The PewDiePipeline: how edgy humor leads to violence
March 25, 2019 4:03 AM   Subscribe

This video examines the Alt Right Pipeline and the Pyramid of Violence that leads from implicit bias to edgy humor to violence.
posted by Foci for Analysis (31 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty good vid. Could have done without the fake VHS scene change effect.
posted by flabdablet at 4:16 AM on March 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

Radio New Zealand interviews Professor Kathleen Belew: “Christchurch terrorist driven by classic white power ideologies” The Associate Professor of U.S. History and the College at the University of Chicago Kathleen Belew is the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

The professor estimates that in the U.S. the number of people indirectly exposed to Klan and Neo-nazi propaganda: —someone who casually accepts white power concepts and might listen to their neighbor describe an article from the Klan newsletter—to be more than 400,000 and estimates the number of people who might reject anything overtly identified as coming from these sources, but in fact agree with some of the ideas which might be expressed, to be millions more.
posted by XMLicious at 5:11 AM on March 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

I think all Kellyanne Conway was doing was the usual thing Republicans do when a white supremacist commits an act of terror: try to obfuscate, try to make the public think that they were leftests or liberals and not conservatives.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:38 AM on March 25, 2019

Oh, as I finished watching, I see he says just that.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:44 AM on March 25, 2019

I enjoyed the linked video above, and in it he mentions this video by a young man who found himself depressed and falling into the trap of right-wing thinking. I'm about half-way through this second video, and it's pretty good,

but, in the sidebar:

  • Jordan Peterson on gender equality,
  • Ben Shapiro leaves liberal professor speechless,
  • Occasio-Cortez gets schooled in congress
  • why you should be a nationalist

    wtf youtube

  • posted by The River Ivel at 6:31 AM on March 25, 2019 [83 favorites]

    @The River Ivel: not so long ago I decided to have a look at what YouTube would offer as default 'recommendations' if I visited on a clean machine with no search history and no Google login. The sidebar suggestions were more or less exactly what you got.

    YouTube has been gamed, while Google stands by and does nothing.
    posted by Cardinal Fang at 6:39 AM on March 25, 2019 [58 favorites]

    Past a certain point, "gamed" isn't the word.

    Look, rich white straight men are the funders and decision-makers for most of the corporate world. If you really, really got those white straight men to be honest, how many of them do you think would prefer a world where they didn't have to compete with women and POC, where they didn't have to pretend they weren't homophobes, where they could have whatever sex - ie, rape - they wanted with no complaints, where they could basically do whatever they wanted with no push-back? How many of them identify with some bizarre "we're number one" gendered and racialized nationalism because they think of themselves as "number one" and are all like "America is a giant white straight man punching the world"? They might not be so gauche as to, like, join Identity Europa or whatever, but they wouldn't mind if someone else did the dirty work.

    They don't take this stuff off YouTube because it does not bother them. Plenty of things that bother them get removed all the time.

    We really have to understand that there are many, many crypto-nazis in positions of power in this country, and that this is what happens when power is concentrated into the hands of a relatively small population held together by ties of race, sexuality, gender and experience.
    posted by Frowner at 6:47 AM on March 25, 2019 [85 favorites]


    I see this, sure. Is there a different term for people who, through their actions, support these values, but don't understand the connection on a conscious level?
    posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:30 AM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

    posted by bz at 7:44 AM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

    "If you have nine non-Nazis at a dinner party and one Nazi, you have ten Nazis at a dinner party."

    You are what you accept, regardless of whether or not you want to own up to it.

    Most abusers don't call themselves abusers. They don't even think of themselves as abusers. They think they're reasonable, justified, entitled. They're still abusers.

    If you're waiting for people to own what they are, settle in. It won't happen. If you're waiting for people to look at themselves and their behavior honestly, take a goddamn nap. Such people have had ample opportunity to take proactive action to reflect on themselves and their effect on the world. The only thing left is being shamed.

    So fucking shame them. They are nazis.
    posted by schadenfrau at 7:52 AM on March 25, 2019 [43 favorites]

    You mean people who help Nazis or act like Nazis but think they're not Nazis and say they're not Nazis? The term for them is Nazi.
    posted by seanmpuckett at 7:52 AM on March 25, 2019 [23 favorites]

    The word you're looking for are Nazi Sympathizers?
    posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:52 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

    The problem with shaming them is that it is ineffective against people who have no shame.
    posted by glonous keming at 8:07 AM on March 25, 2019 [13 favorites]

    but, in the sidebar:

    I never watch any of these videos, even out of morbid curiosity, but they are constantly promoted to me too. In fact if I ever accidentally land on one I make sure to dislike it. The algorithm, though, is relentless.

    There are so many thinkpieces about why young, white men are drawn to white male supremacist ideologies, while at the same time the world's largest entertainment media source is subjecting them to non-stop white male supremacist propaganda. They wash their hands of it, because it's the "algorithm", but that's exactly what is happening. Why is it surprising that non-stop white male supremacist propaganda will win converts, especially among a group whose egos it soothes?

