Joanna Schroeder is a “writer, editor & media critic with a special focus on gender in the media. Comics nerd, mountain biker, snow & ocean-loving mom of three”. We know this because it’s on her Twitter bio and she has a blue tick so it must be true.
She’s also extremely concerned her sons are about to become white supremacists and is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame because of saying so in a viral Twitter thread.
I too have concerns about my sons, but white supremacy tendencies aren’t trending particularly high on the list this week. In fact, if I were to rank order in terms of concerns, “becoming a white supremacist” would be quite far down the list close to “enjoying Michael Bublé’s Christmas Album”.
That’s not to say turning towards white supremacy isn’t a risk, after all, if an Orthodox Jew such as Ben Shapiro and an African American such as Candace Owens can fall into the white supremacy cult, it’s a risk for all of us. It just doesn’t seem particularly likely compared to lots of other, more tangible, issues children have to overcome.
Many people have commented on Joanna’s assertions, mainly these take the usual dull red team/blue team positions. We’ll let those battles impotently continue.
Joanna’s prognostications about to how to guide a child to find something funny are particularly amusing though and just a little disturbing to me. It’s always deeply worrying when someone thinks they can police what someone else finds funny. When they find they can’t, they often try to find more intrusive ways to stop you laughing.
Perhaps the funniest assertion is right at the top of her rant:
I’ve been watching my boys’ online behavior & noticed that social media and vloggers are actively laying groundwork in white teens to turn them into alt-right/white supremacists.
It’s a system I believe is purposefully created to disillusion white boys away from progressive/liberal perspectives.
First, the boys are inundated by memes featuring subtly racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic jokes.
Being kids, they don’t see the nuance & repeat/share.
Let’s unpack that, shall we….
According to Joanna, there is an active conspiracy underway, a system, to purposefully….disillusion white boys away from progressive/liberal perspectives.
Does that sound reasonable? Does it sound like a rational statement one could back up with evidence?
If she claimed there was one vlogger or social media account who was doing this, we could nod sagely and point at the problem with her. Her claim is there is a system, however. Multiple people all conspiring to achieve the same goal.
How are they managing this feat of manipulation and persuasion that would leave even the best advertising agency in a state of awe and professional envy?
By being funny, dammit.
The explanation requiring the fewest number of assumptions to be true is usually the correct one.
Consider then two possibilities:
1. There is a massive, but as-yet unproven, global conspiracy on social media and YouTube to direct impressionable young boys towards non-progressive ideas using humour, or
2. Young boys think the stuff their mothers find funny isn’t at all amusing.
Comedy is very similar to illicit drugs in the way that it tends to operate closely to the precepts of a free market. Just like the street price of an ounce of marijuana has mainly tracked real inflation over countless decades, comedy tends to find ways to get a product to the consumer in line with demand.
Joanna Schroeder has confused the fact a comedian has been given a prime-time TV network show with being popular with the consumers, i.e. funny.
In the meantime, her sons have discovered far more interesting, amusing and edgy content on less-regulated channels and it’s this they talk about in the school yard, not John Oliver or Trevor Noah’s latest rant about who the latest person is who is being judged as “literally Hitler”.
In the 1980s in the UK, the comedy “establishment” consisted of dinner-suited men telling risqué and racist jokes. This left a gap in the market for a counter-movement which ended up being labelled “alternative comedy”.
Joanna might want to consider the possibility that her sons are simply following the traditions of the generations and pushing back against the establishment. Her choice of comedy, the left’s version of comedy, is the establishment.
John Oliver and Trevor Noah might also want to consider trying to be comedians rather than simply activists for a change.