Rule 34 and Epic Raids: Sarah Palin as a Victim of Internet Pranksterism
Daniel Metz / University of Texas – Austin

Sarah Palin as Joker

In the dark recesses of the contemporary Internet lurks an anarchic group of hackers who loosely define themselves as “Anonymous.” These so-called “cyber-terrorists” gather primarily on the “/b/” message board on 4chan.org, an immensely popular and influential image board, although they use various Internet Relay Chats (IRCs) as their undercover communication network.1 It is difficult to write about this group for a number of reasons; primarily, these Internet personalities insist on utter anonymity (hence the name), but also, for purposes of secrecy, their goings-on are never well archived. Nevertheless, they have left enough of a trail of frenzy to warrant some thought.

Anonymous was made internationally famous for its assault, “raid” in their jargon, against the Church of Scientology. Aside from various cyber attacks like Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks on the church’s networks, the hacker group organized a number of “in real-life” protests against the church. These protests, starting in February of 2008, brought together an estimated 7,000 people in over 100 cities from Australia to England and throughout the U.S.2 Apart from organizing public harassment, the group distributed classified documents exposing some of the unethical behavior of the infamously secretive church, most of which they had obtained through hacking the church’s databases. This series of events was moderately publicized in the mainstream press.

Now that the origin of Anonymous in the popular imagination has been established, it is possible to read its most recent activities in context. As mentioned above, many of the participants in Anonymous frequent the message board “/b/.” For the most part, this website is a place for people to post pictures and comments anonymously, primarily concerning female nudity, racism, and violence. This haven, much like the Mos Eisley Spaceport in the Star Wars film series, would best be described as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Nevertheless, the site is immensely popular for its offbeat sense of humor and ability to create, seemingly out of its own lawlessness, popular Internet fads, or “memes” as they are now called.

One of these “memes” is called “Rule 34.” According to Encyclopedia Dramatica, the unofficial wikipedia-style database for all things Anonymous, Rule 34 of the Internet is: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.”3 This essentially argues that the Internet has allowed fetishists to produce and distribute pornography of any known topic. The corresponding, but less official, Rule 35 states, “If porn cannot be found of it, it must be created.”4 These two lines have spawned a popular game among these cyber-personalities, one in which photo-editing software is used to create pornographic images from those that are not.

On the morning of Friday, August 29, 2008, Presidential Candidate John McCain announced that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be his vice presidential running mate. Throughout the mainstream media, this decision was shocking and spawned exploratory coverage that still persists as of the time of writing. On “/b/,” literally moments after the announcement, the inevitable post came up; a picture of Palin was posted alongside the simple phrase, “Rule 34.” This call to arms was followed in the coming days with dozens if not hundreds expressing the same desire to either find or produce pornographic images of the admittedly good-looking Governor. Not more than a day after the initial call, pictures began to be posted on the site of Palin in various compromising positions. A less-vulgar representation of this instinct circulated the Internet and mainstream media, a picture of a bikini clad, gun toting woman photoshopped with Palin’s head. While this photo gathered a lot of attention, including a much-coveted reference in a “Saturday Night Live” opening skit, the activities on 4chan were much more nefarious and lewd.

View Anonymous Palin Images

It would seem that, once the initial fun with Palin was over, Anonymous was finished with their harassment of the potential first lady. Yes, they continued posting these pictures and expressing their opinions of her as they would with any other public figure, but there was little reason for these somewhat harmless pranks to be escalated or made anything more than isolated pictures. In the early hours of the morning of September 16, however, Anonymous struck against Palin in a much more serious way.

Palin had been recently under fire for allegedly using a private Yahoo email account for her government-related communications.5 This was being viewed as an attempt to skirt the public records laws of Alaska as well as the Freedom of Information Act, effectively hiding potentially important records. This scandal was being raised in conjunction with “Troppergate,” an investigation into the allegation that Palin had acted unethically concerning the firing of an Alaska State Trooper. A number of people involved in the case were trying to subpoena the contents of Palin’s personal email accounts, both “gov.sarah@yahoo.com” and “gov.palin@yahoo.com,” in order to get a more full understanding of her involvement with the incident.6 The coverage of this aspect of the scandal was featured on many blogs leading up to the 16th of September, and many writings included reference to her email account name.

