Article: Ship and Let Die: The Micro-Societies of Internet Fandom (1/2)

The following article contains discussions of sexual content, sexual abuse, and child endangerment. Reader discretion is advised.

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For ******, the Dr. Gonzo to my Raoul Duke. We may not have gone on this trip together, but you filled up the tank first. Thank you.

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Fandom is a powerful force these days. Almost everyone has become invested a piece of media or a celebrity, and they’ve likely reached out to talk with like-minded individuals. Fandoms have been around for a very long time – the word was in fact coined in the 1900s – but in recent years, these communities have become especially strong. The encyclopedia builder network Wikia even changed its name to just Fandom in 2016, in recognition of how much of their user-generated content revolves around popular media. Entire ecosystems have been formed online to facilitate these communities. While these can be a marvel of human society development, they can also be a minefield of bitter chaos. Oddly enough, it almost always revolves around user attachment to fictional characters and pairings.

Large fandoms function like digital social clubs, prone to great creative collaboration, but also open to vicious arguments and trolling referred to as “discourse”. Almost every aspect of these microcosms sounds ridiculous, but discourse can, and has, turned brutal. In the following article, we will be exploring the bizarre and complicated world of “shipping” communities.

Due to the largely independent, otherwise undocumented nature of internet fandom, the following essay will contain a lot of observational evidence. Of course, there will be ample academic sources linked throughout that will hopefully help offset this informality. Welcome to part one: understanding the “Anti” side of things. What’s an “Anti”? Well, you may be more than dismayed to know the intricate lingo is only going to get more complicated from here.

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Online Outland Chronicles 4: Getting the Groove Back

The mid-2000s was a strange time for internet humour. Blink-and-you-miss-it internet memes seemed to be born and buried every single day. Growing up during this time has made me forever unable to judge the youth of today for their Dadaist internet humour…there was a time when I would yell, “ITTY BITTY BABY” at a friend, and they would yell back, “ITTY BITTY BOAT”. It made sense among us…we were quoting a bizarrely-edited comic panel someone had posted to 4chan, and it was the funniest damn thing to us at the time. However, a year or so later, I learned that panel originally came from an incestuous gay comic book, which is actually barred from being imported into Canada.

Back then, anything that went viral could easily get away from its source material. Websites like Know Your Meme now serve to instantly connect users with an image macro’s source and context. One such example is how edits of a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure episode closer started as a fandom inside joke, but the meme’s spread caused so many people to read about its context that it pulled in a new wave of North American fans. Meanwhile, so many memes come from popular media these days that it is almost impossible not to know where they’re sourced from at first glance. But what happens when someone makes a meme before the modern era, using something obscure from their own collection? This is how you wind up with a short-lived meme that peaked in 2008: Get the Groove of Things.

It is a 30-second long video that first spread through emails and webrings, until it was featured on Ebaumsworld. The video follows one young Black man in a pleather jacket. He stands in a spotlight in front of a bright red wall; the video quality and his outfit clearly indicate this was filmed in the early 1980s, especially the man’s jacket, which is highly evocative of Michael Jackson’s jacket in Thriller. Overtop this is a spike-studded choker and a pair of motorcycle goggles. The viewer has less than a second to mentally digest his ultra-80s outfit, when he says, “…Get the groove of things. Like this!”

This is promptly followed by a discordant synth track. It sputters out tinny, electronic notes while the young man begins to goon along with the beat. He body-pops with impressive fluidity, which would otherwise look fantastic in high definition, but the video’s thick VHS fuzz drags his performance into the Uncanny Valley. This is what made the video trend for a little while…the combination of the man’s strange talent and the video’s surreal, dream-like quality made it fascinating to watch back then.

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Personal: Closing the Mobius Loop

Yesterday, I received dose 1 of 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine. The date of my second vaccination is still pending. It was a tremendous hassle getting my foot in the door in the first place, but at the least, I’m halfway done.

