Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Is the Shittiest Video You'll See Today

I loathe just linking videos and telling you, "Hey, you, go look at that." It's cheap. It's not really incisive or fun. It tells you to take your interest in whatever I had to offer and switch it to something else immediately. Because the something else is better. This is not. This is what happens when the Internet gets hold of something beyond its ken. This is some stupid, stupid shit.

I love the internet. I love the new things it brings, and I try to roll with the stupid shit that it brings. You could only make this video if you have zero idea what its music is about. You have to be about 15 and terminally retarded and think that PICTURES = STORY. You have to think this is a narrative about some innocuous nothing, divorced from text and its historicity. This infantilizes good rock and roll, and this infantilizes history. If you watch this video and accept its narrative, you are already far behind the human race. This is what makes the internet suck.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Alvin Greene Behind the Scenes: or, 'How to Get the National Media to Hoax Itself Without Even Trying'

By now you might have read the true story of the Youtube video, "Alvin Greene Is on the Scene," a DIY campaign video promoted on Twitter by "Alvin Greene's" GreeneForSenate account. Earlier, I treated it 100% seriously, speculating about its origins. I did this despite knowing that it was not made by any member of the Greene campaign, but rather San Francisco MC Jay Friedman (aka "Satellite High") and freelance copywriter Justin Cass.

I had to bend over backwards to be able to take the video the slightest bit seriously. Neither man made any significant effort to disguise himself as Alvin Greene or campaign staff, and the contents of the video — song lyrics, music style and editing — made every attempt to seem as corny as possible. It was a hoax that worked without the requisite intent, a misdirection achieved by such an absence of effort at deceit that calling it half-assed overestimates the ass fraction by probably an ass factor of forty.

The un-assed deception did not stop the New York Times and half a dozen media outlets from reporting the video as authentic. They did this despite an absence of credible data linking the video to the campaign or any comment from the campaign itself. I made every effort to satirically bend the truth, while they reported for the record, and the result was an equal stamp of legitimacy for a campaign video that contains at least 45 seconds of LeBron James making killer jams.

The question is, "Why?"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Lindsay Lohan: The Best Site You'll Read Today

Supposedly the man who writes this website is named Greg Rutter. At least, that's what he claims. I have no way of backtracing with the cyberpolice to check his Facevault for previous Bing Bangs. It probably doesn't matter — except maybe to Greg, who I'm sure would like you to pay him money for more words — because it's awesome.

Greg's guiding conceit in writing Dear Lindsay Lohan is this: "There's no audience like a captive audience." As such, he's sending a postcard to Lindsay Lohan for every day that she's in prison. They are short, and they are sublime. For example:
I had a discussion with my friends about whether neutered animals still feel the compulsion to mate. For example my cat, neutered, has never met another cat in his whole life. I would think that he must think he’s the last of his kind on earth but still searches for clues to find a surviving pocket somewhere out there. My assumption is that he must get lonely and has a hard time dealing with his own desire for love. Humans don’t even really understand it and we’re at least able to discuss it with others of our kind. Regardless, what a thought to imagine the profound sadness of our pets and the lives they lead. Oh, I just realized you now probably think my cat’s name is “Neutered”. It’s not.
Check back daily. The fun can only last for so long, especially given that she'll probably be released in five days for managing to not crush an inmate's head between the bars in a frenzied cocaine withdrawal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Alvin Greene for Senate' Goes Viral, Awesome

I remember being on the fence about Alvin Greene, and I know I wasn't alone. His candidacy for South Carolina's open senate seat came out of nowhere, and his immediate personal impact was still stuck there for days. Truth be told, my first impression was that he looked like that internet cat who is outraged about your failure to remember the chicken nuggets.

The early rumor was that Republican operatives had again paid for a straw-man Democratic candidate, reprising an old southern GOP trick of queering the purity of the turf by using money and back-channel influence to create a pliable and more beatable opposition. It seems like it shouldn't work, but it's easier to create candidates in states without strong opposition party machines, because the absence of value the party sees in investing in the state opens the field to more x-factor personalities. South Carolina is a Democratic state only every four years; the rest of the time the Democrats treat it like a vague testing ground for people and not something to really go to war over. At first, Greene's reticence only fueled rumors that he might be this kind of GOP-planted wild card. But after weeks in which no financial shenanigans have been discovered, I have to think he's sincere.

Apparently I'm not the only one, because a spontaneous user-generated online campaign has blossomed around Greene (which has been given the stamp of legitimacy from MSNBC) including Twitter support and this original song and video by a group calling themselves, "MC Grassroots feat. The Real Americans." It's awesome, check it out:

SomethingAwful: Meet Miss Destructo!

