Monday, July 03, 2017

Beat the Press

It seemed like a joke for so long, that once people actually started taking it seriously, it was too late. The clay-eaters, in their earthy wisdom, had decided on their own sets of truth and facts, and had appointed their ideal avatar to represent them in all their empirical confusion. Gotta nuke somethin', right?

And so, in our post-millennial, post-irony, post-reality subsistence, it inevitably came to pass that this avatar, an impossibly small man in every way but with a large arsenal (giggity), decided to attack a corporate media entity for daring to report the truth about him. In that light, it made wondrous sense that he would choose to do so by retweeting a video of him pretending to pin Vince McMahon.

Imagine all that:  a fake billionaire, who spent the previous decade pretending to fire unemployable morons who didn't really work for him in the first place on a fake teevee show, somehow tumbles into the most important job on the planet, and as a cartoonish show of strength, promotes a doctored image of himself participating in the most fake "sport" in existence. (Also keep in mind that the head of that much-hated "fake news" network also helmed the network that aired the fake-boss show -- so, you know....) It's so on-the-nose, true absurdists such as Kafka and Vonnegut look on from the shadow plane and shake their heads at it.

It is going to be enormously difficult for creative people to keep up with the scenery-chewing destruction of this wood-chipper administration. I have a feeling most of them will throw their hands up at the sheer futility of it all and create purposefully escapist drivel in order to cope.

The sprig of withered parsley to this truck-stop buffet is that the retweeted image was created by some Reddit douchebag with a clear and nasty history of going after Muslims, blacks, Jews. Shocking, I know. These dumb motherfuckers chugged the kool-aid, and may never come out of their hangover. At any rate, this is (as I have been pointing out for months) textbook cult behavior, and such a thing takes much longer than five months to undo the culmination of years of Hutu Power Radio programming.

The process takes longer in a system with norms and institutions, but it is the same process nonetheless -- delegitimize and dehumanize. Declare the norms and institutions problematic to The Righteous Cause of MAGA, and the participants of such things as a subversive fifth column.

Count me in as one who ridiculed Scott "Dilbert" Adams' posts on why Emperor Snowflake was succeeding as a candidate and would eventually win, but it has become clear that he was correct on many things. First, we have to accept several things as givens:
  • If Snowflake has a skill, it is as a marketer and promoter. Let's face it -- he's been selling America the same ol' flaming bag of shit for decades now, and they can't get enough of it.
  • In the internets age, one of the most potent tools marketers have available to them is split (or A/B) testing. The marketer has at least two ideas in the bag to try out on potential customers, and they may try them concurrently in separate venues, or consecutively in the same venue or multiple venues. You can see where the possible combinations can surface rapidly. A skilled internet (or, get this -- social media) marketer will niche simultaneous marketing strategies depending on the content outlet.
  • The Mercer family backed Snowflake hard, and provided him with the necessary marketing data. Between their stake in Breitbart and their ownership of Cambridge Analytica, they provided Snowflake with sophisticated data and tools to target voters, and propaganda outlets (including Fixed Noise as well) with which to fine-tune that message. Facebook and Twitter played immensely in that strategy as well, obviously. Also, the Russians.
  • The strategy of the internet marketer (which Adams leaned on in many of his posts supporting Snowflake) can be boiled down to "move fast and break things." Of course, this is completely at odds with the staid, moribund, mechanical processes of Big Gubmint. For the Snowflake admin team, it was a selling point, and now it's an operational point. This is why the wealth-care bill has been such a clusterfuck from the word go. This is why they really haven't been able to get much done, for which we should be grateful for the time being.
But the last point also illustrates why Congress and the media have had such a difficult time adjusting to How Things Are Now. They are focused on procedural mistakes and breaches of etiquette, when the fact of the matter is that the cult deliberately eschewed those things when they cast their lot.

When people Americans think of "civil war," they tend to think of heroic struggles among brothers in empty fields, equally valiant sides opposing in an ideological equilibrium. More often than not, this is something people who are ignorant of the specifics tell each other in order to reassure themselves that people are essentially Good. The reality of that tends to be one side fighting against an injustice gleefully perpetrated by the other side. The sides are almost never equally balanced, whether in size or in having a moral center, or in engaging in the fight with reasoning based on good faith.

The main difference now, though, for better or worse, is that one side is not shy or embarrassed at all about their disdain for facts or even a fixity of purpose and basic definition. They have collectively decided that "facts" and "truth" are whatever the emperor says they are on a given day, and if that changes tomorrow or next week, they just roll with it. If he says he never said the thing we all just saw and heard him say, they buy it without thought or question.

This makes it just about impossible to counter with anything from the rational world, for politicians, the media, and ordinary people. About all you can do is wait for the incompetence and chaos to peel away the base as reality hits them, one by one. And it will happen, on a variety of fronts -- natural disaster, terrorist attack, economic slump, trade war, real war, probably all of the above to some degree. Even then, some of them will stick with him. As the saying goes, you can't fix stupid.

But the media need to face reality as well, and decide what their best collective course of action should be against aggressive agitprop. It's a very real problem that the firehose of incompetence overwhelms their ability to report it all, as well as the audience's ability to absorb it all.

So when they expend too much time or space fixating on his trolling and taunting them, that takes away from their ability to get something more substantive out in front of everyone. Reminders of how unfit the occupant is for the office just end up as more choir-preaching.

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