Some unsolicited thoughts on the Milo controversy:
1. The total collapse of entertainment and politics into one another—i.e. The fact that the political arena is now under the umbrella of the entertainment industry as Fran Lebowitz said last Monday in conversation at New York Live Arts—means that we can no longer differentiate between POLITICIANS and ENTERTAINERS. It almost seems silly to mention in hindsight, but we saw this with the cult of Obama, who was “charming” and “adorable” and did things “like a boss,” never mind his merits as a statesman and his hand in paving the way for the Trump Administration, as well as the trickle-down cults of political heartthrobs Cory Booker and Justin Trudeau. (To paraphrase Fran again: politicians aren’t here to entertain you nor are you here to provide an audience for politicians. Their job is to represent your constituency.)
2. Milo is an entertainment personality NOT a policymaker. He is the Lena Dunham of the right insofar as the place he occupies in our online commons is that of the court jester. The outcry over his recently unearthed “pedophilia” commentary is not only DISPROPORTIONATE but also largely DISINGENUOUS.
3. It’s disproportionate because Milo’s comments on women, trans people, Muslims, etc. are demonstrably just as bad if not worse than his take on a nuanced and complicated conversation that has been happening in the LGBT discourse for some time as this article by Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs is correct and, frankly, brave to point out. Milo’s inability to capture its complexity in a punchline just goes to show what a poor excuse for a transgressive camp persona he really is.
4. It’s disingenuous because, as the piece argues, it allows the false solidarity of moral indignation to stand in for actual concern and compassion. Not to mention, Milo’s account of the teen encounter with the Catholic priest sounds every bit as insincere and confabulated as anything else that’s ever come out of his mouth (see: the canned “Father Michael” bit). It has all the airs of smut, designed as it is to simultaneously revolt and titillate.
5. In a broader sense, no one has made an adequate case as to why someone on the left telling a Milo or an Ann Coulter or a Richard Spencer to “go fuck yourself” full stop is more “powerful” (especially for the majority of people who are not in the left or on the fence about the left) than someone on the right providing a list of examples of how the left has also been intolerant of dissenting opinions and free speech. We can all agree that Milo is degenerate and despicable—one of the lowest bottom-feeders to emerge from the overall lowering of the bar that flies for culture these days—but this contradiction of terms actually makes the case against him weaker.
6. The idea that Milo’s career is “over,” which has been gleefully circulating in left circles, is laughable. Since when did a well-publicized setback like losing a book deal spell the end for a professional opportunist? One of the worst traits of the left is the ease with which it rests its laurels on symbolic victories, often those it had nothing to do with, at the expense of structural critiques. Milo will be his own undoing but how he will finally accomplish it is yet to be seen. Most likely, it will not be redemptive for anyone involved.