Some Actual Controversial Opinions in Atheism

Another from the drafts. Allegedly 2014-5-ish. The early 2010s was a transition period for me: it’s around the time I got very disillusioned with ‘movement’ atheism and skepticism. I stopped subscribing to blogs, vlogs, groups and mailing lists on the subject. So, technically, I don’t know if it’s still a Thing, exactly. Discussions with others suggests it has mostly fizzled out and/or ate itself; with the Athei-Bros becoming part of the reactionary man-o-sphere, and the Rebecca Watson apologists becoming queer activists. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I honestly don’t actually care. I think I still agree with most of this one 8 years later. I’m pretty sure I’m on the right side of history with it. Even the fucking Prevent Strategy has stopped assuming all dark-skinned Muslims are secret Jihadist bombers. Christ-on-a-bike the 00s were a wild time…

I spotted this post from a popular Atheist group on Facebook a while back. I’ve screen-capped it below, but for the benefit of accessibility and context I’ll describe it a bit further.


“What is your most controversial opinion?” They ask.

The top two answers are 1) Islam is a big problem because it is, even more so than Christianity and 2) Feminism is a cult movement more concerned with sexism that exists in the western world than in the Middle East.


I dunno, really. I hate to play an Argumentum ad Dictionarium card, but if you gather that many up-votes, or if you can attract as many “likes” on your comment as the top level post, then your opinion isn’t really “controversial”. In fact, it’s positively mainstream, at least, in that community. I don’t think those court controversy at all, instead — trigger warning: social justice enthusiast wording ahead — these opinions pander to the white male demographic that dominates the weird beast that is Internet Atheism.

To be cynical and somewhat crude for a moment, those two opinions translate to “It’s totally that darkie foreigner religion that’s the worst” and “Bah, these bitches, eh? What can we do with them?”

And it’s pretty fucking depressing that, far from being controversial, they appear so mainstream.

Here, I aim to present some actual controversial opinions I have that are pertinent to atheism. These are opinions that will almost certainly get me down-voted to oblivion should they ever be posted to a mainstream atheist forum, or possibly have me banned from meetings should I speak them out loud. I dare not speak them lest a thousand grown men come to beat me with copies of a Sam Harris book, and then lynch me with rope made of Richard Dawkins’ pubic hair… oh, sorry, should I have trigger-warning’d that I was going to be mean to atheists? Sorry about that, I’ll give you your safe-space back soon.

1) Islam is not an extra special outlying problem

Islam definitely has its problems in its written ideology. No argument from me there.

So does Christianity; quite a few problems in fact, as evidenced by how you can mix up Bible and Qu’ran quotes and have lots of fun when people can’t tell the difference. And less said about what Scientology believes, the better.

Then again… so do Mayan and Aztec religions, which are especially nasty because they endorse human sacrifice, and that’s pretty scary in my oh-so-humble opinion. In fact, I’d like to say that, as ideologies, they’re some of the very worst.

“But wait!” You say, “No one follows those human-sacrifice religions anymore!”

Well, exactly, Skippy, that’s the point. If a religion could be apprehended in itself, and cause problems independently of the people following it, then saying things like “Muslims are fine, but Islam is bad” would make sense, and in more than just a trivial academic context. But by extension we’d also have to be scared of Aztec and Mayan religions coming to sacrifice us to their gods, because they’d be capable of causing harm independently of peoples’ existence. So instead, it makes much more sense to filter our problems with a text, or an ideology, through the lens of the people who write, interpret and act upon those texts and ideologies.

(Is that ‘structuralism’? I can never remember the terminology for this sort of thing… it’ll be an -ism of some kind. Oh, the humanities…)

“Ah, but terrorists…” You might add at this juncture. Well, quite. They certainly exist and (some) follow a religion – even if the word “terrorist” is one of those arbitrarily defined politicised things that people only use to strip (more) rights from one particular class of criminal. There might be some correlation in there, but it’d be like the “psychopath gene” all over again: many murderous psychopaths apparently have a similar genetic identifier, but so many people in the general population who aren’t murderous psychopaths have the same gene that it makes it utterly pointless to worry about. “Islam” fails as an explanation except in a trivial academic sense that exists only in a world where people don’t.

As it stands, out of a billion plus Muslims in the world, there are remarkably few terrorists. In fact, our little stereotype of them being violent middle-east dwelling sand-eaters is, put simply, false – because the largest Muslim populations are in South East Asia, not the middle-east.

And out of all terrorists, quite a few aren’t Muslim. Sure, Islam has those words that might cause people to become terrorists… but targeting Islam as a cause gives us hardly any explanatory power over who does and does not become a murderer.

Even then, Muslims killing is pretty rare in the grand scheme of things. Personally, I’m more scared of a white, English driver getting drunk and killing me than I am of an Islamic terrorist killing me. That’s reflective of simple statistics to say what is more likely. Do we then blame ‘Englishness’ as inherently problematic? Do we then say “English is the real underlying cause, so we need to criticise English… but it’s okay, the people are mostly fine, we just want to criticise English, the abstract concept.” No, because that’s fucking nuts.

Islam doesn’t scare me. Some of the people following it might, but there’s thankfully very few of them. The religion, in itself, scares me as much as Aztecs and Mayans do. Should they re-emerge and become a statistically viable threat to me, I’ll adjust my views accordingly. Until then, it’s as useful as “they breathe oxygen” or “the problem with the world is the universal wavefunction and the boundary conditions of the universe”. It explains nothing because it tries to explain everything, which makes “Islamdidit” practically the atheist version of “Flooddidit”.

And there you go. That’s a fucking ‘controversial’ opinion. It will have atheists from Reddit to Wikipedia frothing that I could be so stupid and so blind. How dare I choose not criticise a religion because us Atheists need to stick together?

Well, I don’t think that because…

2) Atheists are not the most oppressed minority

Even in the United States, which still keeps many laws on the books banning non-believers from public office, atheists are not actively oppressed.

For a start, most of the laws go unenforced, and when they do there are other legal protections against it.

Sure, people can be fired for it, and that’s bad… so long as it’s for that reason and not because they did the Atheist equivalent of telling all their co-workers they’ll burn in Hell and throwing Bibles everywhere. After all, I complain repeatedly whenever the Christian Legal Centre generates a manufactroversy by falsely claiming religious persecution, I have to be consistent and absolutely not accept it if an atheist does the same.

