With the rise of the internet radicals and internet trolls, it would be an interesting exercise to apply the Turing test to Poe’s law. Is that person posting that stuff an idiot? Are they just pretending to be an idiot? Or is it idiots tricked into looking like even bigger idiots by a loose group of people pretending to be idiots? Because that’s exactly what happened with #EndFathersDay on twitter.
This prank originated on 4chan’s news and politics board, /pol/, a board known for its radicalism, offensiveness and free speech, and it’s clear that it was success. What’s more interesting is that this isn’t your typical black propaganda, because it actually fooled the people that it was satirizing into joining in. The hashtag topped twitter’s trending lists, sweeping up thousands of bona fide feminists in the apparently empowering anti-holiday frenzy. Plenty of savvier feminist tweeters pointed out that such tweets needed to stop – not because the rhetoric is fucking crazy, but because of who is originating the hashtag, since the internet is public and any group of people planning such thing will be uncovered with a little digging.
It picked up enough steam for a major news network and major pundits to talk about it on television. What must be kept in mind is that this satire is from the same giggling pranksters responsible for rigging polls to get Mountain Dew to change their logo to say “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong“, or to have Taylor Swift perform music at a school for the deaf, or even to get Justin Bieber fans to self-mutilate. From the start of the segment, Tucker Carlson explicitly states that he is aware that of the trend’s beginnings as a joke. Carlson literally opening the program explicitly recognizing something as fake didn’t stop just about every news source that covered the fiasco from commentating on how he was “totally fooled” by the prank, instead of covering the eeriness of the fact that the prank snapped perfectly into place with feminist doctrine. Salon, after being notified of the trend’s origin as a prank and not from reputable feminists, pretends that the are totally in on the now “patently fake” joke, and silly old Fox is not (pastebinned.) Even if Carlson had been legitimately fooled, that would have just been further indictment of this satire being indistinguishable from the real thing. If notable academics and writers had actually started the hashtag, it wouldn’t have been even a slight deviation from or innovation of the rhetoric that we’re used to. It’s clear why it took trolls to take this logical step into this dubiously un-demagogued patriarchal territory: most people love their fathers, and it’s hard to sell hatred of something personal like that. “The system” or “the conspiracy”, on the other hand, is as impersonal as it gets, so there’s no cognitive dissonance in focusing your fury on that.
This madness seems to be a pitiful case of being aware of one’s own obsolescence. Social justice movements in the past had extremely pressing injustices and societal ills that demanded their existence and their mobilization. Newly legitimized politicians, academics and media elites ascended to positions of power, and it was for the best that they were successful. Eventually they became victims of their own success; there were no more great enemies to fight. The dark lords that they once drew power from via their own contrast were gone, the black, spikey crowns crushed. And now, dear reader, we witness an existential crisis of revolutionary proportions. Pun intended, since a permanent revolution is what these movements want and need. Feminists and their ilk need to find more and more ludicrous thing to revolt against in order to stoke the fires of legitimacy to create the same contrast that they could once enjoy by just being reasonable. There is a necessary outrageous nature in the concept that our culture is a “rape culture”, despite the word rape being used by the very same people in the same political discourse precisely because everyone in our culture, including the opponents of feminism, consider rape to be one of the worst things imaginable; it’s easy to use the visceral horror of the concept to make anyone look insensitive if they disagree with you. So feminists are faced with a logical dilemma; either it can be asserted that we live in a culture that finds rape acceptable, or you can use the word and concept of rape as a polemical tool, which indeed a powerful tool due to the deep abhorrence of rape in our culture. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Jordan Bloom just covered a situation where a cultural studies PhD accused Trader Joe’s of being misogynistic because they played a Rolling Stones song. It’s not hard to see why this farce caught on in the feminist tweetosphere like a biological weapon’s payload; to look “cool”, you are in a constant arms race with your social justice brethren to be the most offended.
This satire passed the Turing-Poe test with flying colors. Those unfamiliar with the source of the prank were utterly convinced, even if they were on the side being satirized. Savvy inter-nauts denouncing the trend because of its origin as a prank don’t get it off the hook either, since being ignorant of the origination of a machine’s intelligent message in the Turing test is an essential component of the exercise. This should really be an appeal to moderation for feminists and social justice types: If your ideology is so insane that the only thing 4chan manchildren have to do to cause a shitstorm is sound completely indistinguishable from you, it’s time to take a long and hard look at yourself and your worldview.