« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 1155 - Bad Internet w/ Matt Furie, Arthur Jones & Andrew Marantz

2020-09-07 | 🔗

One year ago, Marc used the Labor Day episode of WTF to find out why so much bad stuff in the world gets birthed in the darkest corners of the internet. A year later, it's only gotten worse. Marc talks with comic artist Matt Furie about how his creation, Pepe the Frog, was appropriated by online racists and Nazis, and Arthur Jones explains why he made a documentary about Matt's quest to reclaim Pepe. Also, Andrew Marantz from The New Yorker joins Marc to help draw the line from Pepe to QAnon and other fanatical online behavior.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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I need to get some shit down in my beds that doesn't matter none of it. Fuckin matters what's happening. What is happening in Europe? Italian who's on the shoah. Let me do this and then I'll a weave, the tapestry, if it's possible, if I can read it, but if this is a unique show, it's a different type of show. We do these shows just exploring certain subjects with people who can now is the kind of show we have today and it's a good one. What start here, in that its labour day in one year ago, today, last labour day, we, Add the Dale Moran on the show he wrote a book called. It came from something awful which was about his time engaging the online world that act. We became the alt right now,
I was I'm always a little late to the game. I dont know where everyone else gets her information, I'm not always on the pulse. I remember during the lead up to the two thousand sixteen election, seeing these hashtag. Magda Maggie twenty sixteen I do know what mega wasn't. I started noticing this frog: was in a lot of different It was showing up in these tweet. I was, I guess, it's a fun thing. Is it a fun thing, what's happening what's mega and is the frog fun well PET Bay, the frog was was actually I love. You fine, but he was casual. He was not loaded up. He was not political. He was sort of laid back in his inception. An Pepe was involved in what do El Moran was talking about a year ago, namely means and shit. Posting on message, boards getting turned into the language in organizing principle of the
racist NEO, nazi movement and they appropriated Pepe PET. They as the creation of a guy named met, fury you can get the the original pet books. It was. It was a panel that was in us. Sort of the rag. In the Bay area, but there's a full book from Phantom Graphics called boys club. It just was reissued. Ria, in addition from Phantom graphics books and it's got the original Pat ban, it before I e resume used. As the mass God of the all right sort of NEO Nazi momentum online. Now when they talked a Dale Moran a year ago. He mentioned that there was a documentary being made about the creator of Pepe the frog and how he was too owing to reclaim Pepe show. Today I talk to that. Guy's name is math fury. Iraq is called feels good man, the director
Arthur Jones will be here as well, and after I talked to them. I wanted to follow up on this tragic, three of the all right in what happened with PET bay as in it, and it was a precursor to what we are seeing now with Q, and I do so in order to sort tackle that and eyes it. I talked to a Andrew Morass, he's a staff writer for the new Yorker and you ve been reporting on this stuff. The online subcultures for years actually wrote a book about it called anti social online extremists, Techno Utopians and the hijacking of the american conversations available now, but it comes out in the paper in the paper back September, fifteenth so big show stuff all right. I'm trying to as we all are in and some days are better than others. I feel like my grief is, I don't think it's being repressed, but maybe it is justified,
function, but I reflect almost every day about my law, us about our loss. In a broader sense- and you know I I I reflect on My relationship every day doesn't go by where I don't think about the passing of my girlfriend and and what led up to it- and you know it's rough, but it's it's getting easier. I talk to people, they spend time with people trying to have a life, but it's a solitary life now a bit. You know I am here at the house, myself site, try you know I I I I'm worried up my brain, a figure. Now, it's time to read. By have we been able to read with a lot of consistency since some since the grief since the tragic since the horror pointed I'm loading up. What is it about? Why my? brain do in listening to the jasmine written about the jazz, but here's the deal I dont know look I just feel like what is the point.
But then I realized like. I think, if you give your my elk in your relatively smart pinnate, maybe not a fully well rounded intellectual of the academic short of me, because most social and critical furious for academics for those within that world refer students who don't understand it and won't understand it, no matter how much they pay attention and class. It just gonna, be those two guys to smoke too much. You were gonna get it, but I want to tackle it, So, why am I loading up there where we going with this? I think. What's going to happen, I think what it is we're going to watch all the criterion movies. We can go watch a lot of cast of daddy's we're going to read up, maybe get you get into those philosophy books. Maybe some poetry can a load. If these were your interests coming up the time now maybe The wall like I didn't you it's time to start load, not load up on the philosophy load up on the poet.
Tree load up on the movies low load up on the difficult music load up on the cultural common Erin cultural Criticism- fill it up. Man fill it all up deal with math, mad If you want deal with logic, if you want, we start the fire. Your brain that you're driving at when you gave up for some. Things easier. That would get she through life once you load up? I think that the ultimate goal that we're working towards this for those of us who want to load up we're going to load the brain load up the heart, and, at that moment, that moment of catharsis, if you want to call it that in these end times were we all can breathe at the same time, when we all look up and see the lash that final moment for those of us who are on on the upper grounds some people, they're gonna, be in the basement, they're gonna be in the bunker. They're gonna be underground, just by coincidence. Aid might make it through, but for them
asked of us who are all going to die at the same time in whatever the cataclysm is unfolding. In that moment, You ve done your homework and you ve loaded up your brain, even though it seemed senseless, that moment that flash of vaporization you all understand, Charlie Kaufman's, new movie, I'm thinking of ending things. That's wonderful, makes sense if you ve done the proper hallmark at that final moment and it'll be a collective experience. Those of us who were baffled, your critical, who don't feel first enough, if you do the proper low, of the brain. At that moment of collective catharsis, that is the end of the species We will all simultaneously understand, I'm thinking of ending things. And some will be saved odd way. That prophecy might be true, but the rest of us. Those of us who did the homework one stand that movie and then
everybody else. Who will be? The meek now have the business to do business Only a business man can run a business into the ground. You can and that one Biden that from my buddy website, lives. I never work in it out talking through figuring out, so here we go. Let's get on with. It my fury and Arthur Jones my furies a subject Arthur's director of this new documentary called. Feels good man. The subject is, as I said, my fury and his creation Pepe the frog it's now available and most digital video on D. And platforms. This is we are talking to Matt, fury and Arthur Jones coming up folks its summer time right
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it's available for rental on September forth, and then it's gonna, the seas and premier of independent lens on pcbs in October. Nineteen, oh, that's nigh on, which is great. So when I first started seeing Pepe the frog around eighty was eight, and I didn't. I know I don't know the strip, I don't know where their strip ran Matt. Where was the original was it that was to Strip actually called boys club yeah. Originally. It was like a gene that I was just making for fun in San Francisco and the early two thousands so little gene, and then it was kind of it just came. It was like in the small press kind of seeing in San Francisco, unlike the early arts are really like what what's which small press over there. Well, it wasn't a last gasp thing. I know it was called when of Inter press
there? They are based on an oak wind and are you know we would go to allay COMECON like two thousand six and alternative press expo and in services go. You know in the early two thousands who stuffs- and I was just kind of a silly comic- that I would try to encapsulate my my twenty something aimlessness nests in tat before your life experience living with a bunch other dude yeah pretty much yet my living, timorousness go like Post college was kind of like a way to keep going to college. You know knock it's kind of just a titan. It sleepy town, anyways and any kind of like lives up next to want it one another and we are just embryos and you know out and now you know just try to postpone adulthood as long as possible no? I did it. I lived in San Francisco. I was there ninety two through ninety four if down the mission, any really started, endeavouring got that feel that there are a lot of people that
either came here after college or for college. India does never really changed their clothes for a decade or so, and I just kind of hung out yet grow out of bed, get a breed Owen Alpine, your bike and hang out their friend was cool and, unlike the early two thousands, my my partner was working at the pipeline San Francisco and down so she seen you perform their number times, and you know I can't I was exposed a lotta like Stanhope Comedy then she was a server. Yes, yes It was here. You know, she's a skinny short haired girl that kid carry a lot of glasses on one tree, pretty impressive, oh my god, so she had to deal with my. Contingent. Indeed, Maya my community fraud, for I got some stories detail. I would imagine oh yeah shit, you know she just left goin out to you, know they got eat after the shows and stuff. You know she hung out with like gum Chris Garcia
Grantline back unknown, sharing Wang Dan this guy. I saw the other nice crew of comedians it and then I got I gotta meet them to those are good guys Chris used to open. For me, oh ok, so I let's get into this pepper business. So this I'm the strip was really like when I read that I guess I got the Phantom graphics book that I guess Eric put out boys club, which is it yeah it's a great book. I guess it's all the the comics from that. You did what you MIKE Weekly or did you do I'm busy? have like I just a few of these panels in their present amazing did you put out. I did for genes total and I at about one of the year, and they had about forty, pages. If so I was very ambitious with with the comic stuff. It was just kind of more of I'm, so I M you just want a year about which had about forty gags and in each issue be I like it and it's like primary before characters in Pepe. The frog is one of them in their sort of like living there
I have a bunch of yeah like like, like people like you, but there now, at once. A wolf guy in one's a fraud again. One a kind of what is the other one? Is it a road into Europe where is it a dog? I don't know if they're kind of nondescript like animal critters, you know it's kind of like ironically, I was trying to kind of trans and you know, race, by just making kind of uppity characters. And they ended up being. Right. Well, I guess what we, godaddy yet to you Arthur. This is your. First documentary yeah
I never thought I was going to actually make a film I come to. This is a fan of mats comic side. I bought them in the late to thousands, I'm I'm a real, obsessive, collector of independent comics and I'd done, like some animated tv pitches like I'd, I'd, sold an idea to comedy central and cartoon network, and none of that stuff quite worked out. So I've been kind of on the very fringes of tv development and Matt and kicking around ideas about, may be doing like boys club cartoon together, and we had like a couple of meetings and allay about that and people are obsessed with the story in the negative baggage surrounding pepper and so after we had those meetings and nothing really came of those. I pitch man on the idea of doing a documentary and he agreed to do right. So wait. So you come down here and what year did you come down here to pitch When do we do that man? That was like twenty
