Watched all the clips of Milo Yiannopoulos on Real Time with Bill Maher. (Sick curiosity.)
I already knew he was going to say a bunch of racist, misogynistic, transphobic, etc., stuff. That bullshit wasn’t interesting. What struck me the most was just how awkward Milo appeared. Like, really, really cringe-inducingly awkward: he wasn’t picking up on very basic social cues, his conversational tone didn’t fit, and even his humor (forgetting the actual content) felt *structurally* off and his *timing* off-beat.
That Milo’s fans include white supremacists, misogynists, truly hateful, etc., people is probably the main thrust of Milo’s growing popularity.
There is also perhaps another (much lesser but still very real) shade to his popularity that I think goes more unrecognized: he is an alienated, awkward dude who grew up on the Internet.
I understand it. Deeply. When I was in high school, it was not uncommon for me to spend 8+ hours a day chatting with random people on online forums. I didn’t have very many friends back then, and online forums provided me with a sense of community — an easy substitute for love.
In the increasingly alienating, isolating, and atomizing world of neoliberal capitalism, there are becoming more and more of these alienated, awkward dudes. And, let me tell you from personal experience, when you feel *that* alone, combined with just a little bit of depression, it can feel like everyone and everything is against you, even and especially when nothing is.
For many of Milo’s fans, this is why they like him: he screams against P.C. culture, and he says that it is okay to be weird, awkward, and alienated.
I even think it’s this alienated, awkward, depressed mind-set that might partially inform the alt-right’s whole obsession with “free speech.” The mindset being that: “If only people could hear me and my intricate, beautiful, complex thoughts on politics, people might love me; I might feel love too, for my self-worth comes from having these complex, original thoughts.” (Hint: for both Leftists and the alt-right, this mindset is totally, totally unhealthy mental-health-wise and corrosive to the soul.)
I don’t know if there is a point to this post, just that personal alienation is a very real thing that can be independent of social justice analysis — or maybe not: if you’re an oppressed identity group and awkward/alienated, you might find Tumblr/social justice, and if you’re a white dude and awkward/alienated, you might find Brietbart/Milo.
Like I said, I don’t know if there is a point to this post, but anyway, I think this is a shade to Milo’s popularity that most people aren’t talking about/realizing. A lot of these awkward/alienated people can find healing in love — I did, eventually — and it’s the stratifying, alienating nature of neoliberal capitalism that made them that way. Milo’s fans can be both victimizer and victim.