Unfortunately for the Governor, once the account name was made public a member of Anonymous was able to easily hack into Palin’s “gov.palin” account. Yahoo, like many webmail providers, uses a password-reset function based on personal questions. Because Palin is such a public figure, the answer to the questions were widely available; purportedly, the questions were her zip code, date of birth, and the place she met her husband (the first two were apparent from her Wikipedia page, and the third question was discussed in one of Palin’s speeches).7 Shortly after, the hacker posted the account information and reset password (popcorn) onto “/b/,” and still more people accessed her account. A number of screenshots were taken of some of her emails and her address book, as well as a handful of family photos, and these were promptly submitted to Wikileaks, an online repository for sensitive information.8 Shortly after this raid on Palin’s account, a different member of Anonymous changed her password (samsonite1) and emailed one of her aids about the situation. The account was soon frozen and, within a matter of hours, the account was deleted.

Palin’s Inbox

On September 17, the mainstream media picked up on the story, spawning coverage by cable networks like CNN and Fox News, as well as a large number of news websites and blogs. The McCain campaign released a statement saying, “This is a shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them.”9 The Secret Service and the FBI has since stepped in, investigating the intrusion.

Bill O’Reilly on Palin’s Privacy

One especially interesting example of media coverage of this event came from right-wing Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly had covered stories on Anonymous before, and his grudge against the group was only made more explicit with his coverage on September 17 and 18. On his show he described the website 4chan.org as “despicable, slimy, scummy” among other things. He also called for the administrator of the website to be put into jail. In retaliation of this opinion, some Anonymous member actually hacked into the website “BillOReilly.com,” exposing and subsequently posting the email addresses and passwords for hundreds of his community members.10 This opened his followers up for a number of potential identity thefts, although no coverage of such events occurred. There has been no apparent repercussion for this cyber-crime. The message was sent, however, through the act and the corresponding media coverage, that Anonymous is a powerful group, and one that can respond and react to news quite topically.

As of the deadline for this writing, one suspect has been the indicted by a grand jury concerning the initial hack of Palin’s account. Whoever the hacker is, he used a proxy, a method by which an Internet user can disguise his web surfing. A number of the screenshots posted to Wikileaks contained details about a proxy service named “CTunnel.” The FBI contacted the man in charge of CTunnel, Gabriel Ramuglia, asking for the I.P. address of the hacker. Ramuglia reportedly cooperated and gave the I.P. address for a student residence on the campus of the University of Tennessee. Reportedly, David Kernell, a 20-year old Economics major, held this address.11 The case is currently open.12

The outcome of this trial is not of real concern, however, to the story of Palin’s hacked account. While many in the media will appreciate and need a scapegoat to end this story, the substance is on the act itself. Internet Pranksterism is a fairly new phenomenon, and definitely one that is in its infancy in the U.S. political scene. What we have seen is that it is immediate, imaginative, and potentially quite devastating. In a twentieth century political campaign, nude photos such as those involved in the Rule 34 game of Sarah Palin would have ended her career as a politician; still, certainly, those photos could do some damage if seen by the wrong people. Likewise, had the email account contained more damning evidence, Palin’s future would be less bright. Both of these issues, however, are part of a new world, one in which the sadism of a few net-savvy youngsters can affect the world in a matter of hours. Sarah Palin has been identified as an easy target because of her gender, her politics, her appearance, and her offbeat character. But that doesn’t really matter, for to look at the target is to miss the point. Internet Pranks are so quick and so easy, and require so little organization, that they should not be viewed as meditated. They are the acting out of a frustrated subculture of our society, a subculture that has taken power by means of technological innovations. They have the power to change the world by exploiting security holes and gaining access and authority over normally classified materials, and they do it for nothing more than amusement.

