TVTropes to explain the new administration

No common theme, setting, or characterization in fiction escapes the attention of the venerable TVTropes site. Whether you are looking for an explanation of component parts of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Bride of Chucky, the Wiki-like army of geek editors has every last part nailed down.

tv-logoAnd since nobody from either side can quite figure out what the hell is going on with our new administration, why not turn to TVTropes? Starting with…

THE WHITE HOUSE: The Deadly Decadent Court. The senior, paid officials of the regime.

SURROGATES, UNOFFICIAL ADVISERS, WASHOUTS, and MISCELLANEOUS HANGERS-ON.

and finally, THE TRUMP CLAN ITSELF

Enjoy the next four years!

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Bannon’s not exactly a Nazi. But…

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A recent Cracked post here summarizes the arguments on why punching Nazis like Richard Spencer is counter-productive. Basically, it’s like rubbing your itchy eyes when your have allergies: no matter how good it feels, it’s just making matters worse.

One big reason is that punching Spencer lets him play the victim card. Now, you may point out this seems ridiculous when the guy who’s whining about getting punched in the face also celebrated a fellow white supremacist literally murdering multiple Muslims in Quebec with this tweet:

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Which is still up on Twitter as of this writing.

… but this misses the point. You see, hypocrisy is not a bug of white supremacy and white nationalism, nor even a feature, but an absolutely critical component.

One central tenet of the Big Lie school of propaganda, beloved by both fascists and the far left, is to always accuse your enemies of that which you yourself are guilty of. For instance, fascists love to accuse others of censoring their viewpoints and trampling their First Amendment rights, despite the fact that fascists themselves instantly eliminate freedom of speech once in power. And as a corollary, they will cry to the heavens about any slight, real or imagined, suffered by themselves — but laugh and taunt when worse things happen to their enemies.

This hypocrisy exists because they feel like they deserve it. That white people deserve to get held to a better standard or, more accurately, that others deserve to be held to a worse standard. That a Nazi getting punched is worse than a Muslim getting shot because, for Spencer and other white supremacists, an innocent Muslim getting shot is on its own a moral good.

On this last part, white supremacists differ from their white nationalist cousins, and I hate that we are even having to devote energy to this ridiculous distinction, but it’s 2017 and here we are. And the two factions diverge from the same alt.right that held together until just after they helped get Trump elected.

White supremacists are today’s successors to the Klan and the Third Reich, and they are the racist boogeymen you learn of starting in grade school. There is no limit to their hate; more importantly, there is no strategy to their evil. What these guys never understood is that their nakedly evil rhetoric is precisely what keeps them on the fringes of society. Hardly anyone — not even hard-bitten Long Island Republicans or Milo-style trolls — wants to go that far.

And then we have the white nationalists, who are of course the real story of what’s going on these days. They apparently found their WS cousins useful during the campaign as shock troopers, but after Trump pulled off his win, they not-so-subtly parted ways, as evidenced by the split between Spencer and his WN counterpart, Mike Cernovich:

“There’s the alt-right [Cernovich said] which wants to do white identity politics, and then there’s people like me and Jeff [Giesea] who, we want to do nationalism without white identity politics… The alt-right’s dead.'” 

This from the guy who gladly described himself as alt-right up until he no longer needed to. Notorious Trump fanatic Bill Mitchell followed his lead, disavowing the alt-right and protesting to anyone who listens that he’s not a Nazi.

Nevertheless, the white nationalists share so many things in common with the white supremacists, that it doesn’t make sense to call them anything besides white nationalists, and not the term “economic nationalist” that’s preferred by the most powerful among their number, Steve Bannon.

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He hates this picture. Please don’t share it repeatedly on social media.

To be sure, they are smarter than the WS’s. They understand that the scary rhetoric from Spencer, Daily Stormer head Andrew Anglin, and low-level Nazis at the local bar or online forum deeply offend the average voter and are never going to make it in the mainstream. They know they have to work with existing institutions such as elections, rather than pinning their hopes on fantasies of a violent race war. And while they may be working to make America whiter, they happily utilize black allies such as Sheriff David Clarke or gay Jews such as Milo. After all, unlike WS’s, they don’t want people of different races, sexualities, or religions wiped out in a genocide. They’re quite alright with them, as long as they all live elsewhere and/or accept second-class status.

On this, our American WNs were taught well by their European peers. When Cernovich slams a WS for trying to bring up the “Jewish Question,” it’s not because he gives a damn about the Jews. It’s because he knows perfectly well that European WN parties with decades of experience such as the National Front, Sweden Democrats and UKIP only gained success by also (at least publicly) shunning such speech. They do quite well compared to Britain’s openly WS party, the BNP, which has faded to irrelevancy. Old racist hobbyhorses like the “Jewish Question” or reminiscing about lynchings are sure losers and have no place in the new politics. Nobody understands the new order better than the former (?) head of Breitbart, and Bannon knows we aren’t restarting old battles from the 1930s.

Bannon knows that now, it isn’t about oppressing minorities. It’s instead about privileging members of the majority. It isn’t coming down hard on opponents of the regime. It’s about unfairly enriching friends of the regime. It isn’t about actively hating women. It’s about only looking after the interests of men. By at least papering over the virulent hate that defines the WS movement, the WN’s message becomes acceptable to a large percentage of regular mainstream people and their quite valid concerns about open-borders immigration and the selfishness of our current ruling class, concerns which Bannon correctly observes are only addressed by political movements resembling his own.

