What is frog TikTok, and why does it so often cross over with lesbian TikTok? – Metro.co.uk

The frog is considered a gay icon (Picture: Getty)

There are a number of unlikely gay icons in this world, from The Babadook to Peppa Pig, and it seems that frogs have made the list.

If youre a regular user of TikTok, you may have noticed that alongside videos of dancing and lip-syncing there is an abundance of frog videos.

Where dogs and cats reign supreme on other social media platforms, TikTok is full of sweet little amphibians. Sometimes its frogs sitting weirdly, sometimes its frog care videos for pet owners, sometimes its a girl raising hundreds of thousands of tadpoles in her back garden.

Not all of these videos are made by or featuring lesbians, but the two commonly cross over, with lesbian TikTok and frog TikTok inextricably linked.

Lets look at why.

Lesbian frog TikTok is a communion of two TikTok niches lesbians and frogs.

There are a number of subcultures to be found on the social media site, from alt TikTok to beans TikTok to the oft-maligned straight TikTok.

Because the platform alters your For You page depending on what you tend to like and interact with, groups formed based on what different people saw and found funny or engaging.

In this case, its being a woman who loves women and cute frogs.

Videos feature illustrations and crafts with frogs on them, funny frogs wearing funny outfits, and basically every manner of frog creativity.

The genre frog lesbian has fully sprouted, with the hashtag lesbianslovefrogs now boasting over 710,000 views, and a search for frog lesbian showing thousands of results.

There are a number of reasons why lesbians may gravitate to frogs (and not just because theyre cute and hilarious).

The frogs are gay meme came to prominence around two years ago when shock-jock Alex Jones claimed on the show InfoWars that water was being poisoned and was making the frigginfrogsgay.

His channel then uploaded a video titled Proof! Gay Frogs Are Real, cementing frogs status as gay icons forevermore.

Frogs have also been top meme-fodder for many years. Dat Boi, Kermit sipping tea, graphic design is my passion, froggy chair, and its Wednesday my dudes all had their moment in the sun (as well as Pepe, but the less we say about him the better).

In that sense, its understandable that TikTok (the social media site best suited to more surreal and younger comedy) would become the home of frog content.

Nearly half of those who use TikTok are under 24, and under 24s are the age group most likely to be queer. Ergo, frog lovers and LGBT+ people were bound to merge and become part of the TikTok canon at some point.

But why lesbians specifically?

Although frogs are gay (incontrovertible fact, please dont argue), the links between frogs and lesbians particularly might derive from an aesthetic movement titled cottagecore.

TikTok defines this as flower prints, knitting, plants and mushrooms. Basically nice, comforting, nature-based images and sounds to soothe us and be aesthetically pleasing.

i-D magazine spoke to one queer woman about why she identified with cottagecore so much, and she said: Lesbians tend to be oversexualised by the media. Cottagecore sees love as a connection between two souls.

Another stated, It especially makes me feel like the things I loved in childhood, like having farm animals and picking blackberries in the fields and getting lost in the woods, are cis- and hetero-coded. So for me, cottagecore is an ideal where I can be visibly queer in rural spaces.

In a world where we need to own a house to have a dog or cultivate our own gardens, frogs are one of the easiest ways to get closer to nature.

And if that desire (frog)spawns a new subculture where WLW and animals are celebrated and we get to see cute frogs on our feeds then that works for us.

Do you have a story youd like to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

MORE: Woman reveals genius way to use a tampon to keep your houseplants alive

MORE: Salon captures before and after portraits of peoples post-lockdown haircuts

The rest is here:

What is frog TikTok, and why does it so often cross over with lesbian TikTok? - Metro.co.uk

Inside ‘Boogaloo’ movement ‘armed to the teeth’ and calling for overthrow of US – Daily Star

Anti-government protesters say they are organising a massive day of action in the United States, with many purporting to be part of a secretive movement called the Boogaloo, or Boogaloo Bois.

Activists have told Daily Star Online they're not a far-right movement, as they're critics claim, but openly say they want to overthrow the US government.

Some even call for a "Second US Civil War," as they say they're linking up with Black Lives Matter activists and anti-coronavirus lockdown groups to form a broader coalition.

The origins of the Boogaloo movement are difficult to pin down, counter-terrorism analyst Javed Ali told Daily Star Online.

Speaking from the US, he said the origins of the movement date back to the early 2010s, but have some of their ideological roots in earlier anti-government or overtly far-right groups from the 1990s.

Recognised by their distinctive Hawaiian shirts and iconography full of memes, such as Pepe the Frog, a number of gun-toting "Boogaloo Bois" have been spotted at recent BLM demonstrations appearing to show their support for the movement.

Although some of the movement's members' far-right views might be seen as being at odds with those of Black Lives Matter, Ali says it makes sense when you consider their shared anti-government stance.

"The coronavirus crisis and Black Lives Matter protests are both inspiring debates in the US about government overreach," Ali said.

"This anti-government philosophy is first and foremost what the movement is about."

The name Boogaloo comes from the 1980s breakdancing film Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, Ali explained.

Over the past decade, forums such as 4Chan and 8Chan would share memes and jokes about a "Civil War 2", rhyming with Boogaloo.

Filled with inside jokes and references, the posts would often make it difficult to see where the line was between trolling and real intentions.

Big Luau, code for a revolution or civil war, was also used by some members of the forums.

But as Ali explained, the movement's lack of a core set of beliefs makes it extremely difficult to be certain of what they want.

Although momentum for the movement online picked up in the middle of the last decade, Ali says it has accelerated since the election of US President Donald Trump.

Supporters are a mix of Second Amendment gun rights activists, anti-government protesters, libertarians and some far-right white supremacists.

Their origins can be found in some of the touchstone anti-government events of the 80s and 90s, including the Ruby Ridge siege, the deadly Oklahoma City bombing and the siege at Waco, Texas, with memes referencing all of these widely shared online.

Speaking to Daily Star Online, supporters of the movement shared their own beliefs and reasons for support.

One, who asked to remain anonymous, called the Boogaloo "a revolution taking place in Americans' hearts".

They denied the group was far-right, saying they are "pro-capitalism," adding: "We do not discriminate. We welcome people of all colours, races, sexual orientation and creeds."

The supporter went on: "We are not trying to exploit the BLM movement, but rather we support their right to free speech."

They also slammed the lockdowns taken by state governments in response to the Covid-19 health crisis, saying: "It's up to the individual to be responsible for their health."

Another supporter, calling themselves Virginia Knight, told Daily Star Online: "The Boogaloo movement doesn't have any set main goal but we have many goals throughout our movement including recognising the injustice that many cops cause civilians while also respecting many.

"We also believe that a revolution will take place sooner or later as we had one with Great Britain in 1775 and the government will be replaced with a cleaner fresher model."

They added: "We also hope to raise awareness to the fact that there are many of us likeminded people who are armed to the teeth and believe in freedom."

On the link to Black Lives Matter protests, they went on: "Many people scream racism when they see an armed white man because the thing the government fears most is unity among the armed white man and the armed black man.

"We strive to bring about that unity."

A third supporter, who spoke to the Daily Star under the condition of anonymity, described himself as "the son of a single Hispanic mother born in the United States from Hispanic immigrants and Native Northern Americans".

He called this year's July 4th a major milestone in his country's history, and said ordinary people were becoming aware of the widespread oppression carried out by a "brainwashed militarised police force".

The supporter went on: "The 4th of July is our supposed holiday of freedom and I know more Americans than ever are questioning said freedoms."

He also said growing public anger had grown since the death of Jeffrey Epstein and many powerful people's alleged connections to the convicted paedophile.

"People have wanted to say that we're far-right when in actuality we lie in the centre of the political spectrum," he said.

"Recently far-right groups have been angry with us because we've chosen not to side with them and have been offering BLM protesters protections from these groups.

"Black Lives Matter have been fighting for a lot of the same things as us before us and it's important that we protect people exercising their rights."

But Javed Ali maintains most of the movement's members' beliefs "tend to align with the far-right".

He says if this year's July 4 protests by the Boogaloo Bois remain peaceful, there is unlikely to be a further crackdown beyond the arrests of Boogaloo followers already made the past few months in Denver, Las, Vegas, and northern California.

Despite that, law enforcement is now focusing more attention on this movement and the potential threat it poses.

Last month, a US Air Force sergeant Steven Carillo with alleged links to the Boogaloo movement was arrested following the murder of a federal security officer.

David Patrick Underwood was shot in an ambush outside the courthouse in Oakland, California during Black Lives Matter protests in the city.

The FBI claims Carillo used his own blood to write various phrases on the bonnet of a stolen car, including "boog" and "stop the duopoly", referring to America's two-party system.

Earlier in June, three men with ties to the Boogaloo movement and the US military were arrested in Las Vegas and charged with "conspiracy to cause destruction" over allegations they aimed to used Molotov cocktails on police officers during protests in the city following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Visit link:

Inside 'Boogaloo' movement 'armed to the teeth' and calling for overthrow of US - Daily Star

Qiana Di Bari, Owner of Sale Pepe in Lahaina, On Racism in the Food Business and Why She Feels At Home On Maui – HONOLULU Magazine

The restaurateur used to manage the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest before opening her own restaurant in New York, then moving to Maui in 2013.

By Martha Cheng

Published: 2020.07.01 01:14 PM

This is part of a series on perspectives from Black food-business owners in Hawaii.

HONOLULU Magazine: How did you get into the restaurant business?

Qiana Di Bari: As a college student at NYU, I worked part time at Moomba, a celebrity hotspot in the West Village. I happened to be in the right place at the right time: I was just a little kid who was a hostess, and I started managing the place after a few months and met a lot of really famous and interesting people. That led me into the music business, where I was invited by Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest to come and work as his assistant. I ended up being Q-Tips manager and I managed the band. And I was with him for 20 years before Michele (Qianas husband) and I met at his restaurantit was love at first sight. We had an immediate connectionbut we never spoke to each other directly for five years because he moved away to open a restaurant and I had a boyfriend at the time.

Michele and I opened our restaurant, Va Beh, which means its all good in Italian, in Brooklyn, about six months after we had our little girl. We opened that together because we both knew that I was going to make my way out of the music business to really focus on family. It was a cute little restaurant20-seater, some of the same philosophy and aesthetics that we have here at Sale Pepe.

HM: Whats your ethnicity?

QDB: I amImI feel like Im American. Ill just stop there.

My family has been here since pre-American times. Im part of the Lenape tribe of Native Americans. And they were part of a group that sold the first bead to the Dutch at Manahatta. We have been here in America for hundreds of years. We know the Dutch woman that married the Native American man on the Jersey shore from 1620. So we go back a long way. Im also obviously African American and we are generations and generations of hapa people. Theres some British, theres some Dutch. Were a mix of everything but I think thats what Black is in America. Were all kind of melted and molded and assimilated in different ways. So I would say that Im Black, but I know that my heritage is a mix of almost every race.

For me, Black means mixed. Im actually more comfortable with Black than African American because I dont feel like as a culture, we are connected to Africawe created our own culture here being as mixed up as we are. Even coming right off the slave ships from Africa, we were mixed, purposelydifferent tribes mixed with other tribes and Black people from different countries and regions mixed with others. It just continued when we got to Americawe mix with our neighbors and our masters and the natives around us. And so for me, Black is a unique term for a really unique experience.

SEE ALSO: Sale Pepe Brings a Taste of Italy to Hawaii

HM: Have you experienced racism in the food business?

QDB: Ive dealt with it in every aspect of my life and every facet of my life. In the food business in particularIll tell you two short stories. More than one time people have come in and Im normally at the door at Sale Pepe and on the floor, Michele is in the back of the house. And theyll say to me, Wheres the boss? Wheres the real Italian? You dont really know Italian. What do you mean youre the owner, wheres your husband? That kind of thing. And, you know, in America, you can be any race and open any sort of restaurant and represent any cuisine as long as you know it. Sometimes Im a little bit marginalized because of my race and the kind of cuisine that were serving.

And then another more overt thing happened two years ago: Someone posted Pepe the Frog (a cartoon appropriated as a racist hate symbol) drinking a salted margarita on our Facebook page and said something derogatory on it. I had to have that flagged and blocked. That was pretty overt and creepy.

But its never locals. I will tell you that very clearly. Its always people from other places.

Another time, I was crossing the street on Front Street in front of Bubba Gump with my 6-year-old at the time, and someone in a rental car drove by and made monkey sounds. And even my little 6-year-old instinctively knew that wasnt right. I had to have a talk with her about how some people are just that way, that some people just dont like other people because of the way they look.

But I never felt that from any local ever. If Im honest with you, I feel like its kind of like a reverse situation: I remember when we first started opening the restaurant and dealing with construction workers and vendors, a lot of the locals were giving me eye contact and not wanting to engage with Michele. So hes like, OK, you deal with these guys because they seem to want to talk to you more. If anything, I feel more embraced here than I have anywhere else in the world. Maybe Brazil, I felt as normal and as free to be myself. Thats the only other place I could think of where I felt as comfortable.

HM: I remember when we first talked a few years ago, you mentioned that when you came to Maui it just felt like home. Is that why?

QDB: Yeah, I feel like I can be myself, relax, let my guard down and just let my words and actions speak for themselves. I dont feel people giving me a double take or second look. I dont feel people giving me doubtful or strange energy at all. I have never felt more like myself than I do here. And youre not really aware of how much you carry emotionally and physically on your body in terms of just being on guard from things like racism, or, you know, crimes, all the things you have to worry about over there. You dont carry those with you here.

HM: So then how does it feel being here and not having to deal with it while watching whats happening around the U.S.?