Image Credits:
1. Sarah Palin as Joker
2. Bill O’Reilly on Palin’s Privacy

Author Bio:
Daniel C. Metz is a Master’s student at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his B.A. from New York University in the department of Cinema Studies, where he focused primarily on film history and historiography. His research tends to focus around confrontations between mainstream and subcultural institutions.

Please feel free to comment.

image_print
  1. “Church Calls Protesters ‘Cyber Terrorists.’” ABC News. February 11, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  2. Moncada, Carlos. “Organizers Tout Scientology Protest, Plan Another.” Tampa Bay Online. February 12, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  3. “Rule 34.” Encyclopedia Dramatica. October 5, 2008. []
  4. Ibid. []
  5. Vick, Carl. “Governor Is Asked To Release E-Mails.” Washington Post. September 10, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  6. Demer, Lisa. “Alaskans question Palin’s e-mail secrecy.” Juneau Empire. September 16, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  7. Koman, Richard. “Who hacked Sarah’s email? And who is rubicon10?” ZDNET. September 18, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  8. Wikileaks Staff. “VP contender Sarah Palin hacked.” Wikileaks. September 17, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  9. Raphael, JP. “Palin Email Hack Adds to Republican Tech Headache.” PCWorld. September 17, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  10. Goodwin, Dan. “Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s website hacked.” Wikileaks. []
  11. Gustin, Sam. “Palin hacker’s IP address linked to Tennessee college dorm.” Ars Technica. September 22, 2008. October 5, 2008. []
  12. Hruska, Joel. “Alleged Palin e-mail hacker indicted, faces jail time.” Ars Technica. October 8, 2008. October 8, 2008. < http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081008-alleged-palin-e-mail-hacker-indicted-faces-jail-time.html> []

23 comments

  • hey mister metz, this was a really nice piece.

  • Very well done… both to elucidate the situation and educate those of us out of the cultural loop to the details of these 21st Century…. no so “Merry……Pranksters.”

  • A very useful examination for me in my studies on “propaganda” and the flow of information on the internet.. well done!

  • Glad I could be of help, Garth. I hope you’ll let me know how this works into your research.

  • I am curious–do Anonymous ever align with the right? Are they politically driven, anarchic, or merely pranksters?
    Hmmm. Thank you for an interesting take on something I would not have otherwise known about!

  • Jacqueline Vickery / Flow Co-Coordinating Editor

    From my research and experiences with Anonymous, I would say that their answer would but that they do it all for the “lulz”, in other words for the laughs. I have definitely encountered them in both conservative and liberal message boards, generally the purpose is to “stir the pot” if you will and get a reaction from people. I could be wrong, but I tend to think they are much more prank-driven rather than political (at least in the partisan sense).

  • First off, I thought that this was a rather impressive piece. I also have to wonder about more “mainstream” porn representation, as it has been widely reported that Larry Flynt’s goal was to produce a porno entitled “Naylin’ Palin” featuring a lookalike of the governor.

  • Info on the completed Larry Flynt Palin porn is available here.

    I echo Colin’s question: is Anonymous’s production of Palin porn more “political” than Larry Flynt’s?

  • Larry Flynt has made “Who’s Nailin Paylin,” or at least the first two episodes of it. Those interested can find it on his website.

    I would definitely echo the sentiments of Jackie, in that the group tends not to be politically motivated. I will add the caveat that it is probably more complicated than that. Underneath the “lulz” one can often see certain ideals that are both political and (sometimes) partisan. One of those is a deep concern for free speech. Another is a neutral net. That is not to say, however, that they are always, or even often, fighting for such lofty goals. Mostly, these attacks are against irrelevant individuals, groups, or sites.