But though they quite loudly split from their WS cousins soon after the election, they are still cut from the same stuff. After all, just a few months ago, the two flavors of fascism were working together, hand in glove. They agree on most of the big issues, after all: that America and Europe should be mostly white; that all of Islam, and not just the radicals like ISIS, constitute a grave enemy; that women should again become chattel, concerned only with Kinder, Küche, Kirche; and that they hate the liberal globalists so badly that any strategy, no matter how ethically wrong, is fair game — and that includes the Big Lie.

Thus, we have a Trump White House that most definitely does not believe in the Golden Rule or turning the cheek, but that your enemies should be hurting far worse than you are, or else you’re doing it wrong. Or as Trump himself said, “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it.”

Steve Bannon is not going to throw people in ovens or otherwise revive the Third Reich, as much as the WS wants it and as much as some alarmists fear it. But not because of any moral reason. It’s because the Third Reich lost, and if there’s one thing that Trump and Bannon believe in, it’s winning.

And he knows pointless oppression against blacks or Jews is counterproductive and would soon get his protegé impeached. But Muslims? Only the Left seems to care about them these days, and keeping Left and Right at each other’s throat is just an added bonus to oppressing a people that Bannon truly despises. Keeping Left and Right fighting each other while the ruling class does what it wants was a favored trick of Bush 43 and Obama, and Bannon wasted no time appropriating it.

Read Breitbart articles, especially pre-Trump archives (but post- Bannon taking over after the founder’s death), to get a good appreciation of what’s in store for the country. Breitbart is not the Daily Stormer and Bannon is not a Nazi. But he’s coming from the same zip code, at least, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Sick Sad World: the alt.right didn’t just make up the concept of “cuck”

sick-sad-worldNobody except Trump himself got more outsized coverage than the alt.right and its rogues’ gallery this past election. Hardly a news cycle went by without Milo, Mike Cernovich, Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor, or the anon troll army getting coverage due to one outrage or another. And, we all got to hear endlessly about their favorite insult: “cuck,” a term synonymous with the old white-supremacist term of “race-traitor,” meaning someone insufficiently racist or unwilling to oppress minorities.

The term “cuck” sprang from the fevered, paranoid mind of the racist white man and his ultimate fear: getting cheated on, or cuckolded, by a black man. Read enough of their online ramblings and you’ll note how much they obsess with the imagery of this in their insults of liberals, “normies,” and even each other. The fear of being cuckolded is near-universal among men, of course; male-dominated forums and social media channels, especially those of the alt.right, took this fear and amplified it by an order of magnitude. It was only natural that their insult “cuck” (and the related “cuckservative”) would bubble to the surface once the alt.right’s media coverage really took off in the fall of 2015. What I never saw explored by the media, though, was just how this weird cuckold fear took off to begin with, or what it represents about this men.

Except, no, they never invented it to begin with. Which, apparently, everyone but poor old sheltered me already knew. From this article posted in 2010:

This isn’t like swinging, and it’s not a threesome. Cuckolded men (aka “cucks”) only observe their wives’ infidelities, they don’t participate. And that’s why they find it a turn-on: They’re left out, looking on as the woman they love climaxes with a better man than them. It’s a form of psychological sadomasochism.

Dig down further and, paydirt:

But there’s also a somewhat uncomfortable racial angle to cuckolding. Cruise the galleries at cuckolding Web sites and you’ll see the same dynamic again and again: white husband, white wife, African-American other man. In cuck slang, these black men are dubbed “mandingos” or “bulls.”

So that explains that. All the word means is that Richard Spencer just reads more of Dan Savage’s column than I do.

It’s so hard to wrap my mind around how prevalent fetish culture and Rule 36 really are. It’s sort of like the difference between knowing what “one trillion dollars” means, and truly comprehending one trillion. It’s not a realm that I’ve ever entered, and I’ve never had a serious relationship with any girl who expressed any sort of interest, either. If you’ve only rarely been exposed to any sort of fetish IRL, it’s just not something that comes instinctively.

It says something about the porn-ified culture of ours that such concepts as cucking have become as natural topics of conversation as the weather — and it’s apparently not something we can pin on the alt.right, either. This all points to some deeper change in our culture, and not one I find all that welcome.

