The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'assholes'
With American Apparel sacking its sexually inappropriate ur-visionary Dov Charney with extreme prejudice, and the recent fall from grace of hipster-porn photographer Terry Richardson, we could be witnessing the twilight of the assholes (or as they call it in Germany, Arschlocherdämmerung) and possibly the end of a vein of ostensibly-ironic hipster misogyny and douchebag chic:
But it’s interesting to think a little bit more deeply about that culture’s gender politics. The hipster aesthetic, such as it was, incorporated plenty of semi-ironic appropriation of the tropes of traditional masculinity: trucker hats, flannel shirts, PBR, beards/mustaches, and so on. I say semi-ironic because beneath the veneer of irony, there was always something deeply conservative and deeply unpleasant about it. Specifically, it was reflective of a wider shift in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s toward the reassertion of traditional alpha-male masculinity.
[t]here’s nothing transgressive about any of this. American Apparel’s aesthetic, for instance, was the most time-worn cliché in the world: using hot girls in various states of undress to sell clothes. Of course, American Apparel’s aesthetic was all about irony, or so it’d have you believe, but really, whether this was done with a sort of knowingly arched eyebrow and sly wink is kinda beside the point; saying “Hey, I know I’m being kinda sexist” doesn’t change the fact that you’re being kinda sexist. The fact that the half-naked girl being used to sell your clothes is in a deliberately flashed-out photo wearing silly glasses doesn’t change that she’s a half-naked girl being used to sell your clothes.Of course, VICE Magazine, which has been intimately connected to this strand of hipster douchebag cool since day one, running American Apparel ads on its back page and keeping Richardson employed shooting their amateur-porn-styled fashion spreads, is still going strong, having recently received investment from both Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and Time Warner. It remains to be seen how close to the edge they keep skating in future.
Thanks to her simple message (selfishness is a virtue, altruism is evil), Ayn Rand has become a leading philosophical figurehead of the American Right, alongside those other two cartoon characters, (John) Calvin and (Thomas) Hobbes. But now, new reports have emerged asserting that Rand secretly claimed welfare payments under a false name, whilst publicly thundering against the "parasites" who did exactly that:
As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."
But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.Which seems, on the surface, like the height of hypocrisy, though only if one assumes that honesty is part of the equation. If one assumes that Objectivism (as Rand called her philosophy) entitles the self-chosen aspiring ruler of the world to do anything to further their own interests, including lying to others (who, being "sheeple", are unworthy of any higher consideration unless they prove themselves by similarly enlightened ruthlessness), then being a stealthy parasite upon the contemptible masses is one's prerogative.
(via Boing Boing)
In case you were wondering whether Mel Gibson is really the despicable turd he has been made out to be: it turns out that, at a party more than 15 years ago, he called Winona Ryder an "oven dodger" after learning that she is half-Jewish:
"I was with my friend, who's gay. [Gibson] made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers', but I didn't get it. I'd never heard that before."
The internet, with its detachment between online and offline actions and its lack of a private register, has spawned the phenomenon of griefers, or highly organised subcultures of people (mostly young men) who delight in ruining other people's online fun:
Consider the case of the Avatar class Titan, flown by the Band of Brothers Guild in the massively multiplayer deep-space EVE Online. The vessel was far bigger and far deadlier than any other in the game. Kilometers in length and well over a million metric tons unloaded, it had never once been destroyed in combat. Only a handful of player alliances had ever acquired a Titan, and this one, in particular, had cost the players who bankrolled it in-game resources worth more than $10,000.
So, naturally, Commander Sesfan Qu'lah, chief executive of the GoonFleet Corporation and leader of the greater GoonSwarm Alliance — better known outside EVE as Isaiah Houston, senior and medieval-history major at Penn State University — led a Something Awful invasion force to attack and destroy it.
"The ability to inflict that huge amount of actual, real-life damage on someone is amazingly satisfying" says Houston. "The way that you win in EVE is you basically make life so miserable for someone else that they actually quit the game and don't come back."
To see the philosophy in action, skim the pages of Something Awful or Encyclopedia Dramatica, where it seems every pocket of the Web harbors objects of ridicule. Vampire goths with MySpace pages, white supremacist bloggers, self-diagnosed Asperger's sufferers coming out to share their struggles with the online world — all these and many others have been found guilty of taking themselves seriously and condemned to crude but hilarious derision.Griefers defend their behaviour by claiming that they're merely giving those who take the internet far too seriously a reality check. The implied subtext is that anything that happens online is just a game and doesn't count. Though, given how the internet has become a mainstream part of many people's lives (witness, for example, the rise in social networking websites), this assertion makes about as much sense as Tom Hodgkinson's call to kill your Facebook account, throw away your email address and instead socialise in the pub with people near you. There's not a great leap from asserting that anything that happens online doesn't really count and absurdly ludditic claims like "if you don't know what someone smells like, they're a stranger".