    It is also important to recognize the unorganized nature of the group. While they do often band together (calling for “/b/lackup”), they can also work alone, as in the case of the initial hack on Palin’s account. This should make us all weary of assigning any political affiliation or ideological agenda. Nevertheless, I will standby the fact that one can often see underlying political causes even when they do not claim it to be.

  • Fascinating piece, Daniel. I think you’ve really hit on an important phenomenon in digital culture and civic life that needs much more critical insight.

    As far as the impetus or political nature of this group, I think that there is something deeply political going on with their actions and creations, perhaps somewhat akin to the discourses around satire that are evident in other columns in this issue. That ideology, I think, aligns most closely with anarchy (maybe even anarchoterrorism).

    Given this, I think that the first image in this column is of a joke face Palin is entirely appropriate. As I’m sure many of us know, joke faces appeared all over the Internet this summer in response to the second Batman movie. They were on blogs like Oh No They Didn’t! and on comment sections of users’ social networking sites (I saw them all over MySpace). At first, they were specific to the film (shots and loops of Heath Ledger as the Joker), but then people started creating joke faces for celebrities like Tyra Banks. Now we have joke face Sarah Palin, which I think is really important. Remembering the film (indeed the franchise in general, but I site the second Batman film amid all the post-9/11 readings that precipitated from its release), the Joker used pranks to create catastrophic destruction on public, civic livelihood.

    On the surface, it would seem that this would be for the fun of it, but I also think it’s important to point out that politics are at work here, as a comment on how the system (in this case, bipartisan, capitalist-driven democracy) is entirely flawed, on both sides (while this is an all-Palin issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if groups like the Anonymous manipulated political figures like Barack Obama). The only solution, by this logic, is to completely tear everything apart, by any means necessary. Thus, what seems like a meaningless prank is actually for deeply charged, angry, causal political purposes. That members of the Anonymous hacked into Palin’s personal e-mail account and made it available for the public, forcing its termination and media fodder, I think further bolsters this argument.

    Of course, I don’t want to speak for groups like the Anonymous and, in fact, they might be all too quick to renounce what I have to say — maybe even load the comment box adjoining this article with hundreds of comments! Watch out!

  • After writing my response to Alana and Colin, I did have an afterthought to add the fact that Obama is probably the most ridiculed politician on /b/ right now. Unfortunately, they too ascribe to the “racism as humor” trend that is so prevalent on the Internet. Alyx, I think you hit it right on the head.

    For those interested, I will direct you (without a link for the sake of decency!) to the Encyclopedia Dramatica page on Obama. It is full of disgusting, hateful, and definitely racist material, but it is an example of the kind of anti-Obama material that these pranksters are into. Be advised that it is not for the weak stomached.

    I think, Alyx, also that you are very right about the Joker image. At first I was somewhat hesitant to use it, but in the end, for the reasons that you list, I think it is a powerful image.

  • Annie Petersen / Flow Co-Coordinating Editor

    Alyx makes a really fantastic point. Batman dabbles in quasi-fascism (suspension of rights of privacy for the sake of the greater good) in order to surveille, isolate, and control the ultimate “prankster”; meanwhile, said prankster tampers and toys with accepted cultural mores, testing what society readily associates with and expects of established social groups (prisoners, cops, etc.)

    The Joker is, of course, evil. But the animosity towards him doesn’t so much deal with his general pathology (the scene when he threatens Maggie Gyllenhall is scary, but not nearly as scary as when we realize the sort of manipulation of which he is capable — the moments when we learn that Batman has been sent to the wrong site; when we learn that those in Joker masks are the actual prisoners, etc. Pranksters screw with expectations; they manipulate what we take as truth; they unsettle us — whether through graphic pornography of public figures or, as Daniel mentions above, manifesting the sort of vile racism that, as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, undulates beneath the surface of the anti-Obama campaign.