QDB: I dont get to talk about this enough. I talk to Q-Tip every day almost, and my best friendwe talk so much about how isolated I feel here in a way because I cant really share my impressions or experiences with anyone in a resonant way about whats happening on the Mainland in terms of Black Lives Matter. And some of the changes that we see happening. Its very exciting for us. But when I step out into the restaurant on Maui or speak to my friends here its a more muted conversation. Its not as relevant here, obviously. Its like walking around with a million dollars in your pocket and you cant tell anybody.

Its really hard to stay as charged or indignant or angry or as active as I see my friends being.

Im a little disconnected. Im not judging myself either way, Im saying that in a neutral way. It feels like Im a little more objective. And I dont get triggered very easily by what I see on the news. Im upset. Im angry, but Im more thinking about how can we take all of this Black Lives Matter energy and channel it into voting registration or real political change or real systematic change. Im not thinking about where Im going to march next or who am I going to confront in a face to face conversation.

HM: So when you lived elsewhere, you had more of those immediate reactions?

QDB: Well, this is, you know, obviously not the first time this has happened, right. So, yeah, being with Q-Tip and with A Tribe Called Quest and in hip-hop, which is a very powerful movement in and of itself, anytime something like this happened in the past, we would hit the streets immediately. I mean, immediately, we would hit the streets. That would be the first thing. I dont know how many rallies Ive done. Weve gone out with politicians and done rallies and been a part of Rock the Vote. So much music was made and so much of our message was about countering this kind of stuff. So Its interesting to be in this position now because its very different. I feel like my approach is just moreI dont want to say cerebral or intellectualbut those might really be the right words. Because my body is not in it as much as it used to be. There was one good rally here in Lahaina. My friend, Courtney Scott,pulled it together a few weeks ago, and that was amazing. It was electric. It was just incredible. But thats the only thing Ive donephysicallysince all of this started.

Another aspect of it is where Im putting a lot of my energies into educating my child, talking to her through what she sees on the news as a 9-year-old.

As a mother, Im 40-something, its not the same as being a 20-something or 30. I see myself in those kids that are out protesting every day for 30 days in a row. That used to be me, but its not me anymore.

SEE ALSO: New Maui-made Fresh Pasta by Buono is Now Available at Oahu Whole Foods

HM: Do you think then since its such a different vibe here that having these conversations is relevant? That they have a purpose here?

QDB: I only can say yes. Because at the rally that I went to, I saw everyone. I saw locals, I saw transplants, I saw young, I saw rich, I saw poor people, I saw business owners and I saw bus drivers. And everyone was just as outraged as the next. There was one unified feeling therewere all feeling the same thing. Were all wanting the same. We have the same desire. There is a desire here for systematic change. And I think it is relevant. We have a voice in the national conversation. Hawaii is relevant. There are Black people here, there are people of color here. They may not be experiencing the police brutality on the levels that they do on the Mainland, but these stories are part of our history.

Whether we came from somewhere else or lived here all your life, you know someone who this has happened to. And so for it to be called out, and for these changes to be demanded, is a very powerful thing to be happening here.

HM: How useful do you think the lists of Black businesses are?

QDB: I love these lists because I feel seen for the first time as a Black business owner. A really good friend of mine wrote to me recently and said, Now I really have to apologize to you because I never saw you as Black. My daughter sat me down and made me understand why thats not a good thing. Im negating part of who you are by not seeing you as Black. Her generation had been taught we dont see color and all of that nonsense. So being on Black-owned business lists makes me feel seen and empowered and proud in a way that Ive never felt before. Thats amazing. Its really important because you either feel like a unicorn on this island because there are so few of us or you feel invisible because there are so few of us. So its really nice to be seen and celebrated in that way.

HM: Is there anything else you think that we should be talking about?

QDB: I think we dont hear enough about the historical context of this whole Black Lives Matter movement. How what we saw happening to George Floyd was an expression of something that has been happening since slavery, since reconstruction, during the civil rights movements, in our prisons. It happened in the 80s and 90s with the war on drugs. George Floyds last words were a literal expression of our collective pain and frustrations over all of these years. This is not something that just popped up out of the blueGeorge Floyd was really the straw that broke the camels back.

I also want to say that the Black Lives movement is not an anti-cop movement or an anti-white movement. Its not really about attacking policemen or anybody else. Its about us saying that we matter. We just want the same thing that everyone else has and the promises that we have been sold since the founding of this country.

HM: Given this history, do you feel optimistic about this moment or that its the same as in the past?

QDB: I feel optimistic because I feel like theres been a merging of the progressive movement with the Black Lives Matter movement. And then when mainstream Americans witnessed all the police brutality during the protests, it put a spotlight on the problem in a way that no one was able to really understand or that didnt resonate as much before. I think this is a different moment. Things are not going back to normal. The length of these protests tells us a lot. And also the fact that our Senate today tried to pass a [police reform] bill addressing all of these thingsit didnt go through because I dont think it was aggressive enough for the Democrats in the Senate, but the House is preparing to present a bill in the next few daysI think this is a different moment. People are responding and reacting and changes are being made really quickly.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Sale Pepe, 878 Front St., Lahaina, (808) 667-7667, salepepemaui.com

Read this article:

Qiana Di Bari, Owner of Sale Pepe in Lahaina, On Racism in the Food Business and Why She Feels At Home On Maui - HONOLULU Magazine

Drive-In Film Fest Has Debut – Micromedia Publications

LONG BEACH ISLAND It was a week of firsts. It was the first time several movies were shown to the public, and it was the first time that the Lighthouse International Film Festival was a drive-in. In fact, the local event was the first and only international film festival that was a drive-in.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, the organizers of the festival were left brainstorming ways to still get fiction, documentary, and other films to the public while protecting theater-goers and staff. Fortunately, one of the outdoor activities that was approved by the governor was drive-ins.

Pop-up drive-in venues were set up in Beach Haven, Loveladies, and Stafford. Cars lined up to watch films on the big screens for five days.

The Festival opened on Tuesday, June 16 with the war drama The Outpost and ended with the comedy The Last Shift. There were 31 unreleased films in between. Some of them were world premieres or films that showed at Sundance or SXSW.

The festival showed films as they were meant to be seen on the big screen while keeping the health and safety of its attendees its top priority, Spokesperson Christine Rooney had said about the festival. Like all responsible New Jersey businesses and non-profits LIFF has come to realize that business as usual is no longer an option, at this unique point in time, and that the Festival cannot be presented in its usual format this year.

There is a huge shortage of cultural and entertainment events due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and festival organizers hoped to fill that void.

While COVID-19 put our daily lives on hold, it also shut down the window to the alternative universe of imagination, creation, and art that is cinema. Lighthouse International Film Festival is here to reopen this window on the big screen, as part of LBIs rejuvenation, said LIFF executive director Amir Bogen.

As with schools, sometimes the best way to reach people was online. The virtual component of the event had scores of short films, episodic projects, surf films and other features. It was also the way that the winners of the festival were announced.

Films were awarded in several categories. The award for Best Narrative Feature went to The Subject, by Lanie Zipoy. It is about a documentarian who caught the murder of an African American teen on tape, and now someone is videotaping his every move.

The award for Best Feature-Length Documentary went to Feels Good Man by Arthur Jones. This chronicles how indie comic character Pepe the Frog became the icon of hate groups, and the artists attempt to regain control of the character.

The Best Short Narrative Film was White Eye by Tomer Shushan, about a man who finds his stolen bicycle and his struggles with himself.

The Best Short Documentary was Ashes To Ashes by Taylor Rees & co-director Renan Ozturk, which follows the story of Winfred Rembert, the only living survivor of a lynching. It also won an award for Social Impact.

The Best Episodic Project was Lost In Traplanta, by Mathieu Rochet.

The Jennifer Snyder Bryceland award is a $3,500 prize to a feature-length documentary that displays artistic excellence, incorporates (social) environmental themes (local, regional or global), and inspires optimism in audiences. It was awarded to Why Is We Americans? by Udi Aloni & co-director Ayana Stafford-Morris, about the Baraka family and their relationship with Newark.

The Best High School Student Film was Empty by Vic Pater, an animated journey using metaphors to have the audience understand mental illness.

Excerpt from:

Drive-In Film Fest Has Debut - Micromedia Publications

Incels: Alienated Men And Violence In The Digital Age – Rantt Media

The online subcultures driving "incels" grew more concerning after Canada pursued terrorism charges for incel-related violence. We must analyze them.

Florence Keen is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, specializing in far-right extremism and violence

As the world was forced into lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex Lee Moyers documentary TFW No GF was released online, its focus on an internet subculture of predominately young, white men who already experienced much of life from the comfort of their own homes pandemic notwithstanding.

Its title, a reference to the 4chan-originated phrase that feel when no girlfriend, reveals the essence of its subjects grievances described by the SXSW Film Festival as first a lack of romantic companionship, then evolving to a greater state of existence defined by isolation, rejection and alienation. As one of the films subjects remarks early on: Everyone my age kinda just grows up on the internet4chan was the only place that seemed realI realized there were other people going through the same shit

What does this level of alienation tell us about society today? And how seriously should we take the content found on this online patchwork of messaging boards and forums, each with its own language and visual culture that may at first seem humorous or ironic, but often disguises misogyny, racism, and violence? These are difficult and urgent questions, particularly given the emergent incel phenomenon (incel being a portmanteau of involuntary celibate) which appears to be gaining in strength online.

The idea of virtual expressions of alienation and rage translating to actual violence remains a real and present danger, as we were reminded of this in May when a teenager became the first Canadian to be charged with incel-inspired terrorism. The documentary, however, avoids confronting the violence that this subculture often glorifies, and the director has since stated that it was never supposed to be about incels, but that it had become impossible to discuss the film without the term coming up.

Moments like these require unrelenting truthtelling. We take pride in being reader-funded. If you like our work, support our journalism.

As it turns out, the men we meet in TFW No GF appear to be largely harmless except perhaps to themselves, and despite the documentarys lack of narrative voice, it takes a patently empathetic stance. Set against the backdrop of industrial landscapes and empty deserts, this is a United States in decline; where role models and opportunities lie thin on the ground, and the closest thing to community exists in virtual realms. Each self-described NEET (slang for Not in Education, Employment or Training) has his own tale of alienation: of alcoholic parents, dead friends, or disenfranchisement with the school system.

For those who study internet subcultures, the memes explored of Pepe the Frog and Wojak will be familiar. Pepe is used as a reaction image, typically in the guises of feels good man, and smug/angry/sad Pepe, and although not created to have racist connotations, is frequently used in bigoted contexts by the alt-right. Wojak, AKA feels guy is typically depicted as a bald man with a depressed expression.

One of the documentarys subjects Kantbot explains that you cant have one without the other thats the duality of man. For these men, Pepe represents the troll self, a public persona that embodies their smug and cocky traits. Wojak denotes a more private and vulnerable self, typified by inadequacy, unfulfillment, and sadness. At its core, it is this dichotomy that the documentary seeks to explore, whilst at the same time demanding our sympathies.

On the surface, the men in TFW No GF are united by their failure in finding female partners, a theme that permeates the manosphere, which includes Men Going Their Own Way, (MGTOW) and incels. This latter identity has garnered particular attention in recent years due to the spate of incel attacks witnessed in North America, most infamously Elliot Rodgers Isla Vista attacks in California in 2014 which left six people dead. According to Moonshot CVE, incels believe that genetic factors influence their physical appearance and/or social abilities to the extent that they are unattractive to women, with some subscribing to the philosophy of the blackpill, namely, that women are shallow, and naturally select partners based upon looks stifling the changes of unattractive men to find a partner and procreate.

Incels are a diverse and nebulous community, their worldview characterized by a virulent brand of nihilism which is viewed through the prism of a three-tiered social hierarchy dictated by looks. Here, incels find themselves at the bottom of the pile, after normies, Chads and Stacys. Whilst instances of real-world violence perpetrated by incels remain in relatively low in numbers, its potential to mutate into an offline phenomenon is rightly a cause for concern, with Bruce Hoffman et al. (2020) making a convincing argument for increased law enforcement scrutiny, noting that the most violent manifestations of this ideology pose a new terrorism threat. Especially as we know misogyny is a gateway drug for white supremacy.

A counterterrorism approach alone, however, is unlikely to address the reasons why so many young men (and women see: femcels) are drawn to these virtual worlds. If self-reported narratives on forums such as Incels.net and Incels.co are anything to go by, low self-esteem, bullying, and mental health issues are rife. An acknowledgment of the pain, rejection, and illness that someone may be suffering from is surely required, however unpalatable that is when faced with the abhorrent imagery and rhetoric that may espouse. Underlying all of this, is the need for response based in public health, as well.

The documentarys empathic approach has however been criticized, with The Guardian accusing it of misinformation, particularly in its portrayal of 4chan and the like as harmless, and Rolling Stone criticizing the films acceptance of events without challenging the communitys support of violence, misogyny, and racism. In this sense, the film is reminiscent of the 2016 documentary The Red Pill, which followed Cassie Jays journey into the world of Mens Rights Activists similarly focusing on one side of an ever-complicated debate. Thus, showing compassion should ultimately not be a way of avoiding difficult conversations, and in the case of inceldom, a failure to do so could be seen as irresponsible.

As a researcher of internet subcultures, documentaries like TFW no GF are valuable, in so much as we are granted a rare perspective of these men in their own words. Despite the films selectivity and subjectivity representing a small sample of the infinite experiences and beliefs held by those in this expansive community it provides us with a vignette of the online spaces that allow for certain hateful ideas to flourish and be sustained.

For some, the strange and often hostile world of online messaging boards provides a much-needed connection when other doors are closed. For others, they contribute to a more misogynistic, racist and at times violent way of perceiving the world. As COVID-19 continues to rage on, forcing more of us to shift our lives online, societies ability to understand and combat deeply entrenched loneliness, as well as its potential to intersect with extreme and even violent corners of the internet will be essential.

