A freak of nature that simultaneously fascinates and repels, and a caterpillar
Remember when Franklin Roosevelt entranced the nation with his fireside chats? Me neither, but I’m told it was nice. I bet our grandparents did not feel the same apprehension, gathering around the radio, that I feel opening Twitter each morning. I wonder what the president will say today, I think, unlocking my phone with the same demeanor a daylight alcoholic brings to unscrewing a bottle. Here’s what the leader of the free world tweeted today to 27 million followers, including me:
Kombat! kids: Can you find everything that’s wrong with this tweet? Just use a marker to circle the errors right on the screen. It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Close reading after the jump.
If you don’t answer, your [sic] a coward.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of weird Twitter. I do read it occasionally, though. Maybe that’s why I chuckled on Sunday afternoon, when I saw the tweet pictured above. It’s clearly not sincere. For one thing, why would an actual postal worker tweet this? Why would he refer to the town where he works by its first and last name, so to speak? And why would a tweet from someone in Columbus be location-tagged in California, along with almost all other tweets from that account? Even if you don’t recognize the currency of topic and vague irony of tone, these clues are easy to catch. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” reporters say, but you don’t have to be an ace to see through this one. It’s not even a hoax; it’s a joke, with the intentional transparency that jokes employ. But yesterday, conservative outlets including Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh snapped it up and reported it as election fraud
My god, he’s WALKING THE DOG!
As of press time, Missoula schools no longer live under threat of violence originating from clowns. The ZooTown Klown has been not just apprehended but unmasked, as a 15 year-old boy screwing around on Facebook. It was the thrilling conclusion to a story in three acts—act one, in which the county informs parents of clown-related threats, and act two, in which the police remind residents to please not just attack clowns, many of whom are “reputable professional entertainers.”
Setting aside the question of how many professional clowns Missoula can support, I think we should put the blame for this hysteria squarely where it belongs:
the internet teenagers society. Sure, it’s social media’s fault for ushering in a golden age of hoaxes. And it’s teenagers’ fault for simulating clown-themed terrorism on Facebook. But it’s our fault for making that funny.
Over the last 15 years, our culture has become so fixated on safety that it’s no wonder teens are teasing us. We have made identifying and protect ourselves from perceived threats the only sacred element of American life. Teens must overthrow all that is sacred. In this sense they resemble satirists, who exaggerate the foibles of their times. Our time’s most protruding foible is fear. You can read all about this wild, totalizing theory in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which also contains many clown jokes. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
Expressions any facial-recognition software would call smiles
Last night’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was less a war of words than a long disagreement over whether they mean anything. “It’s all words,” Trump said early on. “It’s all sound bites.” He interrupted often, but it was usually just to say “wrong” or “no.” One of Clinton’s claims he so denied was that he had called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt American manufacturing—which of course he had:
That’s not a screenshot; it’s embedded. The tweet is still up, despite the false and increasingly popular rumor that his campaign deleted it during the debate. Even Chris Hayes of MSNBC bought into it last night, although he apologized this morning. Like all the best hoaxes, this is one we want to believe.
Bros who love Bernie Sanders
Bernie bros are like raccoons. We know they’re out there, but we have a hard time actually laying hands on one. On Friday, Mashable ran a story headlined The bros who love Bernie Sanders have become a sexist mob. Emily Cahn writes:
[W]ith the Iowa caucuses now days away, a subset of Sanders supporters has become extremely vocal. Their messages, which are oftentimes derogatory and misogynistic, are geared at Clinton supporters (or anyone who disagrees with Sanders for that matter). They’ve even become prominent enough to earn a nickname: the “BernieBros.”
As examples of Bernie bro behavior, the story screenshots two Facebook comments on a photo of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Hillary Clinton. The first is from Carol Jean Simpson, who writes, “I am no longer voting for you. You should have supported someone with integrity instead of a lying shitbag like HRC. #FeelTheBern.” That’s derogatory. But it’s not misogynist(ic), and the astute reader will note that Carol Jean Simpson is a woman. The second commenter, Scott Lockhart, writes, “Their vaginas are making terrible choices!” Now that’s the kind of cartoonish misogyny we’re looking for. Unfortunately, Scott Lockhart turns out to be a parody account.