Slasher Movies, Ralph Nader, and WikiLeaks

Slasher pic

Today is the fifteenth of August and the seventeenth anniversary of the theatrical release of Freddy vs. Jason. To my disappointment, the film and its title have not become a popular metaphor for the grim dichotomy of American presidential elections, even though the parallels could not be easier to draw. However, there was a moment in time when Alien vs. Predator, a film that debuted sixteen years ago this past Thursday, did become just such a byword. “Kerry vs. Bush: whoever wins, we lose.” So muttered many a political critic in the march to November 2004, but four years later, in a world already exposed to Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, few said the same of Obama vs. McCain. By that time, nonpartisanship—a concept we now dishonestly refer to as “cynicism”—was passing rapidly out of fashion, and with it the notion of a difference without a distinction, especially across party lines. In the furious present, an age of relentless proselytization, only we who are continually freeing ourselves from the Matrix cannot find a difference between Democrats, Republicans, and the bogeymen of slasher cinema.

“Well, yes, I’ll admit that Trump has an awful lot in common with Jason, but Hillary Clinton is a really good person. How can you compare her to Freddy Krueger? At the absolute minimum, you have to admit she would have been a lot better than Trump.” We can already hear the neoliberals’ feeble rebuttal, the only protest that they are capable of. Now is not the time to engage them in an ineffectual debate, not when we have spent the last several years explaining to them the same basic point: “The Democrats and the Republicans differ only in style and never in substance.” To put it another way—and this observation I wouldn’t have made without my latest viewing of Freddy vs. Jason—they exploit different psychological techniques to beguile the susceptible public. There is a popular meme that depicts sheep voting between a lion and a wolf, but perhaps it would be more accurate to ask: “Which predator do you fear the most?”

Of course, their greatest fear is neither the lion nor the wolf, but the unseen alternative—even, and especially, if that third choice is the best choice. The neoliberals do not despise Trump above all; if they did, then they wouldn’t have tried to impeach him and hand the reins to Pence, who is much more Trumpish than Trump could ever hope to be. They contemplate Trump more frequently than they do any other political figure, and they pelt him more often with insults, as well, but he seldom arouses their sincerest spite. They reserve their most acid and acidic bile for third-party presidential nominees, past and present. Compare the joyous, energetic, and often creative mockery that floods Trump’s Twitter feed with the bitter, indignant, and repetitious scorn that Ralph Nader inspired on this most recent Thursday.

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Standing in the Ruins of Freedomain Radio

“Rational cynicism is politics plus time.” So observed Stefan Molyneux in his satirical analysis of the 2012 American presidential election, a contest on which, we were warned repeatedly, the fate of civilization depended. This force of fate, as nebulous as it is notorious, finally gravitated towards Barack Obama, the unofficial mascot of the Affordable Care Act, and rejected Mitt Romney, the same Act’s unrepentant architect. For all of the panicked prognostication, nothing of note changed in Washington, D.C. Much, however, changed in cyberspace, as Molyneux abandoned his interest in anarcho-capitalism, and thereby the entire basis for his attacks on the establishment, and became a neoconservative. The man who had once refused to say a kind word about Ron Paul, lest he give credence to the possibility of effective government, was now praising Dinesh D’Souza’s jingoistic documentaries. What had effected such a substantive intellectual transformation? Had Molyneux really come to believe in the virtue of right-wing authoritarianism, or had he, the joyous capitalist, cynically elected to exploit the dearth of neoconservative expression in the underground media?

These questions appear to be of very little relevance today, as YouTube has scrapped Molyneux’s channel after too many people accused him of peddling “hateful” propaganda. Presumably, these critics of his were less concerned with his ideological reversal (a betrayal of his cause, in my view) than they were with his sustained curiosity for female fertility and “racial intelligence”, the former oftentimes expressed by scolding women for having children after they reached the age of thirty, and the latter summarized by the argument that white people are genetically superior to blacks. It was all a melancholy reminder of how far he’d fallen, how the man who once offered a thoughtful critique of American feminism with Karen Straughan and articulated the virtues of the free market with Peter Schiff was now floating in the muck of the alt-right. None of it warranted his expulsion from the airwaves, of course, but it did raise some cruelly amusing questions about the sagacity of his choice to pursue profit and popular appeal at the expense of the integrity, however limited, that he once possessed.