2016 Final Thoughts

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  • We’ve all seen all the “worst year ever” tweets and Facebook posts, and have maybe written more than a few ourselves. Know who really had one of the worst 2016’s? Huma Abedin. Just think. She started off the year as the next president’s right-hand woman, soon to have more influence than even Valerie Jarrett, and ended the year out of office, with no influence, no job other than with the withering, obsolescent Clinton Foundation; a laughingstock of an estranged husband that many believe gave Comey the ammunition to throw the election to Trump; a host of Dem insiders eager to blame her for the loss, rather than the idiotic campaign chairman John Podesta who allowed his email account to be phished, thus proving the maxim of men getting the credit and women getting the blame; the taint of being the female Sid Blumenthal only without Blumenthal’s vast resources to fall back on. I used to think of her as one of David Icke’s lizard people, but now it’s clear she may have been the only non-lizard-person in Hillary’s inner circle.
  • Trump gets a headstart to forming his expected autocratic kleptocracy via a compliant GOP Congress who will accede to his every whim. Sure, there are a few upstarts like Justin Amash who will protest, but they will soon find themselves outcasts in their own party. Other former #NeverTrumpers such as Ben Sasse quickly and quietly fell back into formation. And these fine Senators will rubber-stamp whichever obedient lapdog Trump will pick for the Supreme Court. And finally, the 2018 election map looks even more grim for the Democrats — and that’s even before the expected Putin- and Chavez-esque coopting of the election process that will be in place by then. America has finally established one of the necessary conditions for its destruction: one-party rule.
  • putin-strategyI expect the final dissolution of the United States to come via an Article V Convention. Basically, once convened, this national convention, backed by mirror state conventions in all 50 states, can alter the Constitution any way it pleases — or tear it up entirely. Putin, whose ultimate goal is revenge on the country he saw triumph over his beloved Soviet Union in 1991, is currently betting on a series of state secessions. He is funding both #CalExit and #Texit, but he’ll soon find these sputtering out with nowhere to go. The Article V Convention, however, has long been the goal of the far right to remake (i.e., destroy) the United States and purging it of dissident voices. Trump, of course, will need little urging to sign on to this. Conventional conservatives will help boost the process in Congress and state legislators, thinking they can control and guide the populist Trumpists who will really be in change. The Left, which has been pro-Russia and anti-America since the 1960s, will gladly sign on regardless; they mirror the strategy of German Communists circa 1932. It’s easy to see why Putin is currently thinking in terms of breakaway states: that is precisely what happened to the USSR in 1991. But once someone briefs him on the American Constitution and the Article V convention, he’ll shift strategies. Trumpists, of course, actually boast of taking orders from Moscow these days and will gladly accept the help. I talk more about that sort of convention here.
  • We’re seeing a similar thing happen to the EU, only with them, the secessionist strategy will be their undoing, beginning with Britain. Far-right, populist parties that now openly side with Trump surge in most countries. They are also fueled by the massive Islamic immigration crisis — and they are correct when they accuse the Establishment of encouraging ever-more Islamic immigration at the expense of secular-Western civilization. People like Le Pen are not lying about their enemies. The Establishment really is degenerate and failing, which is why our politics are so revolutionary all over these days. I’ve said it before: it’s best to think of political revolutions less as the radicals overpowering the Establishment and more of the Establishment being too weak, incompetent, selfish, and/or short-sighted to survive. Suicide, not homicide. After all, there are always people ready to light the torches and march on the palace. They can only succeed when the palace is too weak to fight back. The Russian Revolution, the French, the Iranian, the Chinese, the National Socialist — all took over from decrepit, incompetent Establishments that really did deserve to go, even if what came immediately after was worse. The same may be said of the West.
  • And the alt.right is not entirely wrong when they accuse our doomed Establishment of actively wanting to phase out white populations. I do see it all the time with coastal liberals, such as with the tweets of Buzzfeed writers. I don’t want to say much more about this because I don’t want to actually throw in with the Nazis, and to be honest, I personally have serious problems with white people because they have problems with me. I’ve never really been accepted by any white person, ever — starting with my own father. Black, Hispanic, and Persian people, however, never really had a problem with me or my eccentric mannerisms. One Dominican girl described me as “crazy enough that nobody will mess with you” on the streets of the Bronx, which was a hell of a compliment. White people, meanwhile, place enormous stock on the power and the joys of social exclusion. My white program director in residency was obsessed with destroying my career because I acted different. I never had white friends in grade school, only people of color. So much of white society is about expelling those who are different, mocking them, making them feel different, which is simply an alien concept for, say, black culture. (Would a complete weirdo like Kanye West have had even an ounce of his success if he were white?) But anyway. Rossalyn Warren, a more pure Establishment avatar than the combined boardrooms of Goldman Sachs and the New York Times Company, would love to see a brown America — just as long as they don’t live in her neighborhood. The alt.right is correct in this. As for me, unlike your typical Buzzfeed writer, I most definitely want people of color in my neighborhood. Have I mentioned that I live in Washington Heights?
  • Whatever the mess, we will survive. There will be the war, yes, but there will also be the post-war period. Never forget this, no matter how bad it gets.

The final word on identity politics and 2016

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After Nov. 8, there have been a lot, and I mean a LOT of hot takes on which to blame for that election outcome: what some see as the virulent racism of virtually all white people, just looking for an excuse to keep women and minorities down; or the sneering, woker-than-thou political correctness of people who say “all whites are racist” triggering a backlash?

sign-guyBernie Sanders even went on record leaning towards the latter. This is actually no surprise — we all know which way he goes on the social justice vs. socialism spectrum. But is he right?

Michelle Goldberg put up some closing arguments that, I think, represent the last, best answers we’ll get to this debate. Yes, the social justice warriors have much to answer for; on the other hand, there really are plenty of racial, gender, LGBT issues that need addressing, issues that Trump voters might be less than entirely understanding of, even if they aren’t burning crosses in their spare time.

Here’s one great paragraph out of many:

“Campus leftists who formerly disdained free speech will learn its absolute importance when faced with a regime that attacks protesters, the media, and dissenting artists. [Something I’ve ranted about plenty of times — they never stop to think what happens if it’s a conservative defining “hate speech.” -FC] Perhaps progressive activists, newly aware of how many Americans reject their intellectual priors, will stop responding to clumsy questions with a sneering, “It’s not my job to educate you.” I’d like to see the language of privilege jettisoned altogether in favor of civil rights or equal justice, since the number of people who want to see their own privilege dismantled is vanishingly small. Maybe Everyday Feminism, the website that encompasses everything insufferable about social justice culture, will finally be revealed as an elaborate right-wing psy-ops campaign.”

It is the job of the Democrats to look after the disadvantaged, and boy have they royally screwed the pooch. With their preening and strutting about oh, look how inclusive I am, they arrogantly assumed that flyover-country whites would be shamed into voting for their candidates — never even entertaining the notion that such voters would rather tell our professional tut-tutters to go screw themselves.