seventeen like early twenty seventeen, we pitched, You know I've been living and allay now for, like seven or eight years, I used to live ok, so, by that, when you go out to pitch Pepe the fry, as has already been cooperating. Not the cute kind of dew fell from boys club. It was at the height of Pepys Nazi idea, identification yeah yeah, and you would go into these rooms with the with the sketches with mats books and people be like It is in that the fraud is not the nazi frog. Well, I mean people knew what they were getting into and they took the meeting. You know I think they may be. And understand the breadth of exactly what was going on, but you know we had like a pitch deck where we explain what what the baggage of pepper was that this was not about trying to exercise Pepe from the bag. This was just like you. I mean we get it. You know it seems like a bunch of weirdos have collected the frog for their nough
various meaning, but that is still good story at these for acknowledging the current cultural moment, like you know, you can't go out and do a boy's club comic without any acknowledgement of what was going. The cold war, was the pitch their dead. That Pepe in the boys rubbish struggling with his identity as well. Sure I mean it's more complicated. Well, why me? We want people to really I understand that Pepe came from something he came from boys club and that there is a backstory to pepper but he wasn't something that was a meme and then kind of became. Co opted and turned into propaganda, There was a back story and then we wanted the cartoon to basically tell this This sort of Alice in Wonderland style, salary were pet, bigots pulled out of the bubble of boys club and he has to find his way back home and the things that encounters along the way. Are
all sorts of you, no internet, weirdness and nasty, and it's a great idea. He asked a kind of fight for himself. No, you gotta know that now, I don't know man. What's your take on it? I don't know I don't withdrawing- and I am afraid of a minute- come up with, like the next character of like nobler, something to be like the little a little baby lions represent. I don't know child abduction, there's something like this. This is stopped you from drawing this experience. I'm just stand taken a break, I'm just Canada. I think I think, as combination of of all this stuff and the pandemic, California, is on fire right now and I just I'm, I'm I'm losing my motivation to just be a creative person. I just want to be a person, so that's what's happening to me. Are you sure you
guys decided that you couldn't sell the thing you know with your contacts. Pepe into the narrative that he was in an and also the narrative he came from. So What was the decision making process around doing the dock? My decision making us around doing- the dock was- I felt like the story was really important. I feel like the story of how social media has torn culture. A part is the biggest story of our generation. I thought pet. They was a really unique case study to talk about that he's. A case study, that's really funny and weird, and man is in a very like related old place like most there's been. A lot of documentary is about the internet. You know there's a lot of documentaries about like the economics of social media, but none of them feel like movies, and I really could see who we were starting this process, that this would make a really good.
Will you were able to integrate like there? The cartoon itself do some animation and then tell us story of having something early innocuous and funny and an innocent to a degree. You're just be Co. Opt id yeah, I think also initially in a relatively innocent way, and then it became a became malignant yeah so I mean I wanted the reasons that Pepe was so easily. Co opted first as a totally innocuous meme, something that was just like funny reaction image and then later it was weapon eyes politically, but was because people really didn't, understand, mats backstory, they didn't understand boys club. You know, there's a lot of cartoon characters that get appropriated in pretty nasty ways and the internet. For instance, Spongebob Square pants gets not defied all the time, he's like a sweet, innocent character and people of putting a Hitler
moustache and on him or whatever, but you whenever you see that you know they re eye irritation. Everyone knows online job. You are aware that there is a corporation that protects him and with pepper people do not understand the back story, and so for the movie. You know I loved mats comics. And whenever I would see Pepe on the internet, I would actually feel like a palpable sense of loss like like oh Pepys lost in the machine, some when and I felt like. I may be understood this story and kite kind of a unique way, and so I was passionate about having people, understand the context for the character, and then you know also like I know you ve talked about this in your pocket mark but, like I grew up in, like the fog of conservative media, my dad basically just like lost to the am talk. Radio like I grew up like in a small town super conservative. I felt like I had to like unread pill myself in, like my late teens and early twenties
and so, as I sort of saw my dad moved from like a like a Bob Dole Social Conservative into a trumpy, I felt the sense of wanting to make a piece of art that was really about sort of the cultural moment. That would like cut through the static until this larger story about where we're at and I felt like Pepe was an amazing vehicle for it. I also I mean I didn't want to help Matt and I think, like you know, I hope that this movie, like is able to tell it like a really story. That's true to the core values of what matters a dude cares about, and then also the original comics will match what
what when did you first realise that something was you know that that Pepe was in trouble? While I mean the interesting thing about Pepys, it's been like an internet. Can a meme phenomenon for wait too long, like I think of it, can peaked in two thousand ten. It was like really popular with like little kids and stuff, so is actually pretty stoked about the whole internet phenomenon. I would get like emails from my kids, that would you know they wanna sports T shirt with Pepper II on it were like they're, they're, trombone club or their photography, club and stuff, like that, and I was just really popular with kids and stay in. I think it's it's still weirdly popular with kids. You know especially kids, that kind of grew up with it as a more innocent
and it saying like it's a big, it means a lot to them for some reason, and I always liked it to gauge reality by by a kids reality more than adults like our arrival. Kids, it s much more open to cartoons and imagination stuff, like that, something that I that I've always been drawn to it didn't really get truly sensationalize. Until the election, in terms of like it becoming aimed at its meaning shifting, where became clearly identified with a political agenda, and and am I wrong Arthur and in in saying that that happened, sort of collectively with the it seems like, although many of the young there the young white dude, who were passing around
bays image and meme on four Chan or are or through read it that there was still like it wasn't quite politicized untoward. It seems that a lot of them were radicalized by older white nationalists. Zat. What happened all you know? It's a complicated story. You know the the internet doesn't sort of move in a straight line. You know there is always been kind of this meme on Fourchan, where they think it's funny to not suffice things and That was something that had been kicking around for years. Unfortunately, the real moment that Pepe a kind of twisted and got weird in them like in the mainstream press, was in late September, early October of twenty fifteen and
a two week period. Things went really sideways for the character. The first thing that happened was there was a school shooting Oregon at the room, car community college and the night before that, shooting it's hard to prove for sure. But there was a fire her champ post. There was basically outlining how the shooting was gonna go down or to use an image of pepper and a scheme ass, calling a gun than two weeks later, two weeks after that, I'm Donald Trump, which it at that moment was a lovely like a laughable presidential candidate, retweeted himself as Pepe. He retreated an image of pepper with his Herr standing behind a podium, and it was this weird moment of fracture in sight guys for us, like one of these. Two images have to do with each other, that's kind of like in some ways the inciting incident for the film yeah. I just think because it seems Yet there was the meme culture and an using Pepe, fairly extensively
Anne was he eat a definitely represented something different even to those angry dude before or maybe the incidents at your talking about. I think what that is tribute that, once you will, I think what we're too I hear here's once they realized at this thing. Had power and traction and naked start sort of Culture, jamming real life, you know with PET Bay that yeah they they brought. The scope of the game, the other game of four channel where the something Awful Board were everyone's trying to outdo, oh see each other outer or our do whatever they gained. You're playing within themselves. I think that, once you You know the shooter thing happening once Trump does it: they realize that they ve got traction in a broader sense and I certainly the sword. In the end game for any troll is to get some sort of validation, whether that's in the mainstream press or getting like out reaction from whoever they're trying to like troll right
just curious, how does it? What was the moment or the evolution of it sorted becoming yet Lapel pen on Richard Spencer's jacket: well, you know Richard Spencer, It started to use pepper because he knew that pepper was powerful because they are he realized that Pepe was a great way of obvious skating, his agenda, the right It has always had a hard time, basically finding like a youth culture kind of contingency within the eye, and I think but we're recognising that some of the same stuff that was happening in the older generation was echoing out through fortune in a variety of ways. The people on four Chan are filled with, like of you. No self loathing self hatred, kind of reactionary, personal feelings, but there also filled with a real sense of general one entitlement meant mostly like white guys who feel as though culture has been stolen from them, their guys who are like in the basement, who spent a lot of time alone, their extremely online, and they feel as though they dont have like a lot of control in their personal lives or much agency, and call
sure, unanimously, mostly anonymous, so Pepe really became an avatar for them as people and so on, the film what we tried to do was we basically use the emotions of pepper. To kind of work is like a narrative baton for the story, so you know we move through sad pep aid, a mad pep aid too angry pet beta smug, pepper, and then finally, we end and like this violent, pepper and then pepper becomes Trump, and that's like this sort of narrative spine of the film. But you know it is a pretty complicated journey, but but Richard Spencer really only started to use it purely as propaganda once it was kind of officially declared this noxious symbol. It was something that had been used partially as a joke up until that point, then you know, Nazis have always used sort of trawling. Insincerity as cover for their real agenda. That's not necessarily
but doing it in the internet. Age is and so rich husband. I realise there was a young activate a group of people. There were excited by his message and he could give like a wink to them by using pepper, and then maybe I think he hoped to like sort of galvanise a larger group of people around both the character. His message. So I'm mad! Now, it's like you, you come, I'm a different generation of creatives in It seems like Pepe Union, just San Francisco and general, just a nature of underground comics, the nature of independent comics, the nature of drawing that this is like. It seems like a more organic world, then the war, world that Pepe eventually got swallowed up by you know, you're the intimate c of your relationship with your creation, was, was fairly specific,
and it doesn't seem like you're, really that much of an online guy in general. Now I'm not young I've gotten little more paranoid about online stuff. I just I just get into these kind of loops of Vienna looking at the news her yet I've been reading this guy during lay near that wrote this great book called ten arguments for creating social media right now, and he makes a really good points like one of the chapters is because social media hate, your soul and staffing and he'll go on to explain why I social media hate, your soul. You know this whole new generation of lakes in shares and follow for follow and stuff then how all this data is, it is minded and in used, you know, whoever's got control of all this information kind of like controls, the information and the planet and uniting go get totally weird with it. So I just choose to still.
