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It Came from Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump Into Office

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One problem with the "identity politics are neoliberal" dismissal is that it can't account for the central place of transphobia in the current conservative mindset or come up with a way to fight; instead, Beran dismisses LGBTQ identity as totally co-opted by capitalism, like every counterculture from the '60s forward, without grappling with the murderous persistence of homophobia and transphobia. It's a nice hook for a publisher, but 4chan and Tumblr are eddies in the current, not "skeleton keys. In terms of interpretation of this story, Beran is on somewhat shakier ground, but makes some decent connections and points. This interpretation of the "economic left" - itself a bizarre conflation of liberalism and populism from which Marxism is absent - would be news to Africa, South America, and Asia.

All of this dovetailed with the use of sex in the workplace as Playboy had modeled it: as a way to sell status, pleasure, and permission. Still, I feel inspired to build a society where young people aren't pushed towards those sorts of conclusions. I’m not sure why I avoided the fate of women like the user Loli-Chan, who was groomed by trolls from a young age to trade sexual images for virtual currency.

Each time a counterculture was snagged, it was then transformed, like a vampire, into a soulless husk that served the enemy. In It Came from Something Awful, Beran uses his insider’s knowledge and natural storytelling ability to chronicle 4chan’s strange journey from creating rage-comics to inciting riots to–according to some–memeing Donald Trump into the White House.

The joke with that latter example is that prospects are so grim that fictional characters are likelier romantic partners. In her 1983 book The Hearts of Men, Barbara Ehrenreich described how, prior to the 60s countercultural revolution, men were constrained into the ideological role of breadwinner. And oddly, the first escape out of these oppressive expectations didn’t come from the counterculture, but from Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine.I remember reading an interview with David Simon about the real life people that inspired the main characters on The Wire: The street level wheelers and dealers that sway with the tides of power and sometimes influence it in their own weird way, all connected in a twisted ecosystem.

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