The Women of the Far Right (Swimsuit Edition) (1-28-24)

01:00 Three U.S. soldiers killed in Jordan
20:40 How Europe’s growing far-right populism will affect Ukraine and the war | Ivan Rogers
25:00 Could Israel Cost Biden the Election?,
47:00 The Women of the Far Right: Social Media Influencers and Online Radicalization,
49:00 Curious Gazelle joins
59:00 How Luke prepares his shows
1:16:00 Claire Khaw analysis
2:00:00 Richard Spencer
2:10:00 Dickson Sidah joins,

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Larry McMurtry’s Struggle Against Anti-Gentile Prejudice

Here’s an excerpt from the new biography, Larry McMurtry: A Life by Tracy Daugherty:

She [McMurtry’s literary agent Dorothea Oppenheimer] gave [Editor Michael Korda] an earful about how East Coast reviewers just didn’t get McMurtry though to be fair he had been generally well received, not just as warmly as she wished. It was, she thought, a question of urban prejudice. They just couldn’t take seriously a novelist who’d been born in Archer City, Texas and was raised as a cowhand and wrote about life in Texas. Korda conceded there was a good deal of truth in this. The prevailing tone of American fiction at the time was urban, Jewish and Eastern. The West was seen in the eye of the literati as a colossal mistake… Publishers by and large lived in New York City…and most of them were progressive… Liberal… McMurtry’s focus on the past and certain, largely white, American traditions tended to puzzle Eastern book people or it left them cold.

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Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States

Political scientist Dannagal Goldthwaite Young writes in this 2019 book:

* In their 2014 book The Outrage Industry, Jeffrey Berry and Sarah Sobieraj chronicle the growth of a new genre of political programming through the 2000s; programming that places a charismatic host at its center and employs tactics like hyperbole, sensationalism, ad hominem attack, and extreme language to “prove” that political opponents are hypocrites and like – minded viewers are morally superior…

They write: “outrage has been propelled by a synergistic confluence of economic, technological, regulatory, and cultural changes that converged to create a media environment that proved unusually nurturing for outrage – based content.” 3 In other words, outrage programming did not just appear out of nowhere in the 1990s. It was made technologically possible by cable and media fragmentation. It was made economically viable by political polarization and a drop in public faith in news. And was made permissible by regulatory changes that arose during that same era.

* several conservative outrage personalities, including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, as well as conservative pundit Ann Coulter, started their cable news careers at MSNBC. After about a decade without a clear programming niche and trailing in the cable news ratings war, in the mid – 2000s the network pivoted to the left and positioned itself as a liberal alternative to Fox.

* By creating programming focused on charismatic people who shared the network’s ideological worldview, [Roger] Ailes had created an entire network [Fox News] to explore and cultivate the genre of “outrage.” Ailes wasn’t interested in A – list hosts. Ever the populist, Ailes, as Sherman writes, “valued authenticity over talent.”

* successful outrage hosts tell stories that allow them to “position themselves or their political compatriots in the role of the hero or to taint enemies, opponents or policies they dislike as dangerous, inept, or immoral.” 61 Hence, outrage is designed to be “reactive” — to respond to the events, topics, and people of the day. Naturally, the Obama presidency proved to be an exceptional foil — and fuel — for Fox’s outrage – centered business model.

* for all of Jon Stewart’s substantive critiques of the failures of journalism, he never actually explored the systemic reasons for those failures. His critiques often suggested that journalistic failures were the responsibility of journalists or the fault of “the cable networks.” But he didn’t explore why cable news fails in the ways it does. He never tackled media deregulation or the consolidation of media ownership. He never discussed the conundrum posed by journalism being charged with serving the public good and simultaneously being squeezed for corporate profit. He never discussed the democratic threat posed by five megacorporations owning the nations’ entire media landscape, or the fact that his own network, Comedy Central, was owned by one of them (Viacom).

* According to humor scholar George Test, satire is defined by four characteristics: aggression, play, laughter, and judgment. 1 “Aggression” is the notion that satire embodies the spirit of attack. “Play” refers to the fact that humor operates like a riddle that must be solved, often including allusions to silly or strange constructs (think: giraffe, spatula, Chihuahua, rutabaga). “Laughter” captures the mirth anticipated by, and derived from, a satirical message. “Judgment” is the notion that satire presents a valenced, evaluative argument aimed at a target — usually an institution, a policy, a practice, or society as a whole. According to Test, aggression and judgment are the two criteria that distinguish satire from other kinds of humor: “satire ultimately judges, it asserts that some person, group, or attitude is not what it should be. However restrained, muted, or disguised a playful judgment may be, whatever form it takes, such an act undermines, threatens, and perhaps violates the target, making the act an attack.” 2 The targets of satire, and the judgments it levels, are broad — aimed at society, systems, and the audience itself. Rachel Caufield proposes that “most political humor is aimed to entertain the audience by poking fun at outsiders — political candidates, government officials, or public figures. In contrast, satire’s target is broader — it is meant to attack political institutions, society’s foibles, or public vices. Put simply, conventional political humor is often geared at making the audience laugh at others, while satire is designed to make the audience laugh at itself as well as others, therefore allowing the audience to realize a larger set of systemic faults.”

