So Oprah said something that revealed a lot about poplar culture, internet culture, and the digital divide that exists between the two.
I’m going to try to recount this as best I can, and while I don’t claim to fully understand what happened, Oprah has highlighted the gap between those who are systematically terrified by popular media (everyone), and those who have been separated from society by the internet (4chan).
A few weeks ago she had a special on internet child pornography. Concerned for the children whom are harmed by the despicable, violence-inspiring sickness that is pedophilia, her program attempted to expose unseen dangers. Her concerns are more than warranted.
Yet in her efforts she “uncovered” child pornography on a site called 711chan.org, a self-proclaimed headquarters for Anonymous.
Anonymous is an internet-based group, spawned from the 711chan/4chan message boards, that has been trying to destroy Scientology by holding protests and disseminating information about the cult’s questionable endeavors to protect itself. Scientology is a whole other story, google it.
There was illegal content on 711chan, and Oprah accused them of them being child pornographers on national television with good reason.
During the show, Oprah read aloud an email from a member of Anonymous, who told her that:
“He doesn’t forgive, he does not forget, his group has over nine thousand penis’s, and they’re all raping children.”
Here are two popular memes / inside jokes treasured by 4chan.org.
1) “Over 9000!” A sound blurb from Dragonball Z.
2) Replacing any word in a sentence with the highlighted word PENIS.
So we have the common Anonymous motto “we do not forgive we do not forget,” followed by a double-meme/inside joke composed of Dragonball Z’s “over 9000” quote and the popular PENIS reference. The “all raping children” comment is what interests me here, if you can get over the graphic nature of the comment.
He’s being sarcastic. The group has its sicko’s, but there are hundreds of thousands of “members.” Of course Oprah is going to believe that they are all violent pedophiles, he told her what she was already going to assume. Yet in doing so he is mocking not only Oprah, but the entire media for their use of fear to entertain.
However, understandably, the masses believed him. 99% of people have never been to an Anonymous message board. The don't understand that these sites are places of completely unmediated commentary, where anonymous posters can say whatever they want, post whatever pictures they want. Their comments are erased within a few hours as new posts fill the page’s memory and because no one on the site can identify anyone else, they communicate through memes, inside jokes and a shared lean toward moral relativism.
But Oprah found some screwed up pictures and blew the whistle. It needed to be blown.
Sometimes people post disgusting photographs for ironic or satirical purposes, sometimes they really are just mentally sick. Thing is, when everyone is anonymous certain individuals can fit through the cracks, and truly free speech may have doomed the impressive social experiment that once was Anonymous. They need to clean up their act. Can they?
The sites are vulgar, yet there for everyone to watch: a perfect stream-of-consciousness representation of today’s internet-addicted, alienated, isolated, anomie-suffering believers in… the internet? relative normlessness? War on ignorance? Cynical and wired, many Anonymous users are the keepers of our communicative future and yet seem to be falling out of public grace before they can even get started.
So I spent time on 4chan way before Oprah did. Some posters are strange. Some post child pornography. Some are racist. The general feeling is that everyone is “kidding.” But many aren’t. If the group wants to survive it will need to figure out how to purge itself of unwanted individuals. They claim that scientology-backed agents began posting on 711chan in order to blackmail the group.
Maybe… Scientology is a motivated little bugger. With ties in Hollywood. And Oprah is a part of Hollywood. I'd say there was a phone call made.
But fifty million women now believe that there is really such a network. Anonymous is not what America now thinks it is, and if the general population cannot understand the intricate obstacles Anonymous faces… maybe Scientology/fear has won(?).
I’m not trying to be dramatic, we just need to realize that there has never been an organization like this, it cannot be classified. It has no real rules, no real leader, and almost no set agenda other than the dissemination of information.
In what was likely it’s dying breath in the eyes of popular reception, however, a member of Anonymous made the greatest pop-culture prank of the past 5 minutes. They punked Oprah, mocking her for the fear her “reporting” creates and admitting defeat in the form of a brilliant inside joke.
Why should you care? Because the two groups of people involved here do not understand one another. Anonymous will not explain what it is going through, and the general population wouldn’t listen if they did. An entire generation of well educated athiest web users are losing touch with the country that spawned them.
Ban the kiddie porn Anonymous, some things aren’t funny. Chill the fuck out America, transparency is the only way forward.