To be online is to engage in a never-ending death march to the bottom of irony, where sardonic memes turn into real-world problems and then jokes about those problems turn into sardonic memes. The loose assemblage of bickering, sarcastic racists known as the “alt-right” revels in this disarray, using its vagaries as a means for ever-more convoluted in-jokes and secret handshakes. The disdain expressed for “normies” among this set is actually just for people who aren’t up on the layers of meaning and non-meaning appended to each meme, meaning that glib 4chan nihilists have, finally, become a scene like any other and run rampant with elitists, cliques, and in-fighting.
And so BuzzFeed’s “Glossary Of Far-Right Terms & Memes” is helpful in multiple ways—first, it demystifies just what the fuck the various screaming anime figures trolling female celebrities on Twitter are talking about, and second, by casting a light on it, it destabilizes their power structure of in-jokes. Of course, the way this works is that new in-jokes and memes immediately emerge to replace them—figures like Trash Dove and Bernard The Polar Bear were actually invented as false memes—meaning that the work of a glossary like this is never finished, and, in some ways, self-defeating.
Still, for people not regularly donning a hazmat suit to patrol Reddit and 4chan, it’ll fill in the gaps on straightforward memes like Pepe The Frog and Redpilling as well as slightly deeper cuts like Moon Man, Feelsman, and the sarcastic appropriation of the Bogdanoff brothers. Seen a bunch of Banes around? That’s just this:
A convoluted meme about Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. In the opening scene, Bane is brought onto an airplane by a CIA officer played by the guy who plays Littlefinger in Game Of Thrones. While Bane, the anarchy-loving villain, seems like an obvious idol for 4chan, they became weirdly enamored with the CIA agent, partly over an awkwardly homoerotic piece of dialogue (CIA: “You’re a big guy.” Bane: “…for you.”) While Baneposting isn’t explicitly alt-right, it’s bled over.
Weird mentions of New Balance?
Comfortable sneakers. During the election, the CEO of New Balance came out with a pro-Trump statement, which made the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer declare them “the official shoe of white people.”
And, of course, the comments are full of edge-lords cackling through their keyboards at how out of touch the whole thing is and how offering such an explainer shows that they can’t explain it at all, helpfully illustrating the speed with which meaning is eradicated online and also the eagerness with which trolls, neo-Nazis, and self-professed “alt-righters” want to distance themselves from each other. Trump was a singular figure whose vapidity, incompetence, and inexperience made him a rallying figure for these groups, able to unite vast swaths of nihilists. It only makes sense that at this point they’d be slap-fighting each other over which joke is or isn’t sarcastic.
One thing we can all agree on, though? That opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises did not make any damn sense.