* surprising violation of expectations is at the core of what makes things funny.

* Political satire is frequently presented through irony — literally stating one thing while meaning the opposite. Bergson described ironic juxtapositions as contrasting “the real and the ideal” or “what is and what ought to be.” 11 Simply put, when you describe things that are obviously bad as though they are good, or describe things that are obviously good as though they are bad, you are inviting your listener to question why things are bad in reality or, conversely, why things are not good in reality.

* irony includes five elements: evaluativeness, incongruity, valence, a target, and relevance to the current context. 16 First, irony is evaluative in that it issues a valenced judgment (good or bad) about something. Second, irony relies on an incongruity between the literal and actual meanings of a text. Third, it also requires an inversion of valence (meaning positive assessments are really negative and negative ones are really positive). Fourth, irony is always aimed at some target. Finally, irony must be directly or indirectly relevant to the situation or context in which it is introduced.
Put simply: irony is a relevant, context – specific form of judgment, aimed at a target; and its literal and intended meanings are at odds with one another.
Irony is a way of saying something really harsh by saying something kind…

* Human beings use humor (and irony) to look good, to signal cognitive sophistication, to make each other feel good, to make society work more easily, and to tackle difficult subjects without making others angry (more on that in a minute). 18 Humor is an advanced form of communication that fulfills social and status – related needs and gratifications. Being able to successfully use humor is a sign of leadership, authority, and intelligence. 19 It’s a way of promoting social cohesion among small groups of people, allowing groups to thrive and work productively together. Humor also creates temporary feelings of happiness — also called mirth — among audience members. These feelings often get projected onto the speaker or the person who created the humor, creating what is known as a “halo effect,” through which audience members feel good about the person who made them feel good. (Like the opposite of the “shoot the messenger” effect.)

* arguments made through jokes elicit less resistance than arguments made through regular serious discourse. …the “discounting cue” hypothesis. It says that people perceive humor differently from serious discourse and choose to apply different rules when processing it. Instead of treating it seriously, people see humor as “just a joke,” in which case scrutinizing the message or challenging the speaker about what the speaker is saying is not “appropriate.” The discounting cue hypothesis is based on the idea that people choose whether or not to scrutinize messages — and in the case of jokes, usually decide not to.

* the cognitive processing required to make sense of even the most basic joke is quite burdensome.

* The meaning of a joke is implicit, forcing the listeners to add the appropriate information from long – term memory to make sense of it themselves. If you are spending so much cognitive energy just getting and appreciating appreciating a joke, I thought, how on earth are you going to have the mental energy left over to scrutinize or challenge whatever argument the joke is suggesting?

* When understanding humor, Coulson and Marta Kutas suggest, the listener engages in a process of frame – shifting, “in which the listener activates a new frame from long – term memory to reinterpret information already active in working memory.” 24 Their findings highlight the unique and complex brain functioning that occurs in the context of humor. 25
This process of suppressing information that was just activated in working memory and then replacing it with a different schema (or frame of reference) that the listener has to retrieve from long – term memory is hard work, a contention with which many neuroscientists agree. “Jokes presuppose the speaker’s ability to interpret language against background knowledge.”

* The resource allocation theory proposes that because humor requires so much work aimed at comprehension and appreciation, people become less able to actively argue against whatever is being proposed in the joke itself. In essence, your cognitive resources have been allocated to getting the joke, so you have few resources left over to scrutinize or critique the argument made in that joke.

* The premises of the resource allocation theory, like much work on information processing, are that (1) people are “cognitive misers,” unlikely to expend more cognitive energy than is absolutely necessary, and (2) the capacity for information processing in working memory is limited. 29 In the context of humor, in anticipation of the reward of “mirth” from getting a joke, it may seem worth it to expend enough cognitive energy to get the payoff of the punchline, but it’s unlikely to seem worth it to think much beyond that. People are both not very motivated to think hard and not particularly able to think about multiple things at the same time. As it turns out, and as multitasking experts can attest, humans’ brains have a limited capacity to process information, which leaves people unable to think about and actively process multiple things simultaneously.

* There are two tasks that are incompatible with one another: (1) getting and appreciating a joke (processing the funny stuff), and (2) scrutinizing and critiquing the argument presented through that joke (processing the serious stuff).

* The more invested the audience members are in the funny component of what you’re saying, the less likely they are to judge the underlying strength of the argument. Imagine that: the more engaged they are with (the humorous part) of your message, the less likely they are to critique it.

* “complexity seems to increase the degree of perceived humor so that if a joke contains several hidden violations, and claims for more reasoning efforts, it will be funnier than if fewer are noticed and less intellectual efforts are devoted to the incongruity resolution.” 3 But this only works up to a point. Research in the 1960s and 1970s concluded that the relationship between humor complexity and humor appreciation could be represented by an “inverted – U shape”: the more difficult the joke, the funnier people find it until the joke becomes too difficult to comprehend, at which point, appreciation decreases.

