4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump

“Trump’s younger supporters know he’s an incompetent joke; in fact, that’s why they support him,” writes Dale Beran, a self-confessed member of the same lost generation — the “vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities.”

This is a group that “celebrates failure,” and has found its champion in Trump.

This is an excellent, well-written essay. However, it seems short on evidence and long on assertions — too comforting to those of us who oppose Trump, and who want to believe that his supporters are just plain contemptible failures and losers.

Read it as memoir, not as journalism.

Beran says:

It was almost as if all these disaffected young men were waiting for a figure to come along who, having achieved nothing in his life, pretended as though he had achieved everything, who by using the tools of fantasy, could transmute their loserdom (in 4chan parlance, their “fail”), into “win”.

During the campaign, Clinton evoked the image of her father, a 1950s small businessman who worked hard to provide a middle class life for his family. Trump’s 4chan supporters have never known that life, and therefore they–reasonably–believe it is a lie

We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is — from an objective standpoint — comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trump’s farcical nature didn’t seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset.
All the left’s mockery of Trump served to reinforce his message as not only an outsider, but as an expression of rage, despair, and ultimate pathetic Pepe-style hopelessness.
4chan’s value system, like Trump’s ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: “fail” and “win”, “alpha” males and “beta cucks”. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventor’s inexperience with any sort of “IRL” romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.
Trump the loser, the outsider, the hot mess, the pathetic joke, embodies this duality. Trump represents both the alpha and the beta. He is a successful person who, as the left often notes, is also the exact opposite — a grotesque loser, sensitive and prideful about his outsider status, ready at the drop of a hat to go on the attack, self-obsessed, selfish, abrogating, unquestioning of his own mansplaining and spreading, so insecure he must assault women. …
But, what the left doesn’t realize is, this is not a problem for Trump’s supporters, rather, the reason why they support him.

Parenthetically: The view of masculinity espoused by Trumpistas and so-called Men’s Rights Advocates — the ones who throw around the word “cuckservative” — does not map to my experience of masculinity as I have lived it. I respect the macho tradition, embodied by Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne, young Howard Hughes, Theodore Roosevelt, Picasso, and that tribe. Those men were strong. But MRAs and anti-cuckservatives aren’t strong. They’re weak. Emasculated.

(And even John Wayne … he sat out the war. Whereas gentle, soft-spoken Jimmy Stewart was an authentic war hero, who came home shattered by post-traumatic stress.)

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