Friday links! Naked villainy edition


One of the most depressing features of the modern world is the difficulty in identifying villains. Awful scumbags are out there, obviously, but they tend to be “controversial” rather than openly evil. Deteriorating certainty in both morals and reportage has made any given villain debatable. Where once we might say with confidence that Glenn Beck was a fat liar who cried to get attention, now we can only disagree with him. Personally, I miss the old certainty. It may have cost us a few witches, but to definitively call other people villains is a satisfying atavism, like eating chicken with your hands. Today is Friday, and we still have a few unequivocal villains left. Won’t you point the finger with me?

Continue reading

Morgan Freeman Newtown Hoax explains contemporary media, makes everyone sad

Morgan Freeman, midway through a long career explaining things to white people

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman argued that the invention of telegraphy changed the definition of news from what was functionally relevant in the reader’s life—city council meetings, various pox outbreaks, horse for sale—to “news from nowhere, addressed to no one in particular…crimes, crashes, fires, floods became the content of what people called ‘the news of the day.’” Postman worried that news, divorced by distance from any functional impact on the lives of people who read it, could too easily become speculation, spectacle, amusement. He had not seen the internet yet. Nor did he see the Morgan Freeman Newtown Hoax, perhaps the exemplar of our bold new age.

Continue reading

Is the ZANU-PF Twitter account a hoax?

An effigy of Robert Mugabe in Johannesburg’s Gay Pride parade

Yesterday in the comments, Willy pointed out that a lot of people think the @ZANU_PF Twitter account is fake. “Fake” in this context means “not originating from officials of ZANU-PF”—the ruling political party of Zimbabwe headed by dictatorial octogenarian Robert Mugabe—and in this case it is mostly an aesthetic judgment. Back in April, @ZANU-PF seemed to be fueling rumors of Mugabe’s death, an odd choice for the mouthpiece of a party that spends a lot of time insisting its leader is totally healthy. The use of the appellation Cde (for comrade) before everybody’s name seems like something out of screwball comedy, too. Then again, the previous president of Zimbabwe was named Canaan Banana, so who knows what the fudge is going on?

Continue reading

Ambivalent: The Iron Sheik’s Twitter feed

The Iron Sheik, forced to live in the real world with Beyoncé for some reason

I assume that you are already following The Iron Sheik on Twitter, for the simple reason that I assume you are not Tito Santana. As a quick glance at Sheikie’s recent activity suggests, he and Santana are not friends. Then again, the Sheik’s claim that Santana has “the taco ass” may be kind of ironic. It’s hard to tell. The former Olympic wrestler, WWF heel and bodyguard for the Shah of Iran has presumably always separated his interior and public personae, since his public persona is completely absurd. When you think about The Iron Sheik, you have to do a lot of surmising and presuming. How else to explain six borderline-racist tweets in an hour attacking Santana for no discernible reason? And what beside pure, life-consuming dedication to art could explain tweets like this?

You would have to be dead inside not to appreciate that, and you would have to be an idiot to completely endorse it.

Continue reading

White House releases Obama birth certificate

Okay, now he just needs to see the Obama baby, and we'll be all set.

I’m sure you didn’t hear about this already, but the White House has released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Is it a capitulation to the worst aspects of American political and media culture? Yup. Will it put to rest the most stubborn crazy accusation in same? Um…your answer here probably depends on whether you prefer feeling good or being right. Has it provided an opportunity for Donald Trump to once again confirm himself as the world’s loudest shitbag? Oh yes: “I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue,” Trump told reporters. “Now we have to look at [the birth certificate], see if it is real, is it proper.” Donald Trump’s assessment of what’s real is like a bee’s assessment of what’s yellow. Bees see in black and white and the ultraviolet spectrum. Look, the point is that this is all bullshit, and I need a haircut.