Sometime last year I was on AIM* with occasional contributor Rigamarock, killing time by posting links to weird websites and then trading one-liners about them. I'm not really sure how I was finding these sites. I know one showed up on a Google Image Search for argyria, the blue-skin condition that libertarians get from drinking too much colloidal silver to show the FDA that it isn't so smart. The others were more random-chance sorts of things, like when you just type in words and add .com to the end of them, like, "PresbyterianHorse" or "FiestaHitler" or start entering random search terms like, "Rowdy Maureen Dowdy" or "Climbing to the top of Mount Groin on [Your Name Here] Just Topped My Bucket List."

Because I was screwing around, I typed in the words, "" No luck. I tried, "" What I found was breathtaking. Until then, I had been certain that my wife was not a lifestyle blogger. I was so, so wrong.

But for the rest of that story, you're going to have to keep reading at SomethingAwful.

* — For the dads reading, that's short for AOL Instant Messenger, a chat client. AOL, of course, is short for "America Online," the dial-up service that, for a period in the 1990s, you thought was the entire internet.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why Read 'The Naked and the Dead'?

The reality of World War II threatens to sink under its cultural weight. It was the last "good" war. It rescued Europe and the Jews, established America as an unmatched free world power and led to the creation of lots of decent movies. Neoconservatives, especially, with their refrain of "Munich!" and their need to sell the concept of "War—Get the Fever!" have burnished WWII's reputation almost to the point that we've forgotten how stupid or horrible a lot of it was.

For every D-Day landing, there's, well, a D-Day where we shot down our own bombers out of panic on the beach. For every celebration of our allies like the Battle of Kursk, there's the Katyn Massacre. For all of Churchill's inspiring rhetoric, there are his uninspired ideas like attacking the Axis through the "soft underbelly" of the Balkans' internecine ethnic hatred and high, broken and mountainous terrain — itself virtually a shot-for-shot remake of his World War I idea to attack the Central Powers through the "soft underbelly" of Turkey's broken terrain and a narrow beachhead on the Dardanelles.

If we're intelligent or at least vigilant, we should know these things. We should know that even the "right" fight got a lot wrong. If it did nothing else, our having lived through its aftermath, the Cold War, should prove that we focused so much on winning the war that we lost parts of the peace. It emphasized the problem that doing evil in service to good comes with complications (a reality we ignored at our peril in Vietnam and ignore again today, with a war without visible corpses, mandatory rations or homefront burdens — and a bill forever delayed). There's a famous line of Norman Mailer's about the war: that the use of the word shit enabled us to use the word noble. The high-mindedness we ascribe to our actions — the sort reflected in HBO miniseries like Band of Brothers or The Pacific — can only reasonably exist with an understanding of the foulness and murder that underlie them. To celebrate one without admitting the other amounts to kidding ourselves.

Many critics still consider Mailer's first novel, 1948's The Naked and the Dead, his masterpiece. It follows American attempts to defeat the Japanese on one fictitious Pacific island during the slow and deadly slog that was the island-hopping campaign. After meeting a group of enlisted men and NCOs, and after a deadly nighttime firefight, we encounter the bitter and fractious commander, General Cummings. Something of a Patton/MacArthur knockoff — the preening of MacArthur with the elegance of Patton — he spitefully orders his former "favorite" aide, Lieutenant Hearn, on a doomed end-around mission on Japanese lines.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What If the Tea Party Was Black?

No giant essay today; just two (or three, depending) strong recommendations for listening/reading.

Satellite High, the guy behind the awesome diss track of the teaparty rappers Wolverines' track "O.T.P. (One-Term President)," hipped me to a really satisfying video today, entitled "What If the Tea Party Was Black?" For politically oriented hip-hop, it's extremely well done, avoiding ponderous and syllable-choked words, elaborate sentences or the unskilled MC's tendency to run back to a chorus every two lines because he's afraid you won't "get" it. The whole thing is perfectly pitched: fun, catchy and devastatingly on-point when it needs to be:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Love the American Spectator Newsletter

At some point in my life I should stop killing time by registering names like "Brot Pulsifer" on the comments boards of conservative publications and posting things that rile up the natives. I'm fully aware that people do this on liberal online publications all the time, too, but it feels like a dirty practice. There are only so many times you can ask people if they've seen evidence of the "violent and lustful black underclass" outside the dimensions of a phrenology textbook before it gets old.

Something I do not regret, however, is the unavoidable consequence of these registrations: joining the mailing list of the publication in question. Even though I should expect it, it's always a wonderful surprise. Automatically being enrolled on a mailing list is what acquainted me intimately with Thomas Sowell. That's been nothing but a positive experience — even if he's accompanied by Walter Williams and Larry Elder, who, according to some of the conservative publications I've read, technically constitute some kind of gang.