I don’t know how I expected the vaccination to go. There has been so much raving, speculation, and obnoxious propaganda around the vaccines that I suppose I expected it to feel more significant. However, the vaccination appointment was so uneventful that I’d nearly forgotten about it the next day. It wasn’t until the hosts of one of my regular podcasts urged everyone capable of receiving the vaccine to go get it when I remembered, “Oh right, it’s inside me, right now.” The little Cells At Work people in my body had received a COVID-19 representative and were in the middle of evaluating them.

Getting vaccinated was a whole lot less dramatic than the COVID-19 testing process. It was half past noon as I sat in the pharmacy of a Shoppers Drug Mart. There were two chairs – both occupied by a teenager and her mother – and a blood pressure testing machine. I sat down on the machine’s plasticized black bench, keeping an eye out for anyone who might need to actually use the machine. Eventually, I got my time in the consultation room, and I was injected. The actual appointment was shorter than the amount of time I’d sat waiting.

I was given the Pfizer formula, if that matters to anyone. I’ve noticed how so many people will proudly declare which manufacturer formula they got, as if they’re comparing which Pokemon Go faction they’re part of. In fact, just being able to get the vaccine is a status symbol right now. I frequently worry about the horrific shortage of vaccines and medical care in places like Brazil and India…for example, India’s medical industry is producing enough vaccine doses to protect the whole country, and yet, much of these doses are being sold to foreign powers in the west. If any of you received the AstraZeneca formula, give your regards (and support) to India.

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Report: A Beacon For Palestine

(Updated May 31, 2021 to add extra resource links.)

Today’s piece is going to be much more serious than usual. In the past, I’ve written about the police brutality that has occurred throughout North America, and it’s only fair that I cover something similar that is happening right now. The colony of Israel is attempting to invade Palestine, and it’s being portrayed in our hemisphere’s media in a bizarrely unfair manner. I’m going to attempt to bring you up to speed about Modern-Day Israel and Palestine as quickly as I can.

A millennium ago, the land was once known as Israel, the same Israel described in Judaic and Christian holy books. The Roman Empire took over old Judaea, and Emperor Hadrian turned it into a Roman province called Syria Palaestina. The territory became Syria and Palestine after the Roman Empire collapsed. However, in 1921, a chunk of Palestine was sliced out by Winston Churchill, because he wanted to make an English colony called Transjordan. In 1948, part of the land declared independence and became Jordan, and the remaining territory was re-christened as Israel. There has been frequent conflict over the land, and Israel has become extremely overpowered. It is not an equal conflict in any regards; Israel has nuclear warheads at its disposal. They have not deployed any nuclear missiles in combat, yet, but rocket strikes on Palestine are so common an occurrence that local ghouls will take selfies in front of them.

What’s Israel gotten up to now? Well, America has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This means that Israel has international allies who agree that this crucial holy city should belong to them. This means that the American government gets to move their embassy, which also means that Israel gets to spread their border a little wider. Cut to this week, when the Israeli government decides to throw six families out of their homes and give the land to Israeli settlers. Palestinians held protests against the annex of Sheikh Jarrah, and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responded with severe overkill. Rocket strikes have killed at least 100 Palestinian civilians, but Joe Biden has publicly sided with Israel in all this. This is quickly turning into an international conflict that you should at least be aware of.

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Personal: Ca Tirant Pour Moi

I can’t believe it has now been a year since I released my essay, “The Castle of Doom and the Lolicon Boom“. Some days, the article seems to be the only thing that gets activity on this blog. I’ll open WordPress to work on a draft, and see the same notification over and over: “Your stats are booming! The Gonzo Brigadoon is getting lots of traffic.” And there it is, “Castle of Doom”, pulling in however many numbers of people a day. My weekly activity graph looks like a heart monitor.

