point:
The movie presents those images in order to critique them, in a way that could not possibly be more clear: When Amy and the titular dance troupe she’s formed with three schoolmates finally perform in front of an audience, Doucouré repeatedly cuts away to the disgusted adults watching them, some booing, some covering their children’s eyes.
Scenes in the film are meant to be unsettling; that is precisely the point. They would hopefully inspire some introspection about the way women are incentivized in society. But instead it revealed something much more damning: GOP members of Congress are using their posts to play into right-wing online outrage culture instead of serving the people they are supposed to represent.
Like and Subscribe to Give Me Healthcare
Daniel Keem, known by his online alias “Keemstar,” has the brain of a 17-year-old boy. He has millions of followers online and a recent interaction revealed in plain terms how he relates to them: a source of cashflow.
Keem is a grifter and fraud. His job is to be shocked and outraged online, even on days where the fodder just isn’t there—often to the detriment of the people he targets. When he gets it wrong, he will not apologize. He is 38 years old.
The Latest Episode
In the latest episode of SH!TPOST, I spoke to Spencer Sunshine, who authored the latest edition of “40 Ways to Fight Fascists: Street-Legal Tactics for Community Activists.” The guide contains legal, nonviolent methods for combating far-right organizing at the community level.