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Elsagate for President
How the Cartoonification of our political arena through Trump, Mr. Beast, Tiktok, & our collective shadow has just begun. Can we integrate the shadow before it’s too late?
While the Trump as “Orange Hitler” comparison is a horse that’s been beaten into a fine powder by now, what you must admit regardless of politics is that both their exaggerated cartoon-like acting abilities drive the majority of people to keep paying attention.
Attention is power, and with District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s weak accusation, former President Trump was once again thrust into the news cycle, allegedly raising $7 million in three days, and more than a quarter of the donors were first timers.
No matter how much Trump’s critics see him as an existential threat, the media will keep giving him exposure as doing otherwise means profit loss from all those missing eyeballs.
Among Trump’s supporters are those who know he acts goofy because it’s so eye-catching to the masses who need something loud and shiny to pay attention to, but from speaking to people within those masses, the cartoon-like way in which he behaves is taken without a hint of irony.
Same goes for the exaggerated expressions of the left leaning Tik Tok influencers. A mix of smug, snark, and what reads as almost threatening glare at the camera.
For all the “self care” and “Unlearning Urgency Culture” messages of the current year Tik Tok Therapist, these people are all workaholic puppets dancing to whatever catches the eye of the algorithm.
Combine this with the prolonged adolescence of living a good portion of life as a digital avatar with its “unique” sexual identity and you’ve got a stage set for real life cartoon characters to enter our institutions within the next decade.
I’m not talking about appealing soulful cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny whose mannerisms were derived from the popular figures of early 20th century vaudeville and burlesque - irreverent, quick-witted and sharp-tongued.
The kind of cartoons I’m referring to are more like the brightly colored extremely low budget “ElsaGate” animations made around the 2010s. These cartoons were produced by individuals or organizations who sought to exploit the popularity of children's media and characters (such as Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen”) in order to generate views and revenue on YouTube. They often featured violent, sexual, or otherwise disturbing content hidden inside seemingly innocent nursery rhymes.
The pastel and seemingly child friendly exterior hiding the menacing disturbance within is a similar trend for these aforementioned Tik Tok influencers. Both are playing to the algorithm.
But since the algorithm plays to whatever keeps the retention, I doubt that the inclusion of syringes, abortions, and other disturbing stuff within the Elsagate Extended Universe was just for shits and giggles of disturbed minds, especially when these videos were produced by individuals or small groups who operated independently of each other.
So is the conclusion to be drawn by this that little children would be drawn to shocking attention-grabbing things? It makes sense psychologically as the brain is very curious at that age, but is also at its most formative and ends up getting used to certain levels of stimulation like a drug addict.
That Elsagate has been for the most part eradicated means very little as most of the “child-friendly” mass produced videos out there are just as bereft of any substance and full of oversaturated stimuli. Even in the thumbnails of the more impressive Mr. Beast videos, many of the facial expressions elicit a feeling of emptiness behind the mask.
This is also why the exposure to these tech devices by young children should be avoided at all costs, unless it's to show them something like Bugs Bunny, a character many times more sophisticated and nuanced than the Tik Tok Influencer.
The Early 20th century Vaudeville culture that the character of Bugs took inspiration from was itself a product of the mainly Jewish and Italian immigrant communities, who at that time had to learn to think quickly and draw inspiration from their social interactions within New York City.
In contrast, there are digital feedback loops on both the left and right today which deny the opportunity for this level of fruitful interaction. The left are babysat by their aforementioned echochamber which regulates what they are and are not allowed to think, and those on the far right are not far away from such group-think as well.
Instead of learning from the sharp wit of Bugs Bunny, the far right apply the bluntest instrument of racist edgy humor as a way of getting back at the left, but so much of their rage ends up making all the 4chan /pol/ “humor” threads completely banal. They’d probably not even give the Jewish Vaudevillian humor it's due and instead label it as “degenerate” and “subversive”.
Yet much of the far right’s subversiveness being so ugly and unrefined makes me more sure than ever that both sides are heading in a more child-like direction where it will take the shaking of an ever stronger rattle to get their attention.
Trolling and memes are the reactionary right’s way of fighting back against the left's indoctrination while being (so far) left out from the venomous group attacks on ideological dissenters seen from the left. It is here that we clearly see the darkness underneath the flowery exterior of the Tik Tok influencers given shape, but the reaction that this will eventually get from the right were it to not recede, is something that the accelerationists may fantasize about but I doubt would be equipped to handle.
Despite all this, I remain optimistic. A nation of babies requiring an ever higher dopamine fix will not be in a state to run a Taco Bell let alone a country. Yet just like the right reacts to the left, the people who are sensing a danger in these closed loop echo-chambers react through promoting actual diversity and intellectual challenge (as well as keeping their toddlers away from i-pads).
With my livestream Break The Rules, I am proud to be among the people working towards this goal as I bring in not just people from different sides of the political spectrum, but different social worlds that would otherwise never meet.
Especially in a more cartoon-like world of simulated reality for many, it is important to not get lost in the dopamine feedback loop but work on knowing yourself beyond whatever your social circle reinforces you to think. This will be our greatest weapon.