How the Media Helped Create One of the Most Toxic Groups on the Internet
So here’s the thing. This article will make you unhappy. We’re going to talk about a truly horrid group of people and there’s a chance you haven’t heard of them. It you see some of the nasty things they say you’ll think less of the world. You could instead look at this kitty having a bath and get on with your day. Only warning.
Yesterday was a bad day for freedom of speech, but a good day for the human race. Message board Reddit, the 8th most visited website in the world, made some changes to its policy on violent or threatening content and in the cull that followed several subreddits (areas of Reddit dedicated to a specific topic) were officially banned.
Among these subreddits was ‘incels’. For those not unfortunate to have encountered the incels, the name is a portmanteau of ‘involuntary celibates’, people who have been unable to find a sexual partner. Within the incel community members will discuss, at great length, why this is due to societies unrealistic beauty standards and the negative impact of feminism. Any outside observer will easily recognise that in reality it’s because they are horrible, disgusting people with borderline psychotic personalities and persecution complexes who view women as objects for sexual gratification and can’t fathom why women have avoided them. As a result they have turned their frustration to anger and have built an ideology around needing to ‘avenge’ their miserable existence by degrading women and creating an echo chamber where they feel rape is justified because women should be able to see how deserving of sex they are.
This might be sounding far fetched, or exaggerated for the purpose of this article. For your consideration, the 2014 Isla Vistas attacks where a horrid lump of sputum whose name doesn’t deserve to be written stabbed his room-mates to death because they had obtained sexual partners, and then perpetrated a mass shooting on the streets specifically targeting a college sorority house. Why did he do this? Because, in his own words…
It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.
His self proclaimed perfection should make him entitled to sex, but women are flawed for not understanding that and throw themselves at what he thinks are lesser men. Usually because they were black.
How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves.
Sure, nothing in his personality, attitude or behaviour reflected his self-assured ‘perfection’, and he never viewed any woman as a person, but it’s because society is wrong. Sadly this isn’t even the last time a member of this community has perpetrated mass murder as a response to their ‘involuntary celibacy’.
This is a pop culture site and a discussion about these wretched rodents is a bit out left field for us. But it’s on our radar for two reasons. Firstly, it’s through the internet and popular discussion forums that these examples of pond scum have found themselves and through the echo chamber effect of the internet convinced themselves that they’re in the right. The second reason is that the media and pop culture have laid the seeds for this perception of the world, and we need to see a change.
Here’s some of the pop culture trends and cliches that have been presented as normal for the past few decades.
WOMEN DON’T NEED TO GIVE YOU A CHANCE – AND YOU LIKELY DON’T DESERVE ONE ANYWAY
Tell me if you’ve seen this movie: there’s a guy who’s a bit of a loser, something of a nerd, and he’s attracted to a girl. The girl, however, is dating some jock asshole who treats her like crap. Eventually she comes to see that the nerd is the one she should be with.
This happened so often during movies aimed at teens in the 80s-90s that it is still treated as normal in modern films despite being completely ridiculous. Encino Man, Hackers, The Faculty, Revenge of the Nerds, Weird Science, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Back to the Future, Can’t Hardly Wait, Can’t Buy Me Love, Teen Wolf…it’s such a tired and unimaginative plot point it was used in Transformers and made up the concept of The Big Bang Theory for the first couple of seasons.
Often when this trope rears it’s head it comes with the jack-ass boyfriend. For some reason the foul mouth-breathers at ‘incels’ this is seen not as a repetitive narrative concept but as a guide to how the real world works. Here are three lessons incels have failed to comprehend.
1. Being a Loser Does Not Make You a Good Person
As they are often the protaganist the afore mentioned loser is depicted as a righteous and justified. Whatever good traits they have are given to him because he’s the hero of the story. They’re not weird or gross or threatening, they’re cute and misunderstood, forced into the bottom of the school hierarchy due to a cruel twist of fate or not having a cool car.
“Ew, what a gross NERD!”Putting aside that these guys are fictional and played by attractive Hollywood celebrities, close examination reveals that they are plenty creepy as it is. Dave (Sean Astin) in Encino Man carries around a photo of himself and the object of his affection as children in the bath to confront her with, saying “we’ve been naked together”. George McFly (Crispin Glover) secretly takes photos of girls changing without their knowledge. Ross (David Schwimmer) is smugly whiney and possessive. The totally realistic portrayal of a misanthropic outcast immediately mocked by his peers ‘Dade’ (Johnny Lee Miller) cyber-stalks the girl who caught his eye a minute earlier and changes his school timetable so he could be in her class.
Jesus, what a freak. There’s not way he’d end up with Angelina Jolie…oh, they got married after the movie? Never mind.Coming back to the fact that they’re fictional characters, the way these people are treated and people respond to them seem familiar and realistic because it’s a commonly used trope and not because they have a basis in reality. Maybe you don’t fit in because people don’t understand you or the circumstances of reality. Maybe. But it’s more likely that you are in someway objectionable through your behaviour or personality or lack of personal hygiene or your worldview being formed by wretched online community.
Or it’s because you’re so special they just don’t get you.2. Being Popular or Some Form of Jock Does Not Make a Person an Asshole
Some are. Some aren’t. Incel bitterness dictates that women only pick assholes over them, the mythical ‘nice guy’, and therefore all people who aren’t them are assholes. Not just assholes, but all rapists and violent abusers.
This is one of the firmest beliefs that hold the incel community together. Incels are, naturally, much better people.