But, really, let’s be absolutely honest here: religion causes far more harm to LGBT groups than it does to non-believers. Atheists don’t have a higher level of suicide, they can still marry without controversy or denying who they are and what they believe, they tend to be from wealthy, affluent areas and get high paying jobs. As a class, they’re pretty stable except in extreme exceptions. But the damage done to LGBT people is reflected in laws across the world, including the supposedly civilised portion of it. You’re more likely to have fewer rights identifying as LGBT across the world than you are as “none” for religion.

There are parts of the world where atheism is oppressed and apostasy is punishable by death. But how many western atheists genuinely give a crap or do anything to help them? “Nah. Fuck off. That sounds like effort.” Far easier just to pretend your own western-centric experience is the only one that matters. It’s more smugly endearing to think that you, you poor non-believing dear, gets it worst out of everyone.

Religion’s treatment of women is also extremely pronounced, though mostly carried by social mores than religious edicts. A woman’s place is here, a woman’s place is there… no, she can’t do that, it’s a man’s job. And so on. You don’t get social pressure that “if you’re an atheist you cannot do that job”. Hell, if some surveys are to believed, atheism doesn’t even disqualify you from entering religious ministry!

What’s worse, of course, is that atheists take those social mores with them. They actually inherit many of the social problems that – so they claim – religion has generated. And then uncritically carry it forward. “Ha! Feminazis!!” they’ll cry “bothered about equal pay and depictions of women here when women are getting raped there!” – or, to translate that into English “Hey, quit criticising my misogyny, criticise theirs instead!”

Again, this likely to get me hounded out of the room for daring to criticise Glorious Atheism and how it will cure all social ills because Logic and Reason!

And speaking of Glorious Atheism…

3) Atheism is a fucking cult

“NO!” I hear you cry. “Atheism is NOT, NOT, NOT…” *bangs desk* “…a religion or a cult! Atheism just means not believing in g*d(s)!!”

Which is great, but “dictionary atheists” as I like to call them (“village atheists” has been used elsewhere) miss the point: such an idea doesn’t survive a head-on collision with the simple fact that people exist.

If atheism simply means “non-belief”, then why do atheist groups even exist? Why is their an atheist sub-reddit? Why is there an Atheism+ or a Brights movement? Why do books get written on the subject? Why are we even having this discussion?

Because people exist and movements and ideologies are way more than just their basic one-line definitions!

Atheism has a culture and a society that grows up around it. And, yes, while it’s hard to pin it down to just a single entity because those groups are diverse, and hold different opinions so can’t be lumped together (and if you agree to that but are happy to lump “Islam” and “Feminism” as great monolithic cult-like entities, we need to talk at a more basic level), it’s impossible to deny a society and a social expectation is raised around these groups.

As an Atheist, you’re expected to use “logic” and “reason” and be “rational”. They’re buzzwords. They’re verbal signals to identify each other. Be honest, when was the last time you saw an Atheist talk about “logic” and include something like “¬(¬A) ⇔ A“? Probably never. You’re more likely to see them name-drop the Dog Latin term for a (informal) logical fallacy and declare victory. Yet you’re still meant to be “logical” and “rational”, and use those words freely to describe yourself – religion, conversely, must be “illogical” and “irrational”, no matter the argument at hand. Never mind that something like the modal logic proof of God is logically valid (the issue is its applicability and scope), it has to be “illogical” because none of you fuckers know what “logic” means.

As an Atheist, you’re expected to agree with other Atheists. Stick together. Don’t criticise Dawkins because he’s a hero! But do criticise Feminazis because they’re illogical! Do bring up injustice in the middle-east, but don’t-you-fucking-dare mention injustice closer to home – and then promptly do nothing about it.

Atheism, at least when you spell it out and mention it out loud, comes with these social expectations. It’s all part and parcel, meaning “atheism” absolutely cannot refer only to the one-line dictionary entry “does not believe in g*d(s)”. Even if you object to the word being used to describe that social structure, you can’t deny the social structure still exists and in fact causes problems.

So, with three actual controversial opinions out there, you may now post this to Reddit and commence your Groupthink, suckers.

Freeze Peach

Found this in the Drafts from ca.2015. It seems to still hold true almost a decade later, so I’ve tidied it up and hit ‘Publish’.

The alt text of a well-known xkcd free speech comic reads:

I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

I’ve read some really crappy comments recently trying to “debunk” this and criticise it, but apart from their own personal whining along the lines that they aren’t allowed to throw abuse at people, they never actually got around to criticising it. [note from 2023-Me, that 2015-Me did not leave any breadcrumbs about this]

In fact, they seemed to have largely missed the point.

The point is this: at no point ever should “freedom of expression” be the reason you want to be heard. It’s not a reason. It doesn’t matter if you’re discussing the moral implications or the legal ones, it’s not a reason to be heard. It’s a tautology: “I should be heard because I should be heard”. It argues for nothing, proves nothing, it is therefore not a reason.

Make no mistake, despite any of the most paranoid fantasies across the political sphere, we’re not suffering from a lack of free expression in the western world. We let all sorts of vile, disgusting, objectively harmful and damaging press be written and published and transmitted. Guilt-free, barrier-free, publish-and-be-damned, all is fair in love and free speech. A lack of free expression just isn’t a problem. We have plenty of freedom of speech to go around, and harping on about it literally proves nothing.

We probably lack responsibility and acknowledgement of the privilege of having a platform, but not the freedom.

Now imagine, just for a moment, that you are in a place that rigorously controls free expression. A place that legitimately and really clamps down on it. Examples exist out in the world; the aggressively authoritarianism of China, North Korea, or Florida for instance. Even then, the reason you need to be heard isn’t “because free speech”. How does that even follow? “We need free speech because speech should be free!” is the same useless tautology whether you have it or not.

No, That’s not the reason. If you’re stuck in a place with legally-limited and oppressed expression, the reason you need to speak out is usually the same reason your speech is suppressed – because it will hold the people in power to account.

If your message is “our leader tortures and mutilates people without trial in order to suppress political opposition”, the reason that needs to be heard isn’t “because I can” – the reason is because our leader tortures and mutilates people without trial in order to suppress political opposition. There is a reason for it to be heard. That speech has value. It needs to be said; not because it can but because it should. Freedom of expression is a means, not an end. And that’s because what you have to say can matter.

If your opinion is shit and valueless, I won’t give it undue respect or endorsement. I have no good reason to. I won’t pay to host it. I won’t waste my time listening to yet more of it.