This article is brought to you by the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right(CARR). Through their research, CARR intends to lead discussions on the development of radical right extremism around the world.

Excerpt from:

Incels: Alienated Men And Violence In The Digital Age - Rantt Media

Boogaloo Extremists, Banned From Facebook, and the Hawaiian Shirt – The New York Times

Boogaloo groups may also have seized on the Hawaiian shirt for reasons other than signaling their association and intentions. Mr. Nakagawa said that doing so may be an attempt to bait the less informed into assuming the group means no real harm. That they are, really, in effect, a goofy bunch of boys despite their military-grade weaponry.

This interpretation is shared by Patrick Blanchfield, an associate faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, who regularly writes about the far right. He views the use of the Hawaiian shirt as yet another attempt by far-right groups to create an undefinable space with in-your-face absurdity.

Its by design, Mr. Blanchfield said. That confusion is what theyre trying to exploit, which means its important to keep an eye on the big picture, or whats right in front of you. If you see an image of a man wearing tactical gear with a gun and a Hawaiian shirt, the most salient thing there is that the guy has a gun and tactical gear.

ULTIMATELY, A SYMBOL like the Hawaiian shirt shifts focus from the obvious armed men asserting dominance in public spaces to expert-led discussions of the boogaloos movements coded symbols and language games, which are absurd to the point of meaninglessness, Mr. Blanchfield thinks. He, and other experts on white nationalist extremism in the United States, have stressed that such in-jokes are a longstanding practice of extremist movements born out of online message boards like 4chan and Reddit and, more recently, in the case of the boogaloo, Facebook.

Joshua Citarella, a researcher of extremist behaviors on the internet, has followed the boogaloo movement, sometimes referred to as Hawaiian shirt nationalism by those in far-right corners of the internet, from its earliest manifestation as a meme on social media. Its earliest expressions, Mr. Citarella said, were mostly about civil libertarianism and drew on internet aesthetics like Vaporwave.

The boogaloo kit post on social media is another recent example of the meme bridging the gap with real life. In late 2018, Mr. Citarella began to notice that users had begun sharing images of their own skins, or outfits, laid out on the ground. They were usually a combination of tactical gear, assault weapons, bottles of liquor and street wear like Supreme hoodies, all tied together in some way by the floral print of the Hawaiian shirt.

See the article here:

Boogaloo Extremists, Banned From Facebook, and the Hawaiian Shirt - The New York Times

Pepe the Frog – Anti-Defamation League

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon character that has become a popular Internet meme (often referred to as the "sad frog meme" by people unfamiliar with the name of the character). The character first appeared in 2005 in the on-line cartoon Boy's Club. In that appearance, the character also first used its catchphrase, "feels good, man."

The Pepe the Frog character did not originally have racist or anti-Semitic connotations. Internet users appropriated the character and turned him into a meme, placing the frog in a variety of circumstances and saying many different things. Many variations of the meme became rather esoteric, resulting in the phenomenon of so-called "rare Pepes."

The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted. However, it was inevitable that, as the meme proliferated in on-line venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which have many users who delight in creating racist memes and imagery, a subset of Pepe memes would come into existence that centered on racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted themes.

In recent years, with the growth of the "alt right" segment of the white supremacist movement, a segment that draws some of its support from some of the above-mentioned Internet sites, the number of "alt right" Pepe memes has grown, a tendency exacerbated by the controversial and contentious 2016 presidential election. Though Pepe memes have many defenders, the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing.

However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist. However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes.

In the fall of 2016, the ADL teamed with Pepe creator Matt Furie to form a #SavePepe campaign to reclaim the symbol from those who use it with hateful intentions.

Read the original post:

Pepe the Frog - Anti-Defamation League

What Does Pepe the Frog Mean? | Memes by Dictionary.com

Artist Matt Furie created Pepe the Frog as an easygoing, bro-like character in his 2005 comic series, The Boys Club. In one comic, Pepe urinates with his pants down at his ankles. Sporting a relieved grin, Pepe says, Feels good man.

Pepes creator told The Daily Dot in April 2015 that the name Pepe (though pronounced differently) evokes pee-pee, in keeping with the literal bathroom humor the original character is known for.

According to Know Your Meme, users began creating their own Pepe images in 2008 in forums on the imageboard site 4chan. These Pepes, riffing on the frogs signature smile, spread online as a humorous reaction, much as people post GIFs to illustrate how they feel about something. One common variant shows a smirking Pepe, often called Smug Pepe, his thumb tucked knowingly under his chin. Additionally, the variants Sad Pepe and Angry Pepe are also common.

By 201415, Pepe had gone full mainstream, with singers Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj notably posting Pepe memes on Twitter. But as The Daily Beast reported in May 2016, some white supremacists were disappointed by Pepes widespread popularity. And so, as a dark and shocking joke, they fashioned Pepes with various anti-Semitic and other racist imagery in efforts to make Pepes widespread use less appealing to those outside their circle. One depicts a caricatured Jewish Pepe smiling at burning Twin Towers on September 11. Another swaps out Pepes Feels good man for Kill all Jews.

Starting around 2015, alt-right supporters of Donald Trump embraced the bigoted Pepe memes, spreading suited-up and blonde-coiffed versions of the frog after the likeness of their candidate. While apparently unaware of Pepes symbolism, Donald Trump retweeted a Trump Pepe in October 2015, as did Donald Trump Jr. following Hillary Clintons basket of deplorables comment in September 2016. Many alt-right social media users have even deployed the frog emoji in their online monikers to represent Pepe and their political affiliations. Pepe has also inspired a hand gesture, resembling the OK sign, that Mediaite claims a ten-year-old flashed on a tour of the White House in March 2017.

This unassuming cartoon frog became so established as a racist symbol that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) labeled Pepe the Frog as a hate symbol in September 2016. Around this time, the Clinton campaign released their own explainer on Pepe, commenting that the cartoon frog is more sinister than you might realize. Another one of Pepes political iterations is as Pepe Le Pen, which depicts French far-right nationalist politician Marie Le Pen as the frog.

Read the original here:

What Does Pepe the Frog Mean? | Memes by Dictionary.com

How ‘Pepe the Frog’ went from harmless to hate symbol …

Denizens of the darker corners of the Internetturned an innocent frog comic into a hate symbol of the "deplorable" alt-right.

"Pepe the Frog" first appeared in 2005 in the comic "Boy's Life" by artist and illustrator Matt Furie. The comics depictPepe and his anthropomorphized animal friends behaving like stereotypical post-college bros: playing video games, eating pizza, smoking potand being harmlessly gross.

In 2008, fans of the comic began uploading Furie's work online. In one comic, Pepe responds to a question about his bathroom habits with, "Feels good, man."

That reaction image and catchphrase took on a life of its own on the Internet, meriting a Know Your Meme entry by 2009. Alternate iterations of Pepe, including sad, smugand angry Pepes, followed. Pepe memes are ubiquitous across 4chan, Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, and other social media and image-sharing sites.

It all seemed in good fun, but in late September, Pepe's green visage was designateda hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL's online hate symbol database is designed to help law enforcement, educators, and members of the general public identify potentially hateful images, explained Oren Segal, the director of the organization's Center on Extremism. He said that in recent years, hate symbols have proliferated online. Now, with things like Pepe the frog, anti-Semitic images are originating and circulating almost primarily on social media.

In some instances, Pepe wears a Hitler mustache, and his signature message is replaced with "Kill Jews Man." In others, Pepe poses in front of a burning World Trade Center, dressed like an Orthodox Jewish person with a yarmulke and payot. He's also been spotted wearing a Nazi soldier's uniform and in a KKK hood and robe.

In May, the Daily Beast spoke to a white supremacist who said there had been a concerted effort on the site 4chan to "reclaim Pepe" from normal people in late 2015. Pepe had gone mainstream: He's been tweeted by Katy Perry, who said she has a "Pepe file" on her computer, and has made multiple appearances on Nicki Minaj's Instagram. So the supremacist groupremixed him with Nazi propaganda for a laugh.

It originated on /rk9/, the 4chan message board associated with some of the least savory elements of the Internet. Last fall, people on that board purposefully framed two innocent individuals for the Umpqua Community College shooting. It's allegedly where Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger announced his shooting before it took place in a post with aPepe meme.

Nazi Pepe made its way to Twitter, where people who regularly tweeted messages supporting white nationalism and anti-immigrant views quickly absorbed it into their Internet repertoire. People who identify with those movementsadd the frog emoji to their Twitter name.

In August, Hillary Clinton gave her now-infamous speech denouncing some of Donald Trump's supporters, particularly the segment known as the alt-right, as a "basket of deplorables."

A couple weeks later, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. posted a photo on Instagram that depicted him and other supporters as "The Deplorables" -- a play on the poster from the movie "The Expendables." In the lineup? Pepe.

Two weeks after that, the ADL made its official designation. Segal, the representative for the organization, said that while the ADL was researching harassment of journalists on Twitter -- particularly the use of the triple-parenthetical (((echo))) around names to designate Jewish people -- they began to notice Pepe's face coming up more frequently.

He said people on his staff were aware of Pepe's original, inoffensive incarnation, but it was clear that the frog had become associated with anti-Semitic opinions online.

"When we felt that [Pepe]was reaching that point of the hateful version becoming more widespread, that's a criteria for adding it to our hate symbols database," he explained.

Hopefully, he says, the Pepe meme will be able to move past this dark point in its history and go back to just being fun. If enough people share positive -- or at least non-hateful -- Pepe memes, to the point where few people encounter Nazi Pepe online, it wouldn't be a hate symbol anymore.

"The hate symbol database isn't the final stop for this meme," he said.

That came as a big relief to Furie, the artist who created Pepe. He has been understandably devastated by the turn his creation has taken.

"To have it evolve into what it is today, it's a nightmare," Furie said. "It's kind of my worst nightmare ... to be tangled in forever with a symbol of hate."

I would love to help the ADL and do my part by flooding the Internet with positive Pepe memes,he added.

He's not evena particularly political guy. Prior to the ADL's hate symbol announcement, he had never heard of the alt-right or the nascent white supremacist movement that's sprung up around Trump. Though he'd heard of Pepe being used as a meme as far back as 2008, he never made the memes himself. He says he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.

"I'm a lifelong artist," said Furie, who lives in Los AngelesKoreatown neighborhood. "Hate and racism couldn't be further from something on my radar. I try to focus on positivity and nature and animals."

Furie stopped drawing Pepe about sixyears ago, though he did revive him recently for a very special drawing on his Tumblr. It depicts the frog wearing a "Make Pepe Great Again" hat, urinating on a green-faced Trump.

Reclaiming your own work from anti-Semites: Feels good, man.




Live updates from the campaign trail

Trump is encouraging and amplifying the message of a 'radical fringe' of conservatives, Clinton says

See more here:

How 'Pepe the Frog' went from harmless to hate symbol ...

How Pepe the Frog Became a Nazi Trump Supporter and Alt …

The green frog was behind the United States side of the metal fence at the countrys southernmost border, smirking and holding a Donald Trump campaign button up to his chin.

A caricature of a Mexican couplethe man dressed in a sombrero and poncho, the woman with braided hair and an infant in her armslooked out at him through the barricade and cried.

Then the frog was someplace else entirely, this time covered in Nazi insignia: above his smirk, the phrase SKIN HEAD and a swastika; over his left eyelid, 14, the numeric shorthand for we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children; and over his right eyelid, 88, which stands for Heil Hitler.

And there the frog was yet again, standing at a lectern stamped with the presidential seal, a red tie hanging from his green neck, Trumps iconic hair arranged on his head and an American flag at his back.

This is Pepe, a cartoon amphibian introduced to the world sans swastikas and Trump associations in 2005, on Myspace, in the artist Matt Furies comic strip Boys Club, and popularized on 4chan in the ensuing 11 years, culminating in 2015, when teens shared Pepes likeness so many times he became the biggest meme on Tumblr. (Furie did not respond to an interview request from The Daily Beast.)

Like all great art, Pepe was open to endless interpretation, but at the end of the day, he meant whatever you wanted him to mean. All in good fun, teens made Batman Pepe, Supermarket Checkout Girl Pepe, Borat Pepe, Keith Haring Pepe, and carved Pepe pumpkins.

But he also embodied existential angst. Pepe, the grimiest but most versatile meme of all, was both hero and antiheroa symbol fit for all of lifes ups and downs and the full spectrum of human emotions, as they played out online.

On social media, Pepe became inescapable. Katy Perry tweeted a crying Pepe with the caption Australian jet lag got me like, racking up over 10,000 retweets. Nicki Minaj posted a twerking Pepe on Instagram with the caption Me on Instagram for the next few weeks trying to get my followers back up, which 282,000 users liked.

And then, recently, things took a turn: Pepe became socially unacceptable.

Turns out that was by design.

@JaredTSwift is an anonymous white nationalist who claims to be 19 years old and in school someplace on the West Coast. He told me there is an actual campaign to reclaim Pepe from normies.

Normies are basicsagreeable, mainstream members of society who have no knowingly abhorrent political views or unsavory hobbies. They are Katy Perry, and when they latch onto a meme, the meme dies the way your favorite band dies when it sells out and licenses a song to Chevrolet. When mainstream culture gets in on the joke, in other words, the joke is ruined forever.

The campaign to reclaim Pepe from normies was an effort to prevent this sort of death, but it also had the effect of desensitizing swaths of the Internet to racist, but mostly anti-Semitic, ideas supported by the so-called alt-right movement.

