As we get further and further into the depths of the dystopian novel we’re all living in, we’re learning a lot of fun new terms. “Alternative facts” is a pretty recent one, but over the last couple of years some terms have wormed their way over from the darker side of the internet to the mainstream. Terms like “snowflake” and “red pill” to denigrate people who have a liberal ideology and to discuss the “real” reality where only white men are truly mistreated by society and women and minorities have been unfairly elevated to the status of “actual humans”, respectively. There’s not a lot to laugh at here in terms of the hateful thoughts and words from these people and the way they’ve been given increasingly legitimate platforms, but there is a healthy dose of irony in that those terms originated with a gay man and with two transwomen.
“Snowflake” as a pejorative term likely entered popular culture sometime around 1999 when Fight Club came out and Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden stated: “Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” That movie was based on the novel, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, who is gay. While I don’t have a copy of the novel handy to see if the term is the same in the novel, Tyler Durden the character was created by Palahniuk, and his character is consistent between the novel and the film. Palahniuk is gay, and has been living with his partner for over 20 years now. That’s skirting the whole issue of what Palahniuk’s message with Tyler’s character actually was, because I have a cold and can’t engage in in-depth literary analysis and theory right now. But, overall, the message was not “Tyler Durden is an awesome and fulfilled person and you should be just like him.”
The concept of red pills and blue pills and what they represent (the “real world” versus the simulation of the world) is from The Matrix, also released in 1999. The film was written and directed by the Wachowski siblings. Since the movie was released, both of the Wachowskis have come out as transwomen, and are now living life as women. Given that “red pill” is most frequently used by men’s rights activists, who insist that only they see the “truth” of gender relations where men are dominant and women are submissive, this one is particularly ironic.
Am I implying that an intolerant, hateful movement has so little self-awareness that they would openly co-opt terms that were created by people they consider inferior for nonsense reasons? Absolutely. The good news is that many of them insist on attempting to write, so I’m sure that once this is brought to their attention, one of their creative thinkers can supply them with new terms that won’t have any inconvenient connections to women or the gay community. Any day now, surely.