* professional comics cannot afford to tell jokes of such complexity that they leave the audience baffled.”

* a humorous text will be perceived as humorous if the incongruity/resolution is: non – threatening, not too complex or too simple, based on available scripts/knowledge, unexpected, surprising, and occurs in a playful mode (the situation must be framed as humor).”

* People with different levels of need for cognition tend to differ in countless other ways as well. People low in need for cognition are more likely to be dogmatic and are more aware of social comparison cues. They are more likely to place a high value on attractiveness or popularity; more likely to engage in processes of selective attention, perception, and avoidance; more likely to be high in need for closure (a psychological trait indicating an aversion to ambiguity and uncertainty); and more likely to prefer order and predictability. People high in need for cognition tend to be more curious, more willing to dedicate long periods of time to a dedicated task, more open to new ideas, and more likely to see social and political issues as affecting them personally.

* People who enjoy thinking are more likely to appreciate humor than those who don’t. Given that joke comprehension is akin to a playful form of riddle-solving, the notion that people who enjoy thinking are more appreciative of jokes makes sense.

* that the link between need for cognition and humor appreciation works when the humor is predominantly rooted in incongruity resolution (which, as I’ve discussed, is cognitively taxing). However, when a joke is disparagement – oriented (making fun of someone or something, as in the “Yo mama” jokes discussed earlier), the effects of need for cognition disappear. It seems that when incongruities are high, as they are in ironic texts, need for cognition is an important predictor of enjoyment.

* humans encounter the world through various motivational states. Apter suggests that people vacillate between states depending on their personalities, their psychological profiles, and cues in their environment. For example, sometimes people operate in a more serious, goal – driven, “telic” state and other times in a more playful, spontaneous, “paratelic” state. It is in the paratelic state that people are able to experience and appreciate humor. In order to enter the state of play, Attardo argues, the audience must perceive the environment and the joke itself as nonthreatening.

* During my junior year studying abroad in France, I found myself at a loss when French people made jokes. I quickly learned that there was one kind of joke that I had to get on board with relatively quickly: “stupid Belgian” jokes. In France, Belgians are the source of endless comedy for their supposed stupidity.

* Satire is most likely to be appreciated by people who — due to personality, psychology, and aspects of the environment — can get it and are willing to get it. These are people who possess the requisite knowledge to reconcile the incongruity. Their openness to and enjoyment of thinking increase their motivation to try to get the joke. And they are willing and able to entertain the topic in the state of play.

* Need for cognition also tends to be high among people who are tolerant of ambiguity. Tolerance for ambiguity is another key trait that contributes to artistic and aesthetic preferences. Tolerance for ambiguity, also known in association with its converse, need for closure, refers to how comfortable an individual is with novelty and uncertainty. 7 People who are high in tolerance for ambiguity adapt easily to new situations, are open to new experiences, and tend to reject structure, order, and predictability. Those low in tolerance for ambiguity, who are high in need for closure, are less comfortable with new experiences and tend to prefer routines, order, structure, and predictability.

* the need for closure scale includes several different underlying dimensions, including need for order, need for predictability, need for decisiveness, intolerance for ambiguity, and closed – mindedness.

* Studies conducted in the emerging field of political neuroscience point to differences in brain structures between liberals and conservatives — differences that map onto their unique psychological traits and orientations to the world. For instance, studies of the neurological structures of conservatives’ brains indicate that conservative individuals have larger amygdalas — the region of the brain that responds to threat. 29 The size and activity in your amygdala predicts your likeliness to react in a more emotionally charged way when responding to threatening situations. 30 This evidence from brain science fits with the finding that conservatives report high “mortality salience,” that is, they are significantly more cognizant of their own deaths. They also report greater fear of threat and loss than liberals do.

In contrast, liberals have bigger anterior cingulates — the region of the brain involved in conflict monitoring. 32 Conflict monitoring is the process through which you determine whether your automatic response matches with the response that would be most appropriate for the situation at hand. 33 Hence, with a larger anterior cingulate, liberals are more likely to change how they react to certain events, as they tend to devote cognitive resources to choosing the most suitable responses to various situations. 34 Whereas conservatives are commonly monitoring their environments for threats, liberals are evaluating information and verifying that the data coming in matches their attitudes and judgments.

* Increasingly, political scientists are acknowledging the role of genetics in shaping people’s political ideologies and their individual political beliefs.

* The more conservative the participants, the higher the likelihood that they would prefer solid edges and lines — and pictures in frames. Conservatives were literally more likely than liberals to agree with the sentiment “Good solid frames are very important for a picture or a painting.” To extrapolate to today’s political reality, it seems that the same people who support the building of a physical boundary (a literal wall) along the United States’ southern border to keep out illegal immigrants probably also want a physical boundary (a frame) to visually separate their artwork from the drywall around it.

* People who opposed mixed marriage, euthanasia, abortion, and smoking pot showed a preference for readily reconciled jokes over the more incongruous, complex ones.
So if you vote Republican, you not only want frames for your artwork; apparently, you also want your jokes to have really clear punchlines.

