This time last year I started writing about populist masculinity in the Paste articles, Populist Masculinity: What It Is, and How To Beat It, Populist Masculinity and the Suspension of Order, and Are Populist Masculinity Celebrities Fake News?
Not a lot has changed in the gender-political landscape of populism over the past year, but it does leave me scratching my head about the reality of it all. I don’t just mean the sock-puppetry alluded to in the fake news article mentioned above, but whether populist masculinity celebrities actually believe their own message.
When I look at populist masculinity celebrities such as Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer and Roosh, I see a lot of clearly clever guys spouting a strange mix of a few insightful comments and mostly deeply unsavoury conclusions. I’m left to question, do these guys actually believe what they are saying, or are they simply working an angle because it happens to be creating some cultural and financial capital? (To be sure, this is not something that happens only on the right: I have experience of a few “progressive” writers who I suspect actually despise their audience, but stay on message because it pays the rent.)
More troubling, such is the way the media works, it is easy to imagine where all this is going. In a few years’ time, when it becomes culturally expedient to do so, these celebrities will change their tune and reveal how they felt “pressured” by a craving for fame (and maybe their dark money backers) into promoting their hateful spiel. The media will then celebrate their honesty at admitting their mistakes, and they will then enjoy a further fame as confessionalists.