It began in late 2015 on /r9k/, a controversial 4chan board where, as on any message board, it can be difficult to discern how serious commenters are being or if theyre just fucking around entirely. Nevertheless, /r9k/ has been tied to Elliot Rodgerthe UC Santa Barbara shooter who killed six people in 2014who found fans there, and GamerGate. There, Pepe transformed from harmless cartoon to big green monster.

We basically mixed Pepe in with Nazi propaganda, etc. We built that association, @JaredTSwift said.

He sent me a rare Pepe, an ironic categorization for certain versions of the meme: Pepe, his eyes red and irises swastika-shaped, against a trippy rainbow backdrop. Do with it what you will, he said.

Building the Trump association came next, after which @JaredTSwift said the images got crossover appeal. They began to move from 4chan to Twitter, which is when journalists were exposed to it via Trump memes.

On Jan. 7, Cheri Jacobus, a Republican consultant and pundit who is suing Trump for defamation and has been harassed by Trump supporters, tweeted, The green frog symbol is what white supremacists use in their propaganda. U dont want to go there.

#FrogTwitter considered Jacobus, the first prominent person to be duped, its first scalp and inundated her with ever more Pepe images and Trump memes, some of which were violent and sexually explicit.

In one, a blond woman is decapitated before Pepe has intercourse with her headless body. In another, Jacobuss face is photoshopped onto a topless woman kneeling before Trump, who is himself photoshopped to wear a Nazi uniform.

When they adapt Pepe the green frog and turn it into an anti-Semite, staring into the screen with the World Trade Center behind it, is that cute or funny? she asked when reached by phone Wednesday.

Does that make it OK? I dont know, she said. Violent and disturbing images are violent and disturbing images regardless of what their stated reasons are.

Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at National Review, a conservative publication opposed to Trumps candidacy, asked Twitter on Jan. 30, Does anyone know what that green face is that alt and cuck people put in their avatars and their other images?

@TopKanker replied with an image of Pepe dressed as a Nazi soldier and holding a Star of David.

On May 16, Ben White, a reporter for Politico, tweeted a drawing of Pepe and asked, What/who is this character and why do I see it associated with Trumpsters/Alt-Right types all the time?

#FrogTwitter descended on Whites mentions, with predictable results. @DonaldjBismarck, a self-described Nationalist, replied with a meme of Hillary Clinton, squinting at a computer screen and asking, WHO THE HELL IS PEPE?

Turns out asking about Pepe was a bad idea, White tweeted, in conclusion.

But Pepes twisted transformation wouldnt be complete until a few hours after Whites foray down the froghole, when Margarita Noriega, an executive editor at Newsweek, tweeted a Pepe at Marco Rubio.

Benny Polatseck, who runs the public relations firm Colossal PR, accused Noriega of employing an image used by racists to make fun of latinos. Noriega deleted the Pepe.

Most memes are ephemeral by nature, but Pepe is not, @JaredTSwift told me. Hes a reflection of our souls, to most of us. Its disgusting to see people (normies, if you will) use him so trivially. He belongs to us. And well make him toxic if we have to.

@JaredTSwift said some of the support for Trump was in jest, but for most of his cohorts, its sincere. He even claimed to have voted for Trump in the primary himself, wherever it is he lives, and said hed vote for him in the general, too.

In a sense, weve managed to push white nationalism into a very mainstream position, he said. Trumps online support has been crucial to his success, I believe, and the fact is that his biggest and most devoted online supporters are white nationalists. Now, weve pushed the Overton window. People have adopted our rhetoric, sometimes without even realizing it. Were setting up for a massive cultural shift.

Another anonymous white nationalist, @PaulTown_, claimed to be in my late 20s, but declined to say where he exists geographically, other than to confirm that, every few months, he meets the members of his community in New York City. He estimated the broad #FrogTwitter movement to consist of about 30 people but said 10 core members helped plot it out over drinks in late 2015, before taking to /r9k/.

We all do some weightlifting, so we met through friends involved in that scene, he said. Turning Pepe into a white nationalist icon was one of our original goals, although weve had our hands in many other things.

One of those things has been helping to turn Taylor Swift into an Aryan goddess. When several publications (Broadly, Slate, and The Washington Post) this week reported on the alt-rights fixation on the pop star, #FrogTwitter was somewhat triumphant. I never thought that would work, @JaredTSwift said, but they finally noticed.

@PaulTown_ characterized Pepe as an experiment the group used as a test.

As you can see, he said, it went better than we could ever have imagined.

The rest is here:

How Pepe the Frog Became a Nazi Trump Supporter and Alt ...

AFLW star Tayla Harris and the kick that ignited the trolls – then punted them to the sidelines – The Age

Normal text sizeLarger text sizeVery large text size

Tayla Harris greets me in her lounge room, but also in my kitchen. Which is to say that we meet each other for the first time via screens. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a single tight ponytail, and she wears a bright yellow hoodie with the words KINDNESS NOW emblazoned across the chest.

And she is lovely. Unhurried but attentive, without airs or affectation, and her smile on my iPad is borderline beatific. Seemingly all her teeth are involved. Youll have to excuse me, she says, wolfing down a spoonful of risotto. Im eating dinner.

Shes definitely excused Im grateful for the glimpse of her day. The craft of profile writing, you see, hinges perilously on access on scooping up colour and movement in the moments between moments, in looks and gestures and interactions. It means hanging around and writing it all down, and until the coronavirus pandemic kicked in, I was going to hang around Tayla Kate Harris as long as possible, to see what life is like when youre only 23 yet one of the most noteworthy athletes in Australia.

I was going to talk my way into a pre-game team meeting with the Carlton Football Club, which until the 2020 AFLW season was cancelled after round six was tipped to challenge for a premiership, with Harris as their dominant and high-flying centre half-forward.

She is an A-type athlete, says journalist Samantha Lane. Shes clinical but an animal. And shes ravenous always wanting to improve. Her talent and potential remind some of a young Lance Franklin, who can go on to be king, queen, lord, lordessWhatever she wants.

Id have studied that from the boundary line, then hopefully tagged along with her to the Team Ellis Gym in Melbournes outer suburbs, where Harris trained to become the reigning Australian female middleweight boxing champion last year and, a few months ago, added the super welterweight champions belt.

Its where she hits the heavy bag and learns life lessons, too, from her favourite Mike Tyson maxim Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth to the mantra of her trainer, Faris Chevalier, which rings true beyond the ring: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Speaking of discomfort, I would have documented one of the many professional chores born of her burgeoning personal brand perhaps a photo shoot or marketing meeting to see how she wears her fame. Because make no mistake, Tayla Harris is famous. Eighteen months ago, she flew to Oregon to meet the executive team at Nike HQ, and became one of a handful of female athletes in its global Rallying Cry campaign. (Tagline: Make the world listen.)

Fighting against Sarah Dwyer. Harris became the reigning Australian female middleweight boxing champion last year and, a few months ago, added the super welterweight champions belt. Credit:Getty Images

In the BBCs recent annual global list of 100 inspiring and influential women, Harris was the only Australian. Player agent Alex Saundry represents some of the best talent in the AFLW, but the press requests she gets for Tay dwarf all others. Sometimes I have to try to remind her and myself that shes 23 just so she doesnt lose that. So she enjoys this ride, says Saundry. But yeah, Tay is the biggest name in the game.

Id have watched people orbit her star at public events, whether mingling with school kids or glad-handing corporates. Thats part of what she was doing at the start of 2020, as an ambassador for Our Watch, promoting the prevention of violence against women and children, both physical and psychological.

She knows the topic well, of course, after a photo of her kicking a footy 13 months ago drew sexist and sexually violent abuse online.

Patty Kinnersly, a Carlton board member and CEO of Our Watch, says the defiance and eloquence of Harris in that moment sparked a howl of emotion not unlike when family violence campaigner Rosie Batty first spoke after the killing of her young son in 2014.

There are things that happen in history, and capture the community in a way that we say, Thats not okay. Tayla became the voice of a movement.


That voice, though, is subject to the staggers and silences of the fallible video conferencing platform were using to chat. We talk four times at the start of April, and each time shes only just finished working out. One day its lifting borrowed barbells, or thrashing around on something called an assault cycle, set up in the corner of the lounge room next to her red leather couch.

Another time, the online anthropomorphic torture session known as Zuu, with exercise names such as lizard and gorilla. Today, its conditioning: hill-climbs and 40-second sprint efforts.

Awful. Throw-up kind of awful, she emphasises. Harris was late to our chat because of her running session, and her lightly freckled face is still flushed from exertion. I didnt think Id need to shower but I was just so disgusting I had to. I wore my Costanza T-shirt for you! (We had chatted once about Seinfeld both big fans so Harris donned a long-sleever with George on the front and Cant stand ya on the back, in my honour.)

The one thing fighting is definitely not about for me is aggression. Im better when Im calm and calculated.

Shes remarkably upbeat in isolation, which I put down to endorphins. I dont just train to compete. I actually enjoy training, which makes it that much better, she confirms. I have no idea when Im going to play footy again, or box again, or do anything really, but thats okay. If it takes a long time, Ill just continue to get ready.

Footy for Harris and likely boxing, too, wont be back until 2021, so this star interrupted is making the most of social distancing. Shes eating the greens she hates, because she knows she has to. Shes drowning all other food in tomato sauce, because she wants to. Shes drinking her milk and watching her Love Island and walking her dog a border collie named Beans around her neighbourhood in suburban Strathmore, north-west of Melbourne, where she lives with her partner, Collingwoods attacking midfielder Sarah Dargan.

Theres parks all around, and local shops down the road, she says. Its a lot like where I grew up.

Harris walking her dog, Beans, around her neighbourhood. Credit:Courtesy of Lisa Harris

Lets go to where she grew up, in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Dad Warren was a marine engineer with an enviable toolshed, and so little Tay grew up building chook pens and beehives, skateboards and jump ramps.

She had perfect timing and balance, says Warren, who was once asked to train with Carlton and regrets turning the opportunity down. I used to hold her by one arm in the supermarket and shed swing around me like an orang-utan, swiping stuff from the shelves.

She was five when she played her first game of footy, with her only sibling, big brother Jack, then seven. Jacks team was short a player, so Tay filled in and kicked six goals. She continued through junior footy with the Aspley Hornets, the only girl in a boys league, and at first wondered why they didnt try harder to tackle her.

Then she heard their parents on the sidelines. Dont touch her, they sneered. Youll get into trouble! Other times it was the opposite, the confusion of the boys bringing out their worst. Some just wanted to smash me more, she says, shrugging. Which I preferred, to be honest.

She was fearless, and not just on the field, freely driving a water-skiing boat at over 100 kilometres an hour when only nine. At 12, she was rag-dolled by a bigger opponent and began boxing lessons at the local Police-Citizens Youth Club. Trained by an ex-trawlerman with an eye patch, she revelled in the discipline. Still does.

The one thing fighting is definitely not about for me is aggression. Im better when Im calm and calculated, focusing on the way your hands sit in the gloves, or the angle of your feet for a punch. Boxing is not what it seems. And Im not what I seem.

Growing up playing junior football in Queensland with the Aspley Hornets, Harris was the only girl playing in a boys league. While many opponents wouldnt go near her, some just wanted to smash me more, she says, which I preferred. Credit:Courtesy of Lisa Harris

Her mum, Lisa, an insurance claims manager, says people mistakenly see her daughter as cocksure and tough. Deep down she is really soft, she says. Deep down she just wants to make sure she does the right thing by everyone. Lisa remembers how her little blonde poppet used to sprint down the hallway and leap to touch the ceiling light. Every morning at school drop-off, Mum would say the same thing to her from behind the wheel: Bye, have a good day, be kind!


When people lack compassion or respect, Harris finds it baffling. Bullying at school just blew my mind, she says, throwing up her hands. How can someone be mean to someone else? I struggled to understand it, so school was a bit of a strange time.

Harris felt different as a young girl, wearing her brothers hand-me-downs, getting sweaty and stinky playing basketball at lunchtime. But feeling out of place isnt necessarily a bad thing I didnt feel unwanted, she clarifies. Yet I always felt like at footy at a game, or training, or at the club I was in my element. I got an extreme high from that, whereas at school I probably struggled.

She excelled at womens football at the perfect time, joining nascent interstate competitions and playing in early televised exhibition games as a teenager, before becoming a foundation AFLW player in 2017.

Shes since played in two losing grand finals (2017 and 2019) and been All Australian twice (2017 and 2018). She knows the competition intimately and offers opinions freely.

The pay gap an average AFLW salary of around $17,000 versus an average AFL salary of more than $363,000 doesnt stick in her craw, either.

One of the major issues for AFLW players and commentators is the short length of the season (eight weeks plus finals), but Harris breaks with the majority.

If the competition suddenly went from eight games to 14 games, with the minimal preseason weve got, the injuries would be astronomical, she believes. Its a very interesting push, to ask for that season length so soon, when were not ready physiologically.

The pay gap an average AFLW salary of around $17,000 versus an average AFL salary of more than $363,000 doesnt stick in her craw, either. If we were training the exact same amount of hours as men, required to eat as were told, have skinfolds at a certain standard, play two or three times as many games games that are twice as long and had all of these boundaries set, then sure. But we dont. If were asked to do more as the league grows, we should get paid more, and I think we will.


Put simply, Harris has faith in those who run the league, including AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and AFLW chief Nicole Livingstone, and takes them at their word when they say the league will resume post-pandemic with all 14 AFLW teams intact. She doesnt care what old-mate misogynistic sexist arsehole thinks, nor does she truck with the growing impatience of fervent AFLW boosters.

These things dont happen in five seconds. Our product is four years old. The mens product is more than 150 years old, she says.

Were the baby, just crawling. Its exciting what could come but it wont be coming for a long time. I think theres a bit more patience needed in this conversation.