But at the same time, as Goldberg notes, many Trump voters go further than understandable contempt of SJWs. They do not see any point to racial, gender or LGBT rights whatsoever. Old-fashioned, FDR-style politics simply assume the white male is the center of the universe, and many working class whites mourn its passing. Trump, along with the GOP Congress, will only be looking after the interests of the rich while the lives of these workers will get only more miserable over the next four years, but they just don’t care — they voted Trump specifically because they do not want to throw in with black people, feminists, gay people, or them thar’ city folks who don’t share their values.

If the Democrats want to see any point to their continued existence, they cannot surrender on the minority rights that really are so important for so many people. I do not foresee too many challenges to racist voter suppression laws coming from Trump, the Ryan/McConnell congress, or our next Supreme Court nominee, after all. Yet, they must also turn their backs on the SJWs with their odious moral hectoring and thought policing that’s worse than anything the religious right ever came up with. Maybe the 2020 candidate can speak plainly: I’m fighting for people of color, women, and LGBT people not in order to tell you how great and pure of a person I am, or because diverse city life is somehow better than rural Iowa life, or to pour Syrian refugees into your small town while at the same time calling you racist for resenting it. I’m fighting for the underprivileged because it’s simply the right thing to do.

They still want to control your thoughts.

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The Establishment is in full retreat — at least in the political sphere.

The shocking passage of Brexit led to the fall of David Cameron’s government. Marine Le Pen and her National Front continue to grow in influence in France. Similar movements grow in Austria, Italy, Finland, even Sweden, that beating heart of open-borders liberal globalism. And, of course, you may have heard about the recent elections in America.

The reason: our Establishment rulers simply suck at their jobs. And their subjects know it. This is why this is happening. As with most populist revolutions — French, Russian, Iranian, Chinese, National Socialist, and so forth — what comes after the fall of the old regime will be even worse. Trump and his Trumpkins just want to make their own crude new Establishment, no less controlling than the last one. But that does not alter the fact that the old regimes before each revolution, including our current one, had become too decadent, too incompetent, too out of touch, too selfish, and really did deserve to get kicked off the stage of world history.

And despite the drubbing they’re getting at the polls across the globe, our elites, our Davos set, our ruling class have learned nothing.

A big component of the various populist uprisings is social media. After all, it’s not like the National Front could ever get positive coverage in the normal French media. So, Le Pen, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump rely on their followers (and paid trolls) sharing memes, news, half-truths, outright disinformation, whatever it takes, to their friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Neutral voters may get their interest piqued by such shares, follow the rabbit hole to anti-establishment websites, and soon find themselves converted.

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Unauthorized meme detected in sector K-492! Deploy the explainer drones now!

The Establishment notices this, and tellingly: They blame Facebook and other platforms for allowing such speech and not controlling their users. This top-down view of how the world works is precisely what got them in trouble to begin with — that our insular coastal elites are actually smart and wise enough to know what’s best, and that you rubes out in Ohio will always get yourselves in trouble without the gentle guiding hand of Matt Yglesias to control your thinking.

For instance, it is Facebook that drew the ire of Buzzfeed today for letting their fellow Establishmentarians down. Ryan Broderick, who’s been with Buzzfeed for years and has shown up on shows such as the Today Show, blames pro-Trump Facebook memes not on the people who create them, but on Mark Zuckerberg for allowing them to happen.

“But their memes have appeal and the most viral ones go mainstream,” Broderick writes. “Their Facebook pages get bigger. Algorithms identify that a user likes one particular page and suggest others, creating an echo-chamber effect that can lead to some pretty scary places.”

In other words, it’s Facebook’s fault for its industry-standard “similar things you may like” algorithm not steering its users like cattle away from anti-establishment content. As if a typical Breitbart pro-Trump propaganda piece should then be matched with a Vox explainer and a page where you can donate to the Hillary campaign to get wayward thought criminals back on the reservation.

Broderick then includes this astonishing paragraph:

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Thought control. He is talking about flat-out thought control.

My own opinion of Trump and his alt.right trolls may be readily surmised with a brief perusal of this blog. But at the same time, I know exactly where the anti-establishment rage that propelled him into office is coming from. It’s from university presidents treating themselves to ever-more-extravagant salaries and bonuses while tuition continues to outpace inflation. It’s about the university’s education quality continuing to erode in favor of establishment interests such as political correctness, the cult of diversity, and, often, the football team. (The latter because it’s not like having a strong English Lit curriculum is something that lends itself to bragging rights for members of the Board of Regents.)

It’s about feckless politicians and their cheerleaders in the NYC and London-based media pushing for ever-more immigration — and without any arguments as to why, other than calling all immigration opponents racist. It’s about said immigrants competing for working class jobs while the elite still live in majority-white neighborhoods with majority-white schools, all while tut-tutting about just how much more diverse and inclusive they are than you hicks in flyover country. It’s about the global economy increasingly benefiting the top 0.1% — mere one-percenters are pikers these days — while everyone else’s buying power seems to stagnate. It’s about blue-collar jobs getting outsourced to Mexico while the company executives still retain their plush corner offices, and writers for both the New York Times and National Review saying that’s just how the world works. It’s about plum jobs such as NBC News reporting gigs going to Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton purely on account of their parentage, while young plebians without the last names or without the connections can never break out. It’s about the Democratic Party floating trial balloons for Chelsea for Congress mere days after her mother’s crushing defeat, proving they’re trying for a repeat of 2016 in 2018.

And yes, it’s about the media elite believing, despite all evidence, that they know what’s best for you people. It’s about John Oliver and Amy Schumer and the above Ryan Broderick and Vox’s Ezra Klein actually believing more in the system than in the people who are failed daily by the system. And when the people go anti-establishment? It’s the system’s own fault for allowing improper meme-sharing!

