Insecurity Vampires and the Attention Economy
Another addition to the 'ffs, another one?' list for me.
I was never a Brand fan, didn't like him much, never met him - but his picture is on my 'family photo collage wall' because he's a friend of a dear friend of mine; they're hugging in front of a big hotel in Vegas, all show-bizzy & quite charming in & of itself.
The reason for the 'another' is…
Another close friend used to be friends with Rolf Harris - taught him to play the didgeridoo, decades ago.
My auntie was Jimmy Saville's secretary back in the 60's, and I worked for 10 years with his niece [80s], through whom I also met his sister [though never Saville himself].
None of these people were even vaguely aware of what would come out in the wash, many years later.
This all affects not only the direct victims, but also all their unwitting family, friends and associates, who suddenly have to mind-check if there was anything they should have spotted that would have brought this to the fore sooner.
This was very good
It’s also a great smoke screen for the political shit that’s going on in the uk at the moment.
You nailed so many things in this article; it was a bit cathartic. Bravo.
From the nightmare of the Attention Economy to the conspiracy machine that self-validates, and the vileness of Musk, Tucker and Tate (“support” from another rapist? Really? In a sane reality, support from Musk, Tucker, and Tate would be corroborating evidence of guilt).
You’ve captured the essence of many things that have shocked and angered me for the last several years.
And this was perfect:
“… even at his youthful best Brand always looked like he needed disinfecting.”
Brilliant writing as always.
So, my day job is literally to campaign for gender equality in science, technology engineering, and maths. I am absolutely steeped in feminism. And one of the things that has become so very, very clear to me over the years is that if we are ever to make any progress towards gender equality, we need to see similar campaigns for boys and men that help them shuck off the trappings of patriarchy and learn how to become a happy, healthy human beings.
In the UK (and I suspect the US too), one of the demographics least likely to go to university is white, working class boys, so when we talk as a society about widening participation in education, we really ought to be thinking about how we can reach these kids and convince them that another future is possible. We need to widen boy's ideas of what careers are open to them. We desperately need more male primary school teachers, for example, because we need small boys to see healthy male role models from a young age. We need more male carers, nurses, etc. We desperately need more men going into veterinary science and becoming GPs (both are female dominated with 80% of vet undergrads being women for eg, which causes significant problems in the industry). We need boys to realise that they can do anything that they want to and get past this idea that some jobs are for men and some for women.
We need to deal with men's mental health, and especially men's loneliness – the Men's Sheds movement seems to be doing well on that front, for example. And we need to be thinking about how we forge a better, healthier ideal for what it is to be a man, one that doesn't rely on toxic, historic tropes about big muscles and never crying, but which allows me to be who they are, whether that's a lumberjack or Harry Styles.
But most of all, we need to recognise that men and women are on this planet together, and we need to learn how to support one another to be who we are and achieve all that we want to achieve. And more than ever, we need more men to stand up and start these campaigns, and to work towards dismantling the patriarchy and empowering boys and men to widen their understanding of what a man can be.
Brilliant, Michael. Thank you.
Dare I say your most insightful post yet
I've been thinking about, and maybe I'm totally off-base -- so feel free to tear me a new one, if that's so. But -- and here I should add the obligatory "NOT ALL," because I'm dealing in generalities.
Men tend to define themselves as "men" first and "human" second.
Most attempts to define/redefine masculinity are rooted in "different from/not" female.
The dirty little secret at the heart of "different from/not" is "better than."
If men can't give that up, I don't see much progress being made
"even at his youthful best Brand always looked like he needed disinfecting" wins the Internet today for putting in so many words what I've always felt but been unable to express about the tosspot. The rest of this piece is merely excellent. So many nails hit squarely on the head. I'm glad you spoke up.
There is a further level to all this: all the WOMEN who are supporters of these awful guys. I've been trying to get my head around that because one of my best friends has fallen down that hole (not Tate, I don't think, but definitely Brand and Rogan - whose videos she's tried to push on me before - and she's Musk-curious). I've noticed a distinct change in her ideology regarding gender and gender roles and a far more dogged reliance on her Christian faith (she was practically a Buddhist when I met her) has come along with her thinking being overtaken by conspiracy theory. It's all related, all about having simple, narratively well-packaged, emotionally-arousing answers to anxiety-provoking existential questions that ultimately serve to make the believer feel good about themselves and their place in the world.
It's a few years old but there is an excellent podcast called The Infinite Monkey Cage on radio 4. I binge listen to it a lot and have just heard an episode on conspiracy theories and who follows them. It seems apropos!
Perhaps the biggest problem is making sure we don't sound off in an echo chamber and take comfort in the fact we are all on the right path. I'm guilty of many things and I know how easy it is to fall into step with the surrounding concensus, which is why I challenge intolerance every chance I get. It is common on building sites I work on in Cornwall to get big laughs from homophobic, racist and sexist comments but it is imperative to ask "Why did you say that". If I don't challenge it I feel like I would be sucked into the vortex of hate.
Bit long winded, sorry.
Everything is set up to excuse and support abusive men, and to disbelieve and punish any women who dares speak up, and until men are willing to give up the benefits they reap from that system, nothing changes.
Mark Greene talks about how patriarchy hurts everyone and how we need men to speak out in order to stop this destructive cycle, so thank you Mike for being one who will and does.
Any intelligent person knows who the real villains are in this story. You just called them out.