The Bluestocking, vol 257
Many mujahedin, including me, are addicted to the internet
This week, my main source of awe/disbelief has been reading videogames sites absolutely doing their nut about the new Hogwarts: Legacy game, because it draws on the work of JK Rowling. (A summary here.) As some of you will know, I am a survivor of Videogame Cancellation myself—which I promise to write about someday, because enough time has passed that I find it funny.
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But not as funny as I find the strident moral proclamations of younger critics who can write sentences like this: “in the early aughts, media for and by gay people was ridiculously hard to come by.” A reminder: The Birdcage was released in 1996; Ellen came out on her show in 1997; Will and Grace began in 1998; Queer as Folk aired in 1999. Frasier, a show laced with gay subtext and self-aware gay jokes (“I’m not gay, Guy”), in which three of the lead male cast members were gay, as well as several of the best writers, began in 1993.
So that’s before we even get to the aughts, when you have Tipping the Velvet in 2002, Omar Little in the The Wire that same year, the HBO version of Angels in America on HBO in 2003, The L Word in 2004, RTD’s tenure as showrunner on Doctor Who starting in 2005, Neil Patrick Harris coming out in 2006, The Line Of Beauty airing on the BBC that year, LaFayette on True Blood . . . All of Torchwood! Did Captain Jack die repeatedly in that box in vain???
What a strange, self-flattering line to take. I think you can welcome the blossoming of LGBTQ characters and plotlines in the last decade without implying that no generation before you knew gay people existed.
Enjoy the discourse,
My Tweet About AI Porn Went Viral, And What It Taught Me Was Upsetting (Pirate Wires)
Earlier this week, Twitch Streamer Atrioc faced a backlash for purchasing AI deepfake porn of two fellow streamers, one of whom was the massively popular Pokimane. The ensuing controversy spiked traffic to the site where the deepfakes were being sold, leading to other female Twitch streamers noticing that the creator of the Pokimane deepfakes had also made porn featuring their likenesses. In the aftermath, one such streamer, QTCinderella, went live on Twitch, where she cried throughout the entire three-minute stream, choked on her words, repeatedly said she knew she shouldn’t be doing this, but that she “want[ed] to show people what pain looks like.” The video was raw.
This story hasn’t been reported much in the media, but it’s mind-blowing. Atrioc, a streamer on Twitch—a platform where you watch people chat as they play videogames, largely—accidentally shared his screen, which showed he had been looking at a deepfake site . . . and had paid for porn images of two of his female peers.
Atrioc released one of the world’s weirdest apology videos about how it was all an accident (to repeat: he paid for these images) with his partner crying in the background.
Then he did a better apology, apologising to the women involved, detailing how he was trying to get the deepfake site shut down—and telling the men who rushed to his defence (and called the women involved snowflakes) to back off, and that he didn’t want their support.
Still, as the piece above relates, a lot of damage has been done: “A pattern emerged of men so deprived of sexual attention that they actually did seem to see QTCinderella’s plight as enviable in some way.”
Well, this is all very bleak, huh? For some men, misogynist internet porn has become a way to reclaim the authority and domination they feel they’ve lost, or been cheated out of, in the real world. I’m really glad that Atrioc belatedly realised how gross his actions were, but I can’t help thinking that this stuff must be way more common than we know.
Gaming Out Whitmer vs. Trump and DeSantis (The Bulwark).
[Gretchen] Whitmer is plausible as a 2024 presidential contender only in the circumstance that would allow any other Democrat on the party’s surprisingly deep bench to become competitive for the nod: in the absence of Biden. The Democratic nomination belongs to the president unless he goes full Sherman or his health dictates an intervention. At 80, Biden is already older than any previous president was, even at the end of their time in office. If re-elected, he would be 82 when starting his second term. His age means we have entered the zone of genuine actuarial considerations. Circumstances could change quickly going into 2024, which means it’s a practical necessity to game out some of the various scenarios that could emerge.
Strangely, many Democratic strategists appear to balk at the question of a backup for Biden. Asking what other candidate could conceivably beat former President Trump or Ron DeSantis in a 2024 matchup draws shrugs, sighs, and an upward glance in a soft appeal to heaven. Instead of looking up, they should try looking north—to “the woman from Michigan,” who coasted to re-election with a double-digit margin under brutally polarized conditions in a critical swing state. If that’s not a sign from above, I’m not sure what is.”