I’ve seen people on Twitter share my article frequently, which is quite an honour. It’s weird to have so many people reading what I write. On the other hand, I worry that my “lolicon is gross” thesis will be taken less seriously by any anitwitter users who click through to the rest of the Gonzo Brigadoon, only to find my loose-fit Personal articles. I’ve seen peoples’ whole arguments get dismissed on Twitter for the smallest things, so G-d only knows how someone would react to my diary entries with frothing anger about American border camp uterine experimentation. Bloody hell, did I ever think I’d be writing these combinations of words? At this rate, I could put together an insane phrase like “monkey insulin fight club disaster” and it would probably mean something in May 2022.

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Article: An Intimate History of San Francisco Gifts

The year was 2018. I was 25 and working in a south-central Canadian mall at a Spencer’s Gifts, an America-based novelty shop. I was ringing through some candy and joke items for a man and his sons; the father turned away from the till to to corral one of his kids away from the back of the store, which is where adult intimate items are sold. He turned to me and remarked, “This place is just like the old San Francisco stores!”

“Yeah!” I replied. “I remember those…a lot of people who come in say the same thing, actually.” It was a pleasant surprise to meet another person who remembered San Francisco Gifts ever existed.

San Francisco Gifts Ltd. was a fixture in Canadian malls throughout the 1980s and 1990s. This retail chain has nothing to do with Les Boutiques San Francisco Incorporées, the Quebec-based women’s clothing retailer that is still operating at this time of writing. The San Francisco I remember was a strange, shady chain of novelty shops that were – for the lack of a better word – knockoffs of Spencer’s Gifts. The first Spencer’s opened in 1947, and the first similarly-named, similarly-structured San Francisco opened in 1981. This bit of “creative influence” sets a precedent for the weird and winding story of San Francisco Gifts.

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Follow-Up: Return to Light Beings

Light Beings seems quite ill. He has had a substance awakening and is eager to put himself “out there” but I don’t know where “there” is. […] I’m still not sure if this website is genuine or some sort of scripted event, but if I’m honest, I really hope it’s an ARG.” (August 31, 2020)

It wasn’t an ARG.

As has recently come to light, Light Beings was actually a 34-year-old named Kevin Hollman. He is a former star player on the Holy Cross High School basketball team, The Crusaders. He was, in fact, ranked by the Bedford Road Invitational Tournament as the number three player of the 2000s. He is also the perpetrator of the city’s first homicide of 2021.

Early in the hours of January 6th, Hollman stabbed his own mother, Deborah Hollman, to death. He then attempted to kill his father, Gary Hollman, but left the latter gravely wounded. The junior Hollman then ran outside and knocked chaotically on the doors of nearby homes, which woke up enough people who would then call the police. While Gary was given medical treatment, the police were forced to taze Kevin just to subdue him.

I first found out about this when a coworker of mine brought it up, initially as just a passing conversation item. This coworker, who I’ll call Kate, lives somewhat near the house where this hellish cavalcade took place. She described how her child woke up, curious about the strobing lights outside their bedroom window. Kate and her husband got up to help the child get back to sleep, but they soon noticed the lights in question were red and blue…it was the police, indeed, and these cop cars would stay throughout the neighbourhood for the rest of the day. Using a smartphone’s zoom-in camera, Kate could see what appeared to be a bloodied men’s jacket from a distance. It was especially shocking to the neighbours, since the Hollmans were a beloved fixture of the neighbourhood. They had brought their son back from British Columbia a year before, and he was living with them for several months before the attack; allegedly he had a decline in his mental health and wasn’t doing so well.

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Personal: Twe-Twe-Twenty Twenty

In December 2015, right before the new year, a Ghanaian movie trailer went viral. It was for 2016, a two-part science fiction action film originally released in 2014. A whole load of complete madness and newcomer filmmaker charm was crammed into thirty seconds:

The year it was named for, 2016, turned out to be a clown show. Throughout the year I would hear my friends parrot the movie trailer, shouting, “TWE-TWE-TWENTY SIXTEEN” in a mimicry of the narrator’s monster truck rally announcer voice. 2016 was indeed host to a number of horrible, stupid things, but 2020 really came after us. At this point, I would be completely unsurprised if this was real footage filmed earlier this year.