    Perhaps this also explains the popularity, for lack of a better word, of Ledger’s performance as the Joker — he’s a villain without a pop psychology past. He doesn’t just test our hero — he tests all of us. So too with the internet pranksters of this article — they’re literally Anonymous. Nameless, faceless, intensely intelligent — and thus, like The Joker, utterly terrifying.

  • Great research. However to say that ‘Internet Pranksterism’ is a new phenomenon is somewhat untrue. Since the dawn of the ‘Net, there have been hackers, hacktivists, online activists and script kiddies. Understanding their differences is important, and I am not sure if what we saw with Palin was anything particularly new — something of a blend between script kiddies & hacktivism. In 1999 the art collective Etoy.com used FloodNet software to perpetuate a collective DOS attack on commercial website Etoys.com, for example, when the commercial site tried to claim Etoy.com’s domain name as infringement (Etoy.com has been online since 1994). This is a clear example of hacktivism. Floodnet software has since been used for several campaigns associated with Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT). Critical Art Ensemble explored this territory in the ’90s with its theorization of online hacktivism. So to reduce the work done on Palin’s image, identity and email account to ‘pranksterism’ is perhaps to misread the impact of the fool, prankster — or today the script-kiddie-cum-hacker — on the socio-political terrain. The fool or prankster has a long tradition in the political theater… and it is usually the fool that reveals to all that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. To say that such activities are unmeditated is again, somewhat underestimating what is happening here. First, we are not dealing with a subculture. There is nothing sub- or ‘under’ about it. This is mass culture of the internet era. Second, if frustration is a motive, than there is more than amusement as the gain. Amusement is not born from frustration. Amusement is born from boredom. Frustration suggests a political motive, and frustration is the fertile ground of large-scale activity against political infrastructures. As for Palin, I think there is more than just her “gender, her politics, her appearance, and her offbeat character” at stake. Palin revealed herself to be ignorant of the knowledge in governance (such as her claim, contra the Constitution, that the VP ‘leads’ the Senate), foreign policy (her proximity to Alaska notwithstanding), and the limits of power of her office (such as her now evident abuse of power involving a certain State Trooper). That the younger electorate armed with the tools of hacktivism is more able to grasp that certain political candidates are nothing less than mannequins of power is precisely the ground of frustration. Amusement was not the gain of waging a strategic online hack against Palin’s image, identity and inbox. The gain was (a) denying her the office of VP of the United States and (b) reconfirming that the Net is a viable terrain of political contestation.

  • I think it’s funny that y’all keep calling Anonymous a “group,” when there is no organization, no common goal, and more often than not, lots of arguing among so-called “members.” I also think that the way staging protests is termed “public harassment” is very telling.

  • Dowdicus;

    I understand your argument about disorganization, but I think you must allow that this is the best way to discuss what is happening in the name of “Anonymous.” You will certainly admit that individuals join together under that title and perform actions as a group. After all, the semi-official slogan of the group is: “Because none of us are as cruel as all of us.” There is a common organization when it comes to their “raids,” and in many cases they require the participation of many individuals. The fact that it is not a traditional organization with traditional hierarchies does not mean that it should be viewed as a collaboration.

    And as far as the “public harassment” phrase is concerned, I venture to say that you haven’t seen any of the Anonymous protests against Scientology. Singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” and holding signs that say “Scientology Raped Me” are pretty decent examples of public harassment, don’t you think?

  • Before we proceed any further, I think it would be best if we first took the time to really understand what anonymous is.

    Anonymous isn’t a group, organization, what have you. Anonymous isn’t even a real epitaph for something that someone may “join”, in the traditional sense.

    Perhaps we should look into the origins of “Anonymous”. Anonymous posting was a revolutionary concept, its potential was really met with the start of an “imageboard” called 2ch. This 2ch was a Japanese “board” or “forum” where one could choose to post with a name, but by default posted anonymously. The real beauty of it was that one could read anything on the website, post up a comment, a new thread, an image, a file, an internet link, virtually anything without having to sign up, log in, or go through various captchas or hundreds of welcome screens. It all started in a college dormroom and went on to become one of the most popular websites in Japan, raking in more profits than even the very-well-known myspace and expanding to include boards on virtually anything (some regarding culture, others regarding cooking, transportation, work, economy, lifestyles, clothing, art, the list goes on).