    I can't watch the video now, but not too long ago I saw an article covering who Pewdiepie follows. Not surprisingly for someone who says racist things and then says it's "just a joke," he follows a lot of white supremacists. 'B-but-but following someone doesn't mean you agree with them!" his white male supremacist fans object, trying to preserve their plausible deniability. Of course, Pewdiepie doesn't follow equivalent anti-racist sources, and he keeps on being Pewdiepie. "B-but-but it's just a joke!" they cry each time he says something racist, even after their beloved "anti-pc" symbol gets namechecked in a massacre.

    Fuck 'em all. Pathetic tools, every last one of them.
    posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:40 AM on March 25, 2019 [26 favorites]

    crypto-nazis... Is there a different term for people who, through their actions, support these values, but don't understand the connection on a conscious level?
    Republicans. And that's speaking as a not-rich straight white male who was raised in a Republican household in the 1960s.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 8:44 AM on March 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

    You can dismiss the sidebar videos but when they ask you why, curiously there's no option for hate speech or nazi recruitment.
    posted by klanawa at 8:47 AM on March 25, 2019 [17 favorites]

    We already know how groups like ISIS recruit online, and it's similar to how white supremacists recruit online. They seek out young, disaffected white men, who want answers on how to get what they feel they deserve in life: everything from a job, to a girlfriend, to "respect." They reel them in first with gentle platitudes and simple feel-good messages, and a bit of small life changes. (Example: Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life), and once they're invested in that, that's when they start pinning the blame on the "enemy," the people who are not like them.
    posted by SansPoint at 9:28 AM on March 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

    I appreciate this for it's explanation of the stochastic model of radicalization. I'm still kinda looking for a comprehensive look at Pewdiepie. Every part of the community has always been obnoxious and alienating to me but silly enough to be dismissed as 'for the kids, you old fart' that I've never really tried to penetrate it. Now there's just this huge concrete block of nonsense and I vaguely understand there's some toxic culture going on in there. I can understand how older folks would have considered punk scenes to be similar.

    There were people like GG Allen in there. There were Nazis in there. There was drugs and violence. But also there were a bunch of kids just having fun and naming bands stupid things like Circle Jerks and Snot and also some progressive politics and rallying for under-served communities. That's how I imagine the Pewdiepie thing is except for one kinda chilling difference: there's a single creator and his posse at the middle of it. It's got all the issues of a diverse, decentralized counterculture movement PLUS a weird cult of personality.

    But that's just my take. I feel like I don't understand it well.
    posted by es_de_bah at 12:17 PM on March 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

    YouTube tried to get me to be a white Christian terrorist after I followed Feminist Frequency, but once I'd disliked all of the recommended bullshit and then also followed HBomberguy, PZ Meyers' channel, all the Extra Creditses, and Innuendo Studios, it has more or less stopped, and even if I watch another video game playthrough, it only recommends non-inflected let's-play content and not PewDiePie or any of the other boggans.

    I bet if I kept clicking those I'd end up with nazis shouting about SJWs while playing Counterstrike again, though.
    posted by Scattercat at 12:27 PM on March 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

    Fresh Air: Author Says New Zealand Massacre Points To A Global Resurgence Of 'Extremism'
    So what we've seen is because Trump is a huge magnet for news attention, for media attention, he's a really useful figure to give all these diverse movements something to coalesce around. White nationalism and the far-right in general is very factional. Everybody has their own little group. The groups don't get along. They don't believe the same things. There's often a lot of infighting and they sometimes kill each other. What they have now is kind of a common theme, a common cause that they can work into their dialogue, and make it more palatable to people. It helps bring out the attitudes that are friendly to what they want, and really, support for him has become a crystallizing factor.


    One of the few things we really know about this guy is that he was very steeped in trolling culture. So the original manifesto and the link to his video were first posted on 8chan, which is a trolling site. There's all manner of anti-social content on a site like that, including a lot of white nationalism and a lot of other extremely objectionable kind of views. But a lot of what they do is cloaked in this sort of shroud of irony.

    So they're being "funny" and it's designed to provoke people, to offend people, to get them chasing down rabbit holes of content, and to put misinformation out that has to be corrected later and kind of muddies the truth around things. ... So there's a real culture here of messing with the media; messing with the mainstream narrative. ... A lot of what's in this manifesto is really designed to mislead. It's not like some of the previous examples we've seen, which are very sincere and ideological.