* Whereas irony requires that the listener invert the literal valence of the speaker to infer what the speaker actually means, in hyperbole/exaggeration, the listener has much less cognitive work to do.

* Humor is a deliberately inefficient form of communication. Rather than explicitly communicating information with the goal of being clear and understood, humor transforms the act of communication into a game — a riddle.

* Daniel Howrigan at the University of Colorado at Boulder sought to understand the relationship between general intelligence, personality traits, and humor production: What kinds of people are funny? 30 To a sample of undergraduate participants from two colleges in California, Howrigan and his colleague Kevin MacDonald administered questionnaires that measured various personality traits, including extravertedness and openness. The researchers also used a complex measure — Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test — to capture general intelligence.

The results showed that general intelligence is a strong predictor of humor production. Smart people are funnier than not – smart people. In view of the complexity of humor as a form of implicit and incongruous communication, this makes a lot of sense. The findings also point to an important social dimension that factors into humor production: extraversion. Extraverts are more adept at the production of funny jokes. Finally, and consistent with other work in this area, Howrigan and MacDonald did find support for the idea that openness (a dimension of tolerance for ambiguity) is related to humor production as well.

* Political scientist Alison Dagnes writes: “the poverty – paved road to thespianism is riddled with tricky potholes that serve as obstacles from continuing in a profession with wildly uneven work schedules and paychecks.” 34
In her book A Conservative Walks into a Bar , Dagnes explores the political and psychological characteristics of political satirists through qualitative interviews with comedians and comedy writers. Her sense throughout the book is that the liberal nature of satire is a function of the personality of the satirist as “unconventional,” “artsy,” “freethinking,” and “unpredictable,” traits that are more prevalent among liberals than conservatives…

“Being a comic,” he argues, is about “comfort with ambiguity and chaos.” 37 Ashley Black, a writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, 38 agrees with the underlying premise: “in order to get good at [comedy] you have to be part of a community. And that community is very much centered on hanging out and drinking, and not having children. Having children is a huge barrier to entry… A lot of things conservatives want to do like get married early, have kids, show up early, go to church on Sundays … there’s none of that [in comedy].” Instead it’s “get a shitty job that you know is shitty and beneath you so that you can devote every working hour to your jokes, staying up until 3 in the morning.”

* Comics (professionals, amateurs, and writers) are significantly more open to experience (tolerant of ambiguity) than noncomics. This relationship was particularly noteworthy among comedy writers, among whom openness was the highest of all the participants in the study.

* The process of creating humor itself involves complex cognitive processing. As discussed earlier, tolerance for ambiguity, openness to experience, and need for cognition are all correlated with a more liberal ideology (particularly on social and cultural issues). So, just as appreciation of complex humor — like satire and irony — ought to be greater among political liberals than among political conservatives, successful humor production ought to be greater among political liberals than political conservatives.

* The most successful left – wing [Facebook] posts were those that used humor. The most successful right – wing posts were those that made reference to an explicit out – group. The scholars conclude: “these findings therefore suggest that these features of humor and out – group reference are distinctive to left – wing and right – wing settings, respectively.”

* Aesthetics conservatives most appreciate should have hard lines — both literally and figuratively. One should expect conservative political commentary to say what it means and mean what it says. It should offer clear, explicit, descriptive, and prescriptive arguments about the way the world is and the way the world should be. And it should do this not through ironic implication or subtlety but through direct, unambiguous, emotionally charged argumentation. This would satisfy conservatives’ high need for closure and tendency toward heuristic (instinct-based) processing.

* Consider recent conservative calls for celebrities in the entertainment or sports industries to stop speaking out about politics. In February 2019, Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized the political expressions of professional athletes like the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James. “It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said. “Keep the political comments to yourselves. … Shut up and dribble.” 48 In an interview about the Academy Awards, Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told Variety in February 2018: “Americans aren’t interested in Hollywood liberals blabbing about politics to a room full of Hollywood liberals.” 49
Undoubtedly, much of this belief that celebrities ought to “stay in their lane” is a reaction to the fact that athletes, actors, and artists tend to come from the left. 50 But I would also argue that conservatives’ discomfort with celebrity political expression is broader than that. It seems to reflect an aversion to hybridity that is consistent with a low tolerance for ambiguity. To operate in the world with a high need for certainty requires sharp distinctions between categories, between people, and between concepts. Are you an actor or are you an activist? Are you an athlete or are you a political figure?

* the moral certainty with which outrage hosts speak is palpably different from the self-deprecation with which satire hosts speak. Outrage as a genre bills itself as important, as explicitly political, and as a vehicle for the dissemination of truth. Satire bills itself as playful, as designed to entertain, and as a vehicle for laughter. These distinct frames surrounding the two genres illustrate the two unique psychological profiles… And humor as a form of political discourse has another disadvantage for audiences who prefer clarity, closure, certainty, and efficiency. Humor is inherently inefficient.
…humor is created through incongruous juxtapositions. …the audience must go through a complex series of cognitive activities to access the first frame of reference, activate a second seemingly disconnected frame of reference, and then make a cognitive leap.