To answer my own question, then: Molyneux began catering (or pandering) to right-wingers, not because he believed in the virtue of their views, but as a business decision, an opportunity to grow his brand. We might even credit him for his prescience, as he was contemplating this shift at least one year before Donald Trump commenced his presidential conquest. He found a niche—one that was plainly visible, yet one that the rest of us couldn’t see—and he sought to fill it, thereby setting a precedent for other independent neoconservative commentators. His comparative irrelevance in the year 2020, his unremarkable status as one such figure among so many others, is probably the surest sign of his success, although the victory, as it were, seems pretty hollow and unsatisfying to those of us who discovered his work ten years ago, at least, and who remember what he once did. If the demise of his YouTube channel is the demise of his career, for lack of better word—and it probably will be, as he lacks Alex Jones’s celebrity status and notoriety—then the occasion ought to feel more momentous than it does. Molyneux was the first YouTube commentator I encountered as I was beginning to become disconnected from the Matrix, and while I moved on from him more than seven years ago—well before he dabbled in the unbecoming subjects mentioned above; it was actually an uninformed review of the work of Lionel Shriver that initially made me suspicious of Molyneux—still I wonder why I don’t feel anything as I stand in the ruins of Freedomain Radio.

Notes from the Secret White People Meetings


My grandmother never lived to witness Trump’s inauguration. She died of multiple organ failure a few days before, declining so rapidly that she was effectively dead for twenty-four hours before her heart finally quit. She didn’t vote in the final election of her life, either, believing, rightly, that both of the candidates were too repulsive to deserve anyone’s support. Was she lucky to miss out on the psychic shockwave, elusive yet pervasive, that has rocked this nation in the three subsequent years? That, I can’t say, but when the news media is overloaded with grisly absurdities and comic grotesqueries (not an uncommon state of affairs, these days), she is usually the first person to come to my mind: “Holy fucking Christ, I’m glad Grammy isn’t around to see this.”

She was around, though, to see plenty in her nearly-ninety years. She saw a cop in South Carolina shoot Walter Scott three times in the back; it would have been quite the challenge to shoot him in the chest, as he was running away from the cop and towards the street. The cop, now a murderer, informed his masters that Scott tried to steal one of his weapons, but a video recording of the crime, captured without the murderer’s knowledge, exposed both his lie and his attempt to plant evidence of it. Wikipedia alleges that this scandal generated “a widespread controversy”, but I don’t recall anyone discussing it more than once, or for more than one day. In any case, Walter Scott did not become a (white) household name, unlike Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, two murdered men who dwarfed Scott in mass media coverage.

My grandmother had no stomach for violence, nor did she have a fixed view of colored Americans. Commenting on Scott’s demise, she asked my sister: “What do you think of the intelligence of the blacks?” Grimacing in disgusted disbelief, my father answered for her: “There’s plenty of dumbass white people, mom! Oh my God!” This, mind you, was a few years after she scolded my aunt, her daughter, for advising my sister to date white men only. “Oh, stop it!” my grandmother said with a dismissive flap of her hand. “This isn’t thirty or forty years ago. This is a different time!” Indeed, it was a very different time: America’s first black president had just ended a successful re-election campaign, much to the delight of my aunt and uncle on the other side of my family tree. They think Barack Obama was the greatest president in American history, and they will tell anyone who cares to listen—including my cousin, whom they disowned when she married a black man, but whom they welcomed back into their lives after she divorced him.

