Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I hope these aren't too boring

I don't know why I'm not writing about comics lately. What even happened this week? I guess Milo died, that was sort of exciting. (I consider him Honorary Comics, having been officially endorsed by the CBLDF and all.) Turns out child-fucking is not good for your brand. Who knew. Except, well, okay, sometimes it's good for your brand. Jon Benet's been dead for 20 years and she was a Lifetime movie last year. But, listen, if your brand involves child fucking, you can't do edgelord. Everyone knows that. You've got to do, like, full-on Nancy Grace faux outrage drag or get a middle-aged actor to play Chuck Bass. No one wants to hear your defense of child rape...unless you're writing a terrible thinkpiece on Game of Thrones, or maybe defending R Crumb. Those are the rules.

For anyone who might be confused about whether or not grown men should have sex with 13-yos we thankfully have Twitter heroes like Kurt Eichenwald. As the father of two large sons (at least one of whom does kung fu) and the savior of countless teens, he's out here to help all the rest of us plebes who've hated Milo for the last two years discern right from wrong:

Yes, American hero Kurt Fucking Eichenwald, who "saved" teens from pedophiles by...writing his 18-year-old source a personal check for $2,000? It's called journalism, and who am I to argue with it. I'm really sorry, because I'm getting off topic here--and I'm not into ugly shaming most of the time, I'm really not--but my absolute favorite burn on the internet is when people tweet Kurt Eichenwald his own photograph without comment:

Nothing will ever be funnier than this to me, unless you count the large sons. Sometimes I google "Eichenwald large sons" when I'm feeling down. How large exactly are the sons, I wonder, and do they have heads like Kurt's?

I haven't even looked at tweets 1, 3, or 4 in this series cause I'm saving them for a rainy day.

So...I don't mean to make light of pedophilia, which is bad, and obviously quite different than watching adults pretend to be teens on the CW. But--and I think the Eichenwald thing illustrates this really well--the way we talk about it is super fucking fake. Just this endless loop of self-aggrandizement for eeking out a pass in Humanity 101. And the fakest thing of all is the pretense that CPAC or Simon & Schuster or Brietbart or other entity gives a flimsy fuck about Milo's views on molestation apart from how much they impact their respective brands. (Roxane Gay lays this out quite clearly, I think.) Plainly Milo has said and done way worse. For that matter Bill Maher has said and done way worse. Maher is basically the proto-Milo. I guess no one has shot anyone in the name of Bill Maher, but he's stoked some serious, serious Islamophobic bullshit for...I don't know exactly. Since 2001, anyway. How is it that anyone on earth has any interest in that guy's opinions on anything? Who is watching that show?? Is it for the people who used to watch Entourage?

Let me share a secret with you: the Milo thing isn't about children. Not really. I mean, there are people who care, of course there are, but what we're really talking about in this moment is Democrats who care about children insofar as they can make themselves feel like heroes, Republicans who care about children insofar as they can use them as an excuse to oppress trans people (and, barring that, will accept making themselves feel like heroes as a distant second best), and corporations that are only capable of caring about money. If any of the above cared about children then people wouldn't be able to buy Jason Bourne-grade weapons arsenals in those roadside trailers that sell fireworks and go execute a class of kindergarteners. Every I think about that it makes me cry, and I have no hope whatsoever that it will change in my lifetime, but anyway I guess Milo talked about pederasty on a podcast and now the world is weighing the fuck in on the one issue that literally everyone except child molesters (and the President of the United States, probably) already agrees on. I'm glad that Simon & Schuster took back their book deal but let's not mistake that for progress.

