Ill-Conceived Notions

An experiment in digital humanities

Sarcastic phrasing, satirical renditions and exaggerated tones are frequently found in each video, though executed quite differently. Molyneux tends to ridicule certain perspectives or groups with enthusiasm and a degree of smugness, while ContraPoints’ humour, while still a form of mockery, is much drier and coincides with dramatised disinterest. Molyneux’s instances are spontaneous interjections to his written notes, while ContraPoints’ are core foundations of her script. For both, however, it is a conveyance of their true convictions.

In ‘Enslavement’, Molyneux sarcastically describes the corruption of “your country, your tax farm” since seemingly compassionate acts of the government are “not because he [implied Obama] cares about your liberties”, before more solemnly asserting the true intention that “he wants to increase his profits” (3:25). Molyneux uses sarcasm here to mock the illusion of freedom in the US, the greed of government figures, and the gullibility of the audience for believing they are free, all of which are core assertions of this video. In ‘Mandela’, the ill-placed idolisation of Mandela is referenced through the video, such as his sarcastic condemnation of the death of children at the hands of terrorists, dryly stating “you can scarcely hold children accountable”, and sarcastically undermining the “beefs you have with your political regime” (2:10). Here, the savagery of terrorist activities is emphasised by framing it as irrational targeting of innocents.

For ContraPoints, the characters of Lady Foppington and Abigail are satirical representations of the perspectives she is critiquing, and offer lighter ways for the audience to engage with these ideologies, She encourages them to see the absurdity in their existence, while maintaining the dangerous consequences of that existence. In ‘Incels’, Foppington is used to explain the fixation of skulls by bigoted groups, describing the insecurities of early transitioning transwomen at 25:56, which ContraPoints frames as a false-rationalisation. She earlier explains 35 Ill-Conceived Notions of Digital Humans this reason “you can justify your belief by pointing to the shape a skull and saying, well that’s the reason why, it’s just nature, there’s nothing that can be done about it” (6:37). The same point is presented as a formal hypothesis and a satirised example, offering multiple ways for the audience to understand it.

More interestingly, she often satirises herself, such as references to her drug use in ‘Peterson’ – “I’m not afraid of his ideas, I’m not afraid of anything, I just smoked a bunch of f**king PCP” (2:36) – and her sexual obsession with Jordan Peterson, who she addresses as “daddy” (2:42, 5:43). She also acknowledges that her content tends to be inappropriate, sarcastically saying “for once I’d like to actually treat this discussion with the seriousness and respect I think it deserves,” before climbing into a bath with a dummy of Peterson sitting opposite her. ContraPoints allows the audience to ridicule her own persona as well as the characters she describes, reducing the formality of her presentations and encouraging viewers to not take her too seriously, since she clearly doesn’t.

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