    A new imageboard was created to accommodate us, the English-speaking. 4chan. Yes, the dreaded 4chan. And for approximately 2 years all it knew was posting and discussion over everything wapanese (general term that can loosely be used as “faux-Japanese” or, more literally, “White Japanese”). This subculture consisted of people who had varying levels of “passion” for the Japanese culture, one may have simply watched an anime or two, one may have a room full of figurines depicting various characters popular in Japanese culture, TV, or internet.

    It has been running for 5 years now, since then spreading simply by word-of-mouth, and become a very popular website. The freedom that was given by the website, along with the mind-boggling amounts of traffic allowed for many people, sane and not, to post many things virtually without limit (There has always been a shortage of moderators and with enough posts coming per second to completely cycle the first page of newly updated threads in /b/, one can only imagine the chaos and disarray and what it was like to have an impossible job as the moderator). For the most part, /b/ was full of games where one would take chances or manipulate the boards and hope to win (predict the number of their post, or even offer a prize to the one that could), pornographical materials, internet “trolls” (ones that intentionally attack a naive user, their weapons of choice usually being well-disguised viruses or pretending to be incredibly stupid or ignorant to the point that any oblivious reader wouldn’t laugh or wave it off, but would be angered or even compelled to write a response without knowing that it would all be for naught), if you don’t mind my french, just general bullshit. /b/’s sense of humor was always very black, and could usually pull a chuckle out of the most tragic situations, making use of that small sense of perverseness that exists in all of us. A running joke on /b/ claims that the “aged” or “veteran” /b/ browser does at first but eventually stops feeling remorse for laughing at /b/’s jokes.

    A large concentration of all the disturbed and insane individuals that have produced a majority of these despicable images and done many of the things you’ve heard about across the web or in real life that they have dubbed as “Righteous” or “Epic Raids” can be found in the board /b/. Why? Because this is the only board where there are no rules, save for a harshly monitored ban on child porn and any posts that may threaten the life(ves) or the well-being of individual(s).

    The majority of the other boards focus on other things, and a little less than half are “worksafe” (basically, no vulgar material allowed). Most of them I find disappointingly petty, some of the text boards sometimes serve well for intelligent discussion, some of the creative boards are also interesting to browse through or post on whenever I get a creative impulse and feel like sharing the work with 4chan. Wallpapers/General is also another interesting board, if you don’t mind the occasional “risque” background.

    =========

    But back to “Anonymous”. Yes, many who were involved in the “In Real Life” (IRL) raids of the churches of Scientology were vigilantes with a common cause, leading us to believe that they are part of a group and, thus, further assume that there is a head, a slogan, and whatever else it is that groups typically have. But you have to understand that these weren’t just 4channers, there were many people who had just learned about 4chan and felt like trying to become something by being a vigilante against an institution which they thought evil.

    An accurate tag for these people wouldn’t be “Anonymous”, it would be something along the lines of “V-for-Vendetta-inspired grassroots members wishing to be revolutionary vigilantes fighting against evil and oppression”. And the people that attacked Sarah Palin were “/b/tards” (it is also worth noting that this is an epitaph they’ve given themselves). The people that raid, that commit hateful crimes on the internet, they’re all the clever bastards browsing /b/.

    A majority of the other boards even despise the /b/ board and all its visitors. Every time one visits another board and derails it with a vulgar image or spam, it’s always the same comment; “Is /b/ trying to fag shit up again?”

    This is just so you could be a little more educated when you’re pointing fingers, because when you accuse “Anonymous” of anything, you’re only pointing fingers at an idea, at a bunch of meaningless little posts. /b/tards and anonymous, “know the difference, it could save your life”.

