Far Right Trolls Come for Captain Marvel
by Melissa Ryan
Another episode of why the Internet can’t have nice things this week when Rotten Tomatoes finally got sick of being gamed by trolls and changed its policy so that users could no longer comment on a movie before its release date. In a post explaining the change to users, Rotten Tomatoes seems to downplay the problem saying “we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership.” Which seems like a nicer way to say we have to stop the trolls before they ruin our site completely.
Trolls have been attacking movies via Rotten Tomatoes for a while now. The brigading of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie (which has the audacity to be a movie about a female superhero) is likely the catalyst for this change but it’s hardly the only movie whose reviews were gamed by trolls. Ghostbusters (which had the audacity to have 4 female leads!) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi faced similar campaigns around their releases. The tactic has a name, review-bombing, and you’ll be shocked to learn that it comes from the same community that gave us #Gamergate.
Trolls are also multi-platform operators which means Rotten Tomatoes’ actions alone can only do so much to stop the madness. Anti-Captain Marvel trolls have been hard at work this week posting creepy YouTube videos and editing star Brie Larson’s Wikipedia page. We saw the same thing with Ghostbusters and Star Wars most famously when Milo Yiannopoulos’ targeted harassment of Leslie Jones resulted in his finally getting banned from Twitter. Hollywood studios, who spend millions of dollars to market their movie franchises, are either unable to stop the bleed or they’ve determined that outrage marketing helps rather than harms a movie’s chances at the box office.
The far right, especially the men’s rights variety, attempt to make the argument that movies like Captain Marvel are political correctness run amok but that’s just not how business works. The reality is we’re seeing more entertainment starring people of color and women because that’s what the market demands. As The Brookings Institution noted in their report on the millennial generation, “the millennial generation, now [a] 44 percent minority, is the most diverse adult generation in American history. While its lasting legacy is yet to be determined, this generation is set to serve as a social, economic, and political bridge to chronologically successive (and increasingly) racially diverse generations.” In electoral politics, we often refer to a similar demographic as the Rising American Electorate.
As America becomes less white and American culture less dominated by white men, of course, the entertainment industry would adjust its strategy accordingly. Same goes for most businesses who want to continue to make a profit. The far right’s cultural and political fights always come down to attempting to stop the inevitable and ensuring that America remains a patriarchal white supremacist nation at all costs. A mission that will be more and more difficult as the demographics change, and they know it. You only resort to trolling tactics when you can’t win a fair fight. A helpful thing to remember whenever you’re forced to deal with them.
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HOPE not hate: Feminist Anti-Fascism, the Manosphere and Alt-Right splits
HOPE not hate has long maintained a forward-looking approach to anti-fascism, striving to rethink and learn from others about how we can respond to the challenges posed by the evolving far right. To this end, and to coincide with International Women’s Day, our guest contribution examines the relationship between feminism and anti-fascism today.
Simon Murdoch also recently got the chance to interview Dr. Christa Hoddap of the University of Massachusetts, an expert on the Men’s Rights Movement and the anti-feminist ‘manosphere’ community. It’s well-worth a listen.
Lastly, the alt-right is undergoing a major feud which could seriously spell trouble for the movement as a whole. Below you can find our analysis of these developments.
Feminist Movements Are Our Best Chance of Defeating the Far Right
By Iida Käyhkö, Feminist Anti Fascist Assembly
This week Iida Käyhkö, of the UK’s Feminist Anti Fascist Assembly, writes our first guest contribution. looking at why feminism is vital to anti-fascism. As she highlights, “The far right is not only racist, but also sexist. This means that the fight against fascism must have feminist politics at its heart.”
Arktos vs Counter-Currents Feud Splits the Alt-Right
By David Lawrence
HOPE not hate researcher David Lawrence has written on new accusations deepening long standing rifts between two key US/European alt-right institutions. Recent developments could seriously undermine the flagging movement and potentially cause irreparable damage to US alt-right figure Greg Johnson and his Counter-Currents publishers.
- Unicorn Riot has done it again! Their latest leak of discord chats includes “more than 770,000 messages from chat servers associated with Identity Evropa. This is the first report in a series about this large US-based neo-Nazi organization” There’s a lot to unpack in the lead but other media outlets have already reported on Identity Europa’s attempts to infiltrate the Republican Party, stanning Tucker Carlson, and mobilizing volunteers and money in support of Steve King’s last election. In what I’m sure is completely unrelated to the disastrous links Identity Evropa is now rebranding itself as America Identity Movement. They’ve also been banned from discord.
- Media Matters is out with a new study: How mainstream media Twitter accounts amplified Trump’s false State of the Union claims. “Thirteen major news outlet feeds sent a total of 49 tweets promoting a variety of false or misleading Trump comments in the 24 hours after Trump’s State of the Union began, according to a Media Matters review. By sharing the president’s claims without debunking them, the outlets misled their followers when they could have enlightened them”
- Deepfake propaganda is not a real problem (The Verge)
- The KKK is in rapid decline – but its symbols remain worryingly potent (The Conversation)
- ‘Maura’s Voice’: Victim’s father launches research foundation in wake of yoga studio shooting (Tallahassee Democrat)
- Revealed: AmazonSmile helps fund anti-vaccine groups (The Guardian)
- Fighting fake news: Decoding ‘fact-free’ world of WhatsApp (Hindustan Times)
- Trump and Republicans Appeal to Men with Fragile Masculinity, Researchers Find (Newsweek)
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One of my favorite talks that I’ve ever given, at the Guggenheim Museum, is now available online. The panel, Culture and Its Discontents: Outrage Activism was part of a two day program examining the causes and effects of online activism. I articulated my point of view better than I have in any other speech. A year later, I’m still super proud of it.
Love CARD and already starting to feel withdrawal? Become a paying member and enjoy even more content exclusively for members. We’ve already put up two more ICYMI posts and HOPE not hate’s Joe Mulhall and I recorded our first members-only podcast this week.
That’s a wrap on this week.