Flash back now to Sunday March 17, 2019, at the Whitten Oval in Melbournes inner west. Its the last round of season and a stunning autumn day. Harris chats on the field with AFL chief photographer Michael Willson, who takes a happy snap of her with her parents.

The game begins, and within a minute Harris plucks a mark. Willson aims his Canon 1DX Mark II and snaps a sequence: The frame I chose where shes at her highest point is just an elite, magnificent athlete in full flight, with that spectacular leg extension and elevation. He files the pic, and posts it on his social media accounts with a caption: You kick like a girl.

This photo, aka the kick, sparked a deluge of online abuse but Harris turned it into a teachable moment. Credit:Getty Images

Harris first saw the photo not long after the game, around 6pm, online. In her book, More than a Kick: Footy, the Photo and Me, released next week, she notes: A kick is such an intense moment. So much focus and concentration. Theres something almost poetic about it, all that hope poured into an action. Its like were all in it togetherWill she? Wont she?

She was also tagged in a Channel 7 Facebook post by friends Nice shot Tay and found her way to the comments section. They were foul. Initially, out of interest, I kept reading, and I was like, This isnt right, she says, scratching her head. I wasnt emotional, but in my mind I was just thinking, This isnt what people should be allowed to say.

The worst? Someone had doctored the photo to make it look as though she wasnt wearing anything below her jumper, going so far as to paste a vulva onto the image. That photoshopped picture was then cropped twice more, becoming a twisted triptych of a naked groin. Harris sat dumbstruck. That particular photo had hundreds of likes, she says, shaking her head. And thats when I was like, Thats fed.

In response, she posted the original photo to her own accounts. On Twitter: Heres a picture of me at workthink about this before your derogatory comments, animals. And on Instagram: My hamstring is okay but derogatory and sexist comments arent.

Harris was far from alone at this time. Messages of support and friend requests and calls and emails and tweets and posts popped up by the thousand.

The backlash was vicious. Most mainstream stories then, and now, refer to the material posted as vile language and sexist abuse, but that doesnt convey the depth of misogyny on show. It isnt hard to find, incidentally. Live forums still exist from that time, in which countless comments are made by anonymous posters, perhaps with a photo of the paedophile Rolf Harris as their avatar, or maybe Pepe the Frog a cartoon avatar of the alt-right movement.

Such threads begin with one bruised male ego venting about the attention lavished on a strong young woman, and the poison drips down the screen. You feel it in the guts. The following is a small sample, not even the most egregious:

OMG if she thinks that is sexual assault then maybe she should be charged with public nudity for exposing herself in the first place.Unknown female gets attention, then demands more.This broad needs help. I wouldnt go out of my way to f that.Spreading your legs a lot isnt kicking hard.Sticks n Stones can break bones, And Words can also Penetrate me...F she has a good chassis.I can smell her c...Women are so retarded.

Harris was far from alone at this time. Messages of support and friend requests and calls and emails and tweets and posts popped up by the thousand. She estimates the attention she received that week was 90 per cent positive, 10 per cent pathetic. Sarah Dargan sits on Taylas lap during one Zoom meeting and recalls the outpouring.


I couldnt erase the comments all I could do was make sure Tayla was okay, Dargan says. But people just started backing Tay and standing up. It turned good so suddenly. (In this bright moment my wife appears over my shoulder in our lounge room, and Harris pipes up: Hi there! she waves. I love these new age business meetings!)

Harris quickly owned the moment. She launched the #taylakickchallenge, for instance, offering a free pair of footy boots for the best photo mimicking her distinctive kicking action. She sought to confirm the gendered basis of the attacks, so Patty Kinnersly talked her through it: Such abuse is meant to maintain what some men feel is their right to a position of power, says Kinnersly. Their view that we shouldnt be normalising, promoting and celebrating women in public life.

She also made it clear that Harris had no responsibility whatsoever to do or say anything. Because when you go out and proud on these things, the abuse doesnt stop, says Kinnersly, it triples.

But remember, Harris is fearless. And so, on the Tuesday after the Sunday, wearing a daggy old hoodie, she did a 6am radio interview hosted by her coach, former Hawthorn player Daniel Harford.

Her ability to compartmentalise what was thrown at her, and give this composed message right between the eyes it was remarkable, says Harford. When I was 21 theres no way I would have been able to deal with what she did, with all the humility and class and polish that she showed.

She turned it into a teachable moment. Channel 7 had removed the photo from its Facebook page because of the graphic attacks, but quickly reinstated the image with an apology, in response to the message that Harris was sharing, and still shares. If organisations can employ social media editors and content producers, she says, they need to employ people to monitor material, too.

If there was graphic vile graffiti on the front of your workplace, you would remove it, straightaway. You wouldnt be okay with leaving it there, she explains. They cant just think, This is the way it is. They need to do better.

She changed things in footy, too. Carltons first instinct was suppression; a club memo advised no one to comment. I disagreed, says Harris. This was my moment. I felt strongly about using it to say something important. So she organised a press conference at the clubs Ikon Park headquarters, and football united behind her.

People printed T-shirts with the photo on the front, or a silhouette of the kick, or the words, YES TO GOALS, NO TO TROLLS. Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the attackers cowardly grubs. Interview requests came from Europe and the United States, from BBC news and The New York Times. She went global.

Harris with Carlton CEO Cain Liddle at a press conference she organised to discuss online abuse. Credit:Getty Images

It reminded me of the way Adam Goodes spoke the day after he was racially vilified by that young girl, says journalist Samantha Lane. I just felt happy, and proud. Ill declare that I like her, that I want her to excel and the AFL womens league to become strong and more followed, but I also want it to have the kind of substance that she showed in that moment. She elevated the conversation above the sports pages.

The only hesitation in her fight was the impact it might have on others like her mum who struggles to forget one particular threat: I know where you live, and Im going to come and bleep-bleep-bleep you I was horrified, Lisa says, pausing. How dare you? How dare you speak about my baby that way?

That week, a club security guard nicknamed Meatball walked Harris between her car and the club rooms. And then, at the preliminary final that weekend, a security detail was assigned to her parents as well. Someone had threatened to come to the game and shoot her on the field, says her dad, a massive man who practises Thai boxing.

Instead of watching his daughter play, Warren spent the game scanning the crowd. I can tell you, if I saw anything strange, I would have been there quicker than any security guard. And the suspicious person? They wouldnt have survived the experience.

I hate the thought of a young girl looking at my page and thinking, I want to be like her, but if Im like her then Ill get comments like that. I wouldnt want anything to divert her path.

Harris herself maintains that even the worst of it is water off a ducks back, but Warren guesses that some of it gets through. He wonders if his girl is pulling the same trick she did in junior footy, when bigger boys would hit her hard to prove a point. Always just brushed it off. Never let them know she was hurt.

She tells me an anecdote, from the end of that tumultuous week, and her tone is casual. But I find it profoundly sad. Its about protecting herself online, by muting and blocking, deleting and reporting, or refraining from tagging her location. The only thing that I changed was that I started filtering out particular words, from my comments, she says, holding up her mobile. I hate the thought of a young girl looking at my page and thinking, I want to be like her, but if Im like her then Ill get comments like that. I wouldnt want anything to divert her path.

And so this star of the game, still only 21 at the time, sat at home with iPhone in hand, entering the words she expects to be lobbed at her by hidden strangers: F. Rape. Cock. Bitch. Slut. Whore. C.

Harris poses with her statue in Melbourne's Federation Square. She knew the abuse would continue after it was unveiled. Credit:AAP

When this story is printed, Tayla Harris knows she will be abused again. She has a sense for such things. She knew it in September last year, when a bronze sculpture of the kick by artist Terrance Plowright was unveiled in Melbournes Federation Square. Young, female and outspoken moulded in metal and put on a pedestal? Yeah, she knew.

If the statue was just for my footy, of course I wouldnt deserve it, she says, but its not about me. You could do the statue without a head for all I care. Its about a moment.

And that moment is still with us. Ask any female journalist or politician or public figure about the abuse they receive online. Only last month, the Herald Sun decided to disallow comments on all AFLW stories, acknowledging that even the most innocuous piece could draw execrable remarks by the dozen.

Harris prefers another way, tweeting that she would give up her AFLW salary to employ someone to monitor social media. Ignoring these comments is not a solution, she wrote. Fight back.

Julie Inman Grant, Australias eSafety commissioner, is the person to pick that fight. Flying back from the US when the drama unfolded, she recalls landing in Sydney to a missed call from the Prime Minister. Thats not normal, she points out. When I called back, he was really distressed about what was happening to Tayla Harris. He saw it as absolutely reprehensible, and wanted to know what we were doing.

To me, this is just the internet surfacing the reality and sad underbelly of misogyny on the human condition.

For one, the government has added a new adult cyber abuse scheme to its proposed Online Safety Act, giving Inman Grants office stronger take-down powers, with stiffer civil penalties for non-compliance. Shes also met with Facebook, Google and Twitter about pushing platforms to make user protections simpler, to act on third-party bystander reports of abuse, and to invest in artificial intelligence to detect and remove abusive content.

A new Women Influencing Tech Spaces program is helping females with social media self-defence training, and discussions are underway with the AFL about a joint effort to counter online vilification. Employing more moderators is great, Inman Grant says, but youre still playing a game of whack-a-mole, and not facing the core issue, which is societal.

To me, this is just the internet surfacing the reality and sad underbelly of misogyny on the human condition. Theres a longer-term cultural and behavioural issue we need to tackle.

Thats why Harris wrote her book. For the past year, people have been asking her for advice. More than a Kick is aimed at young readers, and deals with everything from sarcastic comments and fake friends to teenage anxiety about which pictures to post. There are tips on how to disagree politely, and how to stay safe.

Of course, this crusade is only part of her brand, and in some ways its seriousness misrepresents her personality. The Harris I meet is funny and silly, spontaneous and carefree, a young woman who books flights without a return leg and freely admits she barely reads books. Shes Generation Z, with #nofilter.

She is who she is. Shes totally Insta, says Sam Lane. But shes also really strategic. I met her when she was 20 years old, and even then she was seeing herself on a global stage.

Her brand is building. Nike sponsors her boots and runners. Dandenong Hyundai keeps her in a fresh set of wheels. She does junior coaching with Carltons Next Generation Academy, and has financial advisers to manage investment properties in Brisbane and Melbourne, and diversify her share portfolio. A deal with Colgate was signed this month, and the services group MC Labour has the naming rights to her boxing shorts (which she designed, with sequins and tassels).

She recently trademarked her boxing logo TH with a lightning bolt in the centre and after lengthy negotiations Harris has permission to use the kick photo (owned by the AFL) to sell T-shirts with its silhouette online. Could that distinctive outline become her version of the iconic Michael Jordan Jumpman logo for an apparel range? Thats in conversation, says Saundry, her manager. Weve just gotta find a way to make something work.

Harris tackles Justine Mules of the Adelaide Crows during the Round 4 AFLW match at Richmond Oval in Adelaide, March 1, 2020. Credit:AAP

Harris has an acting agent, too, and takes classes and workshops, knowing she will be called on for public speaking, and perhaps for roles in sports media. She looks up to the commercial success of mixed martial arts fighter and celebrity Rhonda Rousey, and lives by one of the brawlers aspirational aphorisms: If you cant dream big, ridiculous dreams, whats the point of dreaming at all?

Hopefully, amid all of this image curation, she remains unvarnished. Harris is at that age when star athletes often begin to sense their worth and clam up, offering only rare peeks into their authenticity.

Current evidence is thankfully to the contrary. In a post-match interview this season, an AFLW opponent said that if you nullify Harris in the air, shes useless on the ground. Harris played to the theatre of the moment on Instagram, posting a photo of an apex predator with a glowing golden mane and these words: A lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep.

In isolation, shes also decided to take up a YouTube career, filming and editing a library of entertaining videos in which she chats about her life, or takes people through a workout. I had wanted to ask her about her tattoos, and her catalogue of ink is one of the first topics addressed on camera.

Its hard to know where Harris will end up. She certainly has no grand plan. She wont even lock herself into footy.

Messages of love from her mum and dad on the inside of either wrist. The heads of the four main characters in Seinfeld Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine on a forearm, even though she wasnt born until 1997, eight years after the show premiered in 1989. Fortune favours the brave on the inside of her right elbow. The Buddhist symbol for enlightenment on her left thumb.

Lines, triangles, dots, she says. I just like shapes. On one bum cheek, a picture of Judge Judy and the words Only Judy can judge me. And on the other cheek? A quote from Kris Jenner, offered to Kim Kardashian when she was doing a nude photo shoot: Youre doing amazing sweetie.

She pulls down her bottom lip, and on the skin inside is a tattoo she got at Bondi Beach, one word in capital letters: STRAYA. When Harris interlocks her fingers, the middle knuckles line up to spell OXYMORON.

View post:

AFLW star Tayla Harris and the kick that ignited the trolls - then punted them to the sidelines - The Age

10 ways to spot online misinformation – The Conversation US

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where peoples limited attention spans push them to share items before even reading them in part because people react emotionally, not logically, to information they come across. Thats especially true when the topic confirms what a person already believes.

Its tempting to blame bots and trolls for these problems. But really its our own fault for sharing so widely. Research has confirmed that lies spread faster than truth mainly because lies are not bound to the same rules as truth.

As a psychological scientist who studies propaganda, here is what I tell my friends, students and colleagues about what to watch out for. That way, they can protect themselves and each other from lies, half-truths and misleading spins on current events.

If something you see online causes intense feelings especially if that emotion is outrage that should be a red flag not to share it, at least not right away. Chances are it was intended to short-circuit your critical thinking by playing on your emotions. Dont fall for it.

Instead, take a breath.

