Discover more from The Internet Is Vast
The Inevitable Villainy - 5223
Alright, two days in a row ... but who's counting?
Whoah. We launched yesterday and got new subscribers? Some of y’all are following the Internet’s rules. Let’s jump in to today …
Rabbit Hole Duck Dive: The Milkshake Duck
“Inevitably, that symbolism is shattered when the duck is shown to have multiple, sometimes contradictory qualities.”
If you have ever wondered, “was The Empire in Star Wars kinda right?” Then the Internet is for you. There are literally 30+ minute breakdowns on YouTube that will explain at length that Anakin Skywalker was more right as Darth Vader ruling the galaxy than he was as a padawan. Never you mind the fact that he murdered children during his ascent into what is a generally accepted entry into “best villain of all time” discussions.
That contrarian take gets attention, and then the contrarian take to the contrarian take sends a topic into a short squeeze of drama-inflated value.
The ‘Wait, What?’ Vortex: Ponzi Scheming
“Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme Really Wasn’t That Bad”
That video title popped up for me once and I just *had* to click.
We’re all bad, then good, then bad again.
Look, it doesn’t take much to impress the Internet. Say something silly but earnestly, in the right cultural moment, and suddenly you are on the Today Show. You are a hero until without warning, someone finds out that you once signed a petition a college buddy made to restore minimum wage to $1.15 as a joke and the fame becomes a vacuum for your soul. You are eaten alive by the Internet1.
The arc of any individual in the vast void of the Internet is simple to follow. As soon as Mr. Beast came to my attention near the end of the last decade, I knew we’d land into the territory we see today: controversy over whether he should be giving out money, cars, blind-curing surgeries, the list goes on. It was an immediate, gut feeling - “oh eventually some people are going to hate this guy.” It doesn’t mean they are right, it just means they were bound to land in that line of thinking. I happen to think it’s ludicrous, but that it has happened to a certain extent is nonetheless the point.
Now, I know it doesn’t mean much to claim that I called it in hindsight, and I know that others have done a much better job at chronicling the phenomenon that all of today’s topics point us toward so where is this going?…
A different perspective is due, and it isn’t all that complicated.
Identify the actual villains. Lucky for us, the best villains identify themselves: proving to be genuinely evil over and over again. The best heroes in fiction are flawed, so it makes complete sense that our non-fiction heroes are as well. We need more “alright this dude proved he wasn’t good multiple times - I’m out” energy and less scathing vitriol on notable people who, by being a person, are occasionally fallible.
It’s also important to note that every villain is the hero of their own story, which authors naturally just … ignore. So why don’t we? I mean J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t spend an entire section of his books showing tweets and instagram comments2 that sided with Sauron, so why are we investing so much energy into them?
If you never give someone the pedestal of infallibility then they can’t really get knocked off it. If you ignore the villain, the silence is deafening. There, I’ve solved “cancel culture” and I’m sure the Internet will respond accordingly.
Just kidding, I fully expect that one day people will discover the vlogs I made when I was 18 and that’ll be the end of me … it’s inevitable villainy.
By reading you have actually unwittingly agreed to share this with a friend who might find this interesting. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. The Internet does.
Authors note - I’m terrified that this is going to happen to Keanu Reeves at some point. Keep being great, Keanu!
Could you imagine? 300 pages of tweets in elvish supporting Sauron as an Alpha Male - just unreadable.