What I have always done, which is, as you know I do. I did a little bit of publishing by a lot of my work is just drawing pictures and in selling a physical objects for money. So you get fifty fifty. If you go through a gallery examining sense to me that there is no overhead united need a piece of paper and some colored pencils, I'm good to go in it. As long as you know is long as I can keep the momentum going or keep myself entertained and try to say something important yeah. I've always wanted to you don't make something that out lasts me. You know and unfortunately, that the thing that everybody always wants to talk about is You know this stupid frog, so I don't even like talking about it. To be honest, I think it's interesting that you, don't you don't like talking about. I think that's sort of the point I was trying to make was that
like the work you do and how you do it and in your sensibility around technology I do know, is Jerry. Linear is at a new german linear book relatively new within the past few years. Here you like in a virtual reality. Back in the day, like you know, in the labour market and early nineties in down you know, minority report is basically I owe him kind of like a like a Hollywood version of that agenda have a computer? I have an eye for an eye. I really do kind of urine for the old days of the internet. I think the idea of the internet was good and I think it's called a connect. People want to be with all this information is stuff like that, but I just love like like web one point: no like the old home pages and stuff. I love like the home quality a bit. I ain't gonna, like GEO cities in Vienna. Four means and even gifts and ensuring people just had their own little homepage in and you can just fine others call niche staff and everything was kind of linked together and uh. You know you are you
for the kind of the more innocent David. Not now you can't even go on anything without having a million adds up your ass. You know like I'm, I'm you two were Instagram or any of this stuff, Just so you can so inundated by adds like I just don't want to deal with it and get resulting in other cliff Baden stuff. It's like knowing I get it. I definitely get it so I why you're good this movie was about getting Pepe back to a degree or at least trying to fight that fight. Like you have this, this thing you created that you have a relationship with that. Has a disposition, a point of view, a personality, its fairly specific. It has context that you created, and now it's been collapse by monsters, and it's all over the place in and it's the wrong message that this things the associated with. So I know that a good part movie. Whether you like to talk about happier not was trying- and I think it was a noble experiment that seem do yield. Some results was to try to you know
wrestle your creation back at the maws of of the all right out of mean culture out of of being used for that type of messaging. You know did you have get when you first saw him being used, pepper being used in that way. Did you want to do that from the beginning, or is it something that made you more? sad indian, you kind of you were more compelled to do it. Is time went on that my instinct in the beginning, when I was assaulted by reporters stuff about this stuff, was to downplay it. I tried. Did you say you know everything chain is this is just a phase once the elections over you. No, this
This move on to the next thing: Pepys, bigger than politics and other stuff Pepys like a global phenomenon, my trying to focus again on you know: kids, youth culture, version of pepper night, like this kind of very niche, very specific nazi shit. That was happening. I tried to just I tried to ignore it. I tried to downplayed and I tried INA and dumb. Unfortunately, I had my word used against me and you know I had a whole different set of experiences because of that type of reaction because of how it was spun and in various ways, so they were holding you responsible, as I think that they were just they just really They really wanted answers and they they were looking to me to give them some answers about this internet phenomenon. That was way bigger than me and the only answers that I could give them, who is my own personal experience, my own opinions about it and I'm not sure
and then that would become a news headline or something- and you know so so they would be kind of using made right. I mean on these big he's big issues that you know. I love sensitive guy and I want the world to be a happy, loving place that safe for children and animals and everything else. So I would just talk about that stuff and then I just can't seem like a dippy heavy so on I'm just me, then it right browser. When did we whose it was it Arthur who gave me the idea, you know in two to start fighting to free Pappy No honestly, can I try but tried various. I tried being creative. You know I I tried till I start to save Pepe campaign cash tag. Save Pepin, have my friends draw pictures of pepper that are positive and stuff like that, and then the I was just turned all those into like in a horrible things, and
you know, and then I tried and failed Pepe in a comic strip, because I was like you know, kind of over talking about it and staffing in that backfired on me, every like why you killed it at bay, but but really I ain't. You know these are things that were word bugging. The shit out of me like there's some principles making. This is his armor phobic children's book with at Bay, and it s my hand the lawyer up and start soon. The tat is a lot. So yet we of to protect at some point it became because, like that was what did it some someone creating an islamic phobic children's book with petty you decided to fight for your intellectual pretty is that what happened? Now I mean I was trying to figure it out, but that was win that for some reason, everything everything made me feel kind of sad and out of control
that really resonated with on a different level, because it was it, was geared towards children and using my character to you, know a spouse. This really hateful narrative? The thing that I like about the movie, you're, more so than the information, specifically the information in it, which I didn't know a lot of but like having talked a deal about. It was really about you're. The name of creativity, the nature of exploitation, the nature of of procreation, the nature of propaganda. The nature of the way, the internet that your kind of works? I'm in creating communities both for good. And bad and then just sort of the basic struggle. Of of an artist. You are trying to do sort of fight. This fight against these forces that are either evil or or just a faceless. So to me the
film works on a lotta levels in terms of like, even when he has even for kids that guy I gave the movie to my friend now I want him to watch it. I thought it would provoke some some intellectual act Liberty in his fifteen year old around the power of of of create she and of creating even a comic and am in what that can do and what can happen to it, both in the artist hands or in the hands of the nefarious forest of evil. I just I was talking with IONA last night and she's, like you know, you're like you're, the only people that kind of conflict and I'm there's other people that have been affected by means and stuff like that, but she's his USA, like in the future there's gonna, be like you know, support groups for people that have been affected by means of take. You know. So I got you know we can all get together in an talker speak our woes on how we were exploited online or something you gotta be Pepe, roster bards Macao
being on the Ford logo, a little deeper than that. You know it. It's also a story about a day the complete corruption of innocence. You know who you are on a level of you there Something really heartbreaking about me that the type of you, if I can sort of bee empathetic for the type of guys at that are involved. In these four chant communities in these communities at her young entitle, you're angry, or they feel this place that you're. That anger is your comes from somewhere, you know and and and I think that their innocence was corrupted, you know somewhere I don't know how or why or what causes the the depth of their pain, but to take this, this kind of sweet character in, and I know I maybe I'm reading into it and then corrupt his innocence, and and and make him a monster, and then you, you know Matt Yahoo has soared over an appreciation,
a child's mind and an seeing things this is a child would, in order to to sort of create a type of happiness to me. If it's it's really a painful, tragic story on all levels, even on on, on behalf of the perpetrators to some degree If I'm gonna, let my empathy go that deep. Does that make resonate? It does because I think yeah. You gotta, let everybody in your heart kind of in order to heal yourself, and you know it's for everybody's benefit in it, and I think the more you kind of divide people, the more you know you just see life as in us versus them, and not a we kind of thing. The M The thing is it's, it's real. I think a lot of real problems come from people that are in their own little world and in just kind, I really just thinking about themselves, and I think that the internet can provide
This little places for people that are in these really hyper specific kind of alienated worlds and they can kind of band together in cause chaos, young, and I understand that to like I used to go and chat rooms and fuck around with people in say, stupid, stuff in and it was fun trolling people. So I get that its future soon now, yeah we're after Pepe. Now it's me now it's entered the grown up. Whirling Q Anon is sort of the next phase of of what what kind of started with with Pepe unaware but it's for an older generation that the other virus of that conspiracy, which is bullshit, started as sort of an internet joke has now blossomed in into a full, fledged belief system and it might under mind the entire fucking world and yeah you're right to start. Yet the Pepe, I think, was a kind of a stepping stone into that for
grown ups. You know, but I m Eddie I didn't mean to interrupt in and what we are sort of talking about was the heroic attempts to you, you you're, through a through sourcing friends and stuff you found down a lawyer that word there that would help you out yeah I was with another lawyer, even before the lawyers that wherein in the movie, so I've been struggling with this for a long time- and it was an until I found
A beggar law firm that could represent me pro bono that I could actually make some progress because you know being independent artist. You you can't afford a lawyer and stuff, and this thing got so blown out of proportion. Then I can actually use it to my advantage, and you know it actually gave me a little bit clout in it gave me the ability to reach out to you know a large lark law firm, and I just told them. I don't wanna talk about it anymore with anybody. I don't wanna talk to press and I want to stop all this stuff from her