The story will still be there after you verify it. If it turns out to be real, and you still want to share it, you may also want to consider the fire you may be contributing to. Do you need to fan the flames?

During these unprecedented times we have to be careful about not contributing to emotional contagions. Ultimately, you are not in charge of alerting the public to breaking news, and youre not in any race to share things before other people do.

A new tactic being adopted by misinformation warriors is to post feel-good stories that people will want to share. Those pieces may be true or may have as much truth as urban legends. But if lots of people share those posts, it lends legitimacy and credibility to the fake source accounts that originally post the items. Then those accounts are well positioned to share more malicious messages when they judge the time is right.

These same agents use other feel-good ploys as well, including attempts to play on your vanity or inflated self-image. Youve probably seen posts saying Only 1% of people are brave enough to share this or take this test to see if you are a genius. Those arent benign clickbait theyre often helping a fraudulent source get shares, build an audience, or in the case of those personality quizzes or intelligence tests they are trying to get access to your social media profile.

If you encounter a piece like this, if you cant avoid clicking then just enjoy the good feeling it gives you and move on. Share your own stories rather than those of others.

What you read may make some extraordinary claim like the pope endorsing a U.S. presidential candidate when he has never endorsed a candidate before. Astronomer and author Carl Sagan advocated for the response you should have to such claims: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is a longstanding philosophical premise. Consider whether the claim youre seeing was supported by any evidence at all and then check that the quality of that evidence out.

Also, remember that a quirk of human psychology means that people only need to hear something three times before the brain starts to think its true even if its false.

If youre reading something that matches so well with what you had already thought, you might be inclined to say Yep, thats true and share it widely.

Meanwhile, differing perspectives get ignored.

We are strongly motivated to confirm what we already believe and avoid unpleasant feelings associated with challenges to our beliefs especially strongly held beliefs.

It is important to identify and acknowledge your biases, and take care to be extra critical of articles you agree with. Try seeking to prove them false rather than looking for confirmation theyre true. Be on the lookout because the algorithms are still set up to show you things they think you will like. Dont be easy prey. Check out other perspectives.

Posts that are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors are prime suspects for inaccuracies. If the person who wrote it couldnt be bothered to spell-check it, they likely didnt fact-check it either. In fact, they may be using those errors to get your attention.

Similarly, a post using multiple fonts could unintentionally reveal that it had material added to the original or be trying to deliberately catch your eye. (Yes, the errors in the heading for this tip were intentional.)

Memes are usually one or more images or short videos, often with text overlaid, that quickly convey a single idea.

While we may all enjoy a good laugh with a new Ermahgerd meme, memes particularly those sowing political discord have actually been identified as one of the emerging mediums for propaganda. In recent years, the practice of using memes to incite divisiveness has rapidly escalated, and extremist groups are using them with increasing effectiveness.

For example, white supremacist groups have commandeered the Pepe the frog meme, a cartoonish image that may attract younger audiences.

Their origins as benign, humorous images about grumpy cats, cats who want cheeseburgers or calls to keep calm and carry on have led our brains to classify memes as enjoyable or, at worse, harmless. Our guards are down. Plus their short nature further subverts critical thinking. Stay alert.

Was the post from an unreliable media outlet? The Media Bias/Fact Check website is one place to look to find out whether a particular news source has a partisan bias. You can also assess the source yourself. Use research-based criteria to judge the quality and balance of the evidence presented. For instance, if an article expresses an opinion, it may present facts slanted in a way favorable to that opinion, rather than fairly presenting all the evidence and drawing a conclusion.

If you find that youre looking at a suspect site, but the specific article seems accurate, my strong suggestion is to find another credible source for the same information, and share that link instead. When you share something, social media and search-engine algorithms count your sharing as a vote for the overall sites credibility. So dont help misinformation sites take advantage of your reputation as a cautious and careful sharer of reliable information.

It may be surprising, but politicians and other public figures dont always tell the truth. It may be accurate that a particular person said a particular sentence, but that doesnt mean the sentence is correct. You can double-check the alleged fact, of course, but you can also see how truthful particular people are.

If youre hearing information from a friend, of course, theres no website. Youll have to rely on old-fashioned critical thinking to evaluate what she says. Is she credible? Does she even have sources? If so, how reliable are those sources? If evaluating the message is too much work, maybe just stick with the like button and skip the share.

If you find something that seems compelling and true, check out what nonpartisan sources say on the subject. For a view of media outlets perspectives, take a look at the Media Bias Chart.

Finding no mention of the topic in nonpartisan media may suggest the statement or anecdote is just a talking point for one side or the other. At minimum, ask yourself why the source chose to write or share that piece. Was it an effort to report and explain things as they were happening, or an attempt to influence your thinking or actions or your vote?

There are a lot of reputable fact-checking organizations, like Snopes and FactCheck. There is even a dedicated meme-checking site. It doesnt take long to click over to one of those sites and take a look.

But it can take a very long time to undo the harm of sharing misinformation, which can reduce peoples ability to trust evidence and their fellow humans.

To protect yourself and those in your social and professional networks be vigilant. Dont share anything unless youre sure its true. Misinformation warriors are trying to divide American society. Dont help them. Share wisely.

[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for our newsletter.]

Read this article:

10 ways to spot online misinformation - The Conversation US

SXSW Review: ‘Feels Good Man’ documents the rise of Pepe the Frog – Vanyaland

Editors Note: The 2020 SXSW Film Festival was canceled a few weeks ago due to concerns over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This was the right choice, but it has deeply hurt both the financials of the people of Austin who depend on the festival for their livelihood and the filmmakers who would have had their work showcased there. Were doing our part: To the best of our ability, were still covering films that would have played the festival, and all this week, well be bringing you reviews of smaller films that you should be on the lookout for. We ask that you consider doing yours, and donating to one of these charities if you have the means.


Its a risky thing to make a movie about a meme, and its even riskier to assume that itll remain relevant for the time itll take you to complete filming. Most will be lost to the vast ocean and tempestuous tides of internet culture, but there are a few who have held on throughout the sea-changes. Chief amongst them is Pepe the Frog, whose origins in alternative comics at the start of the modern internet era led the cartoon frog to become one of the internets most recognizable images. But this dissemination had a darker side, and its one that youre probably familiar with: By the end of 2016, Pepe had become synonymous with the alt-right and a bunch of other malicious internet actors, and Arthur Jones compelling doc Feels Good Man tries to explore how and why this happened, as well as the fallout that this development had on the memes creator.

Pepe began his life as a character in Matt Furies Boys Club, an alt-comix tale of a group of chill cartoon dudes and their post-college bong-and-pizza slackerdom, and because Furie put his work up on MySpace, it eventually caught on with people on the internet at large. Furies a fascinating figure: hes a soft-spoken, introspective fellow who partied hard once upon a time but settled into some approximation of adult life over the course of his career as a cartoonist. A few talking heads acknowledge how Pepe seems to be his stand-in in the Boys Club comics, and Furies other projects, including his work as a childrens book author and illustrator, only serve to underline it: theyre full of frogs. Yet, he initially has a live-and-let-live response to how his creation is being used on the internet: its harmless fun, right? And, sure enough, it was: Pepe began helping people express complicated emotions in online spaces like 4chan, and Jones stacks his documentary with psychologists and theorists offering interesting explanations as to why.

But in the middle of the 10s, something changed: As all things in those spaces are wont to do, the mainstream culture picked up on Pepes usage in these spaces, and like most closed-off cultural groups when their shit goes mainstream, they reacted poorly. Really ugly and offensive images of the character began popping up online, attempting to throw normies off of the groups scent, and that approach only leads to mayhem. As Jones points out, at some point ironic hatred becomes indistinguishable from the real thing, and you suddenly have Pepe appearing on the Anti-Defamation Leagues list of hate speech symbols. Its at this point in which Furie decides to fight back against his creations misuses but when he also realizes that he cant put the toothpaste back into the tube, and the measures that hes taking might be too little, too late. Its also when Jones documentary gets truly fascinating as he starts pulling in some truly bizarre experts including an occultist magician, who highlights the black-magic energy that might have fueled the whole political enterprise and also when the film gets legitimately scary.

It was always going to be a tall order for Jones to try and put the whole sweep of fast-changing internet culture in a 90-minute documentary, but he does a surprisingly solid job at condensing large amounts of information down to their basic elements. It may be too broad for some, but theres a lot to learn here, and its presented in lovely fashion, chock-full of beautiful animation thats nearly ripped straight from Furies comics. Theres a part of me that wishes that Jones would have waited even longer to make this documentary, just to document the memes further mutations over the years. The ones we see here where Pepe becomes a bizarre symbol of internet commerce through the rare Pepes online or a late-stage wrestling-style face turn where the meme is adopted by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are fascinating, perhaps worthy of their own docs in the first place. But theyre ultimately addenda to Furies story, which, in its own way, feels mostly complete: He gave part of himself to the world, the world transformed it into something he didnt recognize anymore, and now hes doing his best to assert control over his creation and, more importantly, over his own identity to the world at large. It all adds up to this: Feels Good Man is one of the smartest docs made about the meme era yet, and its a genuinely fascinating watch.

View post:

SXSW Review: 'Feels Good Man' documents the rise of Pepe the Frog - Vanyaland

Meme of The Decade – The Banner Newspaper

By: Joseph Caruselle

A compilation of Pepes many reactions. Credit: Dank Meme Team

It is very rare and unique for something to become a cultural phenomenon. Of the many interesting elements that make up our modern society, one I feel should not be overlooked is the shared experience of memes.

With only an image and 15 words or less, we can share relatable experiences. When we share them, we do it with the people that matter most to us, like our friends and family.

That is why it is important for us to take a moment to appreciate these things that bring us closer together.

After much deliberation and dispute, the Meme of The Decade was voted on and approved by nearly 125,000 anonymous Reddit users. For those who are unfamiliar, Reddit is a popular internet forum made up of thousands of smaller communities, each dedicated to different hobbies or interests.

So, after 4 rounds of voting and nearly 2 months of heated debate, it was ultimately decided that Pepe the Frog was to be our Meme of The Decade.

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon frog created by the cartoonist Matt Furie for his comic Boys Club, and while some might recognize it as a symbol of hate used by alt-right groups, it is also a symbol of resistance according to Hong Kong protestors.

At the end of the day, Pepe the Frog is simply a cartoon that we assign meaning to according to who we are. These images travel far and wide because they are shared human experiences that know no bounds.

It is hard to understate the sheer number of different subreddits as they are called, that are each dedicated to different things like gardening, movie reviews, politics, relationship advice, scientific journals, music videos, and just about everything else.

For all intents and purposes, it is the one-stop-shop of the internet.

Of the many smaller communities there are meme communities. Still too many to count as they each break up into different types of memes.

To give you an example Ill share one of my favorites, dedicated to the Star Wars prequel movies only (Episode 1, 2, and 3).

Of course, it must be said that we are at war with our sister subreddit dedicated solely to the Star Wars sequels movies (Episode 7, 8, 9). Many of the memes that make up these subreddits are sometimes just fun jabs at each other.

Im sure many people might find this kind of thing to be gibberish, and with good reason. You must understand that these are the kinds of things that tie us together as a community. When you share a meme with a friend and they reply, Oh, I saw that! with a big smile on their face, it is both wondrous and infuriating.

But we love it just the same.

It is also worth mentioning that there is no official authority of memes, there is no meme police, and there are no meme laws.

It is very possible that you have never shared a Pepe meme or have only seen it in passing, but that doesnt matter, because we each have our own meme of the decade.

Reddits communities can be a closed loop at times, which is why I thought it important to end on this note.

Whatever memes you share with your loved ones, make sure to take an extra moment to appreciate all the times theyve really made you laugh, smile, or simply just blow air out of your nose.

They are a special part of our society and I think were lucky to be a part of it.

Like Loading...


See the article here:

Meme of The Decade - The Banner Newspaper

Civil war talk takes on a life of its own as far-right extremists coalesce around the Boogaloo – AlterNet

The myths and conspiracy theories that fuel the radical right often take on lives of their own: Think of how the QAnon phenomenon began as a handful of conspiracy theorists making groundless claims and predictions about a coming Storm that metastasized first into a wildly popular body of Patriot/militia conspiracism, and finally into a massive submovement operating within the framework of the Trump presidencywhile producing a growing record of lethal violence by its unhinged believers.

Something similar appears to be coalescing around the boogaloothe vision of members of the far right ofa coming civil war, which they claim is being forced upon themby liberals who want to take their guns away as the first step towardtheir incarceration and enslavement. In reality, of course, a number of sectors of the far right have ginned up this kind of rhetoric for decadesbut now, a systematic study of its spread through social media has found that it appears to be massing into a movement of its own.

The study, conducted by the independent Network Contagion Research Institute, explores, according to its subtitle, how domestic militants organize on memes to incite violent insurrection and terror against government and law enforcement. It focused on the boogaloo in large part due its increasing popularityparticularly as a hashtag (#Boogaloo or #Boogaloo2020)on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as the extreme and often callous expressions of violent intent that form the essence of the chatter.

In its initial forms, the civil war talk was generated in different sectors of the radical right in different ways. Among neo-Nazis, it generally has focused on a race wari.e., a genocidal conflict between whites and nonwhitesdating back to the 1980s and the classic white-supremacist blueprint, The Turner Diaries. This vein of rhetoric has produced a long record of lethal domestic terrorism, including the 1984 neo-Nazi criminal gang The Order; the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; and more recently, the 2011 attack in Norway that killed 87 people and the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand that killed 51.