And no, I won’t fight to the death to let you say it… what fucking idiot brings that old adage out of the blue, anyway? Who the hell wants to die just so someone can scream about how the Holocaust was fake on a park corner? I value life way too highly to end it over the sanctity of valueless opinions of dubious factual accuracy. If I need to trade my life, literally, for someone’s opinion, that opinion better damn well be worth it. I’ll defend speech I find the equivalent value in.

Perhaps, to pull an extreme example, Holocaust denial is an opinion that has some value – in which case, the person espousing it should be able to demonstrate that value to me. Is it true? Does the opinion benefit the world? Is my life improved upon hearing it? Are new truths brought to light by it? Please try and convince me of its value rather than complain that’s it’s merely your right to say it. I doubt you can, though: we live in a society that enshrines freedom of speech more than you’d like to admit, so I’m already familiar with such arguments, and it has been found wanting each and every time. I don’t need to pay travel expenses to hear it yet again.

If, literally, all you have to say in its defence is “but it’s freedom of expression”, then you’ve outright proven that you have no value to offer. And fuck it, life’s too short to waste worrying about things so worthless.

The (actually not-that-tricky) Issue of Consent and Your Children

Here’s professional failure and desperate rent-a-gob Laurence Fox, aghast that you might need consent to touch someone.

However, this blog post is not, in fact, about Laurence Fox, a man whose main reason for existing is to make Billie Piper’s marriage to Chris Evans (no, not that one) at 18 look like one of her better life decisions.

No, this post is about consent, which I think I’ve talked about before. Because people genuinely ask, and get confused about, whether they should get consent to touch their child.

Yes, you can bet your ass you should.

This usually gets mixed in with the idea that you should ask consent to change a nappy. That’s “diaper” for the Americans. Both words are… terrible.

Anyway, I think that gets brought up with consent because 1) a toddler can say “no”, and therefore roll around in their own poop all day, and 2) this principle usually includes literal babies. Both of these are easy clout-chasing objections, that can easily decry the whole issue of obtaining consent from children as “woke nonsense”. You can see it discussed in the responses to that tweet about Fox above.

I don’t want to call these “valid” objections, but I don’t want to entirely dismiss them as they have a use in illustrating some principles about consent and communication. So, if this whole idea of asking a month-old child whether you can dress them sends you into a trothing, incoherent rage about how it’s some sort of violation of sacred “common sense“, read on. It’s a little more complicated, but let’s start at the basics: yes, you should always ask consent of your children.


If it isn’t obvious, then I may struggle to convince you that it’s simply morally correct to treat your child as a human being and not your personal possession. Many people have pointed it out before, but it’s very difficult to move someone’s opinion when their base assumption is that other people don’t deserve basic respect. I don’t know the form of words required to talk someone down from assuming their child is their property to use, because I don’t think they would recognise their behaviour as that.

However, you can at least consider it from a practical perspective:

In the future, your child may be in a position where they could be touched inappropriately by an adult.

Do you want them to:

  1. Be in a position where they know that this is wrong, and stand up for themselves, or
  2. Be utterly subservient and unquestioning towards an adult, and go along with the harm because they’ve been taught this obedience.

This is particularly important because, despite what you might think from Stranger Danger morality tales of yore, statistically the biggest threat to children is close family members. Getting them to stand up for themselves is, for all practical purposes, a defence mechanism they need to learn. Even to their closest relatives. Especially to their closest relatives, in fact. I’m pretty sure anyone who has spent more than 8 minutes in therapy in the last decade can agree with that one.

Still, it’s hard to explain this in a way that will get through to anyone who outright objects to the concept. Children are people, and need to be respected as such – and they do need to learn that they can be respected, and listened to.

But, I already know the objections. I have a Facebook account, I see content from “normal” people all the time. It goes something like this:

But my child has to do the thing! They need to get dressed, get changed. What if they refuse?!

And, you know what? You’re right. Sometimes they do need to, and they simply don’t want to. A child is, on occasion, not going to do something they absolutely need to do in order to function, survive, or be healthy. You are, at some point, going to have to wipe their arse when they very much do not want it.

This is easy to work around: because consent is not just “will you do this?” and then getting a yes/no answer. There is a little more to it than that. Just a little, of course. First, you need to inform someone of what you will do to/with them – hence “informed consent” in medical practice and other areas. Someone cannot issue consent if they are not suitably informed.

With children, this needs to be taken quite seriously. You explain what they need to do, the consequences of not doing it, and inform them thoroughly. This is preparation. Never surprise a toddler out of the blue. Explain everything with as much notice as you possibly can, in highly redundant detail. With children, it’s not necessarily a case of asking a closed yes/no question. It is about informing them of what the consequences of each choice will be. “You should do [X], because it’s important. If choose not to, I will have to do it for you, this, that and the other will occur, so on and so forth…”.

It’s not a case of “will you get dressed?” hearing “no”, then immediately grabbing them, and forcing clothing onto them. It’s not about asking your nascently lingual toddler if they want that nappy changed, then letting them roll around in their own mess all because they said “no”. Think about the message that would send. It’s about explaining the consequences, holding boundaries where necessary (and not arbitrary), and also communicating with them relevant, easily-understood details.

In fact, if you want to distil it to a soundbite frequently used in parenting circles: do not ask your child a yes/no question unless you are happy with both answers. And, importantly, respecting that answer. So it is perfectly find to tell your stroppy 18-month child that you will be changing their nappy, because it’s essential. They’re very young children, with no control in their lives. They simply want to have some, and find it where they can get it: so you can give them other choices to feel in control, when something simply has to happen to or with them.

This is why you need to read beyond a headline, or dumb soundbite, or some “wine mom” influencer making InstaToks about how her children have ruined her life. You need to understand the process, and understand the founding principles of consent. The last thing you want to teach a child about consent, is that their “no” will not be respected. If you ask, and they say no, you should not do that. If you need to do it, and “no” is not an acceptable answer, then it is about informing them of what will happen, and offering them some other form of control over their life, even if only as a distraction.

This brings us back to babies. Do you ask them to consent to change a nappy?


But why? They can’t speak or understand!

Ah, but here’s the thing… well, two things actually.