You have to buy into the party orthodoxy hook, line, and sinker to even be considered for a position with Buzzfeed or some other NYC or London media outfit, or for a late-night comedy gig. And that’s on top of the connections and Ivy League degree required to even get an interview. It’s why John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Steven Colbert are all basically interchangeable. It’s why the staffers of Buzzfeed are so politically in lockstep with one another that even Bolsheviks have to be impressed. They’ve created this echo chamber, with the writers of the sites and the shows writing more for each other than their actual readers or viewers, seeing each other all the time on the L-train, never rubbing shoulders with Trump voters other than with the occasional Jane Goodall-esque, “Trump Voters in the Mist” piece looking at them like a different species. It’s no surprise that Broderick’s answer for Trump voters’ thoughtcrimes is the same one that Buzzfeed itself relies on for its employees: enforced ideological conformity. Unfortunately for Broderick, though: his editor Ben Smith can’t fire John Q. MAGA out in Iowa for wearing the wrong red hat. Therefore, his proposed solution is “safeguards” — quite the Orwellian word — for those that pursue Trump memes, or who are in his word, “radicalized.”

Broderick uses this word “radicalized” intentionally. There are already rules and procedures with social media companies to deal with ISIS and other terrorists who attempt to use their services. It would take little effort to expand these rules to include followers of Trump or Le Pen too, right? Buzzfeed can’t fire these voters from their jobs for their political heresies — so perhaps they can shame Zuckerberg to fire, or at least shadowban, them off Facebook instead.

The coastal media elite’s prescription after the Hillary loss is more of the same. I won’t ever like the clown fascism of the Trump Administration or the nonzero chance Cheeto Jesus will get us in a nuclear war because the Chinese president said something mean on Twitter. But I do like snotty, conformist writers in Brooklyn and London with breathtakingly easy lives and parents paying for their rent getting their metaphorical teeth kicked in. It’s just a shame they learned absolutely nothing from the experience.

No, not all games have to be a murder simulator.

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So, in other November 2016 news…

A recent piece by a gaming developer argues forcefully for the potential market for games not focused on killing and mayhem — “murder simulators,” as she calls them — and more on games focused on interactions and nurturing. Brie Code (how about that for a programmer’s last name; reminds me of the surgical resident I once knew with the last name Blades) boasts a resume that includes work on such slaughterfests as Company of Heroes and the Assassin’s Creed series, so she’s hardly coming at this as an outsider.

“Three years ago, for the first time, my friends who don’t like video games started to ask about video games,” Code says. “This was very exciting for me – I thought maybe I would finally be able to share the thing I love with the people I love. Spoiler: I was wrong. They didn’t become gamers after they played the games I recommended.”

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Why can’t you ever just talk it out, Corvo?

She goes on to recount how the gun- or sword-play of all the usual big titles like Skyrim turned them off. Even Journey, a seemingly innocent game with nary a dragon or assault rifle in sight, got the thumbs-down due to the presence of a snake out to get the heroine. But Code did notice something — one of her friends had had a major emotional investment in her relationship with an NPC in Skyrim, having to quit the game after that character got killed, as tends to happen in the land of the Seven Holds.

“Kristina said to me through her tears that she didn’t realize that you could develop an emotional attachment to a character in a video game. She didn’t realize that you could create your character and exist as a version of yourself in a world full of characters whom you care about. I had never realized that she didn’t know this, because I knew this so deeply.”

The problem is that there are so few gaming franchises where you can explore this without somebody trying to shoot you or a monster trying to eat your face. A retort to Code’s article soon showed us why.

“The walking simulator side believes games should focus on storytelling and have social justice messages, while the murder simulator group thinks games should be enjoyable to play,” sneers Kyle Foley for the conservative Heat Street site. “What Code is arguing is that games need to be more “compassionate” in order to be less boring, but she could not be more wrong.”

He goes on to talk about the mayhem he dials up in Grand Theft Auto V as an example of fun. And I personally agree! GTA, and other slaughterhouse franchises like Elder Scrolls, Gears of War, and Warframe sure are fun to us guys. So are strategy games, the vast majority of which boil down to some version of playing war like young boys do with toy soldiers.

What do most young girls play?

Yes, many girls do enjoy the online killfests despite the rampant “tits or gtfo” sexism of your typical gaming chat lobby. But plenty more don’t, as Code was writing about. Is there a potential market for such consumers? Game development is a capitalist enterprise — wouldn’t a studio seek to expand its customer base by going after Code’s blood-adverse friends?

Foley argues no, that only boy games are fun and no girl games could succeed, which is an argument instantly refuted by just four letters: S I M S.

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Oh. Well, it’s not like this franchise would generate interest for any DLC packs, though.

You see, while stereotypical boys play War, what many young girls play is House, and Electronic Arts owes much of its revenue to a breakout home simulator currently on its fourth iteration. No other major (what the industry calls “AAA”) franchise comes close to attracting Sims gamers, instead throwing everything they’ve got at boy-tastic interests: either killing or sports.

And considering how EA is, as usual, mismanaging its star franchise into the ground, couldn’t a competitor step up? I’m not talking about some indie Steam Greenlight thing. I’m talking about UbiSoft putting together the resources to launch a AAA competitor to bring in female gamers who are about as interested in Assassin’s Creed as I am in crocheting.

crochet-granny

Because I do NOT want to step onto the Crochet Cartel’s turf.

“Video games are not boring, they just aren’t for everyone,” Foley concludes. If you were an UbiSoft executive, would you be content with that? Movie studio execs sure aren’t!

And besides, some male gamers would probably enjoy taking a break from exploding skulls to play something a bit more constructive. There really is more potential to gaming than coming up with new techniques to bring someone’s HP bar to zero. But too many developers, and male writers, cannot even comprehend it.

