Confuse a fascist today

(The following is a slightly modified Twitter thread)

Stonekettle & Sarah Kendzior had the same message, which people ignored.

But, I dunno, it’s not that I’m an optimist, it’s just that I refuse to give my oppressors the pleasure and comfort of my despair.

When hope isn’t an option, there’s always rage. Stubbornness. And something I don’t have a single word for —

The 1960s in the US were marked not only by huge social changes brought about by activism, but also by stylistic weirdness, pranking, partying, weird music, androgyny, psychedelic everything —

That was always sort of vaguely presented in the narrative as a side effect of “drugs” — as in, people took LSD and that translated to pop culture being saturated with surrealism and bright colors. But —

I’m not sure enough people ever took enough LSD for that to explain it. Little kids certainly weren’t getting stoned, right, and the stuff for little kids still had that surrealistic vibe.

But looking around at what’s happening now, I think the pop culture wildness was a lot more related to the social change than it seems at first glance. It was incredibly stressed-out people blowing off steam. And it was people deliberately annoying fascists.

Fascism has an aesthetic, which might, in some ways, be “cool” visually — lots of red and black and white and gray, stark lines, rigid postures.

They also have an aesthetic that appears at first to be exactly the opposite: a shiny, would-be wholesome, flower-print pastel aesthetic (which I remember well from my time in the evangelical church — discussed here in the context of Hallmark Christmas movies. )

These aesthetics aren’t merely visual. They’re meant to be suggestive of fascism’s underlying philosophy: everyone must be in their proper place, behaving properly.

Fascists have a deep visceral hatred of people who appear to be not in their proper place, and who appear to be not behaving properly. Fascists have no sense of humor, no sense of fun, and very little imagination, outside of new ways to torture people.

Fascists hate to see “wrong” groups having fun, smiling, playing music, dancing. (Fascists don’t dance, they march.) Fascists hate to see people doing unexpected things, including with their clothing, makeup, hair. They hate to see people violating the gender binary.

Fascists hate things that strike them as “too weird” and they hate things they can’t explain and they hate things they can’t control.

And the thing is, when the fascists are in power and trying to grind your face under that bootheel, it can be hard to have fun that is pure, innocent, joyful — you’re not in the head space for it.

It can be easier to have sarcastic fun. Weird fun. Inexplicable fun. Surreal, off-kilter fun. Fun that specifically involves being not in your proper place and not behaving properly. And fascists hate that.

That’s why the whole “war on Christmas” or the new “war on Thanksgiving” thing seems so natural to them, because it involves demanding “proper” behavior from other people.

They’ll hate it if you say “happy holidays” (if they notice, most of the time they don’t even notice) but they won’t even understand it if you say “Have a sparkly Midwinter Darkness Glitter Festival.”

It’s so easy to mess with a fascist, all you have to do is have women, non-white, or LGBTQ characters in something like a video game or a space adventure movie.

Fascists can seize all the levers of power — they’re good at that — but this doesn’t give them what they really want, unless they can use it to get us to walk quietly into our “proper” place and start behaving properly, like obedient cattle.

So, whenever I’m tempted to give up in despair, I remember this — no matter what, I can annoy fascists just by existing & being non-compliant. And the more I annoy them, the more distracted they get, and that gives us a chance —

To take the levers of power back.

The end.

Wait, not quite the end. I think anti-fascists should wear paisley & velvet & flowers & stuff because that will confuse the fascists and also mess up the “ooo, scary antifa” narrative. Goths confuse them. Surrealists confuse them. Banana costumes confuse them.