  1. They are learning to speak and communicate, and
  2. They do understand what is happening to them

So, while you might think it’s absurd to ask your weeks-old infant a question, what you’re actually teaching them is the act of conversation. A call; a response; a suitable action or reaction (the moves of a Wittgenstein language game, if you want to be high-brow about it). That practice will eventually morph into real conversation, and the child will know what to do, and so will you – it’s practice for the parent as much as the child. There’s no better time to practice speaking to a child than when they literally can’t understand and repeat the words. I mean, it’s one of the few times you can get away with profanity consequence-free.

Anyway, what is the alternative? To wait until a baby has learned to talk before actually talking to them? Wait until they can understand questions and answers until they can understand questions? I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what an actual affront to sacred common sense that is.

Cynic’s Guide to De-influencing

Okay, let’s try that de-influencing trend.

No, don’t buy that dress.

You only think it looks good because you’ve conditioned yourself to think that anything on a skinny lass with 1M followers, 2 hours of make-up and 17 filters looks good.

If you wear it, you’ll spend all night faffing with it and adjusting it, permanently worried that you’ll accidentally flash someone out of pure discomfort, even if no one else is physically in the room at the time.

You also do not go to enough fancy functions, nor are you having enough worthwhile and enjoyable sex, to justify owning it. Yes, I’m looking at you everyone who somehow knows how to pronounce “Mugler” without looking it up.

You’ll want to send it back, but never get around to it, and just feel guilty. But since most returned clothing is sent to landfill because it’s simply easier and cheaper than repackaging it, the effect will be the same anyway.

I know it’s only £8.99, but the reason it’s £8.99 is that it’s produced in such conditions that buying it means you’ll be about 0.45% responsible for the permanent mutilation of a Malaysian child. The waste effluent from the dying process won’t have killed many fish, but that’s because they were dead already from the last century of us doing this.

You’ll be, like, “what is this de-influencing thing?!”, look it up, find articles from galaxy brains saying it’s just the same as influencing. But that’s because there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, only man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.

Just buy the thing anyway. Those children weren’t really using those fingers, were they.

Yeah, we probably are fascists now…

Is Gary Lineker right to say that UK government rhetoric is similar to Nazi Germany of the 30s?

Well, I don’t want to go nuts deep into the collection of Nazi propaganda (again) but… in a technical sense probably not. We’re not at ‘Triumph of the Will’ just yet (cf Dan Olson).

Nazism is a specific ideology that makes value statements on a range of issues from architecture and art to racial hierarchies. They combined this together in a very specific way to spread their rhetoric and propaganda to the People. The overlap with Conservative Party rhetoric is not that strong. For the moment, at least. Though put a pin in “Aktion T4” and the “60,000 Reichmarks” poster. Focusing on how much “undesirables” cost us is very Conservative, and has Nazi precedent.

The complicating factor in judging Lineker’s statement is that because (a limited and dumbed-down version of) WWII acts as a foundational mythos for the United Kingdom, Nazi Germany of the late-30s and 40s is the only widely-known cultural touchstone we have for what fascism looks like.

We saw this when people reacted to the design of the US Space Force uniforms. Everyone just jumped to “fascist”, when really the overlap was “they’re grey”. Years of war movies encoding “good guys wear the green helmets, the bad guys wear the grey ones” has eroded most peoples’ ability to spot far deeper problems.

So, naturally, anyone making comparisons off the cuff without having done some pre-requisite reading on the subject that isn’t titled “Harry Potter and the…” will probably jump to “Nazi” and be kinda half-right/half-wrong, but at least understandably so. We should really be looking at Franco and Mussolini for comparison. Or at least late-Weimar Germany. We could get very bogged down in that last one if we talked about the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft…

Anyway, the point is that there are wider things to learn from history than just the jackboots, marching and occult symbolism of Nazism.

So, let’s just look at one Conservative statement for a moment. Just in isolation, as a piece of rhetoric because it’s very recent, and prominent, and the start of a bigger speech from Suella ‘Only Following Orders’ Braverman.

The law abiding patriotic majority have said enough is enough. This Conservative gov will act now…

Curella Braverman

So that’s some opening rhetoric that says they, the Leaders, should Do Something, and Act, and Act immediately, because the People said so.

At which point, obviously, I’m going to direct you to my boy Umberto, and one of the most famous essays on the subject.

Specifically, point 3 on the ‘cult of action’ — action for action’s sake, to be seen doing something without necessary reflection and, in fact, deriding and looking down on any intellectual analysis of the course of action — and also point 13, on the use of the public as a rhetorical device to prop up and manufacture consent for the cult of action:

“For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction.”

Umberto Eco

[as an aside, if you’re confused by the idea “no large quantity of human beings can have a common will”, I recommend Jordan Ellenberg’s ‘How Not to be Wrong’, which demonstrates this principle mathematically]

Actually, let’s not undersell it with just two of Eco’s points.

Going back to Braverman, she specifically says “law abiding patriotic” people have said something. Which immediately makes the implication that anyone disagreeing with the action for actions sake is both unpatriotic, and non-law-abiding. Now, any dweeb who read a book on skeptical inquiry in the ’00s will spot ‘No True Scotsman’ there, but this one also falls under Eco’s 7th bullet point on Ur-Fascists feeling besieged by a plot, particularly from enemies within. Basically, this sets up the idea that dissent makes you an “enemy of the people”. Which was also an infamous and relatively recent Daily Mail headline. Also, you can easily illustrate all of Eco’s 14 points with Daily Mail headlines. Make of that what you will.

Did I mention that this was written in 1995 about living under Mussolini and not in 2016 about the Vote Leave campaign? Wild stuff.

Banning LGBT+ content will not make you happy…

According to the UK government petitions site, the petition to remove LGBT content from the school curriculum has reached over 200,000 signatures. The counter petition, to keep it, has less than half of that…

First, two caveats

  1. I’m under no illusions that the petition site means anything. The numbers are usually a function of social media popularity campaigns, and I’m not aware of one that has ever made a tangible difference or generated anything but the government fobbing it off by just stating the problem again.
  2. The official response is in: LGBT+ education is not required, but is not banned either, and there are no plans to change that optionality. So, either petition cannot really be acted on. This is a little nore complicated than either statement can capture. Go figure.

Still, that’s beside the point. The numbers alone are staggering, and they show immense support for a reactionary political statement against LGBT people across the country, at a time where the media and political parties are rabidly circling people, looking for scapegoats and lightning rods for hate. The UK has never had an excellent track record with LGBT rights, and there’s no reason to believe it can’t possibly regress, and very very quickly, too.