 

The Klan is not what racism looks like.

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Trump backers in line to vote, Nov. 8, 2016. Right?

Following the shocking Trump victory — shocking even to the Trump campaign, which hadn’t bothered to plan a transition process, although not so shocking to the LA Times / IBT pollsters — a theme immediately began to circulate among the liberal media and pundits:

This was a victory for white supremacy. Full stop.

Any other explanation is just covering for bigotry. Anyone with any other explanation is most likely a bigot.

“I have long since believed that the United States is deeply racist at its core,” thundered the New York Daily News’ Shaun King mere minutes after the race was called for Trump. “This election has confirmed it.”

“Donald Trump’s Triumph Is a Victory for White Supremacy,” blared the headline for Cosmopolitan’s Brittney Cooper. In case that didn’t drive the point home, the subhead helpfully clarifies: “How did this happen? Racism.”

“Our generation says no, as do first-time voters, to what this man and his presidency represent,” declared Lena Dunham, once again reminding you of her self-appointed position of Official Millennial Generation Spokeswoman. “We reject, wholesale, his brand — any brand — of hatred and bigotry.”

Reading this, you may be forgiven if you’re wondering whether “ex”-KKK leader David Duke himself had been voted our 45th president.

This is not what racism looks like, and this isn’t what got Trump elected.

Oh, sure, we all know about the alt.right, the successors to the old Klan and Skinheads. Nobody’s gotten more press in 2016 than the alt.right, other than Trump himself. One thing they don’t tell you: the alt.right’s numbers are minuscule at best. It’s hard to get an exact read on their actual voting strength, but their direct trolling of journalists on Twitter and other platforms led to them getting amplified by these journalists as a vast movement, tens of millions strong. In reality? Active members of the alt.right (defined roughly as Americans, and not Russian trolls, posting on alt.right sites or Twitter) number a few hundred thousand at most. The Daily Stormer, regarded as the biggest and most active of these sites, ranks just a paltry #6,307 on Alexa in the USA — and that’s after the Trump election. Worldwide, it’s #21,987, with a readership most likely under 150,000.

The fact that nearly all of the alt.right posts anonymously tells you all you need to know about their actual strength. If this really were a movement with wide and deep inroads in America, these guys (for they are almost entirely guys) would have no trouble finding employment even if they used their real names. In reality, getting associated with their kind of rhetoric will end anyone’s career — anyone. It’s almost impossible to get rid of a pro-sports franchise owner, no matter how incompetent or malevolent — the one thing that can is racist speech.

And oh yeah. David Duke, mentioned earlier? He garnered a whopping 3% share of the vote for senator of deep-red, good-ol-boy Louisiana.

So, no. Trump’s victory was not the resurrection of the Klan, because that’s simply not how most racism works in this country.

To really see racism, you have to look at a typical school-integration fight happening right now. Sure, the white parents will use every “I’m totally not racist” excuse in the book, but in reality, it’s always the same: They do not want their precious white little Ethans mixing with those people. They paid good money to live in a white school district away from those children. And this is going on right here in Lena Dunham’s and my back ground: the five boroughs. How many of these white anti-integration parents were also at Hillary’s Javits Center election party? How many would gladly tell you how racism is only a problem with those rural, Southern Trump-voting whites, and not themselves? Does anyone seriously imagine Lena Dunham’s eventual kids going to a school that’s less than 90% white?

As for actual Trump voters, they’ve developed typical white-exclusion into a crude art. I use as example the noxious beast known as the Long Island Republican, Trump’s actual base — and they do vote in numbers. Long Island really is the best example of what I’m talking about, hosting as it did the first haven of white-flight suburbanites, Levittown. With racial segregation strictly enforced by redlining, Long Island attracted thousands of whites desperate to get away from where they work, multicultural New York City, soon followed by white flights out of nearly every other major city. The Long Island Republican served as the lifeblood of the John Bircher Movement. Its two suburban counties would later spawn two of the most definitive Long Island Republicans around: Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

Neither Hannity nor O’Reilly would ever indulge in the openly racist diatribe favored by the alt.right, but they are nevertheless primarily driven by a hatred of diverse New York City life. In fact, nearly everything they believe in is just opposition to liberals; as this election showed, they have no principles or positive beliefs, happily endorsing any and all of Trump’s most big-government policies. They only voted for him to stick it to liberals. That’s it. Their negativity is all they’ve got.

But even so. They are not wearing white hoods.

This is what the social-justice movement simply can’t wrap their heads around. They still think in terms of the racism of the Klan, of George Wallace, of Bull Connor. They believe that literally every Trump voter is secretly in cahoots with the Klan or alt.right, or at least sympathetic to them — mirroring, incidentally, Long Island Republican views of all Muslims being in cahoots with the terrorists. They still think most white people, or at the very least most white Trump voters, are going around dreaming of white supremacy and of subjugating black people (or in uniform social-justice parlance, “owning black bodies”).

In reality, whites from Lena Dunham to Sean Hannity don’t hate black people as much as they want to exclude them. From their communities, at least. They want to live in white neighborhoods, send their kids to white schools, and count as friends mostly other white people. That is what racism looks like. Not a burning cross.

