I usually don’t write about this side of American culture, but it is hard not to these days. The man in the photo is Graham Allen, an “internet personality” (a meaningless, convoluted term I despise) who nevertheless has over millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. He is known best for his “Rant Nation” and appearances on Fox News and other rightwing media. The photo was posted on Facebook and Twitter with the caption:
Practicing our “toxic masculinity”
Hey Gillette does this offend you?! 😂😂
I’ll raise my kids the way I believe they should be….thanks for your advice😉
To be clear, I despise corporate moralizing and virtue signaling. It doesn’t matter which corporation is doing it, Gillette, Nike. It’s a cynical and puerile marketing strategy designed to latch on to some au courant trend in bourgeoisie society. It inoculates consumers to the loathsome and abusive character of corporate capitalism and the record of egregious labour or human rights policies of these companies in particular. But what is interesting is that the Gillette ad had actually nothing to say about gun rights. It was an ad denouncing (albeit in the smug parlance of corporate doublespeak) that bullying and sexism are wrong. It was, in essence, the corporate sanctification of the #MeToo movement. But it is an interesting study into the psyche and entrenched angst at the heart of white America.
Most of Allen’s videos are too obnoxious or stupid to sit through (I have). He is a sort of rightwing Kim Kardashian. Spectacle with no substance. His bizarre Christian Oprah-esque self-help talks are complete with sappy background music, I guess to show his audience that he is being serious. But they are also juxtaposed to tirades against the demands of millennials, working people and the oppressed, which kind of goes hand in hand with the reactionary American evangelical notion of puritanism and punitive work ethics. Most try to be humorous in a lowbrow sort of way, but several of his videos are far from harmless.
He has minimized or denied police violence against people of colour, employed Donald Trump’s vile rhetoric regarding immigrants and refugees (see him blaming migrant parents for the inhuman policy of separating them from their children at the border), supported the idiotic border wall, dehumanized LGBTQ people through mockery or even the implied threat of violence (see his copious use of guns as props in various videos), promoted feckless nationalism (enforce the pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth or kneeling for an anthem drenched in racist blood), American militarism (Allen is supposedly an Army veteran who has had 2 tours of combat and pushes the tired trope of “support the troops or else” mantra despite decades of murderous wars of imperialism), many tirades against newly elected senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or what he believes is “socialism” sans any historical or class analysis (a topic forbidden in America to both liberals and conservatives alike). His favourite rants seem to be against people who supposedly hate America (the “greatest country in the world” and “better than everyone else” on the planet according to him), socialists, activists, etc, or posting sentimental slop that erases or glosses over the nation’s imperialistic militarism or its dark legacy of racism, bigotry, genocide and colonial oppression.
Some of Allen’s videos are full of blatant falsehoods. In one where he disparages Colin Kaepernick, for instance, he trots out the lie that another football celebrity, Pat Tillman, died for his country. In reality he was killed by “friendly fire,” a fact buried by the Pentagon. There is even evidence that suggests he was possibly murdered and his personal effects, including a personal journal, were destroyed. Prior to his death Tillman came out against the war and did not want his name to be used as a war propaganda tool. But Allen doesn’t care about those wishes. He would rather parrot Pentagon talking points that excuse the imperial war machine in Washington.
But Allen’s recent photo is rather emblematic of the toxic rot at the heart of American society. Celebrity internet personalities are experts, albeit unwittingly, at illustrating this cultural degeneration. Excessive posturing to the point of making one appear more like a caricature than a human being, historical revisionism via sentimental language, belligerent nationalism for the sake of belligerence alone, a deep seated loathing for any intellectual curiosity and no real interest in the issues that ordinary working class people are actually facing or the systems that cause strife to begin with. But he operates in an echo chamber that can be found among liberals as well. Insulated to reality and uninterested in anything that contradicts or dissents from their worldview.
This particular photo isn’t offensive because it fetishizes guns (it does, of course) but this phallic-like obsession is indeed associated with a pervasive insecure masculinity that is endemic to American culture. This photo is a sort of micro-study in how the culture itself has steadily become infantilized. Gillette’s ad was annoying in the same way all corporate moralizing is annoying. But the backlash is mostly hype. That there is no discussion of the malfeasance of corporate capitalism itself tells us who is narrating, directing and moderating this so-called discussion.
Allen, like so many of these “personalities” today, embodies this odd disconnect from reality we see on display among the corporate and political class and the mainstream media as well. While he posits himself as being different from his liberal nemeses, he is really the same. Peddling manufactured outrage about manufactured issues and nonexistent threats, e.g. attacks on masculinity or gender, terrorists coming over the southern border, communists, government taking away guns. And I would guess he makes a tidy sum doing so.
Meanwhile, the lived realities of most Americans are rendered a pale shadow. Nationalistic xenophobia becomes the narrative forced on the working poor by people like Allen who hardly represents them. Meanwhile, most Americans have blended families. Families with LGBTQ, people of colour, and members on either side of several borders. Families of faith or no faith at all. Families with little to no healthcare coverage, that have to commute hours to at least two or more jobs because they cannot afford rent or mortgage closer to them, and that could not economically survive beyond one paycheck. Families struggling to survive under corporate capitalism, imperialism, and the dictatorship of money that is, in fact, the real United States.