The newsletter that has become kind of a sleeper comedic hit in my email inbox belongs to the American Spectator. Those of you unfamiliar with the publication should really take the time just to read its Wikipedia entry, which is itself pretty funny. It neatly covers a few decades of financial failure, paranoid conspiracy theory and victimization at the hands of changing social expressions. The summation almost seems just. Sure, the Spectator received funds from Richard Mellon Scaife to arm it as part of the deranged "Arkansas Project,"* his coordinated multimedia attempt to swab Bill and Hillary Clinton's hands with blood. Sure, it contributed to the web of fantastically ugly lies like, "The Clintons murdered Vince Foster," that were then amplified and re-transmitted by our friend Cliff Kincaid. But on the other hand, the Spectator had to change its name from The Alternative after whackos who thought that gays should be treated like human beings co-opted the term as a positive distinction for GLBT Americans.

Friday, July 9, 2010

SAVAGE SEZ: Free Lemonade Leads to Gov. Lemon-Aid

Terry Savage yells at her family in closed cars when they misinterpret the economic interests of children and lemonade. Then she yells at children. Terry Savage has made a career writing columns that tell you about the important things you don't know, and sometimes she's forced to improvisationally dictate these columns literally in your face, because you have failed to pick up a newspaper for mediated in-your-faceness. Terry Savage is sick of your bullshit, kids.

She is a successful writer. Most people probably know her for her book The Savage Truth on Money* (or other books that have "The Savage Truth" in them and are also about money; it's a theme). It offers the economic wisdom that an intelligent and dedicated person could write herself by reading scores of identical retirement-planning books already in existence, resolving contested issues by going with whatever interpretation or course of action was advocated by the most books, then rewriting all the information in her own folksy language. Terry probably didn't write her book this way, but she benefited from the luxury of having accredited letters following her name when she produced a work of similar content. Planning ahead: that's what separates people who sit in a car yelling about lemonade and those who have to sit there and pretend not to be mortified by them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Series of Truths Exposing Our Lies About North Korea

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il, Supreme Leader of North Korea and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. This article verifies/debunks claims made in A Series of Lies and Truths About North Korea, in which he shamed western journalists' lazy libels of the DPRK regime by listing numerous actual events alongside utter fabrications to show how much stranger and richer the truth is about the DPRK. If you're confused about what claims the answers refer to, please click back to the original piece.

Peerlessly Great Immortal Answer Key to Revolutionary Questions of Songun

1. False, but with elements of truth. Jong-il had a younger brother—known by his Russian nickname Shura; Jong-il was known as Yura—who drowned at age four. The feminization of the leaders is not entirely false either, at least according to B.R. Myers interesting new book, The Cleanest Race, which asserts that North Korea has emphasized the maternal qualities of their leaders moreso than their masculine attributes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Series of Lies and Truths About North Korea

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il, Supreme Leader of North Korea and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. If Kim claims that he's merely someone impersonating Kim Jong-Il, consider this a sublime ruse of Korean counterintelligence. All truths are lies; all lies are truth. Kim previously paid us a visit to discuss CNN International's snuff commercials, the hotness of certain ladies, Steven Seagal's mystical journey, why society owes him a ricer and the inevitable coming doom.

I Totally Posterized Hu Jintao in a Private Game of One-on-One

OK, so I'm not really Kim Jong-il. I am sorry to lay this truth bomb on you like this, but I need to get that out of the way to allay any confusion, as I'm going to be talking about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea here.

The subterfuge is necessary, you see, because I'm a WORLD FAMOUS JOURNALIST who works for a very protective and spiteful organization that would not be too concerned about firing my non-Asian ass (Oops! I've given away too much!) for spilling my brain seed anywhere but in the frigid, bottomless womb of our proprietary newstrough. (Again!)

Though it's not part of my traditional duties in covering Asian markets (Fuck!), I've for several years paid close attention to matters having to do with the batshit Korea, writing the occasional article about it. I've seen the DMZ from both sides of the border, I've befriended experts on the North, and I've read just about every piece of propaganda that they've issued in the past four years.

My interest is born from a sort of fetishized abhorrence for, and frustration with, the country and its belief system. Like a sore in your mouth that you can't stop probing with your tongue or chubby-chaser porn that hypnotizes the eyes and churns the stomach with every seismic jiggle of flab. North Korea is so shielded from world—Kim Il-sung used to say a "mosquito net" was needed to protect the nation from corrupting influences—that people will believe just about anything about what goes on there.