* the aesthetic of hybridity is more compatible with a liberal ideology, as strong liberals are comfortable both turning to comedy programming for political views and opinions and admitting that they do. Conservatives, meanwhile, were significantly less likely to label outrage programming a source of entertainment. They might enjoy watching these programs, and might even find the experience entertaining, but when asked why they turned to them, they overwhelmingly reported watching for “interesting views and opinions.”

* Viewers of political satire programs are, on average, more educated and politically interested than the general population…

* one of the main features of outrage programming is the central role a show’s solo host plays. The host drives the show. The host’s personality and perspective are the show. Yet from the start, Air America execs and programmers seemed to treat the question “Who’s hosting?” as an afterthought.

* when they have tried to dabble in the preferred genre of the “other side,” liberals and conservatives have often struggled. Liberals brought play, experimentation and collaboration to their attempt at outrage at Air America. Conservatives brought straightforward insult, directness, and very little humor to their attempt at satire at the ½ Hour News Hour . Under the Trump administration, though, as liberals’ high tolerance for ambiguity has most certainly been tested by conservative social and cultural policy and rhetoric, some liberal comics have eschewed humor, at times invoking the tropes of outrage. But if the characteristics of the outrage genre are indeed better suited to a conservative orientation to the world, perhaps liberals should proceed with caution before substituting funny with angry.

* satire thrives outside the system and emerges from the bottom up largely through experimentation and improvisation.
If outrage is a well – trained attack dog that operates on command, satire is a raccoon — hard to domesticate and capable of turning on anyone at any time.

In his work in progress, Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression, Rony Guldmann notes:

* [Bill] O’Reilly concedes that TV political humor targets the whole ideological spectrum. But the total “body count” reveals that it is conservatives who bear the brunt of the mockery. The “cumulative effect of print and TV commentary that largely denigrates conservative thought and traditional values cannot be overestimated,”46 because the final message is always that “[l]iberals are smart and conservatives are dense.”

* Popular culture celebrates liberals as cosmopolitan, debonair, and edgy88 while stereotyping conservatives as humorless, uptight, and stiff.

* Michelle Malkin describes a Democratic Fundraiser in Chelsea where one comic attacked President Bush as “this piece of living, breathing shit” and others “took to savaging Vice President Dick Cheney’s family,” calling his lesbian daughter “a big lezzie.”159 Yet the media gave this outrage a free pass. Why? “It’s like an Upper West Side Manhattan left-wing Ku Klux Klan mentality,” explains Republican Congressman Peter King of New York: “[I]f some Southern redneck talked like this about a liberal, everyone would denounce it. But because it’s Upper West Side humor, somehow it’s supposed to be chic.”160 Enjoying this Upper West Side privilege, liberal comedians can issue mock death threats against prominent conservatives and expect everyone to take this in stride. Malkin observes that liberals fantasized about the assassination of George W. Bush and then pleaded that this was an “ironic” joke.161 But conservatives who would turn the tables and wish the same upon prominent liberals cannot expect the same understanding, as they are not members of the culture of irony.

* ““Prudes” are always the subject of jokes and ridicule. One of the central themes of American movies and television is the glamorization of adultery. Adultery is almost always portrayed sympathetically, so that if a woman cheats on her husband, the husband is generally shown to be vicious, unscrupulous, abusive, impotent, or in some way deserving of the fate that befalls him.”

* With social status now hinging on words rather than swords, “[s]tylistic conventions, the forms of social intercourse, affect-molding, esteem for courtesy, the importance of good speech and conversation, articulateness of language” all assume a newfound importance.107 “Good taste” acquires a new prestige value, as members of courtly society listen “with growing sensitivity to nuances of rhythm, tone and significance, to the spoken and written word.”108 Every plebian banish coarseness and vulgarity from his life.100 But with the court having become a kind of “stock exchange” in which the his value was being continually assessed and reassessed, he could no longer afford this former freedom.101 Gone were the days in which joking could lead to mockery and from there to violent disagreement and violence itself in the span of a few minutes. Gone were the days in which one could leap from the most exuberant pleasure to the deepest despondency on the basis of slight impressions. What mattered now was others’ impressions, not one’s own, and the foremost task became impression-management, which also meant self-management.

* The tone of outrage is emotional, angry, and fearful. The content is “personality centered, with a given program, column, or blog defined by a dominant charismatic voice.” 2 And the tactics? Simultaneously engaging and ruthless. The specific tactics of outrage include hyperbole, sensationalism, ad hominem attacks, ridicule, extreme language, and “proving” that an opponent is a hypocrite.

* Outrage as a genre is focused on “unveiling enemies.” 3 It does this explicitly by pointing out institutions (media), individuals (Hillary Clinton), and policies (Obamacare) that are threatening. Since conservatives have a higher threat and mortality salience than liberals, one should expect them to be drawn to information that monitors for threats.

