MMM#16: Elon Musk and Twitter/’She Said’ Flops/Qatar World Cup

Musk and Twitter

I try not to go on Twitter that much and restrict the time I spend there to once a week but I’m enjoying the drama that is unfolding following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the site earlier this year. Musk has reinstated accounts such as Donald Trump, Jordan Peterson, Kanye West and Carl Benjamin – a.k.a. Sargon of Akkad – much to the chagrin of many establishment figures.

Despite now being back on Twitter, Trump has not returned and instead remained on his Truth Social account. Musk reminds me a lot of Trump particularly during the latter’s Presidency as Musk has the same chaotic energy that drives many people insane.

Musk has compared Twitter to a town square but, as I argued in a post last year, Twitter – and the internet as a whole – can more accurately be described as a hybrid between public and private spaces since we can interact with complete strangers in the comfort of our own homes. Similarly, people interact with each other on Twitter either using their real names and photos or – like myself – behind a false name and image. This obviously makes the task of managing a major social media site such as Twitter hard to handle.

The question of which individuals to allow on the site and which to prevent is inevitably going to be one that Musk and his staff at Twitter will have to deal with for the foreseeable future. One solution I thought of was to allow those who use their real name and faces to have free rein over what they can say with anonymous accounts given less freedoms in comparison. There would still be a debate here however over what constitutes a banning or restriction.

Predictably, Musk’s actions have led to opponents arguing that hate speech will become more commonplace on the site. By ‘hate speech’ presumably they mean primarily ‘speech which we personally dislike or disagree with’. There has also been the suggestion that Twitter under the helm of Elon Musk is crashing and burning due to Musk’s eccentricity and hubris.

There is also likely some wishful thinking going on in the sense that people are predicting the demise of Twitter due to Musk’s mass firing of its staff and his admission that the site has various debt problems. The counterargument to this is that Musk’s reinstation of various accounts will increase interest in the site and result in more people creating accounts.

Despite various famous people claiming that they are going to leave Twitter, for the time being Twitter remains the go-to social media site for the rich and powerful. I can’t see an alternative equivalent to Twitter emerging any time soon which will culminate in a mass exodus of celebrities and establishment figures who can’t comprehend that other people don’t share their worldview. Many people announced they would leave the United States if Trump became President only to remain when Trump was elected.

The current talk around Twitter reminds me a little of the sneering criticisms that followed the launch of the GB News channel last year. In the channel’s first few months, it faced technical difficulties, disagreements over the channel’s political leanings and a rotating door of presenters joining and leaving with many people concluding that the channel would ultimately fail. Following its teething problems, however, GB News has maintained a steady number of viewers along with established and experienced presenters. At the very least, it offers a slightly different take on current events and news which is not provided by other news networks, although I still prefer online content creators. Similar to Twitter, many mainstream commentators hoped GB News would fail because they didn’t like the type of political commentary it could offer.

My prediction, such as it is, is that Twitter is not going anywhere and Musk will eventually figure out how to make the site financially stable by subscription charges or some new features to the site. Musk has said that he will eventually step back from Twitter and let others run the site but I hope he will continue to stir up trouble to drive the establishment crazy.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds during Donald Trump’s 2024 Presidential campaign and if Trump will return to Twitter during the election which, at the time of writing, is still just under two years away. Considering how eventful 2022 has been we likely have a lot to go through before 2024 even comes around.

‘She Said’ Bombs at the Box Office

A film about two journalists investigating the sexual assault claims against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein called She Said, based on a book of the same name, has been released and has only taken $2.2 million from its opening weekend despite costing $32 million to make. This puts the film among the biggest flops in history.

Despite being lavished with praise by critics, it seems audiences didn’t want to see a film about the #MeToo movement which has already been shoved in their faces since the Harvey Weinstein controversy emerged in 2017. It’s also been pointed out that other films have already explored #MeToo such as Bombshell which was about accusations against Roger Ailes at Fox News. Even Weinstein himself, via a spokesman, has gloated at She Said‘s poor performance.

She Said could go down as the definitive example of the idea of ‘Get Woke, Go Broke’. The film critic Armond White wrote a good article here where he notes that the media thinks that it simply gives what audiences want when in reality it just assumes that its opinions are widely shared by the public and makes excuses when certain films fail.

I don’t support sexual harassment but I don’t support the #MeToo movement either so it’s tempting to think that She Said flopping is evidence of the public giving a middle finger to #MeToo. However, the underperformance of She Said is a pattern shared by other ‘awards contender’ films being released which has been partly explained by people being more reluctant to go to the cinema following the pandemic. It may also point to the declining interest in Hollywood films in general.

The domination of Marvel movies and streaming services means that there is less appetite for people to go to the cinema for films they can eventually watch on services like Netflix. Award ceremonies like the Oscars are also declining in relevance. Being a film geek, although I’ve never cared about watching the Oscar ceremony, I’ve always liked to know who the winners were. However, this year I completely forgot about the Oscars and was only aware that it had taken place because of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. Also, most people couldn’t name the films that have won awards over the past few years.

Here’s hoping the failure of She Said is evidence that #MeToo is disappearing up its own backside.

World Cup – just woke bread and circuses?

At the time of writing, the FIFA World Cup is currently taking place in Qatar. Since FIFA announced that Qatar would host the 2022 tournament, it has been the subject of controversy due to the country’s lack of footballing prowess, human rights abuses and political views that are not shared by most Western countries.

There has also been pressure on teams like England to make a stand for LGBT rights and continue to ‘take a knee’ against racism. I like football, so I’ve just watched the matches and ignored most of the politicking happening around it. A lot of other people have boycotted the competition though due to these controversies.

Detractors on the right or people who are just anti-woke in general often disparage the World Cup as simply ‘bread and circuses’ for the masses or use the dismissive word ‘sportsball’ to describe it. The argument here is that such spectacles distract people from looking at deeper societal problems but I doubt that many people would suddenly become enlightened about the state of the world if sports tournaments ceased to exist. The internet is a massive source of information yet many people are content to watch cat videos or argue with complete strangers about absolutely anything.

It is true that football is ultimately pointless, many players are overpaid prima donnas and the sports industry can be very tacky and consumerist. Not everyone likes football and that’s fine. Nevertheless, criticisms about ‘sportsball’ can just as easily be made against the entertainment industry as a whole. Much like films – unless it’s She Said – people turn to sport as a way to forget about all the crap that’s happening in their lives. Ironically, the insertion of wokeness into sport and film does the complete opposite of that.

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