Yes, women should suffer because their lives are…easier? That brings us to our final lesson.
3. Women Are Not Stupid For Not Liking You
The war waged against women and feminism is what the incel community has evolved into, and this is again shaped by trends seen in the media. With the love interests in these films all trapped in a relationship with a popular jock (read: asshole rapist) the only explanation is that she’s stupid and oblivious. This is also the reason why women fail to note the loser’s obvious charms (HE HELD A DOOR OPEN, DAMNIT).
Oh, and he said m’lady.It makes sense that it is women who have become the target of this hatred and anger, as demonstrated by the earlier mentioned pile of festering garbage who planned (for TWO YEARS) to shoot up a sorority house.
You may have noted that most of these examples are from decades ago, and the more recent examples of films and TV using these tropes are garbage. It’s not like one of the most successful programs of the past year do exactly that.
At the beginning of the series, Nancy was dating Steve. Steve was not a great person. Meanwhile, Jonathan has a crush on Nancy and takes photos of her changing her clothes with her knowledge of consent. Obviously Nancy wakes up to the fact that Jonathan is actually right for her and they hook up. More perplexingly is that Steve does better himself, learns from his mistakes and is pretty solid guy by the time Nancy is running off from Jonathan, a creepy pervert who whinges throughout the series.
ROMANCE AND RELATIONSHIPS ARE BUILT ON CREEPY BEHAVIOUR
So these incels have adopted the fictional worldview that women date jerks and need to notice the loner who is much better for her. How do they get the girl’s attention? Well, two ways…
1. Make a Grand Gesture
Preferably in the middle of a wedding or while they’re catching a flight. Rather than doing something, you know, human like asking them out we have to make a spectacle of ourselves. The Patron Saint of Shitty Lonely Men, Ted Mosby, is a big proponent of this technique. Sure, you went on a date and it went fine, and after a while you decide it isn’t working out…but you should break into their apartment and surprise them while wearing a tuxedo, along with an orchestra playing instruments painted blue!No. No you shouldn’t. Or any of the other weird shit Ted Mosby does because he’s ‘romantic’. It’s weird.
2. Being a Stalker
She’s not playing hard to get. She doesn’t just need the chance to see why you’re perfect for her. She said no and you’re not taking no for an answer. But you just need to show them how in love you are!
This is legitimately insane and illegal behaviour is portrayed as romantic in Love Actually, Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, The Notebook, American Beauty, You’ve Got Mail, Crazy Stupid Love and There’s Something About Mary. In two of these instances the ‘hero’ of the film hires someone to follow the object of their affection around and take photos of them. That’s not romantic, it’s terrifying.
FEMALE CHARACTERS AREN’T WOMEN
Some female characters are portrayed in a shallow manner. Wait…that should read almost ALL female characters are portrayed in a shallow manner. Women are the single most mis- and under-represented groups in the modern media. They are likely to appear as the love interest or an alternative to the default man character. All characters are assumed to be male unless otherwise specified, that’s the reality we live in and should work to change. A female character is seen as part of a ‘niche’ audience or interest. For years and years major studios have claimed that they don’t make female lead superhero films, citing poor returns on Catwoman, Elektra, Tank Girl and Supergirl. During the same time these films were released we saw major studio bombs in the form of Spawn, Steel, The Guyver, The Shadow, The Phantom, Judge Dredd, Batman & Robin, Howard the Duck, The Punisher (1989), Captain America (1990), The Punisher (2004), Daredevil and a long list of shitty Superman, The Toxic Avenger and The Crow sequels.
If we applied the same logic male lead superhero movies have lost substantially more money than female lead movies with a higher proportion being sent straight to video. At no point did anyone consider that people didn’t want male superheroes because male is the default and women are the alternative.
If incels are forming their world view based on pop culture tropes, which is what appears to be the case, it’s little wonder that they few women as being without agency or even personality.
Instead incels see women as they exist through the narrow lens of the media, then reinforced by only engaging with cretins who hold the same beliefs. This has lead to many incel communities actively endorsing rape, the severity of the crime being minimised because they can’t perceive a woman as anything other than a goal to be attained or an obstacle not fitting into how they expect the world to work.
Ok, maybe ‘endorsing rape’ is a bit much. They don’t actually belie…
Oh fuck the lot of you. What a bunch of trash. And yes, that poster joined this forum in November 2017, and posted this within the last 24 hours where-ever these animals have congregated since r/incels was shut down by Reddit. Some have fled to other parts of Reddit, unfortunately they didn’t get trapped inside when the nest was burnt. One new home for these miserable people is r/MGTOW – or ‘Men Go Their Own Way’. This subreddit started life as a support group for men, which was great, except they also follow the same demented logic and women-hating agenda as r/incels, but with the claim that they can get girlfriends, they just don’t want to. They’ve been taken over by extremists but with more bullshit.
I’m not claiming that the media is responsible for incels and associated creeps. That’s ridiculous. It has, however, informed them. This is a group of people who are detached from reality and were reaching out for something that made sense. This simplified version of society has struck a chord with them. If it wasn’t movie tropes it would be something else. Why they need this is a mystery to me. Lack of education, mentally dysfunctional in some manner, growing up without family support, never been taught how to communicate.
What I do know is that they’ve created a real garbage fire of a community. It defies logic that people can twist their minds into such a pretzel that they think sexual assault should be legalised. Reddit, one of the biggest social networks on the internet, has done a good thing in drawing a line in the sand. They’re not going to go away, unfortunately, but we can continue to call them out on this insanity.