So, an important message to everyone who has signed up to remove LGBT content from schools: this will not make you happy.

Whether you’re a right-wing conservative who thinks it as a matter of course, or a centrist liberal who thinks this will magically stop at trans people only, it doesn’t matter. Banning this content, successfully, will not bring you the happiness you crave. It will not fix your problems.

You can utterly annihilate LGBT+ content from school. You can cut it out of the media forever. You can never see a gay character in fiction again. You can never have to hear the word “pronoun” again. It won’t make you feel better.

From here on, every relationship could be one man in a suit marrying a woman in a pretty A-line dress who does all the cooking. You never need to see two men holding hands again. You never have to worry about your kids seeing two women kiss on TV — that can stay as a secret between you and your internet service provider as God intended.

It will do nothing to protect children.

LGBT+ people have never been the threat, and you know that. Probably not even that deep down, you know that. It could all disappear tomorrow, having never existed, and you still wouldn’t be happy. It can be wiped from the past, present and future, you would still be miserable.

That’s because your actual problem is that you can’t stand the fact that people who are not you can be happy.

Your problem isn’t with the specifics. If it was, your arguments would make coherent sense. You’d have evidence, and you don’t. You’ve made stuff up time and time again, misrepresented things time and time again, and you just trick people into thinking that there’s a danger from a group of people who have never harmed you. All you have to go on is moral panic and lies. Why? Because you just don’t like other people being themselves, being happy, and doing so on their terms.

That implies being a miserable, grouchy, gutless, spiteful piece of shit who hates your fellow humans is your own fault and you might have to take responsibility for that. That’s your ultimate fear: you’re miserable and hate everyone, but you don’t have to be, if only you stepped outside the dull status quo you inherited but lack the imagination to change.

You can say otherwise, but I don’t believe you. Because I’ve read your opinions. I’ve seen what you have to say. The entire media and socio-cultural landscape we live in is based around your views. The very language we must use to discuss things in gives undue deference to your political views. For every backwater blog post like this that exists, a half dozen mainstream newspaper articles will be circulated to tens of thousands of people saying the opposite. You’re very, very transparent with how you feel.

In short: you’re winning, but you’re still fucking miserable.

Turning Point Memes are the Fucking Worst

Content warning: This post will use the word “text” in the literary theory sense.

Let’s talk about memes for a bit.

First, let’s look at your basic, classic, Old Skool quote-unquote “advice animal” style meme. Such square. Much 2000s. Wow. These are so out of fashion pretty much everything has been said about them already, but mentioning them here will make sense. Come on Gen Z, bring these things back. I double-dare you.

You also have the post-meme, with their happy cartoon illustrations and asinine quotations favoured by Facebook Moms. Oh, good god, even these are old now. Less of a “meme” in the sense of the above, and more like a slogan t-shirt. One-part sassy backtalk, one-part clowning, and one-part inoffensive attempts at offense.

There are also exploitable comics and edits that go around. Personally, I like these. That’s the shit right there. Fucking sue me. Society peaked with the invention of these and I shall be taking no questions at this time.

And there’s whatever the hell the InstaTok does that… look, guys, I’m at the “take two ibuprofen in the morning for your back” age. I’m not going on there looking. But imagine I’ve just embedded a video of someone doing a sea shanty or whatever. You know, I watch my TikToks on Instagram, 2-3 weeks after they were first popular, like a fucking adult.

But, then, oh-my-oh-my, we have Turning Point memes.

Now, to be painfully fair… Turning Point have had a more-recent (by which, I mean, about half a year’s worth) tendency to just put quotes from people on photographs of them with some coloured branding, but they still do the occasional “zinger” meme in the setup/punchline format, and older ones still do the rounds. They also produce a lot of it. I must confess to getting half these examples from Cropped Boomer Memes purely to save my eyeballs the pain of scrolling through more of it than strictly necessary to sample the most pertinent ones.

Where to start? I suppose let’s do a bit of basic analysis over memes for a bit.

Memes, in the general interwebz sense and especially for the pictorial ones, carry two messages within them.

  • The specific message of the text (its most direct content)
  • The broader idea of the text (what it references)

In the specific text, Good Guy Greg might sleep on your couch but make up for it by making breakfast, and Bad Luck Brian might find that even his pet rock runs away. But in the broader text (a context, if you will), Greg does a thing you expect has negative consequences but he makes up for it in the end, Brian does a normal thing and an unfortunate thing occurs because he’s a bit of a dweeb. With exploitable comics and edits, Anakin will always horrify Padme by subverting her premature hopes; Bobby will always draw something terrible that is the opposite of art; and no matter what was on the sign, if those kids could read they’d be very upset.

If I was feeling especially pretentious and insufferable — you know, really Stephen Pinker-esque — I’d point out how the humour derives from projecting a specific content onto the broad context, and recognising the connection between the two, which increases the salience of the specific aspects of text. This is particularly true when we project current events onto existing memes in order to convey sometimes-complex feelings about them simply, and quickly.

Actually, that’s probably more insufferably pretentious than Pinker. Feel free to ignore that.

Even with the likes of ‘Plums in the Ice Box’ — which differs from typical memes, as its places the original’s content within a different context rather than the other way around — relies on you spotting the connection between the new version and the broad idea. If anything, spotting it is the joke. See also: the Game or Rickrolling.

This is also how they spread and evolve, in the memetic sense. We have a template for the text, the template can be modified and mutated. New jokes can be added, references can be made to other memes. But underpinning that, is the connection to the broad theme.

Now, about Turning Point memes.

What is the broad message, here? What is the recognition to be made? In short: where’s the fucking joke?

We see the specific part of the text, but not the broader context that’s meant to connect to. It’s not that right-wing or conservative types can’t do this — we’ve had that hippy chick and the triggered girl since forever, apparently — it’s that Turning Point cannot do this. This is their fabled memeing (in)ability.

If anything unifies these posts, it’s “liberals are dumb” and… that’s usually about it. There are no recurring characters, no individual themes to relate to, just “libs = dum, we smart smart”. And it is, more often than not, painful to look at under any critical eye. It’s humour, snark and wit, but as imagined for an audience who just want to be told they’re special and clever and so much better than everyone else.

In that respect, they’re Facebook Wine Mom post-memes. They’re Tweety Bird folding their arms and saying “I’m such a sassy bitch” or Minions declaring “I’m totally zany”.

