Author Information

Cam FediukFollow

Department

English

Program

PhD

Year

5

Supervisor Name

Mark McDayter

Supervisor Email

mmcdayte@uwo.ca

Abstract Text

Background

My thesis’s impetus is the rise of reactionary discourse on the internet, collectively known as the alt-right. As with the traditional right, the alt-right is anti-feminist, anti-immigration, and anti-political-correctness, but unlike its predecessor, is also anti-establishment, anti-religion, pro-Donald Trump, and thoroughly engaged with and immersed in the meme-based political discourse of digital media.

Hypothesis

I argue against the cyber-utopianism proposed by Douglass Rushkoff and other early internet theorists; I argue that, while the internet has made memes central to political discourse, the rise of laissez-faire social media platforms has not made the digital generation more enlightened, or tolerant, or multicultural; it has instead fostered tribalism, anti-intellectualism, and reactionary politics, manifesting in right-wing populist movements across the Western world.

Methods

Drawing on contemporary meme-theorists such as Ryan Milner and Whitney Philips, and citing news articles, memes, and social-media posts extensively, I argue that the internet meme-scene is a war between ideas, guided in the 2010s by far-right online meme-centers such as 4chan and Reddit. Their ideas spread via resonance through the alt-right and its various splinters, such as Gamergate, which defends “gamer identity” from the encroachment of feminism and multiculturalism.

Results

The mainstream media cannot understand the rise of Trump or the alt-right because they are ignorant of who produces memes, and where (i.e, 4chan and Reddit); furthermore, the media have erased their role in creating the Trump media cult of the 1980s and 90s.

Conclusion

The fight against the alt-right is to fight against the ignorance and misinformation encouraged by mindless repetition of memes.

Keywords: Memes, 4chan, Gamergate, Reddit, Trump, critical theory, cultural studies, internet, alt-right, social media

Study completed

Dietary Restrictions

n/a

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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Taking Back Control: Memes, Trump, 4chan, Gamergate, and the Rise of the Alt-Right

Background

My thesis’s impetus is the rise of reactionary discourse on the internet, collectively known as the alt-right. As with the traditional right, the alt-right is anti-feminist, anti-immigration, and anti-political-correctness, but unlike its predecessor, is also anti-establishment, anti-religion, pro-Donald Trump, and thoroughly engaged with and immersed in the meme-based political discourse of digital media.

Hypothesis

I argue against the cyber-utopianism proposed by Douglass Rushkoff and other early internet theorists; I argue that, while the internet has made memes central to political discourse, the rise of laissez-faire social media platforms has not made the digital generation more enlightened, or tolerant, or multicultural; it has instead fostered tribalism, anti-intellectualism, and reactionary politics, manifesting in right-wing populist movements across the Western world.

Methods

Drawing on contemporary meme-theorists such as Ryan Milner and Whitney Philips, and citing news articles, memes, and social-media posts extensively, I argue that the internet meme-scene is a war between ideas, guided in the 2010s by far-right online meme-centers such as 4chan and Reddit. Their ideas spread via resonance through the alt-right and its various splinters, such as Gamergate, which defends “gamer identity” from the encroachment of feminism and multiculturalism.

Results

The mainstream media cannot understand the rise of Trump or the alt-right because they are ignorant of who produces memes, and where (i.e, 4chan and Reddit); furthermore, the media have erased their role in creating the Trump media cult of the 1980s and 90s.

Conclusion

The fight against the alt-right is to fight against the ignorance and misinformation encouraged by mindless repetition of memes.

Keywords: Memes, 4chan, Gamergate, Reddit, Trump, critical theory, cultural studies, internet, alt-right, social media