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Online Outland Chronicles 3: The Mukbang Existential Nightmare

The internet has become a global commodity. It’s surpassed any expectations of what I thought I’d see during my lifetime, and as more countries have joined the mainstream surface web, it’s given us all a glimpse at little cultural experiences. A particularly unique one has come from South Korea, where meokbang eating shows have risen in popularity. Are you so busy with schoolwork that you’re not able to leave the house tonight? You can hunker down with your schoolwork and some ramen, and pretend you’re “social eating” with a nice, soft-voiced person. A meokbang involves the viewer watching and/or eating along with the video host, who performs one part cooking show and another part food review.

Korean culture appreciates food and dining etiquette, and meokbangs are a logical pop culture extension of these mores. I wish I was writing about the history of dining culture in South Korea, but instead, the rest of the world managed to gentrify meokbangs: the term was romanized roughly as “mukbang”, and in this form, it’s ushered in some increasingly bizarre content.

One of several names come to mind when you say “mukbang drama” to most people: maybe they think of the woman who got exposed torturing and eating live animals. There’s also E-thru-Z list celebrities associated with mukbang, like Trisha Peytas or Joey’s World Tour. For a lot of people like me who prefer to observe the weirder side of things, there’s one name in particular, Nikocado Avocado.

A lot spills out when you drop that name. There is nearly a decade of drama and discourse related to Nicolas “Nik” Perry, and his online moniker “Nikocado Avocado” makes it obvious that he cultivates this drama: in many restaurants, avocados and guacamole are available to purchase as add-ons to a meal item. This is referred to as costing “extra” – which sounds and functions much like the slang term “extra”, one who is over-the-top and dramatic. Ergo, he is extra, just like guacamole. I can’t believe I had to get an English degree to write shit like this.

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Personal: All Your Big Talk is Obsolete

(The following article contains descriptions of sexual violence and white supremacy. Reader discussion is advised.)

No ammunition, a war of nerves

I’ll steal your thunder

War of attrition, watch you submerge

Big Trouble“, Robert Palmer, 1993

It is hard to spend much time on myself these days. I remain safe, for now, in Canada, where we continue to dodge Bubonic Plague II and make decorative cloth face guards. I could be better. My father is coming out of another bout of medical issues, but I don’t feel too worried about his recovery. I’m comforted by the fact that my father will finally be able to watch the American Empire crumble before he dies.

Well, you did it, America. You brought back the fucking holocaust. How’s it feel being the Roman Empire of this millennium? You were this round’s conceited, greedy monolithic cocktail of money and weapons, holding its citizens by the necks. Your leaders spent the better part of the 20th century spreading their conform-or-die ooze all over anything vaguely culturally different. But just like Rome, you’re destined to eventually hit critical mass and collapse in on itself quickly, but messily and horribly. I can’t wait to hear people of the future joke about your powers in the same way we joke about Great Britain today. Did you get bored of pretending to bring “freedom” to the rest of the world and just pull off your veil?

The people of America just got a good look at their two choices: Septuagenarian Sex Pest 1 or Septuagenarian Sex Pest 2. Their rambling, blathering attempt at a political debate looked, to the whole world, like two malfunctioning Muppets that had been left in front of a camera. Biden and Trump spoke to each other with the same tone and cadence of one old man trying halfheartedly to stop his friend from calling their bartender a kike to his face. Well, this Jew’s stomach wretches and turns when I think of all my American friends who are going to have to watch Rome burn around them.

And it’s not just the literal wildfires or the disease that spreads like one. There’s a new thing to be viscerally disturbed by. I’d like to set a bunch of little phrases on the table before you…”Concentration camp.” “Forced hysterectomy in low budget facility.” “Detained females.” “How to get pregnant.” What does this lay the foundation of within your imagination?

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