And in any case, it’s blindingly obvious that racism took a back seat this election to a different -ism: sexism. The white female candidate lost; her black male predecessor won. Including over her in the 2008 primaries. It’s like people are hardly even allowed to speak about this because concerns about women’s rights must always take a back seat before every other liberal constituency, including minority rights. (This is an intentional feature of latter-day feminism called intersectionality — more on this later.) Trump’s numbers were actually flat compared to Mitt Romney’s 2012 popular vote totals — any gains among alt.righters were no doubt offset by Republicans refusing to turn the lever for that orange clown. It was Hillary’s numbers that fell off a cliff compared to Obama’s, as millions of Dem voters eager to vote for our first black president suddenly found themselves cool to the idea of voting for our first female president. If Trump’s Access Hollywood hot-mic gaffe with Billy Bush had been racist and dripping with the n-word, he really would have been finished. But since it was only sexist, the supposedly damning tape was all-but-forgotten after a couple weeks.

This election post-mortem emphasizes the role sexism played in Hillary’s downfall: “Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place.”

But back to white exclusion: this attitude hasn’t really changed much since the founding of Levittown. Long Island Republicans may be more honest about it, but high-powered white liberal pundits and talking heads and activist actors sure do mysteriously find themselves living in white neighborhoods of NYC and DC, don’t they? Enough tweeting about swastikas, Shaun. Maybe start asking some of your liberal coworkers at the Daily News where they live — and why.

Warrior from Future Travels Back To Warn of Grim, Doomed Timeline

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GREENSBORO, NC – Appearing in a flash of light before a group of stunned passers-by today here in Greensboro, a self described “warrior from your future” rose from the ground to deliver an intense, grim address to what he called his “Exalted Elders,” captured and uploaded to social media, FC News can confirm.

“Dear Elders… or as you would call yourselves, Americans,” the man began, as onlookers surrounded him, recording on their phones.

“The Great Mystic had energy enough to send only one person back through the mists of time to set right what once went wrong. I urge you heed my words!”

The identity of the man remains unknown as of this posting.

Wearing a ragged, makeshift uniform while carrying what appeared to be a rifle of unknown make, the man steadily yet quickly went through his words, as though he knew he had little time.

“She has looked back, before the Mutant Wars, before the Scourge, before the Pestilence of Seven, before the Famine of Skulls, before — yes, it is even said, before the Great Cataclysm and determined it is now, at this very time, this day during the distant Age of the Lost Exalted Elders, when all was lost. Change now and save us from this doomed timeline!”

North Carolina remains one of several key battleground states in the 2016 presidential election. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made several stops here over the prior months. It is unknown if this locale was chosen for this reason.

“The Great Mystic bids our distant ancestors, of this place called the Desert of Ashes, or as you Exalted Elders would call it in your time, ‘America,’: hail from your children’s children!”

He was met with mostly stunned silence, although a few onlookers hurriedly called emergency services.

“Our brave warriors have won many honorable victories against the mutant hordes, but our numbers dwindle, they dwindle,” he intoned. “The Great Mystic, She of the Sixth Sight, has summoned the very last of her energy to warn of this doomed timeline before it begins and urges you to stand with your distant descendants at this last, most desperate hour!”

In response to shouted questions from a reporter, he denied belonging to an improv troop. “I am only a trooper of the Bear Clan, chosen for my bravery for many a mutant lay dead by my hand!

“But the last lights of humanity twinkle out, like the stars I have never seen in my lifetime. They have taken the Port of Samuelson. They have taken Ryger’s Bridge. They have taken the Green Monument and Balgar’s Redoubt. We last of us huddle in the Forsaken Keep as the draw ever closer… You must go tomorrow, my Exalted Elders, and save us from this condemned fate. You must prevent the Instigator from sending us all down this path of darkness!”

He later added, “Donald fucking Trump? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you fucking morons? That’s the choice you shitheads came up with as the best you could fucking do? ‘Exalted Elders’ my ass, more like ‘Fart-xalted Elders,’ am I right?”

Neither campaign could be reached for immediate comment, although unofficial Trump campaign surrogate Bill Mitchell hailed the news on Twitter: “Definite proof the future thinks we’re going to win, and we’re going to win big folks! #MAGA”

At press time, as the unknown visitor was being led away by emergency tactical teams, he would only keep repeating: “Remember my words, my ancestors! Remember my words!”

Why are NFL ratings sinking this season? Too much parity.

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NFL ratings are down. Not just in one market or for one particular program such as Monday Night Football, but across the board. Numbers are off up to 20%, according to some reports. Worryingly, the viewership for yesterday’s Sunday night showdown between the Broncos and Raiders — two teams with great W/L records in a divisional matchup with major playoff implications — was actually down from last week’s Sunday night game, which had to compete with the World Series. The NFL and various football pundits tend to throw out the same reasons to explain this slide away. The election. Colin Kaepernick. Poor matchups in nationally televised game overall, with the miserable Bears somehow showing up in four and counting. Too many flags for too many yards. Poor quality on the field.

The too-many-flags thing is a factor, although probably not a huge one. One of football’s historic disadvantages is seeing, for instance, a beautiful pass reception for a TD get called back just because some asshole was holding on the other side of the field. But that’s nothing new. It’s the sheer quantity of yellow raining down on the field — for such frivolities as excessive celebration (seriously) and taunting (which is an NFL tradition older than the West Coast Offense). No surprise that the NFL record for penalties in one game was broken this year — and, no surprise, by the Raiders. Back in the day, the penalties of “personal foul” and “unsportsmanlike conduct” were enough to punish serious transgressions, while allowing enough leeway for the normal endzone dances and trash talking that fans expect to see. Nowadays? The PGA insists on less decorum, it seems.

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May as well be the logo of the entire NFL now.

But flags are just one issue that can easily get rolled back in time for next season. The issue of too much parity, however, offers no easy solution in sight. There are too few dominant teams, too few absolutely hopeless teams, and too many in the mushy, Tennessee Titans middle. Way, way too many.