A primer on Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan and potential Democratic contender for president. One of the things that smarter Dem politicians are doing at the moment is reclaiming the idea of “freedom”, that great American value. For example, Gavin Newsom describes California as the “true freedom state”, getting right up Fox News’s nose: “Protecting liberty from a rising tide of oppression taking root in statehouses. Weakness, masquerading as strength. Small men in big offices.”
Whitmer is doing something similar on LGBTQ issues, referencing the restrictive laws on school libraries etc being touted by Republican governors: “I’ll go to any state that restricts people’s freedoms and win business and hardworking people from them . . . States with extreme laws are losing talent and investment because bigotry is bad for business.”
This is so American it makes me want to french-kiss a bald eagle—oppose homophobia because it hurts capitalism!—but I bet it plays very well with swing voters.
Adam Fleming’s Antisocial is a great podcast for getting behind the headlines and really understanding a subject (BBC).
Why did murder rates among the Gebusi, forager-horticulturalists of New Guinea, drop so precipitously in the 20th century? Pigs were involved, and religion (Traditions of Conflict, Substack).
Very, very, very bad news: Dave Weigel outlines how Donald Trump has latched on to “left-wing gender insanity” as a talking point, presumably to outdo Ron DeSantis (Semafor). The ex-president is contemplating a law “establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth”. (Side note: I am begging Americans to stop saying “gender” when they mean “sex.”)
“If you were young and brilliant in the 1980s you had to toil in obscurity, with no chance of escaping the hierarchy of your institution and with few slots to fill if you did. A great piece today can put you on air, land you a contract, lead to a job, a podcast series, a book deal.” Harry Lambert is upbeat about the state of journalism (One Great Read, Substack).
Harry also quotes one of my favourite pieces of Bill Bryson’s work, about being a copy editor at the Times in the 1980s when no one did any work. It kinda blows my nut that when I started as a copy editor in 2005, the regular working pattern was a four-day week, and everyone went to the pub after first edition went off-stone at 9.30pm, before rolling back in to send off the second at 11. Great times.
“Menopause has the worst P.R. campaign in the history of the universe, because it’s not just hot flashes and night sweats.” Long read on the trial that (wrongly) deterred doctors from ever prescribing HRT, and insight into the women buying hormones off the books because their doctors won’t take them seriously (New York Times).
“Last night I went to Mandeley for the first time.” Randomly remembered how much I love this Mitchell & Webb sketch based on Rebecca (YouTube).
“Extinguishing mystery is, in general, an assault against the young, and what is the internet if not a giant machine for eliminating mystery? All of life is a spoiler, and today’s kids get to experience nothing with virgin eyes.” Freddie deBoer reminisces about the 1990s, and what we’ve lost. (Substack)
‘The Taliban may have won the war in Afghanistan, but the jihadists who once spent their days riding horses in the countryside are now stuck behind a desk, lamenting their boring computer jobs, spending all their time on Twitter, high rent, and commutes to work. . . “I sometimes miss the jihad life for all the good things it had,” said 25-year-old Abdul Nafi. “In our ministry, there’s little work for me to do. Therefore, I spend most of my time on Twitter. We’re connected to speedy Wi-Fi and internet. Many mujahedin, including me, are addicted to the internet, especially Twitter.”’ High levels of sitcom potential here. (Vice)
Macca on how Bach inspired Blackbird (Twitter).
“Human behavior is like a beach ball,” might not be my opening salvo in defending myself from allegations that I was a cannibal, but hey ho. Armie Hammer speaks for the first time about the scandal that ended his career, which is, inevitably, more complicated than the headlines. Warning: NSFW texts lie within. (Airmail)
That’s all for this week. If we are WhatsApp friends, expect to see my new favourite picture coming to a chat soon . . .
And thank you for all the feedback last week on paid subscriptions and optional extras. I’m going to be trying out some of the new Substack features over the next few weeks and seeing what works.
PS. OK, I did one more podcast: The Booking Club, recorded at Hawksmoor over beef and manhattans. Don’t drink and podcast, kids.
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I like the Pride and Prejudice Mitchell and Webb sketch even more :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWbqqPV1-pE&ab_channel=BBC
Yes, I think it goes back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other jurists believing the Puritan US wouldn’t want to talk about “sex”.