Turning Point memes, therefore, occupy an odd space of mixing the older top-text-bottom-text, [Statement] / [Punchline], format with the (relatively) newer meaninglessness of the Boomer Facebook Wine Mom post-meme. They aren’t there for you to relate to a specific character in order to make it evolve, they’re there to reinforce a particular broad attitude to the target audience. A post that begins with “Hey liberals!” isn’t actually addressed to liberals, but to the conservative audience, who aren’t meant to engage with them interactively, edit them or evolve them, just share and gawp at their own cleverness.

(again, to be painfully fair, there is the occasionally exploitable one in the mix so they’re not all this exact format… but often I’m not sure they get why the exploitable is funny…)

These “memes” aren’t designed to be messed with and evolved by their target audience.

But, also, you can’t evolve them because the memes themselves are, frankly, very high quality. That’s technical quality, of course, of the stock photos, of the resolution, the colour pallet. The logo displays prominently over a professional stock image with an unobtrusive background. The bold font is carefully rendered by professional software rather than a hasty web-based editor or the undying MS Paint. It’s a far cry from exploitable memes where the remnants of 2-3 previous versions can just be seen, where the replaced text doesn’t match the original (and no one cares) or where the JPEG compression has piled up so bad it’s generated entire jokes just around that aspect. There is no genuine community here, there is no sense of collectively coming together to shout “dammit” when you’ve realised something was Loss all along.

To me, that makes the Turning Point meme the perfect microcosm of the world of Conservative astro-turfing. This organisation is meant to be a “student movement” or at least a vague youth movement. Yet the audience seems to be everything but that. The content feels perpetually middle-aged, like a gawky 40-something preacher trying to seem cool in front of 15 year-olds by rapping.

The whole exercise is a charade designed to offer some facsimile of the authentic original: it has image over text, it has the right font, it has the right structure. But, like a guy on a six-figure salary claiming to be poor and impoverished by a 1% tax rise in the top bracket, it has a glossy sheen that can’t rub off. The people making these things don’t have the experience of those who haunted forums, having fun, making jokes, and quickly scribbling over images they’ve shared with whatever software they had to hand, copyrights be damned, before the conversation moved on. They’re graphic designers, with paid-for Photoshop, putting together content generated by a team of writers under the direction of a trust-fund jock, funded by shady origins. It tries to ape the style, but always falls short of authenticity. It cares for branding and image. They can’t have the Turning Point logo get pixelated. They can’t get away with a visible ShutterStock watermark. It’s all sass and sizzle. It’s shiny-shoed business exec pretending to be a rough salt-of-the-earth regular guy. It’s a too perfect, too pristine attempt to copy a format that crawled out of a virtual gutter and rarely showers.

But if you ever scratch that sheen off, it’s just shit all the way down.

Is AI Art “art”? It doesn’t matter because that’s the wrong question….

I read a long rant via Mastodon about how AI art “isn’t art” because it somehow isn’t emotionally provocative or doesn’t have an emotional intent…

It’s a long argued question of whether AI generated artwork is art or not. I don’t have an answer except to say it’s a bad question. But, specifically, this argument about emotional intent and response is very easy to poke holes in. I think it’s a weak line if reasoning if we want to argue for/against AI artwork.

Forgive the pretentious numbered list format. It was easier than coming up with an actual structure.

1️⃣ Many self-identified artists deliberately eschew emotional engagement with their work, with many exploring deliberate alienation instead of emotional engagement.

2️⃣ The disconnect between the emotional response of the recipient and the emotional intent of the artist very well documented and discussed. How you feel viewing a painting and how the artist intended for you to feel does not need to align.

1️⃣+2️⃣ Conclusion — if the artist had no emotional intent, it doesn’t preclude the recipient having an emotional reaction. This doesn’t change whether the artist is machine or human. Tying specific emotional involvements to your definition of art simply doesn’t work for all things considered art already.

3️⃣ So… you’re saying that the emotional response to scrolling through endless generic big-titted anime girls made by real people is valid and authentic, but emotional response to scrolling through endless (AI generated) generic big-titted anime girls that, at first glance, is indistinguishable from art made by real people is invalid or even non-existent?

3️⃣. 1️⃣ Corollary — finding out at a later time that something was AI generated retrospectively invalidates your emotional response? If we want to talk emotional authenticity, we can’t allow initial reactions to be cast aside like that.

4️⃣ What is the anger over art theft in AI artwork if not a very potent emotional response directly to the generation of AI Art?

5️⃣ The question of “what is art?” and its definition has been so hotly debated and explored over decades, if not centuries, that the idea that the emergence of a new tool single-handedly settles the debate into a clear “is/is not” binary feels, to me, naive at best.

5️⃣.1️⃣ Addendum — this has been done to death with digital art and photography. More generally, the idea that any tool invalidates artistic worth has also been done to death. It never stands the test of time.

5️⃣.2️⃣ Corollary — this path is a very slippery slope. You may as well claim that no valid and authentic emotional response is possible to a print or digital image viewed on a monitor as, after all, these are tools that dilute artistic integrity.

6️⃣ You can absolutely use AI artwork to deliberately provoke people emotionally (see 4️⃣). You can argue that the “art” is the act of the artist around the resulting image, which is somehow not part of the artistic work, but that would be incredibly arbitrary.

Anyway, I don’t think anyone should approach questions like “is it art?” under the assumption that there’s a binary yes/no answer. There isn’t. The question is flawed, and at the mercy of people’s prior assumptions and their motivated reasoning to put some things in one category but not others.

The question you need to ask is whether these systems were developed ethically? That is: did the real artists who had their materials fed into the models properly consent to do so and did they receive proper compensation?

That question does have a straight answer: no.

We can also ask are these systems going to be used ethically?

Also, that has a straight answer: no.

But… and this is why you should actually analyse problems properly… most of the bad, unethical use is usually a side-effect of the system we inhabit, rather than a direct property of the technology. Technology is supposed to — and it genuinely can — reduce our workload, improve our lives, and mean we can work less and enjoy live more. Where it doesn’t, it’s usually the humans with power over it that are to blame, more than the technology itself.

It’s little surprise that we got artificial intelligence tech that aimed to displace a fun, creative endeavour long before we got one that could do things like the mindless tedium of, say, encoding multiple extension requests for our students on the VLE.