sitting in their like. Ok, ok, we'll be there and there were helped. You know I'll lose wanted an opportunity to talk to vice magazine. I don't think there's a lot of opportunities for some me in his position whose, like a copyright lawyer, you know who works for like a wave runners and stuff like that to actually have a voice on the national stage into really be able to change the narrative when it comes to this really divisive hateful. You know political american stuff, so they were stoked and I was stuck to have them. So it was a mutually beneficial situation that I'm still thankful for and I'm still utilizing their expertise, because I'm still getting weird emails about not season Q and on people I've been using Pepin. An unfortunate
I can't do much official posts, the stuff online, but a fair, like trend. My t, shirts and shit like that. I can stop on you know they can't make money out of it. So I'm doing my best real good, an orator so like vat that that part of this, nor I restored the turning point right. That's your act, three right! That's the beginning of the act of the of the act. Three then right yeah I mean we thought you know I think matzoh really relate of all protagonist in in the film, because he is in the situation that no one's really been in before he someone that there's not easy solutions or easy answers to any of it. He first tries to like reach out to his community of artists to help him, and he is aware that that something that might get subverted, but it's something that
feels like something that he can actually do, that feels like an hour project, and then he asked to go and basically like navigate the legal system which is very difficult to do. You know most cartoon characters. You know whether its Mickey mouse or whatever, have like huge corporations that have law firms on retainer to protect their ip and as an independent person. You don't, and the other thing is like you know that was put in a position where he here he really has to protect the characters. Copyright you have to be actively policing the be right of the character in order to lake continue to use the copyright. So it was something that I think Louis Tom Prowess and seventy Lynne, who are his attorneys? Who work at warmer Hale felt like this was like a really righteous challenge for them. After the election, and you know it was kind of interesting they. They actually came to Sundance, to see the film and Louis got a nice like you, no applause break when he went.
His first line in the film. Is it's not often that a nerdy intellectual copyright attorney gets to fight the all right? But when someone asks us we're ready and like the audience Preston, applause- it was a really sweet moment. His wife leaned over and like squeezed sway it was sweet. So that is the third act of the film you know when I had. The movie is about a lot of stuff. Obviously it's about, like you, know artistic agency online, it's about how trolling moved off of these like weird message boards and then into our mainstream politics. But you know it's really about Matt. Doing something it's about: Matt, realizing that he has this problem and that he can ignore the problem he asked to deal with it and and that's gonna, set him up for pray, is an ridicule and all these different things, and so you know to tell a story about the complications of the internet. I think we needed like a very reliable central figure and I think Matt was
that person, but, as you can hear even here like asking that these questions as a friend was often like difficult for me like it's something that I think he has a lot of mixed feelings about in its very understandable and now he is promoting the film forest which I I've been. I appreciate, but I also feel like there's a part of math that wants to leave eve, pepper. What you drew is like you know a six year old, twenty five years behind and move on to, like being a father being an artist having like this other life that isn't attached to this character that he made in his twenty. So the movies also kind of about growing up. Yet I'm sorry that their Pepe keeps dragging down man I'm here last night, Europe is now your father
well. You know I'm at the crossing a man like to be honest. I come I'm a huge fan. Is this show? I remember listening to the interview that you did with report in that really can it I'm always like Rupaul, but TAT was went so deep in no. I thought that you know that just really struck a nerve with me. I think it it hit me really emotionally and that it was really cool story in just the fact that I must now talking about this. You know I hate talkin about it. Is it's it's a blessing in you know it's something that I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to do otherwise. So I appreciate you haven't us on the show in, and you know so I got it just try to focus on stuff like this, which is positive, it's all
Just as as wronged dost would say grist to the mill. You know it's, it's the good, the bad you just gotta grind it. Also in I'm here to help Arthur, took as he's my body in his promoting this film. I feel awkward promoting a film that I'm the subject of so you know I don't even feel comfortable watching the film if my mother, your mom, doesn't have the movie your mom. She had a lot of questions everyone to dinner afterwards. Will they never? They never know exactly what you're up to the palace. She was very proud. She was over the moon, a marathon. Ok, she called you a warrior. Yeah was sweet, is very she's very proud mother, so so we'll Matt. While I mean it's thinking about how is your quality of life? Now I mean outside of the world ending I mean you know in turn. Xavier of your little world. Ve creative yourself. You yourself, you still in the Bay area,
worlds good man, I'm doing a lot of gardening. My kids about start can your garden, I'm just chilling. I mean join my summer going to beat latin stuff, so it's So now is. Has there been some? I get your maybe at me The part I won't ruin about the movie is how They was used proactively in Iraq, Lucian way at the end that there was sort of it a nice turn of events for pay a little bit yeah I mean we had a literal do sex mark. In a moment we were getting the film ready for Sundance, with a very different ending. And I'm actually mark we have when you are interviewing Dale bran. Who is a consultant on the movie? He was in town to do your podcast and we kind of end the moon we would this nice little interview with Dale about you know about what was going on with PET Bay in Hong Kong. That is a spoiler, but I think it's an important step.
And he came in and like did this little interview, that just was like kind of put like the perfect little period at the end of the film so nice to have him in town to to be able to do that. Yeah there's you know the thing that also the end of the movie speaks to us like what was going on with pepper in America, in the United States and Twentys fifteen and twenty sixteen, you know was unique pep: simultaneous too. That was being used in you know Malaysia in Taiwan, in Hong Kong. In all these other places, you know as a first. Happened is a meme. It was a reaction, imaging gaming communities and so that happening in Hong Kong just really popped up, because the character is so globally popular yeah that, but it created like a pretty amazing moment to end the film on which I still can't believe,
it's weird and maybe a different time in a different world Matt. You could have eventually had a theme park of some kind. I now you're weirdly yeah IONA said that she always thought I would have a theme park. One days could still, I think, a water, Clark would be mats Bianca. I love article look fellows, I think you did a great job, film that and very provocative and fills in a lot of, I think, gaps for a lot of people. My age in older, who don't really understand this stuff in the power of it and how it affects em, but also younger people, as while I mean Pepys like seems like a ridiculous story, but I mean ultimately q and on came out of fortune to write. There's eleven different candidates that came out indifferent republican primaries across the country that all of at some sort of allegiance to queue and on so, even though
Pepe does seem like this ridiculous stone cartoon frog. It does speak too, like this larger ear. Reality that's happening in America. Will ya, and that's the larger, what kind of reality area you re out, I mean it. I haven't heard that area had yet they, if not alternative, reality thing non reality. Is it a word yeah? Maybe I just and I like a reality that that's becoming a it's. It's manifesting as a belief system, one thousand six hundred and eight like more than a I almost more than a reality. It feels to me that the way it's taking hold of people's minds is is or like a religion, then an interpretation of reality which is problem attic it son. While I mean it appeal specifically to evangelical right now, I know you do it. Animals are already there. The neural pathways have already been carved exact.
Please somehow the book of revelation flows directly. I arrive in into a q and on, but I mean I guess, the larger point as these things that kind of start in these, like fever, swamps of the internet, work their way up and they take control the attention, economy and unique ways and something that in a hopefully. But we all have to just be aware because its becoming like a bigger and bigger problem throughout society will thank you for a shiny, some light on it fellows airy fairy tale. These? Are you guys basement? Ok, thank you, So that was a good conversation I enjoy talking to them. We learned a lot there. You can see. The movie feels good man, now on most digital and video on demand platforms, now picking up where they left off
I wanted to talk to Andrew Moran, whose book I like is book. I am, I didn't finish it yet, but I'm gonna finish it his book as anti social online extremists, Techno Utopians in the hijacking of the American conversation. You can get it now, but it's gonna be on paper back on the fifteenth this month September, and he's at he's been writing for the new Yorker for years and the evolution of the conversation that we started a year ago. It they'll Baron moves into this cure non thing. An Andrews been Kyra tackle in that I thought he was a guy to talk too. So this is Andrew merits and where it were were concerned viewing the conversation, Andrew good. I yeah, creating on earth. I now just as someone I As somebody question in front of my now on tax than she said.
