Submitted by Hai Jinx
More and more frequently, videos of whites who have made some sort of racist transgression are being filmed by valiant, brave PoC, and getting cancelled. This isn’t necessarily new, but the consequences of these videos have been rapidly escalating to the point in which being filmed alongside a juicy enough narrative can actually get you arrested.
All of these cases have one thing in common – the person being cancelled has been approached by someone with a phone. The Maoists in China didn’t have smartphones – ours do. Therefore, it is important to know how to react if approached by a Red Guard that is recording you.
You must understand, immediately, that if someone you don’t know approaches you with their phone out, filming you, they are looking to get you cancelled. How do they do this? They get a reaction. It is important to keep in mind, perhaps more, that if a journalist approaches you in this way, you should be attempting to find the nearest place they cannot legally enter, such as a public restroom. With civilians this is a little more complicated.
Cancel culture, until recently, has been an almost exclusively extrajudicial process. Therefore, legal action regarding this scenario won’t happen unless A, you physically push, shove, or attack the recorder, or B, they do this to you. Since they have a camera out, they are obviously not looking to harm you physically at that moment. Drawing a weapon is the worst thing you can do. Like we’ve seen, they’ll probably just start arresting you if you do this. Not going to work.
So you may decide to give them the finger. The person recording you is going to claim you called them a racial slur, made a transphobic remark, etc. Well, you are on camera being racist or transphobic again, thus affirming their claim. You lose your job. Dang, let’s try again.
You say something along the lines of “no, I’m not racist, you’re lying.” The person recording you responds “well then why did you cut me off and call me the n-word?” The “have you stopped beating your wife” shtick. This makes you angrier, and you continue to argue. In fact, you get so angry that you start to lecture the Red Guard and walk forward. They walk backward and ask why you’re following them. They plead you to stay away. You just fell for the oldest trick in the book. Cancelled again.
There is only one way to deal with the Red Guard in this scenario – you have to ignore them. Assume the video they take of you will be posted online. Let’s consider what people online are going to see, and how the media would attempt to present the story.
First, let’s break down what happened with the “Seattle Karen Meltdown” We have no solid context. The Red Guard starts recording after having followed Karen home. If she had merely gotten out of her car, ignored him, and went into her apartment, nothing happens. Imagine if he follows her all the way inside her apartment complex, and tries to even follow her into her own apartment. Now she has a lawsuit. I’m not sure if legal action is a realistic option anymore, but that’s not the point. Instead, let’s figure out why Karen reacted the way she did. Did she react hysterically because she was racist and merely being confronted by a black man was a great terror to her? Of course not. Instead, she knew that she was getting cancelled. And the guy knew that if he could get a reaction, he would get a lot of fame, in other words, status.
Reactions. Reactions are the lifeblood of the media. Reactions create different reactions. The only bad reaction is no reaction.
If I’m a media outlet, I love my isms. My sexisms, my racisms, and so on. I want stories that show how prevalent the isms still are in our society. I want heinous, gruesome demonstrations of them. I want a white woman calling the cops on an innocent black man. I want a woman having a panic attack because someone films her license plate. I want videos that have a glorious moment which can be spun into a quick 2 minute video for Twitter. If I’m really lucky, I might even get some real violence that allows me to report on a hate crime. A long, drawn out video of someone following a random person calling them racist, and ultimately never getting a reaction, isn’t interesting. There’s no moment. There’s no reaction to generate a reaction.
Let’s recap. If someone you don’t know approaches you with a phone, or you see someone you don’t know recording you from a distance, turn the opposite direction and walk away. They are attempting to get a reaction out of you. Ignore them as much as possible, and leave the vicinity as fast as you can. Never, under any circumstance, engage them. Always ignore them and walk away.
That person posts a video online calling you a racist. If you give no reaction, the media can’t do anything with it, and your employer or college won’t do anything with it. You’ve done nothing wrong, and the video shows you doing nothing wrong. Immediately 99% of people are no longer interested. If there is no protagonist and antagonist, interest is lost. Yes, you are being antagonized, but you are not behaving properly as one. Good antagonists are exciting. They create exciting moments you can post online. Bad antagonists are boring. Nobody wants to watch a boring antagonist. Nobody cares about one.
Hitler and Goebbels are good antagonists. The media loves them because they were Nazis that talked like Nazis and behaved like Nazis and generally did exciting Nazi things. You can slap those two ranting and pounding their podiums up on any newsreel and immediately people recognize them as the antagonists. Their image itself generates interest. Nobody talks about Albert Speer because he wasn’t exciting. The only way most people would even care about him is by placing a photo or clip of him next to Hitler. The character of Albert Speer (antagonist) is only relevant in the context of Hitler (antagonist). A storm trooper is only understood as a threat as an antagonist with the character of Emperor Palpatine. This is the level of infantilization media consumers are subjected to, and treated as. The Third Reich is the Empire. If you talk about Nazis you may as well be talking about the Empire, and vis versa. The threat they pose and headspace they occupy for the consumer are the exact same – fictional. Consumers are able to do this because they understand the image of an antagonist.
The Karen calling the police is something an antagonist does, and fits into the media narrative. Guns are something antagonists have, and fit into the media narrative. An angry boomer in a MAGA hat yelling and pointing a finger at the PoC behind the camera is something antagonists look like, and fits the narrative. Someone ignoring the camera? Acting like the person behind it isn’t there… that doesn’t ring any bells. That’s a boring image. We want to be boring.
It’s important that our friends and family know that they need to be boring. While we may realize this, many people want to argue with the worms attempting to ruin their lives, understandably so. But that’s just not the country we live in anymore. It’s a greater act of defiance to refuse the media a story, and it’s better to provide for your family than lose your job or go to jail just because some Maoist brat wants to farm some dopamine on Twitter. Make sure your relatives, particularly the older ones, understand this.
Media culture and its consumers are only interested in the spectacle. If you refrain from participation in the spectacle, do not frequent places where the spectacle occurs, and do not entertain the spectacle if it attempts to force itself upon you, it is possible to remain fairly unmolested by it. All the world’s a stage, but there’s always someone standing in the shadows to pull the curtain once the show comes to an end. And it always does.
While a refusal to participate in the spectacle will work in many cases, it won’t in all. We need to start considering situations we may be put in that we can’t just “leave.” Here’s an example: You’re driving to work. You got to bed late last night, and you’re still a little groggy even after that second cup of coffee. You accidentally rear-end someone. No big deal, fender bender. But before you even have time to reach into your glovebox for your insurance information, an obese non-binary person with pink hair is filming you through your window explaining to the camera how a white, cisgendered transphobe, yelled a slur out of his window before intentionally ramming his car into theirs. This is a scenario where you have to deal with this person. How do you get out of this situation without being arrested or cancelled? I have no idea. Do you?
Navigating the future post-revolution America will be difficult, but it can be done. To do this, we need to be actively paying attention to how and why people get cancelled when they do, as some of the situations they are put in are unavoidable. The one virtue of talking to an ideologue, or imagining a conversation with one, is that you can predict what they’re going to say. If we can imagine potentially unavoidable run-ins with the Red Guard, we can accurately predict how to respond to their questions by utilizing some of their magical words, or what to do to remain boring in the eyes of the spectacle. Or, get arrested. That’s kind of where we’re going, and I don’t think most people really feel like spending their lives as political prisoners.
I’d like to write more on this topic because it can help provide real solutions to current and future problems. Feel free to send or @ me videos on Twitter that have led to people’s cancellations. The more bizarre or unavoidable the situation, the better. Be careful out there, and God bless.