On the other hand, there is no such thing as the right to be respected, or even to not be ridiculed. If one posts a web page detailing one's peculiar political views, conspiracy theories and/or sexual fetishes online, one can expect to be laughed at and even snidely remarked about. Though there is a distinction between demolishing someone's homepage in a blog or discussion forum and actively gathering a posse and going out to hound them off the net.
Griefing happens in the real world, though it's usually called other things, such as bullying. The difference is that the internet has democratised bullying. In the real world, in more conformistic societies, bullies can typically only be those either of or contending for alpha social status, enforcing an exaggerated version of majority values by picking on those perceived to not conform to them (witness the use of the word "gay", sometimes semi-euphemised as "ghey", as a general-purpose term of derision), and in more liberal or pluralistic environments, even that is frowned upon. Online, anyone can find a group of like-minded misfits, make up a cool-sounding name, set up a virtual clubhouse and start picking on mutually agreed targets, with little fear of social consequences.
Lambasted for climate change and scorned by the green set, car companies are tailoring their marketing to the asshole demographic:
First to India, where an advert for the Ford Endeavour finds this 4x4 behemoth leaving slushy tracks on a melting polar landscape. Behind the two-tonne, seven-seater vehicle, which does just 7.5 km per litre in city driving conditions (compared to 22kmpl for India's new "People's Car", the Tata Nano), stand two rather forlorn-looking polar bears, an animal that has become the symbol of climate change. Could Ford India have chosen a more inappropriate setting to sell its wares? A children's playground, perhaps?
Ford in the UK goes for a much simpler approach with its Fiesta Zetec Climate (why would you ever use the word "climate" to name a car?) ads by accompanying a picture of the car with just a short sentence: "Most people would prefer a hot climate." It wouldn't appear as if Ford's survey of people's climatic preferences extended to those living in already parched regions of the planet now fearing the kinds of sharp temperature rises predicted by climatologists.
The messaging still not blunt enough for you? Try Hyundai's "Greed is Good" adverts then. Reprising the mantra of Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas's odious city-trader character from the film Wall Street, is exactly what the environment needs right now, isn't it? Oh, how we need a return to the devil-may-care, me-want-now consumerism of the 1980s.Aside: when the line "greed is good" was penned for the film Wall Street in 1987, it was obviously an extreme, fringe view, that of a despicable character. Is this the case now, in the age of the Blatcherite "shareholder democracy" and "enterprise culture", where we are all encouraged to be marketing characters, constantly engaged in commerce, leveraging and monetising our assets much as sharks must constantly keep moving?
Meanwhile, someone at EDF's ad agency doesn't seem to have read Jared Diamond's Collapse:
The French energy giant EDF appears not to have done its homework before deciding to use the statues of Easter Island to reinforce its message that, "We develop tomorrow's energies for future generations." EDF is one of the world's largest suppliers of nuclear energy, an irony that ClimateDenial.org is quick to point out: "The Easter Island civilization collapsed from deforestation and overpopulation. The statues are a symbol of hubris and denial in the face of an impending environmental disaster. What staggering stupidity to use them to promote nuclear power".
Objectivists, psychopaths and believers in the virtues of cruelty and pollution rejoice: there's now an anti-ethical investment fund tailored to your values. The Free Enterprise Action Fund specifically invests in companies who refuse to be intimidated by pressure from "leftists":
"What we're trying to create is a grassroots, investor-based movement to pressure corporations to resist the activists," Milloy said, adding that the Free Enterprise Action Fund is "the first and only" of its kind and "definitely the first to be doing this as shareholders."
Milloy also said the Free Enterprise Action Fund will encourage corporations not to be intimidated by the left and to hire people with the same philosophy. "If you're going to hire these people that can't stand the heat, they shouldn't be in the kitchen. What I can stop is corporate management trying to appease these [activist groups], thinking that it will make the problem go away," he added.
The Free Enterprise Action Fund refuses to disclose which companies they have invested in, but says that some of them are tobacco companies. I imagine that weapons manufacturers would be another profitable sector in today's global environment.
Meanwhile, activist pressure seems to have worked on Nike; the company, once synonymous with labour exploitation, has now become the first major company to disclose its full list of suppliers and contract factories, theoretically allowing them to be held to account more effectively over employment practices. While it's still too early to praise Nike as a model citizen (one would have to see results for that), now one no longer has to feel bad about buying a pair of Converse All-Stars. Unless, of course, one is an Objectivist or similar.
The Onion has this particularly incisive piece of social commentary: If I Don't Get My Medium-Rare Shell Steak With Roasted Vegetables In The Next 10 Minutes, The Terrorists Have Already Won
Do you want the blood of our forefathers to have been spilled for nothing? Well, if you can't bring us the entrees we need to rebuild our strength as a nation in the next five minutes, you might as well move to Afghanistan and join in one of their American-flag-burning rallies. Because that's what you're really doing.