Not great, I'm not horrible, and I said what one thing everything is horrible. It's hard to be great. Yes, yes, Ok, so here we are, the conversation has been hijacked. What started with with or Chan and read it through the mines and eyes of disenfranchised angry Highschool males who were then sort of turned out by older creepy, NEO, Nazis and and then for a fraction off into cells and then some of that kind of coercion. He waited with russian troops, oh, a meme language and the Pappy stuff, and then all of a sudden that the I think, the big addition to what is becoming this amalgamated mess of propaganda is, is the infusion of of cuban on and but also, I think it seems to me to be the this sort of the realm of of radical evangelical Christianity
that is, that right is that, where we're add, has everything coagulated? Is there a natural evolution that you see to it to this q and on thing Yet there is definitely evolution and- and so my book came out, last year. It actually has even come on paper back yet and already, as with all these internet things, some parts of the specifics can start to feel dated, but the ii, the underlying systemic forces, are exactly the same size Oh, when I was writing about this stuff, it was more in the phase where it was pizza gate rather than cure non right, so it hadn't yet metastasize into this grandeur. In which we can talk about, but the underlying systemic forces of house. Social media works. What its incentivize in people to do the kinds of feedback loops its drawing people into this system is still working exactly as designed. So as a couple of the individual. I've always designed by by who and for what reason, designed by the social media companies. So the reason that I call my book anti Social is because the word
and social applies to the creeps and propagandists and disinformation agents who I hang out with him. I would sit at their side and watch them destroy America, and I would kind of call them and say: hey you are doing this thing from your laptop in Orange, County, California, or in Michigan and wherever Ryan I come sit and your kitchen and watch, you destroy America and they say you're at her, and so I would do that vision. They were the kind of anti social ones, but it's all so antisocial in the sense of, a guy social media is doing this to us in a very concerted way, so the design is social media. The intention was not to destroy America by by yet you're saying that fundamental the design of it the way these loops create by bye, amassing, flowers, around ideology and then by other people, sort of YO entering it through random Waiter reactions that the design of it, which was idealistically to bring people together,
other? It's doing that, but in the most malignant way correct, so it's bringing people into these forms of community right. It's also doing at the most basic level. What the algorithms are designed to do, which is just to maximize and monetize attention. They're just trying to suck in your attention get you to stay on the platform for as long as possible, and often it's not even the human beings but as the algorithms were figuring out, that if you want to get someone to stay on your platform for eight or ten hours a day, we are actually the best way to do. It is too radicalized them to some kind of new called ideology that they will then sit in their bunker and explore and do all this research, the Ngos, but again so by that, that's you! like evil intent. Ah, Sir Red radicalizing for an ideology in, of the people that created this stuff would have been more like around brands right So the people created these things are not like. Where there's gonna be. This thing called queuing on in everybody's gonna, get converted to it there, just thinking in there too
no utopian way? We're gonna put all this freedom there and we're gonna written. You know, bring break down barriers and reduce, friction and that's gonna, make the world a better place. It's gonna bring us closer together because they just sort of were operating at this. Very basic level of you know not to be a dick about it, but, like Mark Zuckerberg, didn't finish college right, so you ve, never read like sociology and philosophy in history to see how these things could could derail. He just learned enough coding and got you know enough positive feedback and enough frankly, financial rewards for that coding. But he thought o coding is the way of the future. The more I You know this intermediate and put power in people's hands the better it'll be, and there was this basic underlying philosophy that the best stuff will spread in the cream will rise to the top. And then the really dark, gnarly stuff that that debt, we're talking about, he obviously and the people who created the stuff, obviously didn't foresee I'm in a convert. Everyone to this weird call that thinks that it burglary, but it happened in a sort of the kind
fun, loving way, initially that that someone like you Coburg would have intended to pit to happen, like you know, like four four pep aid to sort of be appropriated and then sort of you represent bye bye. The outright is this kind of funny way of of getting kids involved with hate was sort of like it's turning it it's on it. Headed by, but if that is the inverse of exactly what Zuckerberg and what twitter, what twitter guy was Jack was worth thinking happening away it. We re happening for the wrong reasons. ITALY, and it's not like every individual instance of how this can be abused would have been foreseeable. But when I analogies I sometimes uses is you know, starting a social network is like hosting a big House party and so you set the conditions that set the vibe of the party, so you're, not Missus airily responsible for the actions of each individual person, but you decide whether your carding people at the door. You decide whether you hi, righted liar exits. You decide if people are allowed to smoke inside and
you let people smoke inside. Someone else has an asthma attack, and you know that you're setting the conditions, what are you liable what do you do you liable for right and then suddenly, two billion people are at your party and its like. Oh shit, this has got out of hand, there's a lot of them that are bad, yeah, yeah or or being condition to be bad by the atmosphere of location. What's that, let's do it. Let's go from that point about radicalization now because, happening on different tears, like YO initially and in some of the stuff you covered in your book? You know you had these kids, who were angry and an proficient at at coding and computers and hacking and everything else, and a guy on each other's ability to to troll, and and make the most disgusting jokes and try to be as immoral as possible, and that kind of spread this other ideology. Some of them were radicalized by right wing thinkers and, and then it sort of goes from there, but that is the fortune on twitter Otto, but you know what you're talking about my dad's generation or boomers you're sitting there,
not on Twitter, on Facebook and in front of Fox news. That are also YO being article eyes, because it just it just seems like what's happening to them is different because in and we can talk about this, it seems like the incentive of the kids was the fuck with things whereas, people of my parents, generation or boomers at our younger than them think they're, seeing something relatively objective because of the format o totally yet there? There are different levels of intention Amity and how much people know. What is you know? What is a game and what is reality and I think where that you were talking before about All these things coagulated congeal together one of the things I kept seeing when I would call these people and say: ok, let me sit in your kitchen and watch you do this. They weren't always the fifteen year old. You know living down the hall from their parents, they were, but but other times it would be like I'm, a thirty nine year old, married guy with kids, who you know, goes a hike in the morning, and then, when I come home I want
but you know makes sure that Hillary Clinton can't become president and the easiest way me to do that is too, you know make up some kind of viral rumour about how she has Parkinson's or something antimony you know put together these little scraps of evidence that I saw her linking once so. Therefore, I am in a freeze frame that say she's having a seizure make that go viral, then that's gonna be reckoned textual eyes by the drugs report than the judge report gets picked up by Fox NEWS, so there are people who are kind of in between complete pranks or amateurs and professionals. These are people who actually are kind of getting good enough at reverse. Hacking new cycles that they now we can make money at it, but they can also like inception things into the mainstream of the new cycle. To the point where I would be hanging out with somebody watching them do that I would go the next morning and read the newspaper headlines and I would go that newspaper headline is exists because of what I watched this guy. Do yesterday why and then it snowballs into this larger grand theory of everything because of all the the political energies
tapping in right by them, but then you get people like my dad who, like yours, is sort of like a shallow political moron you'll regret Gee catering, not even Fox news to me, but by the other one. Away an away, I'm asking you as well. This is the thing that I think a lot of times. People underestimate- and you know I- I hope- that we don't underestimate it again going into twenty twenty is the degree to which a lot of people don't make decisions based on a well thought out rational analysis of the world. It s not even like a knock on anyone. It's just a lot of times. Politics is based on an impression. I got if someone again feel about that guy yeah, it, reminds me of someone I lie. I know and unlike like that's, how people vote that I think I'm a majority of people vote so this this way that we go about doing this Politicks Analysis in saying well, his trade policies like this in her, Foreign policy is like this. That's all well and good, but like that's a very outdated models.