* Outrage appeals to people not because of the information it delivers but because of the experience it provides. Outrage helps viewers feel validated in their opinions and allows them to avoid belief – disconfirming points of view. It seems reasonable to assume that for people who are low in tolerance for ambiguity, it would be far more comfortable to swim in a sea of like – minded opinion than to have to entertain the possibility (that exists when viewing mainstream news) that occasionally your side may be incorrect. Outrage also helps audience members feel like they are part of a clear like – minded in – group. “Whereas political conversation generates fears of social exclusion,” Berry and Sobieraj write; “outrage programs incorporate and include viewers and listeners. The host presents as a kindred spirit who ‘gets you’ even when other folks don’t.” 5 Outrage hosts make viewers feel smart — especially compared to all those dupes out there — as though their “fans are more intelligent than the idiotic others who don’t ‘get it.’”

Golfer Lee Trevino said, “When I was a rookie, I told jokes, and no one laughed. After I began winning tournaments, I told the same jokes, and all of a sudden, people thought they were funny.”

Posted in America, Humor, Journalism, Satire | Comments Off on Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States

The Women of the Far Right: Social Media Influencers and Online Radicalization

Here are some highlights from this 2023 book by sociologist Eviane Leidig:

* In May 2019, then twenty-three-year-old Canadian Lauren Southern posted on her website,, a farewell message titled “A New Chapter.” In it, Lauren 1 stated that over the course of four years, she had made deep friendships and embarked on adventures around the world, listening to stories of hope and loss.
Unless you knew about Lauren Southern’s political activism, her farewell message revealed nothing about her political beliefs. Yet her departure from public life, despite having signaled a move away in the six months earlier, was a major loss of one of the alt – right’s main celebrities.
The rise and fall of Lauren Southern reflect the ephemeral nature of the alt – right movement. After all, the alt – right had no clear leader, structure, or even ideology. It existed almost entirely online, and its adherents were vulnerable to censorship, suspension, and shadow banning.

* The American and Canadian women who feature at the core of this book are Lauren Southern, Brittany Sellner (n é e Pettibone), Lana Lokteff, Rebecca Hargraves, Robyn Riley, Ayla Stewart, Lacey Lynn, and Lauren Chen… With the exception of Lauren Chen, who crosses the far right and conservative spectrum, these influencers are not involved with these conservative organizations and prefer to engage in political activism that is more explicitly ideologically extreme.

* These young, attractive women are taking to mainstream social media sites to recruit followers and build audiences for their cause. I call these women “influencers” because they serve as leading online personalities shaping and popularizing ideas within the far – right community. Compared to the dark web and fringe forums such as 4chan and 8kun (previously 8chan), which inspired the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 and in Buffalo, New York, in 2022, forums where (mostly male) users hide behind anonymous avatars, these women prefer to spread their message on mainstream platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Importantly, being an influencer isn’t just discourse oriented. It is encompassed within a broader influencer culture . The media scholar Crystal Abidin defines influencers as “everyday, ordinary Internet users who accumulate a relatively large following on blogs and social media through the textual and visual narration of their personal lives and lifestyles, engage with their following in ‘digital’ and ‘physical’ spaces, and monetize their following following by integrating ‘advertorials’ into their blog or social media posts and making appearances at events.” 3 The far – right women featured in this book are self – styled vloggers (video bloggers), activists, entrepreneurs, and authors. They discuss issues such as dating and relationships alongside free speech, the “invasion” of migrants in Europe, and culture wars on university campuses. They travel the world to film documentaries and go on speaking tours. In this book, I show that it was the female leaders of the alt – right who helped mainstream the ideas of what was previously a fringe phenomenon by tapping into the practices of influencer culture to reach wide audiences.

* what makes these women so appealing is how they present as relatable to viewers. They may be energetic, charming, and self – confident, but they are also remarkably down – to – earth and empathetic. These women discuss the troubles of finding love, desiring financial security, and making friends amid loneliness. They post photos of themselves traveling on vacations and at coffee breaks in caf é s. They showcase their lives and lifestyles.
I contend that perceptions of authenticity and accessibility serve as the most powerful tools of the modern far right.

* Media scholars note…that “the internet does not cause radicalization, but it helps spread extremist ideas, enables people interested in these ideas to form communities, and mainstreams conspiracy theories and distrust in institutions.”

* Parasocial relationships are one – sided relationships in which fans feel as if they intimately know and are close to a celebrity after prolonged exposure. But whereas parasocial interactions usually consist of fans developing illusions of intimacy with the celebrity, here in the case of far – right women influencers the fandom culture transforms into a community where influencers respond to fans, while fans, in turn, participate in helping to shape influencer content via comments and likes. [Scholars say] “Authenticity has become less of a static quality and more of a performative ecology and parasocial strategy with its own bona fide genre and self – presentation elements.”