Among the Patriot movement believers who form militias in resistance to the New World Order, most of the rhetoric has focused on using arms against law enforcement, particularly the federal kind, as well as the mythic blue-helmeted United Nations soldiers about to descend on them from black helicopters. In its more recent iterations among far-right Oath Keepers and III Percent militiamen, the boogaloo talk has mostly revolved around resistance to liberal gun-control legislation.

This reached its apotheosis in January when thousands of armed Patriots from around the United States descended on Richmond, Virginia, to protest imminent gun safetylegislation making its way through the states General Assembly. Before the rally, FBI agents arrested a trio of neo-Nazis who were preparing to open fire on law enforcement at the event.

However, one of the results of the broad emergence of popular boogaloo rhetoric has been a blurring of the lines between the anti-government extremists who foresee conflict with federal forces and the more extreme white supremacists who lust for a bloody conflict between the white and nonwhite races. While many of the latter also eagerly participate in the anti-government talk, many of the former appear to be warming up to the race-war talk.

The NCRI study found not only that the discussion of the boogaloo on social media had surged, but that discrete groups were coalescing around the discussion and creating the nascent forms of a movement. The boogaloo topic network produces a coherent, multi-component and detailed conspiracy to launch an inevitable, violent, sudden, and apocalyptic war across the homeland, it said, adding that the models created by researchers show that the meme acts as a meaningful vector to organize seditious sentiment at large.

The conspiracy, replete with suggestions to stockpile ammunition, may itself set the stage for massive real-world violence and sensitize enthusiasts to mobilize in mass for confrontations or charged political events. Furthermore, the memes emphasis on military language and culture poses a specific risk to military communities due to the similar thematic structure, fraternal organization, and reward incentives.

One of the boogaloo groups featured in the study, calling itself Patriot Wave, illustrated perfectly how the lines between militia Patriots and alt-right white nationalists were completely blurred and submerged in the larger project of fomenting a violent civil war. Its members wore alt-right Pepe the Frog patches with the title Boogaloo Boys, while others wore the skull balaclava generally associated with members of the fascist Atomwaffen Division.

The study also pointed to a particular area of concern: namely, the ability of these extremists to simply blend into existing power structures, including law enforcement and the military. One boogaloo enthusiast, Coast Guardsman Christopher Hasson, was arrested with a full arms cache and a plan to assassinate liberal political leaders. A Patriot Wave member is quoted in the study: Some of the guys we were with arent exactly out of the military yet, so they had to keep their faces covered.

The spread of the boogaloo organizing on social media has been facilitated with the use of hashtags #Boogaloo and #Boogaloo2020, which are then accompanied by associated hashtags such as #2A, #CivilWar2, and #2ndAmendment, as well as hashtags such as #BigIgloo, intended to elude filters.

This kind of informational conflictor what the study calls memetic warfarehas evolved, the study says, from mere lone-wolf threats to the threat of an entire meme-based insurgency.

The NCRI report was sent to members of Congress and the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice, among others. Paul Goldenberg, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, told NBC News Brandy Zadrozny that the report was a wake-up call.

When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police and public officials, we need to take their words seriously, said Goldenberg.

then let us make a small request. AlterNets journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. Were here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And were proud to say that weve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 yearslonger than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

Its through the generosity of our supporters that were able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone cant pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Here is the original post:

Civil war talk takes on a life of its own as far-right extremists coalesce around the Boogaloo - AlterNet

What is the ‘boogaloo’? How online calls for a violent uprising are hitting the mainstream – NBC News

An anti-government movement that advocates for a violent uprising targeting liberal political opponents and law enforcement has moved from the fringes of the internet into the mainstream and surged on social media in recent months, according to a group of researchers that tracks hate groups.

The movement, which says it wants a second Civil War organized around the term "boogaloo," includes groups on mainstream internet platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, as well as fringe websites including 4chan, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), an independent nonprofit of scientists and engineers that tracks and reports on misinformation and hate speech across social media.

While calls for organized and targeted violence in the form of a new Civil War have previously circulated among some hate groups, the emergence of the term "boogaloo" appeared to be a new and discrete movement. NCRI researchers who analyzed more than 100 million social media posts and comments found that through the use of memes inside jokes commonly in the form of images extremists have pushed anti-government and anti-law enforcement messages across social media platforms. They have also organized online communities with tens of thousands of members, some of whom have assembled at real-world events.

The report "represents a breakthrough case study in the capacity to identify cyber swarms and viral insurgencies in nearly real time as they are developing in plain sight," John Farmer, a former New Jersey attorney general who is director of the Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience at Rutgers University, wrote in the report's foreword.

The report comes as U.S. law enforcement officials and researchers at various levels have issued warnings about the growing threat posed by domestic extremists motivated by fringe ideologies and conspiracy theories. NCRI director Joel Finkelstein, a research scholar at the James Madison Program at Princeton University, said the report had been sent to members of Congress and the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, among others.

Paul Goldenberg, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, said the report was "a wake-up call."

"When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police and public officials, we need to take their words seriously," said Goldenberg, who is also CEO of the security consulting company Cardinal Point Strategies.

Byers Market Newsletter

Get breaking news and insider analysis on the rapidly changing world of media and technology right to your inbox.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

Goldenberg said the report had "gone viral" within law enforcement and intelligence communities since its limited release last week. People are reading it and distributing it "far and wide," he said.

The current boogaloo movement was first noticed by extremism researchers in 2019, when fringe groups from gun rights and militia movements to white supremacists began referring to an impending civil war using the word "boogaloo," a joking reference to "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," a 1984 sequel movie about breakdancing.

The term is used to describe an uprising against a seemingly tyrannical or left-wing government, often in response to a perceived threat of widespread gun confiscation. For many, the word "boogaloo" silly on its face is used jokingly or ironically, but for others, the boogaloo memes are shared alongside violent text and images, seemingly to inflame an eventual confrontation.

In the last three months, boogaloo-related conversation has grown rapidly, according to the researchers, who found that use of the term has increased nearly 50 percent on platforms like Reddit and Twitter over the last few months. Increased exposure, the researchers warn, carries the danger of indoctrination.

Boogaloo extremists have used social media to "strategize, share instructions for explosives and 3-D printed firearms, distribute illegal firearm modifications, and siphon users into encrypted messaging boards en mass," according to the NCRI report. The report also notes how the boogaloo concept has been monetized, through merchandise advertised through Facebook and Instagram ads, and marketed to current and former members of the military.

On Facebook and Instagram, the researchers pointed to several boogaloo-themed public groups and accounts with tens of thousands of members and followers.

A spokesperson for Facebook said in an emailed statement that the company monitored groups that called for violence.

"We've been studying trends around this and related terms on Facebook and Instagram," the spokesperson said. "We don't allow speech used to incite hate or violence, and will remove any content that violates our policies. We'll continue to monitor this across our platform."

Since NCRI generated the report last week, membership in several boogaloo groups on Facebook has nearly doubled, according to an NBC News analysis. Two of Facebook's most popular boogaloo groups, which boasted nearly 20,000 followers during the same period, are no longer available this week.

Much like the OK hand symbol co-opted by white nationalists who later denied the association, the ambiguity of the term "boogaloo" works to cloak extremist organizing in the open.

"Like a virus hiding from the immune system, the use of comical-meme language permits the network to organize violence secretly behind a mirage of inside jokes and plausible deniability," the report states.

The term "boogaloo" has also been seen in real-world activism. At the Virginia Citizens Defense League's annual Lobby Day in Richmond in January, a group of protesters who go by the name Patriot Wave wore Pepe the Frog patches emblazoned with "Boogaloo Boys." One man carried a sign that read, "I have a dream of a Boogaloo." The rally was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

NCRI was able to trace the origin of the use of the term "boogaloo" to 4chan's politics-focused message board, where racist and hateful memes often get their start. "Boogaloo" was often associated with apocalyptic and racist terms like "racewar" and "dotr," a white power fantasy that imagines a time when "race traitors" will be murdered.

The report tracked events when online chatter about an impending boogaloo spiked. The analysis found a peak during a November standoff in upstate New York between an Army veteran and police over a domestic dispute. The veteran, Alex Booth, chronicled the standoff on his pro-gun Instagram account, "Whiskey Warrior 556," claiming to followers that his guns were being confiscated. The incident made the boogaloo meme go viral and gained Booth over 100,000 followers.

The second boogaloo meme peak appeared around the House's impeachment of President Donald Trump, the report found.

Here is the original post:

What is the 'boogaloo'? How online calls for a violent uprising are hitting the mainstream - NBC News

The 1975s New Meme-Heavy Video Will Make You Feel 1,000 Years Old – Vulture

Matty Healy and the boys from the 1975 have returned with another single from their upcoming album, Notes on a Conditional Form, out on April 24. The Birthday Party, the third cut off the forthcoming project, takes us on a digital detox. In the music video, co-directed by Ben Ditto and Jon Emmony, an animated Healy relinquishes his phone and is outfitted in a white linen getup before entering an extremely online Garden of Eden replete with memes. Healy soon encounters a yogi incarnation of Pepe the Frog. Seemingly disturbed, he backs into a motley ensemble of internet characters, including the crying cat and anime icon Earth-chan. As Healy sings about chatting with a guy named Greg, a man races between trees, plastering posters reading Looking for Goth GF before a banner of our favorite Butthurt Dweller appears. Then we get a quick medley of Healy doing some Fortnite dances.

Healys journey continues up in the clouds, where he catches the eye of a distracted boyfriend and does a little shuffle with a distorted Shrek, a toothy rainbow teddy bear, the terrifying Momo sculpture, and the girl thats like ermahgerd.We even get a cameo from the coolest Danny Phantom character, certified e-girl Sam Manson. As the song comes to a close, the rest of the band appears, sans instruments, for a little jam session. Then all the memes join hands in a circle and Healy tenderly embraces a carbon copy of himself. Did you catch all that?

The rest is here:

The 1975s New Meme-Heavy Video Will Make You Feel 1,000 Years Old - Vulture

Pepe the Frog – adl.org

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon character that has become a popular Internet meme (often referred to as the "sad frog meme" by people unfamiliar with the name of the character). The character first appeared in 2005 in the on-line cartoon Boy's Club. In that appearance, the character also first used its catchphrase, "feels good, man."

The Pepe the Frog character did not originally have racist or anti-Semitic connotations. Internet users appropriated the character and turned him into a meme, placing the frog in a variety of circumstances and saying many different things. Many variations of the meme became rather esoteric, resulting in the phenomenon of so-called "rare Pepes."

The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted. However, it was inevitable that, as the meme proliferated in on-line venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which have many users who delight in creating racist memes and imagery, a subset of Pepe memes would come into existence that centered on racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted themes.

In recent years, with the growth of the "alt right" segment of the white supremacist movement, a segment that draws some of its support from some of the above-mentioned Internet sites, the number of "alt right" Pepe memes has grown, a tendency exacerbated by the controversial and contentious 2016 presidential election. Though Pepe memes have many defenders, the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing.

However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist. However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes.

In the fall of 2016, the ADL teamed with Pepe creator Matt Furie to form a #SavePepe campaign to reclaim the symbol from those who use it with hateful intentions.

More here:

Pepe the Frog - adl.org

Sundance: Feels Good Man charts a path of redemption for Pepe – TechCrunch

Can a meme be redeemed? Thats the central question in Arthur Jones Feels Good Man a documentary that premiered at Sundance this year charting the course of the creator of Pepe the Frog, a comic book character turned universally recognized meme, as he attempts to reclaim it from racists and shitposters.

The sweet, gentle pacing of the doc fits well with the calm, sensitive demeanor of its creator Matt Furie . Furie is described as ethereal by one of his friends in the piece and thats mostly true. As Pepe is created, then coopted by the residents of 4chan and turned into a meme representing ennui, disenfranchisement and white supremacy in turn, Furie takes it mostly in stride.

But hes not without passion, as lines begin to be crossed and Pepe becomes registered as hate speech by the Anti-Defamation League, Furie sees an opportunity to try to reclaim his symbol. Hes unsuccessful for the same reason anything is popular on the internet there are simply too many nerve endings to properly anesthetize them all.

The vast majority of the people that use Pepe are completely unaware of its origins. And the general community of Internet people that communicate via memes go a step beyond that to being un-able to even grasp the concept of ownership. Once something has entered into the cultural bloodstream of the Internet, its origins often dwindle to insignificance.

That doesnt, of course, stop a creator from existing or caring how their creation is used. And the portrait painted here of a gentle and caring artist forced to watch the subversion and perversion of his creation is heartbreaking and important.

Feels Good Man stands above the pack of docs about internet cultural phenomenon. It peels back enough of the layers of the onion to be effective in ways that analysis of culturally complex idioms born online are often deficient.

Too many times over the years weve seen online movements analyzed with an overly simplistic point of view. And the main way they typically fall down is by not including the influence and effect of that staple of online life: trolls. People doing things for the hell of it who then become a part of a larger movement but always have that arms length remove to fall back on, able to claim that it was just a gag.

Jones mentioned during a Q&A after the screening that they wanted Furies art to be a character, to have a part to play throughout the film. In addition to scenes of Matt drawing, this is best accomplished by the absolutely gorgeous animation sequences that Jones and a team of animators created of Pepe and the rest of the Boys Club characters. Theyre delightful and welcome respite from the somewhat hammer-like nature of the dark places Pepe is unwittingly drawn by the various subcultures he is adopted by.

Its not a perfect film; the sequences with an occultist are goofy in a way that doesnt fit with the overall flavor of the piece. But its probably one of the better documentary films ever made about the Internet era and well worth watching when it gets picked up.

More here:

Sundance: Feels Good Man charts a path of redemption for Pepe - TechCrunch

Big premieres in the Big Sky: 149 films at Big Sky Film Fest – Montana Kaimin

The largest nonfiction film festival in the American West is back to make Missoula think, feel and consider new perspectives.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opens Friday night, Feb. 14, and continues until Feb. 23. It is the festivals 17th year, and it will continue to prove the importance of showcasing diverse voices.