Kenn Orphan 2019
I just saw a commercial of his on Youtube. He’s the epitome of a Right Wing, Krugger-Dunning stooge. He thinks he’s very smart, but doesn’t have a clue that his rants are without substance. And of course, he’s posing with guns, a crew-cut and tattooed, because he assumes that means “strength.” – I would just ignore idiots like him, but what makes him scary is that there are the ton of bigger idiots in the South who will vote for him. I’m truly scared to death that in 10 years time there will be dozens of Lauren Boeberts and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s in Washington.
I’m looking forward to reading more of your articles. Keep up the good work.
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Worse yet, he even has a book out that I happened to catch at my local Sam’s Club this past week with a title along the likes of DEAR AMERICA…LIVE EVERY DAY LIKE IT’S 9/12. I didn’t buy it, naturally, as I HATE “9/11” sensitivities and anything that even mildly brings up that series of events and how such trash has influenced the American public, from the conspiracy theories to the jokes made at the survivors’ and victims’ families’ collective expense and everything else in between. Even so, I can only imagine why the publisher would want to publish anything written by the likes of any man (or woman) like what this blogger is describing or just what kind of people would buy such a book and even take its messages to heart, considering what I’ve heard and read about Graham Allen and conservatives just like him from this article and elsewhere and the following their kind has garnered over the years. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying that liberals are THAT much better or even if they’re any better at all. What I AM saying, rather, is that all the uninformed ridicule–childish name-calling and other blatant insults included–and all the consequential blind verbal assaults against “the enemy” and the character of such people is nothing less than disheartening, disgusting, and embarrassing. The fact, too, that these people and the so-called “social justice warriors” of the nation have turned the entire country into their own personal social, religious, and political warzone has only made the 2010s (and, so far, the 2020s as well) such an unbearable time to live in from a social perspective.
Hopefully, the younger generation(s) of this country will have enough critical thinking skills to realize the selfish, destructive, and mindless nature of people like Graham Allen and not only NOT repeat his and his lot’s message, but also condemn it for its all-too-readily transparent shortcomings (i.e., its foundation on poor information and its thin-skinned, hostility). At the same time, though, I’m not holding my breath, as there have been plenty of Gen-Zers who have succumbed to the same simplified mindset of using sweeping generalizations against that which they don’t like (e.g., “Millennials can’t rock” when it’s the record companies who’ve given out the contracts to the alleged “non-rockers” of Generation Y and no doubt flat-out ignored the “Millennials” who CAN perform compelling, timeless rock music) rather than thinking “outside the box” or otherwise for themselves. Plus, I can only imagine just what kind of influence Graham here has had so far on his own children, judging by the picture that this blogger has provided, or even what his own wife sees in him…or, for that matter, how he treats her. At any rate, regardless from what end of America’s (or any nation’s) political spectrum one comes from, ignorant mouths whose words appeal to ignorant minds are disturbingly dangerous, and though we should ignore them on general principle, the weight their influence carries is justification enough to beware of them.
You forgot he is a Veteran who has served in 2 tours in the Middle East! You need to realize America isnt just the yuppies and rinos of the north & a lot of people agree with Graham
There are scores of veterans who have realized that they were being used as stormtroopers by the American Empire and its military industrial complex to bomb and commit atrocities in the global south for the profit of the wealthy 1%. Those veterans renounced this militaristic, authoritarian overreach. So Graham Allen stands in the rather sickening category of a vaunted bootlicker to the empire.
Allen is a typical grifter with nothing original to say. That is why he is so appealing to the far right. His “rants” are nothing more than meaningless, sentimental drivel, but they work within a milieu in the US where intellectual discourse and critical thinking died a painful death decades ago.
And for the record, I detest “yuppies” and “rinos” along with neoliberal shills, corporate Democrats and elitists. If you took the time to actually read this blog you would realize this.
I have been looking for an article like this, have you ever done any research on who pays these people like Allen or any of the other talking heads that run around Facebook and Twitter like right wing outlaws, where their weapons are propaganda.
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Pat Tillman did die for our country. Regardless of whether it was from “friendly fire” he still died fighting for and protecting it. His death is public knowledge and no one is saying it was at the hands of an enemy. For you to say otherwise, you lose all credibility. Shame on you.
None of the soldiers in Afghanistan were or are “fighting for and protecting” the US. They are fighting for corporations and the wealthy. Most have been bamboozled into buying the militaristic myth of fighting for American “liberty and freedom.” But that does not alter this fact one bit.
Also, Pat Tillman was killed by “friendly fire” and the military attempted to cover it up. So shame on you for attempting to provide a cover for such a corrupt and evil institution.
So by all means, feel free to leave my page if you think I have no credibility. This is not the place for inane nationalist rubbish.
I think he suffers from little man syndrome. He looks like he’s about 5 foot 4 or so. He’s a very angry little man.
This very articulate and well-written, thank you.
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There are some real obnoxious nuts out there, but perhaps a greater problem is the droning indifference of most of the middle class. Their profound sleep distresses me more than this guy’s right wing rants.
True, but this is nut simply about Graham Allen. It is more about the toxic culture that produces people like him and the disconnect of it all to the lived lives of ordinary people.
Do you know Graham? You evidently don’t know jack about him. He is not a nut. He is a man who gave to his country and continues to wake up people who aren’t woke to what’s going on.
I know he is a reactionary nationalist who was a tool of American imperialism on a nation which never attacked the US. He speaks nonsense and has a huge following thanks to far right media. The only ones he has “woke” up are proto-fascists.