If a creative company fires its concept artists because AI is cheaper to bash out images, then that is highly unethical. If the concept artists themselves use it as a tool to reduce the donkey work involved in concept art creation, and so can get the same work done in less time, then we can imagine (and we have to imagine, because this never happens willingly under Capitalism) a situation where the company will pay them the same for the same output, but they can do it in 2-3 days instead of 5, leaving the artists more time to spend enjoying life. That would be a pretty ethical, but unfortunately very anti-Capitalist, anti-presenteeism, and pro-person, pro-worker use-case.

This is the thing we should grapple with. This is the actual problem.

After all, if you simply declare it “not art” then so fucking what?

More-or-less disorganised thoughts on the difficulty of leaving Twitter

I’ve heard that Twitter is “hard to quit”.

But, no. I’m going to hard-disagree with that. Twitter is easy to quit. Lock your account, just stop posting, and after a while you simply forget it’s there.

It is, in fact, remarkably easy.

Listen to your elders, kids. The ones who burned through dozens of news groups in the 90s and VB forums in the 00s. They’ll tell you that the quitting part isn’t that hard. You can leave communities and websites behind. In fact, you’ve probably done it while in possession of a Facebook or Twitter account — you’ve just left a sub-community behind, a Facebook Group slowed to nothing, you started to forget to check in with your favourite hashtag as it began to bore you, that sort of thing. You almost certainly left something already, but the base of the URL just happened to stay the same.

I think we need to be honest about why it might feel hard to quit a big website like Twitter.

What’s hard to quit is that little dopamine rush you get when your notifications go haywire because your clout-chasing finally paid off and you got yourself a hit tweet.

What’s hard to quit is the FOMO from not continually refreshing a feed, because you accidentally re-wired your life to get news at random intervals from strangers who are clout-chasing for hit tweets instead of a healthier and, frankly, saner method for staying informed.

Does that sound smug and self-superior on my part? Yeah, probably.

Sure, communities are hard to leave behind if you’re forced to do so early, before they fizzle out with a natural end. But consider Twitter, you’re going to be in one of two situations.


A) You’ve got a small account, with few follows and followers. You’ve met and replied to and post at the key people you like to talk to. That’s easy to pick up again elsewhere. If you actually care about others, you’ll find another platform. If it’s community that you’ll miss, it takes no time at all to rebuild it elsewhere.


B) You’ve got a much bigger account, at least in terms of follower number. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions even. I’ve seen these people say that it’s the community that they’ll miss.

But… let’s be brutal, and frank, and honest, here. If you’re in that second category, are you really in a community of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people? Do you really know the names of those 150k followers? Be real, here; you’re not. If you’re experiencing Twitter at that scale, you were at the centre of, and on the receiving end of, multiple parasocial relationships. You were getting that buzz from the endless on-tap attention that such a following grants you. You’re the person who could post a poop emoji and get a hundred likes in minutes. For you, it was never a two-way street of communal interaction, because the influence and power are so lobsided in your favour.

And, yes, it really is the case that on Twitter, followers equal power. That site can ruin lives the instant someone with 1M followers quote-tweets a regular person to say they’re wrong. Follower counts are leveraged to win arguments by sheer weight of numbers, in chasing that ratio and winning by numbers going up — and even the “good guys” do this. Some people get the hit of dopamine from the hit tweet sending notifications constantly, but the flip side is the dread that the little bell is going to show you, at best, just some offensive slurs.

The splash damage from that culture is very real, and not imaginary because the website is somehow virtual. It’s an extension of, or part of, the Real World, not a separate entity that is somehow free of consequence for the meat and blood humans typing those words.

For some people, yes, the high follower count has been a vital part of their job. Authors, artists, anyone who used it to simply broadcast their work and gain an audience. Fair enough. It’s not right that those people are going to have their livelihoods threatened because some dick with money to burn decided to fire all the staff, alienate advertisers, and ban accounts at the request of literal fascist trolls. But, also, if you were sensible, you shouldn’t have bought into one specific URL only and should have a diversified presence to fall back on. After all, Twitter was not your job, it was just one tool, of many possible tools, to help with it.

Everyone else…? Just get the fuck over yourself.

The Trash Pile – 2022 in Netflix

I watch a lot of Trash. That stuff that people scoff at for being cheap, trope-ridden genre fiction. Well, guess what? I don’t care. It’s great. It’s TV that gives back way more than it asks of you. It sustains me. Please take the ratings below not as actual reviews, but as niche, dumb jokes. Here’s a celebration of 2022’s finest genre trash!

First Kill

I felt quite offended at First Kill wasn’t recommended to me until after I saw Rowan Ellis’ video on queer TV shows getting cancelled. It was a hit with the LGBT+ audience for its sapphic lead characters, playing supernatural Romeo and Juliette as a vampire and vampire hunter who fall in love – because of course they would.

But, to be honest, it’s pretty clear why the numbers completing the series were low. Despite a strong enough start, it suffers from some unimaginative vampire/monster lore (it could be straight up fan fiction of any number of other series from Buffy to Supernatural) and held together with some ropey, confusing moments — like, does the world know that these monsters and vampires are real? Or are they playing at mass hysteria? The show doesn’t seem to know. Or, at least, it glossed over it very quickly.

Still solidly entertaining if you’re into this sort of thing. At its heart it’s a queer love story if the kind we need more of. You could spend 10 episodes doing much, much worse.

6 sapphic wall-pinning moments out of 10

Fate: The Winx Saga (season 2)

As an adaptation of the cartoon series The Winx Club — about fairies and their adventures in a magical school and the wider conspiracies and threats to their realm — this series has made a lot of fans of the original very, very angry. Of course it has. It’s an adaptation. Fans of an original hating the adaptation is a given, it’s hardly “man bites dog”.

I quite like the setting of this one more than the story. It isn’t afraid to throw social media and mobile phones at a magical world (unlike other stories set in magic schools that contrive to remove the mod-cons that might be inconvenient to the plot…), and it really feels like a functional world with people and politics. There’s wholesome friendship themes throughout, making a nice change from the Grimdark of other popular shows. Though it jars with some of the plot, which can be pretty heavy, even gruesome at times.

I’m unsure about Season 2. Some interesting twists, focused plot, clear stakes, but… did they toss out a bunch of things set up at the end of Season 1? Or felt like a self-contained aside compared to get broader themes if Season 1. If it’s got this far, hopefully a 3rd will bring that all together.