Its a very specific type of event, executive director Rachel Gregg said. Because all of the films are nonfiction, there are very real implications in each piece, whether thats the impact of plastic in the United States or the revolution in Armenia, according to Gregg.

The Big Sky Film Festival is the largest film festival in Montana. Nearly 150 films are represented this year, 20 of which are having their worldwide premiere.

The films are made and produced in more than 50 countries, bringing diversity and different perspectives to the festival. Of the films, 70% will be represented by directors, producers or subjects at the festival.

Many films have distinct Montana roots, including The House That Rob Built. The film follows the former Lady Griz coach Rob Selvig and how he ushered strong, accomplished women into the world while building an impressive program that still resonates at UM.

Outreach is one of the largest parts of the Big Sky Film Institutes mission. According to Gregg, there are students who come to the festival now who remember when the Institute came to their elementary schools. Gregg said fostering a love of film is rewarding for everyone involved.

And when it comes to fostering a love of filmmaking, the Institute also values promoting the voices of promising filmmakers.

DocShop is a Big Sky Film Festival event geared directly toward students or beginner filmmakers. Its a free event for UM students and is designed to help filmmakers navigate the gig economy of filmmaking, learn how to work with collectives and collaboratives, network and grow a passion for documentaries.

Attendees can attend workshops and panels led by other filmmakers and producers. They are able to learn through the experiences of others and culminate a sense of personal sustainability to avoid burnout in the industry. Gregg says the mission of DocShop is to help budding filmmakers realize that making documentaries is a sustainable, real career.

DocShop ends with the Big Sky Pitch, where attendees can pitch their films to funders and industry representatives from the likes of HBO, the BBC, PBS, the Sundance Doc Fund and the Tribeca Institute. Its an opportunity like no other and pushes forward the goal of outreach for the Big Sky Film Institute.

For the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, almost 2,000 films were submitted for selection. For six months, a panel of 12 reviewed the films, narrowing it down until a smaller panel made the final selections. Joanne Feinberg, festival programming director, combed through selections until she narrowed it down to the final 149. She says she is consistently blown away by the power of the stories told, making it hard for her to choose a favorite.

With almost 150 films, it can be slightly intimidating for audiences to choose which films they want to see. But Gregg and Feinberg have some tips. The films are organized by strands, ensuring that viewers dont have to comb through a plethora of films to find one they are interested in. Some examples are Nature, Activism, Stranger than Fiction, Sports and Younger than Yesterday. The festival has made sure there is something for everyone.

And if viewers still cant pick, Gregg and Feinberg suggest attending a shorts block. Some themes are the power of women, investigative journalism, immigration and love. The average filmgoer sees three or more films, but with the student ticket price of $7, students are encouraged to watch as many as they can.

The Big Sky Film Festival opens Friday at the ZACC with a Valentines Day theme. Audiences can expect to feel the love with stories that tell of the lives and loves of queer people, a couple reconnecting despite Alzheimers, the stories of broken hearts told through sock puppets, an exotic dancer and her former fan-boy turned romantic partner, and a transgender rocker finding love and identity on both sides of the gender line. (Meghan Jonas)

With more than 140 films featured at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, it can be tricky to know where to start. Here are a few picks from the Kaimin Arts & Culture team that give you a look into what you can see at the four screening locations around town in the next two weeks. From a boxing club on the Blackfeet reservation to brewed beer in Palestine, or roller skating in L.A. to heartbroken sock puppets, we think its safe to say youll find something youll like.

In 33 states across the country, women are unable to use government insurance, including Medicaid, to help pay the cost of an abortion.

In Philadelphia, the Womens Medical Fund works, with donations, to help American women cover the expense when they have no other funds available.

The funding group, or WMF, is one of many in the country. The women who work at the call center have a certain amount of funding they are able to use each day, and each woman working on the call line goes by the name Lisa.

Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Mike Attie are taking on the Hyde Amendment of 1976, a legislative ban on the use of federal funds to help cover the cost of abortion procedures. Its named after Henry Hyde, the Republican congressman from Illinois who sponsored the bill.

A dial tone plays between each scene. It is impossible to ignore the number of women who call the health line every day, trying to decide how to cover the cost of a procedure and still pay their rent, take care of their children or buy groceries.

Its impossible to ignore the reality that the Hyde Amendment is targeted at poor women, leaving one out of three women who have Medicaid insurance seeking an abortion forced to carry their pregnancies to term.

In Abortion Helpline, we watch Rep. Cynthia McKinney address the House. The Hyde Amendment is nothing but a discriminatory policy against poor women, who happen to be disproportionately Black, she says.

Mr. Chairman, we cant save the unborn children of the rich, Congressman Hyde says. Thank God we can save some of the children of the poor.

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa makes its northwest debut Feb. 15 at the ZACC, 3 p.m. and Feb. 19 at the ZACC, 1:30 p.m.

(Erin Sargent)

Turns out, Facebook isnt just following your every move like a desperate ex, its also deliberately ignoring the complaints of those damaged by fake news schemes.

This 16-minute nail biter follows Anas Modamani, a young Syrian refugee who fled to Germany in 2015. To celebrate, he snapped a selfie with prime ministerAngela Merkel and got more than he asked for when the picture went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Directed by Adrienne Collatos, a prestigious film producer with more than 40 credits to her name, Anas v. the Giant is a tightly crafted documentary worthy of a much longer runtime.

Modamani is a sympathetic figure, but Collatos doesnt confine him to that label. Instead, we see him as a fighter, asurvivor of the Syrian Civil War who came to Germany hoping for a better life, only to face a new battle against forces much more nebulous than armies.

Anas v. the Giant offers a uniqueperspective on the wave of nationalism that swept through Europe following the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis. Asthousands of migrants faced an onslaught of racism and prejudice at the gates of Europe, Modamani had to contend with that racism manifested in the gross form of the Giant, Facebook.

At one point, Modamanis German host mother remarks, We met on Facebook. Crazy, isnt it?

Crazy, indeed. Those looking for another reason to loathe the upturnednoses of Silicon Valley will love Anas v. the Giant.

Anas v. the Giant makes its northwest debut Feb. 20 at the Elks Lodge, 6:30 p.m.

(Austin Amestoy)

Brewed in Palestine is an up-close and personal look at the Khoury family and their craft brewing company Taybeh Beer. Located in the old city of Taybeh on the West Bank, the family and company operate on a fragile border.

The film, directed by Emma Schwartz, aims to provide a micro view of a Palestinian family to add texture and context to the macro tension between Israel and Palestine. Schwartz had been living on the West Bank, and kept hearing about the Khoury family and their brewery. It wasnt until she had a Taybeh beer in Tel Aviv that she decided to reach out.

I wanted to tell a story about what I experienced about life in Palestine,Schwartz said.

The process of producing the beer to get it to market is very difficult for Taybeh because Israel has strict export policies. If the Khourys missed a boat for shipment, they would have to wait an additional week before they could make another attempt.

During the film, an already difficult process becomes nearly impossible for the Khoury family.

In December of 2018, the Israeli army shut down the city of Ramallah. All roads, in and out, were closed off, preventing Taybeh from exporting beer for a week. Schwartz got trapped in the city as well. She and her crew were capturing some background footage when thelockdown began.

Its really a remarkable testament to what people go through, Schwartz said.

Brewed in Palestine will be making its Montana premiere Monday, Feb. 17 at the Wilma, 1 p.m. and Feb. 22 at the Elks Lodge,6:30 p.m.

(Alex Miller)

Never has there been a documentary that lets the good times roll quitelike this.

In L.A. Roll, director and cinematographer Helki Frantzen takes viewers on a groovy tour of Los Angeles roller skating culture as the film navigates the ups and downs of a beloved hobby threatened by rink closures and urban tragedy.

L.A. Roll had me physically grinning and bobbing my head to the collective heartbeat of the skaters, in no small part due to Frantzens camerawork. Never has the marriage of director and cinematographer in one person been so sweet as when it results in sweeping shots of gleefulskaters pouring their hearts out on the rink. For much of the doc, I felt like I was there skating alongside them and I couldnt wipe that goofy smile off my face.

If the main strategy of L.A. Roll is to hook the viewer into the colorful world of Los Angeles roller rinks, then itssecret weapon is the poignant message it carries about the importance of fostering connections in a disconnected and often drab world.

As the roller rinks frequented by L.A.s many skate clubs begin to shutter, one by one, the group is forced to adapt to new and less familiar venues. The closure of its most-frequented joint leads another rink across town to extend an invitation. Fountain Valley Skating Centers floor, once occupied only by the occasionalballerina, soon booms with swirling circles of skaters.

In many ways, the narrative success of L.A. Roll hinges on juxtaposition. Many skaters see the rink as a place to escape the doldrums of work and school. Frantzen follows a group of mechanics as they work, dust-covered, on an old red beater. At night, they kick up dust together on the floor, working on a different set of wheels.

You dont mind if I catch the next flight to L.A., do you?

L.A. Roll makes its world premiere Feb. 19 at the ZACC, 4 p.m. and Feb. 21 at the ZACC, 6:30 p.m.


Memes are art. Im not joking.

Having been a dank meme lord and Shrek worshipper for a good chunk of my life, Ive seen that the strangest viral trends can act as a vehicle for creative expression and political commentary, just like any great painting.

Unfortunately, art can be dangerous when in the wrong hands.

Such is director Arthur Jones thesis for Feels Good Man, which chronicles Pepe the Frogs troubling evolution from a comic book protagonist, to a strange, but harmless, meme, to the unofficial mascot of the alt-right movement.

I had some knowledge of Pepes abrupt transition to Nazi status, but I had no idea that its impact beyond the internet was this great. We watch as 4Chan uses the frog to repel female internet users, inspire hate crimes and even influence the 2016 presidential election.

The documentary footage is supplemented with a psychedelic background score and eccentric animations of Pepe and his friends from his origin comic, Boys Club. They give the film a unique atmosphere and add to the creepy, cult-like nature of the 4Chan incels.

But by far the most powerful moments of Feels Good Man are those we spend with Pepes creator, Matt Furie. His futile attempts to get the frog back into his control are heartbreaking and it reminds us of the emotional connection artists form with their work. As someone who hopes to pursue filmmaking, this one struck a chord with me.

Admittedly, the film feels too long and loses some of its emotional punch in the last third. But Feels Good Man is a horrifying reminder that both art and the internet have a dark side. Ill be thinking long and hard next time Im about to hit like on an All Star remix.

Feels Good Man plays Feb. 15 at the Wilma, 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 22 at the ZACC, 2:45 p.m.

(Clint Connors)

Something about sock puppets just triggers sadness. The downward slope of their mouths makes it look like theyre permanently frowning, and you cannever quite tell what's going on in the blank states of their googly eyes.

Perhaps thats why theyre the main focus of Broken: A Sockumentary. In this film, director Hannah Dougherty collects interviews of people who have experienced an abrupt end to a relationship.

And the audio of both Dougherty and her subjects is mouthed by, you guessed it, sock puppets.

This is apparently the first entry in a series that, as the synopsis on thefestivals website puts it, investigat[es] the human experience. Thus, it at first seems strange that the films main players arent human.

However, using animals or inanimate objects as metaphors for our feelings has always been a powerful tool, stretching back to Aesops fables and the like. Puppets, in particular, have a strange way of connecting to our psyche.

Broken does just that, largely thanks to its stellar puppeteers. Each hands subtle movements and ticks make these socks feel alive.

In addition, Dougherty refrains from making her direction showy, a gentleapproach that places the attention solely on the emotions of her subjects.

On paper, a wool sock crying mid-interview sounds silly, but because of the careful calculations of Dougherty and her performers, the scene is bizarrely, and emotionally, resonant.

Bizarre and emotional are two keywords when describing Broken. Its a somewhat risky experiment that fell into the right hands, creating a shockingly moving experience. Elmo, eat yourheart out.

Broken: A Sockumentary plays Feb. 14 at the ZACC, 7 p.m., and Feb. 21 at theWilma, 1 p.m.


Its going to take a long time for Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible to stop replaying in my head.

Directors Tom Rinaldi and KristenLappas craft a powerful journey into the heart of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement (MMIW) and the boxing program one man started in hopes of fighting back.

The ESPN-produced film centers on three families from the Blackfeet Nation, each of which has faced the realities of MMIW in different ways. One of them is the family of Ashley Loring, a Blackfeet woman who disappeared in 2017.

The film opens on breathtaking overhead views of northern Montana, where the Loring family has taken the investigation of Ashleys disappearance into their own hands. The contrast of the surreal landscape to the search unfolding across it is gut-wrenching. It sets the stage for a beautiful film, both in look and message.

The namesake and focus of the film is the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club. Founded in 2003 by former probation officer and boxer Frank Kipp, the club sees dozens of kids learning the skills of self-defense needed to fight back and prevent their own disappearances.

I was blown away by how deftly Blackfeet Boxing communicates the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous people, while also celebrating the triumph of the boxing club and some of its mostsuccessful athletes.

Blackfeet Boxing tackles MMIW head-on, much like its athletes, and shows us that hope must never be lost. Kipps club grows from a few fighters to an entire team, all boxing to honor the missing. And, although its been two years, the friends and family of Ashley Loring continue their search.

The faces of MMIW are not invisible, and neither is Blackfeet Boxing.

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible makes its world premiere Feb. 19 at the ZACC, 1:30 p.m. and Feb. 23 at the Wilma, 3:30 p.m.


Read more:

Big premieres in the Big Sky: 149 films at Big Sky Film Fest - Montana Kaimin