Oh well, haha, time to get down to business. This is my third book report, and I don't know why I wrote that long preamble except that I'm vaguely worried these posts are boring and, well, unfortunately I'm disgruntled. Also I'm afraid this week is double boring because my book was just the sequel to Flowers in the Attic, which is awesomely titled Petals on the Wind. It's weird to me that doing these posts no one reads is enough to make me feel accountable about keeping my book pledge, but it seems to be working. Petals in the Wind isn't as good as the first book--there are some pacing problems, for one thing--but what really strikes me is that it's so much more rapey than I remember? I find this is a thing sometimes when I read books I loved when I was a kid. The whole series in a nutshell is Cathy getting raped by different kinds of men she then falls in love with. Also sometimes they rape her little sister. It's really deep though.

Here's some other stuff I found interesting this week:

"The Downfall of YouTube's Biggest Star Is a Symptom of a Bigger Illness" (Jacob Clifton @ Buzzfeed)
It's still insane to me that "Mommy, where do gamers come from" has become the question of our times, but here we are. One of my very favorite writers, Jacob Clifton, has addressed it in an uncharacteristically straightforward manner in a piece that connects the dots between that Swedish gamer guy, Milo, Gamergate, and the alt right, and I am so much smarter for it:

From this piece I also learned that Television Without Pity will be reanimating sometime this year and Clifton, who was the original site's best writer with a bullet, is going to be its deputy editor. TV recaps are the worst, except for TWOP, which is so, so great. I couldn't be more thrilled.
Over at NYT Magazine, John Herrman also wrote about the Swedish gamer guy, studying the situation more in terms of social media ecosystems and how they're being monetized:

Herrman has long been the sharpest observer of this ecosystem we've got...so sharp, in fact, that often I have to read his stuff two to three times before I really get what the fuck he's even talking about. I only read this once because YouTube just isn't that interesting to me, but fortunately the takeaway was clear enough:
[Maker Studios'] severing of ties [with the swedish gamer guy], in the bigger context of YouTube, amounts to a disavowal. YouTube's reaction, and how it follows up, is the thing to watch.
Duly noted, Herrman. Ta.

'I'm Going to Give Up My Best Gift': George Saunders Discusses the Writing of His Offbeat Novel  (Vulture)
I don't often read books in real time (meaning when everyone else is reading them), but I think I'm going to do Lincoln in the Bardo. I'm not sure why, exactly, because I have the vague sense that I'm going to hate it. In any case I've read a couple interviews with George Saunders and I'm baffled that no one out there is asking the obvious question: George Saunders, what is going on with your head??

What's weird is that he looks exactly like before, only his mullet has taken on that very specific Chester Brown aesthetic of 100 strokes/night with a cat brush. I just need more information on these grooming choices.

Anyway this is mostly a very good interview, but here's the part that really struck me:

I'm a big believer in arbitrary parameters for art projects. I'll be interested to see how this choice played out.

"A Heavenly Respite at the Westminster Dog Show" (New Yorker)
I have never loved Twitter so much as when author Jia Tolentino posted photos from her day at the Westminster Dog Show:

This woman is living my dream and I'm not even mad. Best part of the article was about the breed that "once worked as rotisserie attendants, walking on medieval treadmills that rotated the spits holding meat over a fire." Dogs!!!!!!! I love you, dogs.

"Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency" (New Yorker)
I finally read this David Remnick piece, which is about how Obama is "a scholar of his own predicament." It's very, very good. I've always known Obama's smart, but what I find interesting about him is that he's always smart in ways that surprise me. For instance in this piece, he shows that he's an incredibly savvy critic of social media:

I suppose I thought that, having been pretty busy for the last eight years, as these platforms devolved (matured?), Obama wouldn't be so insightful about this stuff. "Everything is true and nothing is true." I don't know, to me that's a much deeper take than blah blah blah FAKE NEWS. Here he is on Trump:
"Trump understands the new ecosystem, in which facts and truth don't matter. You attract attention, rouse emotions, and then move on. You can surf those emotions."
Surfing emotions...I'd never thought about it in quite in those terms, but that's exactly right. A brain like that bookended by W. and a reality television star who just hired a Sandy Hook truther. Just...what a thing, man. What a thing. What a thing.

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