Best Of The Web
“In April, Alek Minassian, a twenty-five-year-old from Toronto, wrote a Facebook post—“The Incel Rebellion has already begun!”—and then drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians. For many people, this news raised two questions: Is there no depth to which the human soul will not sink? and What’s an incel? Only one of those questions was Googleable. So, in the ensuing weeks, people searched the word “incel” thousands of times. What they got in return was a list of links: links to news articles (“Inside the Dark World of ‘Incels’ ”), links to Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia (“Incels are members of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner . . . ”), and dozens of links to YouTube, Google’s hugely influential video platform (news segments about incels, diatribes ridiculing incels, even sympathetic interviews with incels).
Natalie Wynn, the creator of the comico-philosophical YouTube channel ContraPoints, wanted to make a video that was both more trenchant and entertaining than the others. “I knew mine would involve some light mockery,” she told me recently. “How could it not? I also knew that I’d have to make clear, at some point, that incel ideology is dangerous—which, when you’re talking about a woman-hating death cult, does seem worth mentioning. But I also wanted to keep digging until I had a theory about how someone might start out in a decent place and end up in such a fucked-up place.” This approach was not a sop to civility—Wynn, who has called herself a “leftist propagandist,” had no interest in representing both sides of an imaginary debate. “I wasn’t looking for my kumbaya moment with a misogynist,” she said. “I didn’t want to empathize. I wanted to understand.”
Three years ago, Wynn dropped out of Northwestern’s Ph.D. program in philosophy. (She later called academic philosophy “a guided tour of history’s most boring homosexuals.”) She moved to Baltimore, drove an Uber, and started making videos about, according to her YouTube bio, “Sex, drugs, and social justice.” She now has a thriving Patreon page, which affords her a comfortable full-time living with enough left over for a fairly lavish costume budget. Her videos combine slapstick and dark surrealism, Foucauldian banter and Fleetwood Mac covers, subtle metaphysical insights and unsubtle dick jokes, and calls for socialist revolution made in pink wigs and designer heels. She is one of the few Internet demi-celebrities who is as clever as she thinks she is, and one of the few leftists anywhere who can be nuanced without being boring. She knows her way around a syllogism, but she also knows that persuasion is not reducible to reason—that the best arguments, on their own, do not always win. Or, as she put it in a recent video, “Politics is aesthetics.””
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"President Trump’s Iran policy over the weekend was both erratic and masterful. Doves and isolationists, panicked by what they see as the administration’s inexorable drift toward war, rejoiced when Mr. Trump announced that a military strike had..."
"This is the photo that encapsulates the cruelty of the Trump era: a father and daughter lying dead on the banks of the Rio Grande river, her tiny arm draped around his neck, drowned after an attempt to cross onto American soil and seek asylum..."
"Several months ago, a Palestine Liberation Organization body published an official document on the conflict. In its 37 pages, the organization put forth its views, with some readers seeing this as a clear endorsement of the two-state solution..."
"The first season of Big Little Lies was a clever trap. The show took what would have otherwise been an easily satirized narrative about affluent women and complicated it with their trauma; The Week's Lili Loofbourow succinctly called it "a kind..."
"There’s a story we like to tell about American capitalism. Ours is a country that prizes merit, rewards risk and stands apart in its commitment to the collective success of open markets and the free flow of capital. We are a nation of strivers..."
""IN THESE DAYS of anti-tech ire, it’s a popular cocktail hour topic: How much is Facebook making off my data? Last year, I spent a month trying to find out, hawking my personal data on blockchain-based marketplaces. I came away with $0.003. On..."
""At the end of May, TIAA, the financial services and investing giant, rolled out new gender-identity awareness guidelines for its client-facing consultants. The guidance included: “Never assume someone’s gender identity” and “Be aware that a..."
"An old saying goes that people become more conservative as they age. George Will’s new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” shows that the opposite can be true. This book is not so much a brief for conservatism as it is a learned and lengthy..."
"Imagine if the dishes stopped getting done. Imagine if no one did the laundry, and it piled up, stained and mildewing in hampers and in piles on the floor. Imagine if no one fed the baby, or changed her, and imagine if no one made dinner..."
"In Japanese culture, kintsugi is the labor-intensive method of repairing broken pottery by reattaching pieces using a lacquer mixed with gold. The reconstructed item, glistening with golden “seams,” is in many ways more beautiful than it was..."
"The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of measles since 1992. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases since January. Scientific research overwhelmingly support..."
"Among those participating was Jason Greenblatt, Washington’s Mideast mediator and one of the architects of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop taking place here. Aryeh Lightsone, a top aid to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, gave a brief..."