The following guest post is by RepCom1140
Last summer’s second season of True Detective was a disappointment to many. However, the ideology at the heart of this season’s story spoke to me as I happened to be witnessing a burgeoning ideological movement unfold on Twitter. What began as the elitist “neoreaction” was rapidly overshadowed by a populist “alt-right.” While absorbing bits and pieces of the purposes and beliefs of these people, I couldn’t help but see similarities between these Twitterers and the show. A year later, the alt-right having achieved a legitimacy of sorts through its feverish support of Donald Trump’s campaign for the US Presidency, I have to take a sober reassessment of the state of the American far-right.
For the protagonists of True Detective Season 2, society appears to be in steady decline, with death the only certainty in life. The nihilistic overtones and reluctant hope make it the frontrunner for reactionary show of the year. Far-right Twitter crosses paths with the show as most of the characters are obsessed about masculinity, women, and race, often hilariously so.
- Vince Vaughn’s gangster Frank Semyon believes “A good woman mitigates our baser tendencies.”
- Colin Farrell’s corrupt, down’n’out detective Ray Velcoro quips “I support feminism; mostly by having body image issues.”
- While Ray’s father grouses about his past in the LAPD he tells his son today’s world is “No country for white men, boy.”
- Frank one-ups this with a retort to a corrupt city official: “You don’t direct me. Khe Sahn motherf__ker.” “I’m Chinese.” “Well then go stand in front of a tank.”
Detective Paul Woodrugh’s mother is no different, advising her son to leave his pregnant Spanish girlfriend: “You’re a good looking white man. You get in shootouts. You could do anything you like.”
All of the main characters in the show are damaged in some way. Some try to correct their faults or overcome their demons, others simply embrace the darkness, and some never quite figure out what’s going on. One could pick a far-right Twitter account out of a hat and one of these characters would match up to the levels of fear, hatred, and insecurity the anonymous Pepe’s exhibit. Ray Velcoro is obsessed with the idea that he’s been “cucked” by a rapist and that his son may not be his own flesh and blood. That regrettable word doesn’t appear in the show but Ray is a perfect avatar for every deluded soul who thinks racial purity will somehow bring glory to a nation that was never “great.” After his marriage fell apart Ray’s method of dealing with his problems involves rock n roll, whiskey, cocaine, pull ups, beer, and tears – in that order. Though Ray projects a rugged demeanor his unrepentant self is not much different from the pasty would-be assassin (a dead ringer for those “nerd with a katana” image macros) who mumbles “I am the blade and the bullet” before attempting to kill the city’s corrupt police chief. This is all the more funny (or sad) considering the basement dwelling keyboard warriors rubbing digital shoulders with adherents to the “#HarambeMindset.”
An obsession about authenticity and masculinity plagues both Velcoro and Woodrugh. Ray’s father was the image of a tough guy cop who probably very liberal giving out wood shampoos or worse in the days when police could get away with anything. Woodrugh has Clint Eastwood as a father figure, and his assumed taciturn sulking does him no favors either. Sometimes it’s just absurd the things that bother them. Both men comment on different occasions about disliking their fellow detective Ani Bezzerides’ e-cigarette. Adopting an affectation of “manliness” or caring overmuch about your method of nicotine delivery does not make you a more virtuous person and just seems like wasted effort. Yet “authentic masculinity” is one of the fixations of the far-right that is constantly rearing its wimpy balding head.