Donald Trump’s town hall debate was a leaning, meaning, inner-city bashing, Muslim-spying dumpster fire, and Twitter knew it

Published: Salon (October 10, 2016)

The second presidential debate between Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump wasn’t just thoroughly unpleasant to watch. It was one of the ugliest political moments in recent memory.

We knew things were going to get nasty when Trump held a pre-debate press conference flanked by three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct (Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones). In a normal election, that act alone would have dominated the news cycle, regardless of what followed. In the 90-minute exchange between Clinton and Trump, however, Trump repeatedly lied, bullied and fearmongered his way across the stage. read more

#ThatMexicanThing: The vice presidential debate delivered some key moments for Twitter

Published: Salon (October 5, 2016)

Toward the end of the otherwise boring debate between Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, as Kaine was speaking about things that Donald Trump has said during his candidacy, Pence interrupted him, saying out loud, “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.”

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Twitter goes bananas: From Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit to Donald Trump’s snorting, the social-media hits and misses

Published: Salon (September 27, 2016)

Monday night’s presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was almost certainly a smashing success in terms of TV ratings. If the social-media response is any indication, both candidates had more than their fair share of memorable moments.

Let’s go to the Twitter roundup!

Before the debate:

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Why we need trolls: Even offensive clowns like Milo Yiannopoulos can be good for the left

Published: Salon (September 22, 2016)

Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos is perhaps the most famous troll in the world right now, in large part because he was banned from Twitter last month and because the head of Breitbart News is now the CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This, of course, makes it all the more disappointing that Yiannopoulos repeatedly flaked on me when I tried to interview him for this article. (He did, however, participate in a video shoot for Salon and Out magazine featuring my colleague Amanda Marcotte, which produced memorable results you can watch below.) read more

A deep dive into the alt-right’s greatest YouTube hits

Published: The Daily Dot (September 7, 2016)

When Hillary Clinton pointed out the connection between Donald Trump and the alt-right, she wasn’t talking about an ordinary political movement.

As the Daily Dot’s Amrita Khalid notes, the alt-right is a “younger, ballsier rejection of the GOP establishment and political correctness as a whole—think the Tea Party meets Pepe the Frog.” But it’s also perennially attacked as a hub for white nationalism. “For the alt-right, ‘Make America White Again’ is not an ironic dismissal of Trump’s campaign slogan,” she concludes. read more

About my positive review for “Suicide Squad”

Published: The Daily Dot (August 16, 2016)

It’s a strange feeling, having written one of the few positive articles about Suicide Squad.

If the Internet community can learn anything from “Suicide Squad,” it is that online culture breeds a specific kind of overly-informed and excessively quantifying approach to the art of criticism. This has become apparent in several ways just with the Internet’s response to “Suicide Squad,” although it can also be traced to our own creative tendencies as writers and our access to unprecedented quantities of information about the filmmaking process itself. While this allows for a richer discussion about popular entertainment like movies, it can also result in a form of mass groupthink. When we start to view something inherently subjective and personal, like artistic taste, through a mindset that instinctively defers to so-called experts, we risk forfeiting our own judgment as independent individuals. read more

Kevin Smith is right about online bullies

Published: The Good Men Project (August 16, 2016)

Simply put, cyber bullies deserve to be ridiculed because they are cowards.

I suppose I can exclude the rare troll or hater who actually attaches his or her real name to their verbal bile. There are even a handful of individuals who make their careers out of trolling (Perez Hilton and Milo Yiannapoulos come to mind). That said, the vast majority of people who bully or harass online do so anonymously. The reason is obvious: They don’t want to be held accountable for what they say. Even though the very act of harassing another person presumes a position of superiority, the cyber bullies clearly know that they would be shamed for what they say. The only way they can keep the focus on their target instead of themselves is by cowering behind their keyboards. This makes them pathetic… and the more flamboyantly they attack their targets, the more it becomes clear that the joke is actually on them. read more

From Gamergate to “Ghostbusters” to Suicide Squad: The Problem of Fan Entitlement

Published: Salon (August 9, 2016)

It’s easy to roll your eyes at the “Suicide Squad” petition. In case you’ve been lucky enough to miss the news, fans of the new movie “Suicide Squad” have created an online movement to shut down aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes for posting predominantly negative reviews of their beloved film. Cue the inevitable jokes about how nerds need to get a life.

Is it really that simple, though? Over the past few years, it’s become increasingly clear that fans of pop culture properties – whether movies, TV shows, books, video games, or anything else – don’t merely view them as forms of entertainment, or themselves as consumers of said media. From Comic Cons to the nostalgia craze, it is clear that millions of people deeply identify with the culture produced by others, and, as a result of this feeling of ownership, many of them have developed a deep sense of entitlement that at its most innocuous is merely silly, and at its worst manifests itself in ugly bigotries. read more