Stuff what you're, especially with a generation, what we're finding that ultimately, is that most people do it that way, and an generationally speaking. Most people are not sophisticated in terms of policy, your or what it really implies, or a Jew or judicial picks, and then you get. People like you're talking about me. I guess your pride Talkin about my concern of which you have before you like, but see these guys they got blood on their hands now for what they ve done anew unleashed on the world wide web what they were doing too. They are you I mean, but whether they were banksters or not the easy there, not political people, they're fucking, hucksters, yet royal! Well, you can be. Political person Anna huckster, like that. We have a president yeah. I guess so so there are people who you know the more I spend time with these people. You know sort of issues one there are others that they go from this big o on a spectrum from nihilist print, stir. You know I just wanna fuck shut up to
committed. Ideological. You know Nazi massage earnest, whatever that there is a whole spectrum, but what they have in common. Is that, like you say there, not great political thinkers? They're, not you know a lot of them like to think of themselves as like intellectual or you know, sort of like amateur floss, first there, not that what they are is and when I would write about them for the new Yorker and then again in the book, I would have to reconsider July's. Ok, what are these people like an ultimately what I kept coming back to as their propagandist their media figures there. All what they're good at is taking means in the original sense of means. The Richard Dawkins sense of the word and propagating those means into the bloodstream of the national discourse that that there actually good at and it would have been worth my spending them. It's time with them. If they didn't have that very genuine skill set now now, but I guess my questioning leading into like it seems to me that that Q and honest absorbed a lot of the momentum that was with that. That was the infrastructure is put in place by these guys you're talking about now,
I don't know whether guys like Milo or furniture dormant or their done. Now, but it doesn't matter because now, like there there's this bigger arching thing in this, this mother of all kinds piracy theories, which is Q and on Yo incorporating really centuries old, conspiracies protocols of the elders of Zion such like. It's, it's all old, Timey free me Sidney. You know, protocol design This should have been around for fucking ever and now it now it sir, and brought together now. But when you talk about propagandists in their own right- and maybe they are, they do think that, whether it's a mixture of nihilistic fucking with the system where they believe that young on some although they want their, thereby to when they believe that ideologically, when you have something like you and I then absorbs other stuff. Is there a cue Is there somebody operating this thing on a day to day basis? That is a? Is there a an american version of latter Suave Cirque off you know the EU. Do we have I used to think there
that guy with the beard in trumps orbit was the guy, but is there Is there so whose guiding this? Because it seems like a fundamentally more than just an at model, it's a russian model of of of setting the actual county in news events propaganda just it seems like some guiding. This is their yes and no so there are people, it's not like. There is a Sakharov or a girls who we know about, I mean. Maybe history will reveal that there were people. You know then and likes to claim that mantle sometimes right. You know people talk about Stephen Miller, people talk about. You know. Danske of you know, but I You don't think of it, at least as its unfolds. You haven't guy with a beard. He was headed a campaign parse galley Pascal scale yeah, so I profile purse, As for the new Yorker, I actually think that with a lot of those people, Pascal being one of them, the fact that there are actually not that unusual or not that you know visionary- is kind of an interesting part of the point that you can just be an average dude. You know, Pascal is just a guy from Kansas who
literally the way he got into the organization. Was they needed someone to build a cheap website for the Trump real estate business and they re? his hand from San Antonio said I'll. Do it for five thousand bucks whatever they like? We like thou your memory, not about the way that you wrote about him, but I guess I got a guy did attracted by the beard and in my own projection of instability are a beard that good can can go a long way but Tom, but yeah. I think that part of, Well, why was you know referring to the systems earlier? Is that if you hit your wag, into one of those big systems. You don't need to be a bold visionary. You don't need to be a great speech writer or know how to build an event, because the cars already in motion, the car being Facebook, Twitter or read it or any of these things you just gonna have to get in and let it drop. So. Ok, ok, so that there's there's no because that becomes a question. I know that trumps policy or whatever it is his behaviors being in
by Hannity and some handsome Republican think tanks and a few sort of a more open policy minded people that you did, that of charmed him, but in terms of the propaganda that's going on and his sort of Canada is were tacit support. Is that the word I want of it doesn't surprise you, but you're does it know. I know, I think that I think nothing, supposed to surprise us anymore, but right by like when he sort of gives it will not to nine. You know like easy just playing due to his his his bleacher. I mean. I literally think that the way his kind of brand of narcissism works is that literally all he asked is duties. People like me, I hate me: did this person call me a hero or loser? I think a lot of his worship of Putin, his worship of you, no name, your strong man. Is that simple, like put
said a nice thing to me once therefore I like him, so I have it, but they also know he's a fucking that fundamental of your real strong men who are willing to kill on purpose and own. It know that he's a sucker totally right, but but he doesn't know that they know that and I think the queue on stuff. I think that All he needs to know is: are they on my team? Are the other thing? I mean it's a completely terrifying form of moral bankruptcy. Obviously, if you're in you think I mean we know he's not gonna be good at the job, but even to him to be inhabiting that sea, You should be able to say this is a scary, murderous called, and I don't want anything to do with it and the fact that he is not willing or able to do that. I dont think is unique to the situation. I think it's just they're on my side, and I think he also gets at some deeper instinctive level that, as you say it tied in with a kind of viable millennia list. Christianity that its tied in with a vibe of kind of feels like quota white nationalist stuff and that's all stuff that appeals to him to write it, but it is like a assent.
We are a functioning self feeding kind of you provable mythology that that tends towards a christian and Times prophecy and white nationally, will it at its core at its at the simplest level, it just literally and extension of all the appropriate propositions that I was watching those people setting up in twenty fifteen two thousand and sixteen two thousand and seventeen and trying to deal with the cognitive dissonance of none of those predictions being able to come. True right. So just at a very basic level, if you're a gung ho pro trump propagandist going to his campaign and he saying things like I'm going to lock Hilary up, I'm gonna make em
the great again, I'm going to bring all the jobs back. Just all of the you know stuff, you saying none of that stuff is going to happen right. So if you follow sort of cognitive dissonance theory, which is you know this psychology school going back to the fifties of sort of saying this is what happened with the original cult of Christianity, that you know these people saying Jesus will come back within your lifetime. You can say all your stuff. You know you don't need anything, has the world's about to end the longer that goes without happening, the more people double down and proselytize and say: ok, you know, Instead of abandoning this ideology, I'm gonna do all these kind of psychological loops to try to make it real and it's the same thing at play here, the more you but leave hucksters. Lies and Conor to street the more you either have to jump off the train or you have to stay on the train and work even harder to make those things turn trip. So the the ability to suspend your disbelief or or to believe like, Christianity in and of itself, as as a template
within the human mind, makes this thing possible. Yeah well and it doesn't have to be Christianity, but yes, that as a template or You know there are sectors of us on the do this there is. There is waiting for the Messiah and Judaism there's also just this also just you know, living in abusive relationship with someone who keeps saying they're gonna do something nice for you right, but there is also the fundamental the belief in eighty, I sort of any of the school of of Becker on this from from denial of death- that there is almost a genetic compulsion within the human psyche too. Believe in something bigger than yourself in order to feel like your life is relevant or part of something. Definitely you know there is a need, especially right. Now, especially I don't think it's an accident that it's kind of growing during the pandemic and when people's lives are sort of spiralling out of control when they don't really have any way of financing
The purpose that you know and look. This is a basic dynamic that I saw over and over again to is this notion of the red pill right the red pill, as we all know, from the matrix it sort of the appeal that unlocks the truth. It's same thing is Alice in Wonderland, going down the rabbit holds this ancient. You know it's Plato and the care of its. There are ancient human archetype, but the inch that allows you to have this endless series of red pill moments where you go, the scales fall from your eyes and you see. The truth queuing on is like an incredibly labyrinthine endless cycle of them so you can always find another puzzle to unlock it. Ok, this yeah, I get that I get it It is of the rabbit all I understand and its being FED daily, and you can make all sorts of connections throughout the entirety of history, this kind of can territorial thinking, reading signs and symbols. How queer does it have to be looked at this logo ha ha. That kind of thing
You know it's been around a long time and even its very attractive, because you know it gives people a false sense of intellectual ism. It gives him a false sense of of of history. It gives him oh sure, on things it serves or ideology. I understand all the reasons why it's appealing to certain type, a mindset even to somebody like me, but not you I know enough about myself to be. Like you know, I do it. Take you to grant assault by you. I see what's happening now in fanning flames is one thing, but someone's maintaining this thing well, look in terms of who it was originally. There are different theories at once. Mary is: it was just a joke in its like those fortune, guys you're talking about where they just all they ever want to do. Is you know, mess with people and troll you know could have that it also totally, but have been someone who was sitting around some outer ring of the White House or you know, I'm executive agency, who said why no really have much to do all day, because all the press,
does all day as watch tv and try to shut down government agencies, so I'm gonna freelancing, create this whole. Biology online and see if it goes anywhere. It could have been that, but it also just could have been like one financial incentive that we can track right now, pretty directly. Is there at Q, whoever or whatever it is, the person can only post originally on Fourchan than on each hand than on this thing, a coon, a coon is this very endangered website, because people, keep posting like shooter manifestoes on it, so all of them MR ranged radicalized people on the internet, not all of them. Unfortunately, but a lot of them congregate around this website and a lot of them end up being violent maniacs. Who should people in mosque, Sir synagogues or whatever, and every time that happens, this website gets booted offline. The people who run that website there these two american guys who live in the Philippines and they are like their other businesses, are
pig, farms and port, basically so they're they're, they're, real, wholesome, lovely, fellows, furtive minimally. Yes, exactly pig farms, porn and and and a key and conspiracy calls, and but they, but they there. There are people who believe, including the guy who found the state. There are people who believe that the people who running this site either noack you or our cue, because they have a direct financial incentive to leap but these are morally bankrupt people. These are not people, they think the best. Oh oh right at the top, or that eventually it'll play itself out. Add bright, so so those original sort of technical Toby, an elite that we're talking about. Yet these are very far from that, though those people like the original sort of techno utopians, the ones who are paying attention have actually taken a turn now and are trying to have a more nuanced view. So a lot of what I was tracking was how the guys who started read. It actually turned for that kind of blind techno utopian ism, the cream or ass to the time,
to a more nuanced view where they said. Actually, we gotta get this under control, because this has become Miss feral nightmare, so the aging guys are the most morally bankrupt people on the internet. Data give a shit they just want to watch it burn. They want to make some money, and so they will do things like you know. They showed up for congressional testimony wearing a cue le help him like they're they're, just trying to make me from it? But, but how did they were money again explained? I can just trafficking adds only but oh yes, yes, so that and it's a pretty small business. It's not like. I mean a billion dollar business, but the people like the red at people and to some extent the twitter people they are trying to go. Ok, well, we're not gonna, totally abandon the idealism that we started this with, but were no law
We're gonna. Do this complete laissez faire. You know frisbie right of all right, we're gonna start to say like ok. If there are people who are gonna, try to incite violence like the guys who started read it actually were from. They went to the University of Virginia, which is in Charlottesville, and so I was talking them right after the Charlottesville thing happen, and they were like oh shit, that that's our town, that's our alma mater. The people organised this white supremacist March. We're doing it in part on our thing that we made up in our dorm room at the University of Virginia and then they let me sit in the room and wash them as they deleted all these Nazi sub credits, which they never would have done in the early days for it, they never would have done it and never. Let me watch, but they had realized they kind of grown up from the twenty four year olds.
