Want to see a bunch of social justice warriors eaten alive by cannibals? You’ll get a chance this September with the release of Eli Roth’s latest horror film, Green Inferno.
Green Inferno tells the story of a group of pampered western clicktivists who travel to the Amazonian rainforest to save an endangered native tribe. The tribe proceeds to open a churrascaria, with annoying Americans top of the menu. Most viewers could figure out that it’s a satire of social justice warriors, but Eli Roth has gone further, explaining to the LA Times precisely who he is satirising and why.
“I wanted to write a movie that was about modern activism,” said Roth. “I see that a lot of people want to care and want to help, but in general I feel like people don’t really want to inconvenience their own lives. The SJW culture has gotten so out of control,” he explained. “Are they doing it just because they believe in it? Or do they just want to look like good people?”
Roth is describing the phenomenon of virtue-signalling, where pampered, hand-wringing brats use social media to look like heroes — without having to do any of the work.
Seemingly determined to prove Roth right, a change.org petition has called on the director to cancel the launch of Green Inferno on the grounds that it “dehumanizes indigenous people.” But the petition looks like damage control to prevent dehumanizing undignified SJWs.
But many in the entertainment world will be grateful for Roth’s intervention. Indeed, if he looks for them, he is likely to find influential supporters across the industry. Whether it’s comedy, video games, or movies, it seems everyone is getting sick of pearl-clutching social justice warriors.
If Green Inferno lives up to Roth’s other dark psychological horror like Cabin Fever and Hostel, we, like the cannibals, are in for a real treat. While Hostel satirized Americans who cared too little, in his new film Roth addresses a group just as insufferable: Americans who care too much.
The only bit of this premise I can’t quite believe is that social justice hipsters were willing to go somewhere with no cell reception.
Comedians have been signalling their discontent with the moral panic brigade for some time. This is understandable, as so much of comedy involves puncturing popular assumptions and mocking convention. When orthodoxy becomes intolerance, they are often the first targets.
So it was with comedy, where a slew of controversies put comedians in the firing line. First there was the inevitable rape joke controversy, which drew Louis C.K. — who delights in offensive humor — into the fray. “Comedians and feminists are natural enemies,” he joked. Except he wasn’t really joking.
Then there was “#CancelColbert”, an inane attempt by hashtag activist Suey Park to generate a public shaming mob against the liberal comedian Stephen Colbert, over the following joke:
Colbert wanted to satirise attempts by the Washington Redskins to placate their critics with a foundation to support Native Americans. In other words, he was doing exactly what you’d expect a liberal satirist to do. But context meant nothing to Park, then the enfant terrible of social media progressivism.
Comedians weren’t going to put up with all this for very long. The earliest signs of rebellion came from Chris Rock, who last year announced he had stopped playing gigs at campuses due to the rise of social justice warriors at universities. Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt, Bill Maher and Stephen Merchant have all made similar noises in recent months.
Then, last month, Jerry Seinfeld confirmed that he too was reluctant to perform on college campuses, saying that the new atmosphere of language policing is “anti-comedy.” Seinfeld is the king of sitcom, and his intervention triggered great unease among progressives, who quickly unleashed a string of annoyed op-eds.
But it was too late. Seinfeld, Rock, Maher and others had already made the idea of “PC college students” — another word for social justice warriors — into a media narrative.
The best was yet to come. In the early 2000s, few comedians received more buzz than Dave Chappelle. His Comedy Central show was so popular, it created some of the earliest internet memes. After a long absence from the spotlight, Chappelle is back, with no plans to take prisoners.
If early reports from his new gigs are to be believed, he has no more regard for society’s sacred cows than he did ten years ago. Race jokes, gay jokes, and trans jokes all feature heavily in his new routine. It seems Chappelle is planning to trigger everyone. In the age of social justice warriors, the return of a man who once joked about “consent contracts” couldn’t be more timely. Welcome back, Dave. We need you more than ever.
When Avengers director Joss Whedon quit Twitter amid a storm of outrage over ‘problematic’ elements in his latest movie, he did his best to protect his progressive critics from allegations that they were responsible for his departure.
But other figures in Hollywood aren’t so forgiving — and are becoming more outspoken every day. In a viral Facebook post, Jurassic World star Chris Pratt mocked the hyper-offended by posting a “pre-emptive apology” ahead of his press tour.
Before that, Avengers actor Jeremy Renner made light of daft accusations that he “slut-shamed” a fictional character. Speaking on Conan O’Brien’s show, Renner lightly mocked the idea of landing himself in “internet trouble” before repeating the joke to O’Brien.
Then there was Jonathan Daniel Brown, one of the stars of 2012 hit Project X, who recently decided to cast his lot in with #GamerGate, the online nemesis of social media SJWs.
Most astonishingly, left-wing stalwart Sir Patrick Stewart has committed secular heresy by intervening in the debate over gay wedding cakes. Despite his reputation as an ardent progressive, Stewart took the side of the Christian bakers, agreeing that no one should be forced to act against their conscience.
Suddenly, it seemed that Adam Baldwin wasn’t the only Hollywood figure taking a stand against the authoritarian left. And why would he be? If the new political correctness were to dig its heels in, it would do serious damage to Hollywood’s fortunes.