By what I mean by “too much parity” is this. Fans in sports accept, even expect, the presence of a certain number dynasty teams on one hand, and perennial loser squads on the other. Alabama reigns as a dominant college football team year-in-year-out, as is right and proper, and fans expect nothing less. Nationwide, and not just among fans of the Tide, either. It makes it that much more exciting when ‘Bama visits your neck of the woods, and it makes it that much more of a campus-riot situation if your local team can pull off the huge upset. Auburn fans would be sorely disappointed (even if they refuse to admit it) if their longtime foes imploded. Conversely, Kansas football is gifted a Bowl season perhaps once a generation, which makes it that much more exciting; the rest of the time, their official football fight song is, “Just You Wait ‘Til Basketball Season!”

And on that note, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky have near-guaranteed berths in March Madness due to their decades-long reputations. The women’s side can be renamed UConn vs. Whoever Gets to Lose to UConn This Year. Other pro sports’ dynasties are more fluid, but teams often enjoy several years of uninterrupted excellence before retirements, injuries and free agency take their toll. Squads like the Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants, and Nationals can all be assumed to have a reasonable shot at the 2017 playoffs, sight unseen. Meanwhile, the Padres and Reds organizations can guarantee Octobers off for their staffs for the foreseeable future. This may suck for baseball fans in San Diego and Cincy, but overall, having organizational strength — or weakness — that lasts beyond one year is healthy indeed for these sports.

Now take the NFL. How many teams would you call “dynasty” this year? The Patriots, of course, the final holdouts of the old ways, and… who else? Anyone?

I put NFL teams in six power “tiers” instead of the traditional 32-team ranking. Differentiating between, say, #19 and #20 is usually a mug’s game anyway; doing groupings instead of individual ranks gives a better, more season-long view of where each team stands as opposed to relying too much on week-to-week wins and losses.

At around this point in 2013, I had four squads in the top tier. As in, glory squads with unquestioned Super Bowl competitiveness. Guess how many I have now? If Brady hadn’t ever returned, that tier might have remained empty. The Raiders are still too unproven with too many holes on defense to qualify. The Cowboys have enjoyed an unusually soft schedule, running up the score on such sad sacks as the Bears, Niners and Browns; just barely squeaking by an Eagles squad currently in the process of imploding. The Chiefs, as usual, remain solid second-tier contenders without yet finding the magic of a destiny team.

As for tier 6? 2013’s manure pile of 4 teams is down to just 2. The aforementioned Niners and Browns, the latter of which has an owner doing what he can to fight parity in his own way.

Meanwhile, tiers 3, 4, and 5 — Titans turf — are getting so overpopulated, they’ll need rent control. Teams like the Eagles that started out strong are getting sucked down by the gravitational pull of mediocrity, while teams like the Bengals that are trying to break out can never reach escape velocity. This morass of the mundane has few stars and little breakout talent. Potential star RBs are failed by bad QBs and worse O-lines. Top-flight QBs like Rivers and Brees are marooned on subpar offenses, struggling to find talent to work with, let alone offensive coordinators who can truly utilize them. Pro Bowl cornerbacks often just watch the QB avoid them and instead find holes left open by their undertrained, disorganized teammates. And so forth.

The problem is, due to the NFL’s pro-parity forces of profit sharing and free agency rules that reward mercenary attitudes and punish loyalty, it’s become damn hard to not only put the pieces together, but also hold them together for the multiple seasons it takes to build into a contender, let alone a dynasty. The Patriots, for instance, would have never become the force they are if it weren’t for Brady’s fanatical loyalty, to the point where he actually accepts pay cuts in order to provide cap space for other positions. Can you think of any other player in the league who would do the same? The Chiefs rely on paying for “solid-enough” in most positions, especially in defense where cap space can stretch longer, with the downside that breakouts like Eric Berry will get lost to free agency. The Broncos relied on the magic of #18 and the eyeballs he drew, but with Peyton retired, analysts generally say the Donkeys’ days of regarding the AFC West championship as an entitlement are over.

Which means even teams with bad coaching and worse management can string along the occasional win and a middling record simply by picking up players capped out of better teams. This is why the Rams manage to win 7 games a season, when based on their coach and owner alone, they deserve 3 at most. Only the Browns have found the formula to become the anti-Patriots, with bad draft picks (Johnny Football anyone?) and worse free-agency moves (the one exception being the inexplicable trade of Jamie Collins from the latter to the former; either Collins got too greedy or Belichick had a brain fart).

Which means, instead of a broad spectrum of team quality, we now have a bell curve full of Tennessee Titans. Teams with few notable names, playing in anonymous corporate-branded McStadiums, seemingly clawed back down by the others if they try to break out, with any potential drama intentionally snuffed out by the NFL’s draconian rules, with forgettable offenses all fighting for an 8-8 finish. (Will this year see a record in 8-8, 7-9, and 7-8-1 finishes?)

Roger Goddell can scapegoat Colin Kaepernick all he wants, but at least Kaepernick is doing the league an unintentional service by providing a truly pathetic team that makes everyone else look good by comparison — which is, in a way, almost as important as having the Patriots around. And in the end, viewers and advertisers will see through the excuses. They can turn off any long-running TV series with no problem once the plotline gets too boring and the characters too predictable, despite the marketing, and what Gooddell failed to grasp was, a TV series is largely what the NFL is.

If 2016’s NFL were on HBO, it would be a series where Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow have been replaced by Stannis Baratheon and Allister Thorne. If today’s NFL were a temperature, it would be 40 degrees. If it were a villain, it would be the Diet Coke of evil. It’s VH1, Robocop 2 and Back to the Future 3. It’s got to reinvigorate. It has to roll back parity to once again become a league of winners and of losers.