We're like free speech, anything goes and ill figure itself out. The marketplace of ideas will sort it out to evolve to this other place where there like. Ok, we have to be the bosses. We know it's interesting, as those kind of people still exists. These free speech kind of like a laissez faire attitude people, but they don't seem to realize that you, if they lead there there there sort of not utopian concepts. But what they're saying is constitutional concepts just go on unregulated they're, going to be killed by the people that they ve created yeah. I dont get. You know. I you know I got a buddhist monks have been Shapiro, think he fucking is exactly I so I the thing that's weird about slippery slope thinking is that everyone can only kind of do one slippery slope at a time like you hear the slippery slope argument of if we shut down this person speech who's next. What if we shut down someone else's speech? I get that I think that's logic, Lenny Bruce NO got arrested for Sunday, like I get all that but where's that the slippery slope argument, because if we let the now
since March around with guns. What's gonna happen, if the knots get too much power like should we be worried about that slippery slope argument I just if you're gonna be paranoid about one thing: Please be paranoid about all of us know for sure, and I just don't I it's that kind of stuff I without giving up on attendance hard to understand. Whatever the fuck is wrong. What Stephen Miller he the Jew man and drew from Santa yeah. I know, and what does he does? He think he's gonna get a pass when the Chagos down- I don't I, I have to say: I've talked to some pretty hard core nazi propagandist and not old school nazis, but like the new Nazi outright sort of in League with Richard Spencer types in watching their minds explode when I bring up soon. Miller is so interesting, cause it's very core to their ideology, that the Jews are the central problem right if we could just name and get it of the Jew and unlike seamen, Could you is running your shit guys and there, like? We, don't know what to do with that information
It does not computer really, they don't know what to say They have not said anything on it to you. In any specific, they will say you know what that when really confuses us like, he really seems to be on our team and we don't know you telling me that Stephen Miller might be the Jews or we hope he's the one and he's the one who can get through the door I mean these. Are I mean he was friends with Richard Spencer in college? I be so there's it's not that many degrees of separation, their behaviour that two pathology were doing within you know? His timing in history is something but there's something I will screwing up there well, but that, but the issues related to the other pathologies were too about this notion of sort of contrary nazism and kind of this addiction run kind of being pugilistic Lee engaged with the world right, you know it's, there are people who get into stuff like pizza, Gator, Q and honour would ever because it's just kind of a video game in their kind of just exploring there are other people who get into it because they're, like the only narrative that can be true, is the narrative that the institute-
you don't want me to believe that society doesn't want me to believe that my parents are we to believe the right children. Don't want me to believe that back. I want a bat yeah. I want some to go to war with, and I want something to make me feel unique and special and, like you said it's not that hard to relate to that basic impulse alike, I have this thing that no one else knows about, and you know I I you talk to some of these people. I actually was what really interesting as when you how do people who been all the way down the rabbit hole and then come out the other side, but who still remember what it's like, and they will tell you like. How often does that happen river less than you wanted to, but there are few people there this there's this woman, who I spent a lot of time with who was way high up. They called her, first lady of the all right. She knew she was like helping to plan the Charlottesville Rep I had since she was sure, got David Duca Hotel room with her credit card and other stuff. She made it out and when she first met me she was like her brain was so scrambled that she was like The Holocaust definitely happened but like
was it six million, though could do we really know how many it was? I wasn't maybe like a thousand I was like now think they really know like, I think they ve done the research and she was like. I know, but I did it really. There likes you just her brain, had just been fried from this immersion in this world wow. So you're saying like his yeah. Oddly, when I was a kid I was ten million and at some point they made a concession. I dont know why young, when I went to centre Galileo is ten and then it was like it was probably more like six Maguire, ok, but called make any deal with, but so that's a question like so when these people get radicalized, whether they, whether they signed up or not even people. Like my father, you after a certain point, there is no return kind of yet for some people, it's really hard to get out because you ve burned some bridges.
Put some mistakes in the ground and order at hang, your worldview Verne bring your world said like you're gonna be I'll, get the last laugh you're gonna see I mean you know going, Actually, Christianity saying this is like. There are preachers every so often who will literally predict the end of days and they'll, say it's going to be October, 22nd, one thousand eight hundred and forty four like I actually this is before any of this like ten years ago or something I did a peace. Where remember, that thing is twenty eleven, where there was a guy who like took out billboards in Times Square was like May twenty? Fourth, twenty eleven, that's the deck and so I went to Times square because I'm like a reporter and I'm curious about this stuff, and I pick someone out of the crowd. But instead what are you doing on that day? Can I be with you, and he was a guy- is like a fire. A fighter from one island is like you can watch me get sucked up into the sky and for NATO actually went to house in the long island and it's like funny, but also like he had a four year old, daughter and
was like okay honey when this happens, you're going to want to walk out to the backyard we're going to we're going to stand together and his wife was like I swear to God once today is over you better, bring the shit up again like she was not a believer right, and so I stayed with him until, like the time passed like he was literate. He called an ordered. A pizza me literally said to the guy. Could you please hurry like it's coming and then I watched him as the time passed and he was kind of doing some quick math of like maybe I got run timezone. Maybe it's happening in the times are and then by midnight he was just like. I don't know what to do. Just like stopped texting me- and I noticed major with his wife that he was okay and she said yeah he's ok, but like how did you come back from that? How do you go back to your buddies at the fire station and say like What sorry guys will ultimately, if enough time goes by either like that was weird right: yeah, ok, yeah and he ain't. No, that's not the the is like telling them the other. Jews are terrible in and that day
Everyone in the government is a child eating pet of railways. You kill our Mexicans right right, it's a little different, the guidance tad like you. I had a dream. It didn't happen now back right right, but there is a lot of pride wrapped up in it. If you dont your identity, down tat the fuckin problem. Yes, that fuckin that pride and yet like you know, you can't admit, you're wrong after a certain point, till something horrible happens but are about it's your identity like if you're you know, the media taught the like even at the boat look at something as simple. How much how many you two compilations there are of the media getting the twenty sixteen election wrong, there's just this feeling of like we knew this was gonna happen and you motherfuckers in the media. You got it wrong. That feeling can just be extended to anything Finally, I also like there's ears, if your proficient in formats, everything looks like official everything looks like news and people. I don't hear that talked about as much as it should be, really is that anybody can make up
be professional. Looking thing- and I think this is this- is the key. When I was talking about these amateur slash, professional propagandist, that's what makes someone be able to transition from amateur to professional cause. You can register a website. You can make a facebook thing you can and you can get it into as far propelled into the mainstream of the discourse. As you want, that's why I sometimes get hung up on this semantic thing when people say fringe, I'm like I don't know that this stuff is fringe because you can get it into the mainstream of the new cycle within five minutes. If you're good at it, we add to its content, hungry new cycle that spans the planet there there are. There are people who I mean the people who were good at it, they would show me ok.