5 slightly dodgy VFX shots out of 10

Fort Salem (season 3)

Good god I love this series. Absolutely unironically. The premise is that witches are real and, after the Salem Trials, witches were conscripted into the army to do the United States’ dirty work in winning the War of Independence. Now they have to face off against magical terrorists (including a unique and terrifying use of the term “suicide bomb”) and then later a secretive inquisition and the government itself.

The thing I really noticed is how the world building works seemlessly. Witches aren’t just conscripted into the Army, they are the Army. So, since witches do all the fighting magically, and can communicate telepathically, firearms and communications technology are pretty far behind the real-world — everything from the helicopters to TV cameras and even the light bulbs, and the complete lack of computers and phones makes sense. The show never labours this point or even points it out to you, it’s just in the setting and direction. The characters act like they already know what is going on. Add to that a well-developed magic system based around witches voices and sound (and some grisly corollaries about how normal humans can steal that power…), and it’s little wonder that many people assume (incorrectly!) that it’s a book adaptation.

Season 3 continues with the remarkable world building as the main cast go on the run into the Chippewa Cession — a feature of this alternate North America that divides the United States in two, retained by Native Americans.

It won’t get another season. But that’s the decision of the producers, not because it’s fading in quality and ratings (apparently). It’s come to a natural end, with plenty of scope to explore the working world it’s set in, but it’s raised its stakes about as far as it can get before it gets far too silly and incomprehensible. More TV should go out like this rather than hanging on and degrading to nothing.

Also, they’re hawt nubile witches who (at least in the first season) power up by fucking their harem of equally hawt, ripped, young studs. So, let’s be clear, even though I think this is a genuinely good series in the urban fantasy genre, this is absolutely God Tier Trash.

9 My fucking god! These witches gay. Good for them! Good for them! out of 10

Warrior Nun (season 2)

This is very, very loosely based on the comic series Warrior Nun Areala, which you can look up, but if I say “90s comic book” and “fighting nuns” you’d probably get the gist of it without help. Anyway the TV version strips out the split skirts, suspender straps, crotch-hugging body suits and wimples in favour of more leather, tactical gear and sensible footwear.

I genuinely think that the first 10 minutes of the very first episode is a masterclass in how to introduce a series. It lays out the rules of the world you’re in. It shows, rather than tells. And, impressively, the dialogue says everything you need to know without sounding lile forced exposition — the characters talk to each other like they already know what’s going on. So, I was a little disappointed that the opening episode of Season 2 took nearly half an hour to get going. It jumps around, trying to catch up after events that weren’t shown — and unfortunately couldn’t even be filmed due to the sudden departure of one of the actors that would be needed for it. So the connective tissue between the two seasons has been left as something of a mess.

Oh well, shit happens…

Once you get over that, Season 2 definitely raises the stakes and the action much more. It keeps the pace up where Season 1’s mid-game slowed to a crawl (if you happened to leave at that point, do give it another shot!) and they’ve toned down some of the voice over that left a cringe aftertaste during the first season.

Blood, guns, knives, magic, mystery, mayhem, demons, and minute-long single-take fights. There is nothing not to love about this. What? Check the title of the post, you weren’t expecting high brow Citizen Kane stuff were you?

8 overproduced fight scenes out of 10

October Faction

October Faction was released in 2020, as an adaptation of a comic that, obviously, I hadn’t heard of, so I got around to watching it this year and I’m including it now. (maybe I can retroactively do 2016 and talk at length about The Shannara Chronicles…)

Anyways, this is fairly normal monster hunting stuff. Secret societies protecting the world from invading supernatural beasties etc. So far so good. But this one does a good bit of storytelling about family, and parents coming to terms with getting older and their children becoming independent. That’s at least a novel feature of a densely packed field of supernatural dramas with a 15 Certificate. Like First Kill, the supernatural elements are the setting, not the story, so it doesn’t really need that uniqueness — even though it does weaken it a bit.

But, overall… meh. It didn’t quite grip me, and it looks like it didn’t grip many people as it got canned after one series. Which is a shame, as it does have its moments! Such as the two leads getting baked on weed before having to go on a monster hunt and that the high school angst that’s done pretty well. It could have grown a lot — but that’s the world we’re in now, and it won’t get the chance to.

5 stoned Gen X parents out of 10

The Imperfects

I went into this fully expecting it to be terrible. And, let’s be clear, I like terrible. Or, at least, my definition of ‘terrible’ greatly differs to most normal and well-adjusted people. But I did not have the highest expectations.

But, I was pleasantly surprised!

The Imperfects has a lot going for it. It’s a nice mix of the standard tropes — like one character who I’m pretty sure is referred to as Sexy Science Glasses Lady in the script — to the unusual twists on the usual and played-out tropes — our typical vampires/werewolves are replaced by a banshee, a succubus, and a chupacabra, to start.

Okay, sure, they’re basically C-List vampires and werewolves. Fine.

Rhys Nicholson’s camp take on a mad scientist might grate most people, but it’s a refreshing change to “grey haired men with serious faces and fake German accents” you see normally for far stock character. And there’s some unexpected but clever twists I didn’t see coming, along with its surprisingly high body count delivered by often-comic, accidental violence.

The whole thing is more “science gone wrong” than supernatural, but despite playing very fast and loose with the science it’s all… kind of plausibly done? The jargon seems like it’s come from someone who knows what they’re talking about, but gives it enough artistic licence not to kill the fun of the series. I had to take a moment on hearing cyclodextrin and t-butyl lithium used more or less correctly. Someone on the production has to be a chemist, surely.

Also, it’s always a good sign when your show could have someone’s shoe collection act as a character in its own right.

8 gratuitous bondage scenes out of 10

Honourable Mentions (the non-trash class of 22)

Stranger Things 4 was a huge hit, and felt to me like a much more focused, stronger story than the rambling 2 and 3. Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville upgraded its budget from “IOUs for back rubs” to “more money than god” and was totally worth it. She-Hulk and Ms Marvel got review-bombed by sad-act arseholes who hate fun. We got another Space Force, which was totally stupid in all the right ways, but I still think it could learn a lot from Armano Ianucci if it wants to be a satire. Speaking if whom, Avenue 5 came back after an extended pandemic-induced break. There was another round of Love Death & Robots, which was a good mix of tense and silly. And of course, the year was dominated by Gaiman’s The Sandman, which bravely asked the question “what if Doctor Who was depressed?”, and is an absolute no-brainer to get renewed, so get to it, Netflix, you bastards!

In fact, Netflix, you bastards, does come out of my mouth more often than it should…