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Tom Brady and the Age of Piracy


We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack

Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

Maraud and embezzle and even hijack

Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

On March 16th, as millions of citizens of the wealthiest nation in recorded history were prohibited by legal decree from going to work and earning a living, yet simultaneously compelled by the same force of law to meet all of their financial obligations, a man named Tom Brady was commanding his valet to prepare his Aston Martin for an early exit. As this vehicle, valued at $360,000, turned the corner and poured its headlights over Brady’s face, could the driver spy the indignation in his eyes? Brady was leaving the mansion—one of the mansions, excuse me—owned by Robert Kraft, a geriatric billionaire with a penchant for prostitution and an affectionate relationship with Donald Trump. For the last twenty years, Brady had been one of Kraft’s employees, collecting over $230 million in modest compensation to throw a football and wear the New England Patriots’ jerseys. However, when Kraft asked Brady to take $23 million to do it again for four months in the autumn of 2020, Brady blew a wet raspberry, rather than swallow the insult, and announced his resignation. He wouldn’t be treated like some powerless peasant, and Kraft really ought to have known better than to treat him as such: surely he couldn’t be so boorish as to expect Brady to break his back for peanuts?

Forty-eight hours later, as landlords and slumlords throughout the country were battling the federal government to retain their right to demand rent from the unemployed, Brady was grinning hungrily as he signed a much more respectable contract. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owned by a group of stock and oil speculators with close ties to the Bush family, had agreed to pay Brady between $25 and $30 million to play football, minus those pesky state taxes that Kraft’s employees must pay in Massachusetts. As he signed his new agreement, Brady was wearing a Swiss watch decorated with elaborate military homage, and still available for sale at more than twelve grand. Perhaps he bought it to mark the occasion, or maybe even earlier, to celebrate the sale of his Los Angeles mansion, a transaction that netted Brady almost $30 million in profit. It’s unclear why he wanted to leave Los Angeles—or, for that matter, why he owns a separate home in Costa Rica—but he may have finally grown tired of the city’s homeless population, which threatens to exceed sixty thousand.

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America Has Already Elected a Female President

warren 4

If third-wave American feminism perished with Hillary Clinton’s second presidential run, then the fourth wave shall be necessarily defined by its proponents’ efforts, successful or failed, to recapture Clinton’s cultural clout. It was painful, even humiliating, for me to compose the preceding, putrid sentence; imagine living out such a distasteful fate, one which was enthusiastically pursued by four of the six women who most recently competed for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Only Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson rejected this fatuous standard out of hand, and they were handsomely rewarded for their intellectual curiosity: the corporate media exiled them and the neoliberal bourgeoisie condemned them as contumacious heretics. What, might I ask, is a heretical woman in this instance? A non-woman? A womanly other? A woman with conditions, exceptions, or qualifications?

Maybe the more appropriate question is: who defines womanhood in the twenty-first century or in any other? The answer has been cleverly concealed by the political establishment. Typically, it is the conservative who faces accusations that he is attempting to control women, physically as well as politically. Naturally, this accusation is delivered by the liberal, who might be a woman or might be a man, but who invariably depicts the archetypal right-wing conservative as a man. If we accept the liberal’s imagery, and if we continue in the spirit of this portrait, then there is but one plausible conclusion: while perhaps not all men are conservatives, all women are and must be liberals. This subconscious apprehension gives rise to the conscious characterization of the Trumpeter as a bitter white male—the final noun being the most important word.

We can discover another, more interesting example in the interminable debate on abortion. I have noticed the liberal’s flourishing preference to describe abortion as “women’s health care issues”, as if the procedure somehow requires euphemistic costume. Less ambiguous is the language with which they frame the debate: “Men are trying to control women’s bodies.” Even if we share their interpretation of the psychic motivation of the anti-abortion lobby, a leisurely glance at the masses protesting outside of Planned Parenthood reveals an unexpected abundance of women picketing. Their commonality is their religious fanaticism, a subject that corporate feminism will never touch. Meanwhile, a surprisingly large number of men support the widespread legalization of abortion, which is probably the more important rebuttal to the liberal’s claim that men stand united against abortion rights while women uniformly favor them. Modern American liberalism is conspicuously insecure about the diversity of opinion, especially on the issues that have become the cornerstone of its political call.

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