This is what this is, how I'm going to get this to trend on twitter, or this is how I'm going to get Sean Hannity to mention this, or this is how I'm going to get. You know this to become a drudge headline, whatever break it down, reverse engineer it and just you would watch them do it and in this is this is this is what I mean sort of specifically when I say that this is the system working as designed the people who founded these things did not know what the content was going to be. At some extent, they were agnostic as to what the content was going to be, but if you had told them like your trending, algorithm will be just habitually game and not just by foreign actors or whatever or spies are Bajans. But I just like people using the system,
Well, I think if you could go back in a time machine and tell them that, hopefully they would have a little bit a pause and go like ok, we thought we were building this system. That was gonna, be a heat map of conversations and what people were interested in, but the fact that it could be gained by anyone at any time just through these outrage mobs and just through, and it's not even that hard. It just means that you know one of the sort of refrains that I keep coming back to us. This philosopher Richard roared, He who has this whole concept of contingency irony and solidarity, and and that, because things are contingent, the story of history has not yet finished being written It can go anyway, and so you have to do to change. How we talk is to change her. We are what we talk about what we value, who we are as society, that's always up for grabs. So then you put that sort of underlying philosophy, together with the notion that how we talk is we talk to each other through these internet boxes that are all manipulated occur
bring to heat cycles and outrage, outrage mobs and click Baden, manipulating our motions it it's not a good thing. If, if how we talk is who we are and how we talk is through these broken slot machines, of generated, emotion and excitement and manufactured engagement. It's very hard to see how that dynamic gets broken. It not only the dynamic, but it's really you know it's not who anybody is it's really kind of a kind of brain fucking technology that that holds people hostage and uses them is puppets it's a trance, almost oh! Yes, it's it preying on, and this is why you know when people try to make the point that these that your businesses like any other business, I think to some extent that's right and to some extent it's wrong, but I think at a basic, level it's like. If what you do, who is sell food and then some but it comes along and tells you that high fructose corn syrup is killing people. You go well, I'm still in the food,
that's right, so until someone comes along and shut me down, I wanna keep selling this food right mare and people like it. People like it watched it it revealed preferences they keep buying right. So what what are you gonna come in and tell me I don't have the freedom to give people what they were there is that there is an argument against a cream, rising and also the argument against free market capitalism. Yet it's very tied up in the free market step we ve been in this. This a spell of the last forty years of saying. Well, if people didn't like it, they wouldn't buy it if it weren't they product it wouldn't be doing. Well. You know it's all this, like self regulating thing. It's this Milton Friedman thing it doesnt work like that and that you can see it directly in this mark in this before the marketplace of ideas right. The market has spoken so I'd so now, you're whatsoever with wrap it up I buy in in. Talking about cuz. I don't know what Jaron Lanier said, but but the the id has been put in my head, and it seems like we're talking about that that that the interplay between human psychology and social media platform,
is fundamentally changing humanity and the human brain right and in specific ways through through this algorithm, in this sort of self feeding thing. Wow Is it changing the human brain specifically in your mind, also at you know the most basic thing that these platforms are doing here. Targeting manipulating what what social scientists call activating emotions so that the fundamental thing about the algorithm is whatever makes you feel not only there most emotions, but this supposed these specific kinds of emotions and you can list them out. Those are the things that win so again. This gives the lie to this notion that the cream rises, because they ve built it in such a way it's like building a slot machine and you go o people respond to colors people respond to this kind of noise. It happens in this pattern. You know a few very up the pattern. People
like loud and also younger. Through specific, we manipulate people based on their choices that its micro targeting so you can so you know. Ok, people who you know by me Look on thursdays and drive this kind of car right, no, whatever our coordinates, all correlation. It's not like you're, psychic and you're looking. To their brain, is just you haven't big enough sample size, and so you know what the patterns are right, there's also a technique that I sort of. I don't know if I made this up or whatever, but I caught macro targeting It is so there's micro target which is cutting the the population these little slivers, like retired, military moms, who, like paintball rhetoric, is also MAC. Retargeting, which is it works on everyone. Anger work on everyone fear works on everyone. Disgust works on everyone loathing, so these are things that you know in but will say to me: oh, you know you called of, but anti social you're, always time at the negative side of these things, you're so down in Sofia,
what about all the positive things? What about black lives matter? What about me too? And all this stuff in- and I think the point is that of his very real and there really are movements in human history. That would not have happened or would not have happened as easily, if not for the internet. But I think what what's crucial to remember is that these activating emotions that these algorithms prey on there are positive, activating emotions, but the ones that are easier to brown or the negative ones where it's interesting, because, like that, like a disk disgust loathing, anger fear that you wish to give those all voice and relief is. Actually you know it's that's actually Pepys catchphrase feels good. Man feels good man. I know well. This is why these things tend to colonel. I mean this is the german linear argument is that you can start out, as the positive emotional sigh, the ledger and attend to curdle over time, though the more it gets caught up in the ears of the internet, because you know cause you're being play
aid you're being played again, the algorithms, the algorithms lift up certain things, downgrade other things, but but but you and I What we're establishing is that it's a self feeding monster that people, engage in passionately and create little sub groups. Rounded. In reality, you know or online it seems to be going both places. It encompasses a lot of white supremacist thinking, thinking a lot of racist sinking, lotta conspiratorial thinking. But I guess the question is its as we established as it's not fringe. It is mainstream. It is dangerous and- and it's not going away so where do you think this takes us yeah, it's not Emmy. We should. We should be clear. People have been killed over this. A train it has been derailed in California by someone who's? A believer in this calls its deftly dangerous and and also in terms of not being fringe, not only did the did, the president not review as you said, but
there are multiple people now who are confirmed self admitted, you and I believe on it in Congo. Who are campaigning on it running for Congress, and at least one of them will will almost certainly be in Congress. So, like it's not just like. Oh there's, this crazy offensive believe system mighty that, like it used to be back in the day I used right right. It is like a little room, cheese or even asses, like dollar issues or, like you know, the Dixie Crafts whenever but like these are people who go around saying like Nancy Policy and Chuck Sumer are like trafficking, children and harvesting their adrenal glands, and there like functioning satanist and like they're, sending secret messages to the children to try to indoctrinate them, and those are gonna, be their colleagues, it's kind of like the best you can hope for. Is that they're just saying it cynically to get elected because they know? Oh god, I hope so, but I feel like there there's that that's that's the minority yet totally
but an end. These things it's like these things can get embedded into our politics. I think it's hard to see now, because this stuff is so lurid and so freakish and so vivid met. It's like it has to be fringe because it so crazy that you know we have this sort of natural impulse in the kind of like you know, descended from enlightenment values, the corner of the universe to say things will kind of self correct that you know that the freakish bizarre, an anomaly inarime arise at atop exactly Naturally, that is like the intellectual Galaxy brain version of that and as as you are saying it's it's in itself, bullshit, because you know these things like this is what people are saying about, earth tourism. This is so in saying this is so fringe. This is so freakish an end. Now, like birth rhythm, has the present
and see and multiple members of Congress, and we just don't notice it any more people once like www too. This is where it's like. It's like what happens with the with the pandemic or whatever you have this horrific. Freak show happening day after day, and then you just get habituated to it and going out what happened again today, right yeah into that, just what were living in if thy happening today, it's not normalized, it is reality. Many people are now run things right and that the work, people, the Winston Smith's of the world, it's only a matter of time before they get hammered into believing the right. This is why I do think that I make room for a certain amount of lake, repetitive hysteria in my own yeah worldwide, like it's ok, to constantly be saying what is happening. This is a normal because it's better than the alternative yo. You just accept it, of course. Yet, but it is, it is a weird fight, unaware struggle and them
When you talk to you, who you think are like minded people, what what really becomes revealed in the face of this is not that your friends are going in a direct, you don't necessarily know or understand it's that most people, people fuckin shallow, and they don't know how to focus on information that will keep them sort of in the proper narrative around well. This is the thing I think I think that most people are empty inside in like a profound way. In an end, almost like a buddhist way like there is, there is just some kind of like bubble of empty air at the core of of, people that you know the woman I was referring to, who became a holocaust, an iron sort of rose up through the ranks of this white identity movement right. She
as- and this happened to a lot of people I spoke to. She grew up in New Jersey, had a lot of multi racial friends growing up, it's never the cartoon of the. U know trailer park whenever that people want it to be a it's her family was, you know, not a broken heart, whatever, like all the stuff, and then I followed her through this whole in a talk to her for dozens and dozens of ours got to know her really well still. But still in touch with her and at the end of all of it. She kept asking me like. You know me in a way better than I know myself. What is your assessment of me? Am I just a bad person? Am I a monster? Did I have hated my heart and, to my mind I was like. I just think. I just think that's the wrong question. I think the issue is that there is this emptiness at the core of a lot of our decision, making a lot of our thinking where we don't go. Oh I can turn my mask often reveal that I've always hated Jews and black people, but it's just like when I was in high school people were doing the Obama thing so I did That and now I ended up through these bizarre set of life circumstances meeting a guy, and he led me towards this other group of people- and I was in love with
and so I went along with it and now I'm a nazi and like that, as like that the code dependency problem. She should pray, go to an hour on meeting. Yes, first there's that, but it is but it you know everyone has that set of prisoners, yet it can lead them down these alleys aim. I don't have a functioning set of personal principles that were sort of forged a you know from their heart, and the thing is, I think that what we mean by principles and what we mean by like consistent beliefs is often a little bit more of a camera than we would like to believe. Like. I think, a lot of ok is contingent on. The fact that everyone else around us is doing some version of us to some version of that to write and that, ultimately, why I really worry about changing how we talk, then in turn changing who we are, because, if everyone around you is saying this
is what isn't the new normal? Some large percentage of people are gonna go along with that right in a sort of IKEA Boroughs. I think once sort of at an a what the contacts wise, but he said that the human brain is really a fairly simple and recording device, yet cause that'll get you to that nothing there pretty quickly, yet any wake up one day, and you shouldn't your wife, never Nokia, well, that's a great way to and and gotta, always go out on a high note with Mr Eggs the dark Enemy Andrews great mania, absolutely thanks, so much there you go. You fill your head up with that. Add that to the mix, that's what happening now, as we move towards break, Catharsis Andrews like anti social online extremists, Techno Utopians and the hijacking of the american conversation is out in paper back September, fifteenth and now
I will play my Stratocaster for you through an echo blacks and did it sounded fun.
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Transcript generated on 2020-09-07.