* I was facing the same life obstacles at the same time as they were: all of us were young adult women seeking to find our voice and identity, to assert ourselves, to feel empowered and valued (paradoxically feminist goals for them). Although we had different pursuits, their stories of self – fulfillment and accomplishment were a common bond between us. Even as someone who can spot the signs of radicalization, I found it easy to become absorbed in these women’s world. And here lies the crux of the problem: these influencers are integral to normalizing the far right in the twenty – first century through their visible social media performances.

* “being part of” versus being “interested in” the alt – right is a slippery slope.

* Scholars define populism as fitting into two camps. The first camp advocates what the political scientist Cas Mudde calls a “thin ideology” of “the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite” and of politics representing the general will of the people. It is a thin ideology because it depends on a “thicker” ideology, such as nationalism, to function. 14 According to this definition, populism can manifest on both the political left and the political right.

* The journalist Seyward Darby describes Ayla Stewart as “a seeker”: “Throughout her life, Ayla had been in zealous pursuit of meaning; [the far right] was just her latest aspiration.” Lana Lokteff, in contrast, is an opportunist seduced by power and influence. “She is a stage manager as much as she is a performer. She dictates what her audiences see, and she doesn’t want anyone to peek behind the curtain,” 35 Darby noted when she tried to get access to Lana’s private life. Lana prefers to control the narrative, to play the game, rather than provide an unfiltered picture.

* The media scholar Theresa Senft coined the term microcelebrity in 2008 when she was researching “camgirls,” young women who broadcast their lives to the public on the internet… They fulfill four criteria to achieve this status: they “usually engage with positive self – branding strategies (as opposed to playing with notions of shame and scandal); manage a public visibility that is sustained and stable (as opposed to being briefly viral or transient); groom followers to consume their content aspirationally (as opposed to accumulating hate – watchers or audiences who tune in only with the desire to watch them fail or gawk at them); and can parlay their high internet visibility into an income that is lucrative enough for a full – time career.”

* the process for far – right women is gradual, sometimes taking years; the retelling of their “journey” can be convoluted, contradictory, and they can sometimes go so far as to “reshape stories, even memories, of their past” to fit their present activism. 29 “Whenever she told the story of her life,” writes the journalist Seyward Darby about Ayla Stewart, “Ayla described a gradual awakening — a realization that the media and America’s raging liberal culture had taught her to hate herself, her femininity, and her race.” 30 It is most likely that Ayla was framing her radicalization journey according to her current political beliefs as a way of situating and understanding her past self.

* Each embarked on a journey of self – improvement with a mindset of accepting personal responsibility. Along the way, they found confidence in voicing unpopular political opinions through watching the male YouTubers. They “have inspired me to say what I’m thinking and not be afraid of the repercussions,” Rebecca claimed in her first YouTube video in February 2016. “These things are the truth … to save Western society, which I see crumbling,” she added. 34 Their stories are ones of resilience as much as of a reawakening. And yet in sharing their journeys, they use far – right ideology to explain the reasons for their past unhappiness.

* Robyn, who now has tens of thousands of subscribers to her YouTube channel, related in a video titled “I Lost All My Friends in the Culture War” in September 2018 her painful experience of losing former university friendships. Misty – eyed, her voice shaking, she described feeling betrayed by the very people she once considered her second family: “My old friends who are still liberal can’t see what I’m doing on social media outside of the confines of their own perspective, which puts me in a category of someone who is propagating hate speech, someone who has been radicalized, someone who believes in conspiracy theories, theories, someone who probably has no credibility, someone who is being misled by unreliable sources, someone who has been manipulated by men in my life, someone who has probably internalized misogyny — I would imagine is something running through their heads.” With her head held high, Robyn renounced her old friends. “When strangers are more supportive of what I’m doing on here than old friends, then maybe it’s time to let go.” 36 No doubt it is easier to let go when you can frame your cause as worthy to tens of thousands of supportive strangers… By sharing her experience, Robyn hoped that others would find the strength to gain what she called “self – respect.” This “sense of moral worthiness,” as Kathleen Blee describes women radicalized in the far right, 37 gives purpose to these influencers.

* With “glow up,” an emphasis is placed on routines and lifestyle changes revolving around health. The process also centers on building self – confidence and discovering one’s preferences, values, and passions. The ultimate aim of a glow up is a rebranding of oneself — a perfect analogy for red pilling.

* A recurring theme across Robyn, Rebecca, and Lacey’s red pill stories is how these influencers create validation for their life choices. Framing the process as finding their “authentic” and “honest” selves distracts from the hateful ideology of the far right. Gaining a sense of “self – respect” and building confidence in one’s opinions are attractive to vulnerable young people, but for these influencers these gains come at the expense of dehumanization and “othering.” Their far – right propaganda is highly effective at turning personal grievances into a “worthy” cause. Women influencers are at the helm of manipulating susceptible viewers into believing that joining the far right will bring them happiness, which in turn will lead to the betterment of society overall.

* far – right women influencers have a high male viewership [because] they function as honeytraps for the male gaze.

* being part of a social movement creates powerful bonds of community, which is considered like a family.