Just look at the top-grossing films of 2015. At least half of them have come under attack by social justice warriors at some point. Jurassic World was attacked by Joss Whedon for its “70s-era sexism.” It’s currently the most successful film of 2015.
And then Joss Whedon himself was attacked for emphasising a female character’s infertility in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s currently the third most successful film of 2015.
Kenneth Branagh was attacked for not making his remake of Cinderella more modern and feminist-friendly. It’s currently the fifth most successful film of 2015.
Fifty Shades of Grey was attacked by domestic violence activists and BDSM activists alike. It’s currently the fourth most successful film of 2015.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was slammed by The Guardian as “contemptuous of women,” employing working-class stereotypes, and making a climate change activist into the bad guy. It’s currently the ninth most successful film of 2015.
Even the Pixar animated family film Inside Out was accused of body-shaming by portraying a character that is the personification of sadness as “a grouchy fat lady.” It’s currently the seventh most successful film of 2015.
The lesson is clear: If social justice warriors were in charge, the most profitable films would never get made. Hollywood would become policed like it was during the Cold War. Only this time, it’s Melissa McCarthyism.
Likewise, if your film gets attacked by Jezebel and The Mary Sue, chances are you have a hit on your hands. Possibly as a result of their interventions. No wonder Los Angeles is going cold on clicktivists.
So what about video games? The gaming industry makes more money than Hollywood, after all, and hyper-progressive values would be just as damaging to its bottom line. Have they had a revolt yet?
You bet they have. Gaming is a little different to comedy or film, where it is creators, not fans, who took a stand against the new political correctness. The reverse is true in the world of video games. It was gamers, not creators, who launched the largest and most well-publicised revolt against social justice warriors yet seen: GamerGate.
When progressive activists and their allies in the games press turned on gamers last year, branding them a pack of misogynists and reactionaries whose subculture ought to “die,” gamers responded by taking over the very home of social justice warriors: Twitter.
In response to the excesses of hashtag activists, gamers created one of the longest-lived hashtag campaigns in history, one that is still active, 11 months after its creation. We doubt they will ever be forgiven by progressives: they’re still branded racists, misogynists, bullies, and harassers on a daily basis.
But it doesn’t matter. GamerGate has successfully stalled the advance of censorious activists in video games and is now a rallying point for all who oppose the new totalitarians. To enrage a social justice warrior today, all you have to do is add “#GamerGate” to one of your tweets.
(There’s even a phenomenon called “gamedropping,” whereby journalists spuriously inject GamerGate into their copy and headlines just to mop up clicks from the outrage circus.)
It’s been especially useful for the games industry, who can spare themselves the trouble of getting directly involved themselves, leaving it to consumers to express their befuddlement and frustration with those who would wade in and clamp down on innocent fun.
Not all developers and publishers have remained quiet, however. Those with strong opinions have joined the rebellion. BAFTA-winner Adrian Chmielarz, creator of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Mark Kern, team lead on the original World of Warcraft, and Daniel Vavra, lead designer and writer of the critically-acclaimed Mafia and co-founder of Warhorse Studios, have all taken the side of gamers during the controversy.
They are joined by anti-censorship stalwarts Running With Scissors and Destructive Creations, both of whom are known for their ultra-violent titles. But GamerGate remains primarily a gamers’ movement. Indeed, it’s now more of a fan subculture, with well-attended “GamerGate meetups” taking place all over the world.
The movement has symbols, slogans, memes, and even a mascot — the 4chan-created videogame character Vivian James. Fans have even taken to dressing up as the character at pop culture conferences. The movement looks set to leave not just a political and journalistic legacy, but a cultural one too.
Filmmakers and comedians no doubt look with envy at game developers, who can easily claim to have the most formidable, engaged, and anti-censorship consumer base in the world, which has erected a wall between cultural authoritarians and the games industry. The wall isn’t coming down any time soon.
Before his death in 2012, Andrew Breitbart — a Hollywood native himself — wrote of a simmering undercurrent of unease in America’s capital of entertainment. The politically correct values that had reigned for so long in tinseltown were not as universal as they seemed.
Breitbart hoped to turn what he called the “Hollywood underground” into a network of resistance against cultural elites. A popular conservative academic who tweets as Will Antonin recently had a similar idea. “Find members of the scattered underground [in arts & entertainment]… Link them.”
The network that Breitbart and Antonin hoped for now appears to be forming on its own. But it is not a conservative network. Indeed, it’s debatable whether the old labels of liberal and conservative, or left and right, are adequate to explain what’s going on.
Perhaps the most accurate distinction is libertarian versus authoritarian: those who want to control culture versus those who want to liberate it. The entertainment police versus the entertainment rebels. The rebels are producers and consumers. The police are a narrow band of loud but isolated media blowhards.
Even “libertarian” may not be an adequate term. This isn’t the economic libertarianism of Hayek or Rothbard, nor the political theorising of Nozick. This is, if anything, cultural libertarianism. And it has yet to be fully defined. There is not yet an intellectual figurehead or classic text for fans to cleave to.
Whatever label this new movement chooses to adopt, it’s clear that the demand for it is great, and growing stronger. If Eli Roth is serious about challenging the new cultural authoritarians, he will find no shortage of allies. He just needs to know where to look.