    Also, regarding the Daniel’s last post, what about African-American protests against prejudice and discrimination? Are you sure that you want to call either of them “examples of public harassment”?

  • Are you kidding me?

    This guy has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. “Cyber Terrorists” my ass, when Fox News said that we laughed hard! *chan are DISCUSSION BOARDS for god’s sakes, not undercover leet hacking groups dedicated to the destruction of the internet as we know it. To everyone who reads this: this guy has no idea what he’s talking about and should be ashamed for pulling these lies out of his ass. I mean, /b/ is called “random” for a reason – everything goes, including porn etc, but the only people who think we are Super Cyber Terrorists are people who have not spent more then a week on *chan.

    Sorry for ranting, it’s just kind of annoying to see people talk about something that they did absolutely no research on and know nothing about, and then have people actually believe their lies.

  • Ah, never mind, reading Pandar’s comment it looks like he’s pretty much described things in much more detail then I did.
    Pandar’s pretty much correct. I disagree with him in some areas, but that is mainly because I happen to go to 7chan and 420chan much more often then 4chan (I say I am a 4channer because 4 is much more known and I don’t want to go into detail about what the differences between 7 and 420chan are), but he pretty much explained everything.

    Props to you, Pandar.

  • Just another opinion

    It’s nothing more than internet anarchy. “Anonymous” is just a term for an institution-less internet society. And to be honest, it’s part of all of us. 4chan gives people a place to speak their minds without having to worry about the “standards” we set for ourselves in “civilized” society. It’s a place where a racist joke can be made where people will see the funny side of the joke rather than the racist one. Sure, you may think of them as dirtbags, assholes, whatever… but reality is that they are just normal people. One might be a doctor, the next some high school dropout, the next is a grad student at some university somewhere, and that guy who just posted that “disgusting” picture is actually your next door neighbor. There are lot of educated people who hang around on the internet, along with some idiots, and some are just completely normal people.

    I honestly think if you’re interested in “studying” a group like anonymous, it should be a reflection of how it relates to society as a whole as being actual MEMBERS of the society it is making satire of. It’s not a “subculture” per se, as you like to make it out to be. It’s not really political either. It’s just the portrayal of a human nature where the individual in question is never subjected to the approval of society, as we are “IRL” with every single thing we do. When one does not have any accountability, “immaturity” as we have dubbed it in our society becomes prevalent. It’s like that in all aspects in human life. The more accepted you become the less you worry about appearances, and the dumber stuff you do. Some party fraternities in college are a good example of this. Also when you read the news about powerful individuals and how they view themselves as “untouchable” you are seeing the same part of the human nature.

    Memes are also another thing worth studying. It’s kinda odd how something remotely funny will get spammed on the internet just because it’s the “cool” thing to do. This is a reflection on human nature to “follow”. Most memes are somewhat stupid, but they still become “cool” and everyone wants to become a part of it. The fads they go through are no different than those in a civilized society like Tomagachi’s or Beanie Babies. Just a thought.

  • Y Thankoo.

    Good to know someone read all that, and that the time that went into that post didn’t go to waste.

    It’ll always be my pleasure to try to clarify some stuff in these kinds of things.

    And to add to “Just Another Opinion”, does anyone know what Carnival is? Carnival (its name will differ from culture to culture) is a celebration that is hosted in the time before Lent. Thus you would, as a Christian celebrating Lent, have to give up meat for 40 days. In turn Carnival became a (very extravagant) “farewell to meat”.

    During Carnivale in Italy, many wear masks and go about acting as a completely different person for the entire length of Carnivale. Their costumes, along with their masks, were meant to embody their characters’ personalities. The beauty of it all is that you, as a Carnivale celebrator, may choose to be whatever type of character you’d like to be.

    Before Carnivale was banned in Italy by the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, it basically served as a big party for anyone to let off steam in whatever way they pleased. Many individuals would even offer each other sexual favors every which way, their masks protecting them from identification, and on top of all, this was very, very common.