* By far, the women themselves are the most crucial form of entrepreneurism as influencers. They capitalize on their looks and youth to construct themselves as the most visible women on the far – right frontlines. Building audiences on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, which are visually oriented, is possible due to what the media scholar Alice Marwick describes as “Instafame”: “an online attention economy in which page views and clicks are synonymous with success and thus online status.” 49 The concept of the “attention economy” is key here. As the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci notes, “ Attention is a key resource for social movements” because the latter depend on it to frame their goals, convince the public of their causes, recruit, neutralize the opposition, create solidarity, and mobilize supporters. 50 If we think about the far right as a social movement, then these women influencers play an integral role in furthering its aims within the online attention economy.
Far – right women influencers solicit attention by curating a microcelebrity profile that strategically reveals personal information while also coming across as a source of inspiration for their followers. They maintain a delicate balance of accessibility, authenticity, and aspiration. “Microcelebrity is linked to the increasingly pervasive notion of ‘self – branding,’ a self – presentation strategy that requires viewing oneself as a consumer product and selling this image to others,” writes Marwick. 51 Building upon Rebecca Lewis’s research on reactionary – right YouTubers, these women influencers are “selling” the far right through their own “political self – branding,” in which “they live their politics as an aspirational brand.” 52 Whether that brand is achieved by selling merchandise featuring their catchphrases or simply by posting selfies of behind – the – scenes action, these seemingly banal activities serve a very important purpose: far – right propaganda.
These influencers thus practice a type of “relational labor,” which, the media scholar Nancy Baym writes, entails ongoing audience engagement over time to build social relationships. However, unlike sole emotional labor, relational labor usually involves connections tied to earning money.

* Dutch influencer Eva Vlaardingerbroek, a former politician who worked as a trainee for the far – right Forum for Democracy (FvD) party in the European Parliament in Brussels. She holds a master’s degree in philosophy of law and pursued a PhD in the Netherlands before dropping out to focus on politics full – time. Eva became a rising star among the Dutch far right for delivering a speech critical of feminism in 2019, but the next year she ended her membership in FvD following internal party divisions — not least complicated by her romantic relationship with its leader, Thierry Baudet, a few years earlier. At the time she exited FvD, she was dating Julien Rochedy, a French politician of the far – right National Rally party and later moved to Sweden to become the host of a YouTube program called Let’s Talk About It , run by the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in neo – Nazism. 72 She returned to the Netherlands at the end of 2021 to take up a position at a law firm to fight government mandates such as mask wearing and vaccination against COVID – 19.
U.S. audiences may be familiar with Eva because she began regularly appearing as a guest commentator on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News , discussing the “skyrocketing crime epidemic” in Sweden, which she linked to mass immigration and demographic change.

* The media scholar Bharath Ganesh describes the “ungovernability” of online spaces where the far right is present. He characterizes this presence as “a swarm” with three central components: “its decentralized structure, its ability to quickly navigate and migrate across websites, and its use of coded language to flout law and regulation.”

* Lauren [Southern in 2022] further divulged the drama and conflict within the far – right political scene, including blackmail, threats, betrayal, and rumors. “We have a lot of cultlike dynamics of our own, where people can get excommunicated, where we don’t really look into things that deeply if the saints of our movement say it,” she critiqued. According to her description, the far – right milieu is engrossed in the spectacle of celebrity and fandom. She was now largely pessimistic about the world in which she rose to fame: “The fact [is] that so much of this 2016 alternative – right, dissident – right movement was so coded in selfishness, narcissism, cult of personality, and none of it was about helping people. It was about how well latching onto this person’s struggle [will] potentially boost my career.”
For viewers who didn’t know what people she was referring to, she stated explicitly, “I’m talking about the people at the top.” The leading figures Lauren criticized in the video are Ezra Levant, Milo Yiannopoulos, Tommy Robinson, Faith Goldy, and Paul Joseph Watson. She exposed these individuals’ atrocious behavior either toward her personally or toward others who were victimized. “A lot of money, influence, power, and faith people are putting in people is getting squandered away. Squandered away due to ego.… It’s really important to highlight just how messed up the culture was in this political movement,” Lauren explained.

* “It can be a profitable decision to go far to the right, where the audience is very accepting and gets excited about new personalities that come on the scene, especially young women,” observes the journalist Jared Holt. “But because this audience is so toxic and hateful, going to that audience is sort of like your last stop on a media career.”

* “It was hard to imagine Lana [Lokteff], who’d sought a spotlight for so much of her life, gladly disappearing into her home should a white ethno – state ever exist. I wondered if the pursuit of white nationalism — the struggle, as believers would call it — was the endgame for people like Lana.” 18 As the most prominent women in the movement, these far – right influencers are attracted to the fame and status they receive as figureheads. Do they truly advocate for what they’re saying, or do they just understand that using certain catchphrases will garner more attention and views? There is an underlying tension between authenticity and propaganda in these influencers’ self – presentation online.

* “In the end, the needs and ambitions of women activists never fit into right-wing extremist parties and organizations dominated by men.”

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My Favorite Songs

That’s the beginning number of my Youtube music playlist.

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