    There's a lot of jokes in it, and it's kind of horrifying to think that somebody would kill 50 people to get a series of bad Internet jokes out in circulation in the world. That's certainly not the only reason he did it. He certainly appears to sincerely have these kind of anti-immigration and white nationalist views, but this is sort of a new thing, and it caught a lot of media unawares. So there were a lot of reports that just unironically repeated things that were in the manifesto, that were clearly questionable, clearly meant ironically. Some of them are memes or were sort of deep cut jokes that were really pulled out of obscurity, and some of them are almost certainly incorrect.
    posted by XMLicious at 12:45 PM on March 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

    My theory about PewDiePie is that he's a useful idiot. He's a popular YouTuber who wants to be even more popular, and so anyone or anything that makes him more popular is good. He's also ignorant about Nazism and how jokes about it normalize the ideas in the discourse. When literal Nazis feel they can use him as a platform, they do so and he's too ignorant and focused on his own popularity to care.
    posted by SansPoint at 1:08 PM on March 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

    I was surprised the video opened with the "subscribe to pewdiepie" meme and never explained the backstory for that. It's a which started when PewDiePie's status as the most subscribed youtube channel was threatened by a Bollywood-related channel. His followers mobilized a campaign of encouraging anyone and everyone to subscribe to pewdiepie so that he would continue to have the most subscribers, and this found considerable resonance with white supremacists who didn't want to see an ally like pewdiepie be #2 to a channel largely featuring and for non-white people. It's a very strong dogwhistle that's worth a little explicating.
    posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:54 PM on March 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

    sanspoint, didn't you just describe Trump?
    posted by es_de_bah at 5:10 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

    Also, FWIW, Pewdiepie apparently unfollowed everyone on Twitter last week, except for K-pop band BTS. Some accounts (e.g.: this one from (ugh) sorta frame this as an effort by PDP to enlist the BTS army in his quest to remain #1 on Youtube. Others (e.g.: this reddit post from an apparently anti-alt-right subreddit), however, point out that this purge came after someone pointed out that PDP sure did follow a lot of alt-right figures, including Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, Ben Shapiro, Paul Joseph Watson, Ian Miles Cheong, and Jordan Peterson.
    posted by mhum at 5:29 PM on March 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

    There were people like GG Allen in there. There were Nazis in there. There was drugs and violence. But also there were a bunch of kids just having fun and naming bands stupid things like Circle Jerks and Snot and also some progressive politics and rallying for under-served communities.

    I think that analogy makes some sense to apply to a place like 4chan, except that the "Nazi Punks" of 4chan pretty much succeeded in taking over the scene.
    posted by atoxyl at 8:37 PM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

    Pewdiepie also followed Sam Hyde, a vitriolic far-right sketch comedian whose online fan base consists mostly of literal neo-Nazis. That raised more alarms for me than anything else. His whole sticht is basically creating thinly-veiled white nationalist propaganda in the mold of a Tim and Eric knock-off.
    posted by Green Winnebago at 2:25 AM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

    They don't take this stuff off YouTube because it does not bother them. Plenty of things that bother them get removed all the time.

    This is key, and ultimately points to a profound flaw in human nature, why even when you have someone in charge who is benign, someone who's honestly trying to do what's best, if they're not careful they still have a kind of "soft prejudice."

    A person has certain things he believes in, and some things he thinks could be true, right? They'll be absolutely certain to make sure the morals they live and believe are implemented, but of those that they have no personal stake, they don't feel as real, and almost of necessity must be relegated to a lesser order of importance. It becomes a kind of discrimination of percents. Even if you're sympathetic to the struggles of people of other classes, races or orientations than yours, their problems just don't seem as real as something you've experienced with your own flesh and blood.

    It's like, if you have one community television, and give a single individual the exclusive control of the remote for the benefit of everyone, then they might even try to be as fair as possible with scheduling and priorities and such, but the one person you can absolutely guarantee gets to watch their favorite show is that person.
    posted by JHarris at 3:55 AM on March 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

    I'm amazed at how well this video has got the number of what's going on with Pewdiepie and other YouTube people. It's exactly right. It's so on-the-nose that even things like the omnipresent sinister music in the background and the VHS effects mentioned above seem like extremely trivial things. This is an amazing video, and it needs to be spread far and wide. It is the Silent Spring of online racism.

    It's because of this that I think it's actually great that it has those terrible "also recommended" videos, because if the links are going out, they're probably also coming in, and there are a ton of people that should watch it. I can see it forcing people to ask themselves some very uncomfortable questions.
    posted by JHarris at 7:06 AM on March 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

    I never watch any of these videos, even out of morbid curiosity, but they are constantly promoted to me too. In fact if I ever accidentally land on one I make sure to dislike it. The algorithm, though, is relentless.

    Why is this even a thing? It's insane that YouTube is actively promoting - not just hosting but promoting, racist content.
    posted by elwoodwiles at 5:03 PM on March 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

    I just had a nice conversation with my much younger sister, who's a big gamer. She doesn't like him either, but had some sympathetic insight, having watched him a bit over the years.

    She seemed to think that his audience has gotten way out of his hands. That when he's tried to be human or redirect the more problematic leanings of his community, they ignore him. That he radicalized in response to the Paul bros. That he's learned that nothing gets results like awful. So the youtube algorithms optimize hateful shit. He's just the marginally talented lottery winner at the center of it.

    The parallels with Trump only grow.
    posted by es_de_bah at 8:29 AM on March 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

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