    Now this is only the start of it; many would also publicly slaughter animals, gamble, and generally act irresponsible for the 8 days before Lent, and somehow it all remained justified in each individual’s mind. How? Take from this what you will, but perhaps the fact that the expression “Madness is permissible once a year” was so well-known and so commonly used back then has something to do with it. Carnival was a person’s annual ticket to digress from the norm, where they could act as they pleased. They could look around and discuss and interact with others, all as equals, and as whatever character they wanted to be. Overall, they were irresponsible, but in the overall picture, though roughened by this fact, exists a beauty that doesn’t exist in any other

    Basically, 4chan is the internet’s Carnival. Wear whatever mask you wish, be it a plain, simple Anonymous mask or one that you’ve decided to add some character to, and come to party. You may limit yourself to the central parties and simply and innocently eat away at meat because your normal lifestyle may deprive you of such (or of the amount you want). But also take into account that there are other options; you could indulge in the blackest of things if you want. Gamble, if just this once. Offer another sexual favors, just another time. Maybe even come back to laugh at a pig being slaughtered without mercy. Just make sure you do not lose yourself in it. This madness is, after all, only permissible just that once.

    My personal opinion; if you love what 4chan, 7chan, 420chan, 99chan, 720chan,(…) may have to offer, come in and have some meat, and do as I do; ignore the trash around you. If it’s all trash to you, avoid it completely. And if nothing is trash to you, you, sir, are the central topic of this news story.

    My final note to the author; Do not label every single man in a mask in this entire celebration as the same person. We came for our own reasons. One came to indulge in meat (an artist on /ic/, or a person seeking wallpapers on /wg/, or a person discussing news or intelligent topic on any board where a thread regarding such might’ve happened to have popped up), another came to simply experience this other world (the newest of browsers NOTE: do not go to /d/, trust me), and another wanted to put an outfit to good use and compare to others (/f/ashionista). They do not all browse for pornography or to “laugh at the slaughtered pig” (obviously, /b/).

    My note to 4channer; Well done TL;DR at least, that’s something I couldn’t succeed at

    My note to Just Another Opinion; thank you for your take on it. Kind of made me think of the whole Carnivale metaphor. Nice composition and great insight. Interesting thought at the end as well, but might I have you know I still mess around with my old Tomagachi every now and then. :o

    Hmm, I strove to make a concise synopsis for my last post and came out with another long post…
    Hah. Well, I guess that’s all I have to say. Peace guys.

  • One of the most interesting things I’ve learned about my few trips to 4chan, usually to the /tv/ (television and film) and /v/ (video games) boards, is that the rest of the community seems to have a lot of resentment towards /b/. I noticed that the more time I spent there, the more visible the divide between /b/ and the rest became. It’s easy to say that /b/ has definitely become a different beast that’s more focused on being an outlet for teenagers with nothing to do (despite the 18+ policy of 4chan, there are a lot of underage users). It’s one of the few places that really encourage “trolling,” “flaming,” and other internet terms that generally all boil down to pissing people off only to watch them get angry. There’s no denying that /b/ has the power and reach to anger multitudes of people. Recently a user found out that any facebook group without an admin will take any other user as an admin, giving them full power over the group. This led to a couple dozen groups being changed to homophobic or otherwise insulting names. Really, though, how does this hurt people other than mild annoyance? I can’t imagine anyone’s heart being broken because a group that they created and left had a name change. There’s a point in the lack of security in free webmail accounts, but should we really expect them to be better? They’re a free service that have been going for less than a decade. And it’s not even to say that all users on 4chan are cyber “terrorists,” in fact most of the users are attracted to the boards dedicated to their interests like music, fitness, video games, and anime.

    Ultimately, /b/ is little more than the bully that everybody tolerates in the classroom of the internet, merely because he has to go to school somewhere and 4chan is the only place that hasn’t expelled him yet.

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