Ill-Conceived Notions

An experiment in digital humanities

This can be considered an extension of the facts or feelings that are offered. The creators define the context in which their content should be interpreted with their phrasing, elaborations on facts or examples, broad generalisations about an event or perspective, and, very basically, by how they open their video. Molyneux presents ‘Crusades’ as an objective presentation and a key tool for the audience in their independent search for truth, dramatically emphasising “this is the truth about the crusades” (1:16), pausing between each word, before clarifying the context in which this truth is being explored: the long history of Muslim-Christian relations in the lead up to the Crusades. In ‘Peterson’, ContraPoints frames the topics of “reason, power, truth” (1:06) which she emphasises she does not care about, and to which she expresses an exaggerated disinterest. She explains her motives as an effort to encourage more effective leftist critiques of Peterson, which she does not believe is being done, and can end up strengthening his influence by framing him as a victim of leftists who retort with “very uncharitable interpretations of everything he says” (2:03).

‘Enslavement’ is unique in that there are no obvious facts offered, merely vague premises we must believe are true, and the story is framed as a series of analogies and generalisations about human behaviours of exploitation and domination through history. Molyneux spends the video explaining that economic freedom has been limited and controlled at each step in history, and only alludes to tragedies through background imagery and vague descriptors, such as the “three phrase process” which keeps “the tax livestock securely in the compounds of the ruling classes” (7:56), through government education, falsely created hierarchies and the invention of external threats. We can infer his intent to explain oppressive strategies of governments to discipline citizens, but there is no opportunity to really engage with this idea since the premise lacks any detail.

ContraPoints uses ‘Incels’ to explain wider ideologies and stubborn ways of thinking that are necessary before tackling incels as characters. At the start of the video she proposes “let’s talk about bone structure” (1:32), introducing the fixation on physical attributes that will be present through the investigation, and her desire to explain why this fixation exists. In ‘Peterson’, she interestingly focuses more so on the influence and perspectives that arise from Jordan Peterson rather than focusing on him as a character. She frames his work as offering “higher purpose” to alleviate “suffering” (3:26), using a “new, scarier word” for progressive politics (4:43) to categorise his tendency to induce fear through language and phrasing.

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