Alex Jones Has A Complicated Relationship With Satire

Over the years, Alex Jones has showed himself to be one of the most cowardly figures in media, when confronted about the reality of his past rhetoric.

Whenever anyone brings up how he absolutely fed into the Pizzagate conspiracy theories specifically about Comet Ping-Pong Pizza, he starts yelling about how he never did that and all he reported on was the Podesta emails (in fairness, he does lie about the emails in the linked video).

Whenever anyone brings up how he absolutely said, repeatedly and unequivocally, that the massacre at Sandy Hook was staged and completely fake, he starts yelling about how all he did was "play devil's advocate" and that all InfoWars did was have a debate on the issue and hear both sides (which is not true, he definitely said it was fake consistently, until fairly recently and doesn't realize all his old episodes are still online).

These are stupid, sloppy, and spineless ways to avoid taking responsibility for times when your analysis was absolutely off-base, and you have grievously misled your audience. However, my favorite style of Cowardly Dodge that Alex Jones uses is what I am going to call an "appeal to satire."

We have seen Alex try to play this card many times in the past.

When he was called on to explain why he very seriously and earnestly reported that Michelle Obama was a man, based solely on an off-hand joke from comedian Joan Rivers, he said that the piece was satire. Leaving aside for a moment that it was not just one piece Alex produced about this theory, it was many, and that he frequently calls Michelle "Michael," and that he repeatedly suggested on air that Joan Rivers was killed for making this off-hand joke, this still is not satire.

The first problem is that satire is a form of humor, and Alex Jones is incapable of creating or being involved in any true humor. I don't say this meanly, I say it with great pity.

Alex Jones is incapable of humor because his entire world revolves around fear, specifically fear of people in lower social stratums than him. Because all of his life is fear, and the expression of this fear necessarily involves punching downward, there is really no way for him to exercise any sort of humor without intense cruelty, which is antithetical to what I might call healthy humor.

You might argue that Alex is not afraid of the people in the lower social statums, he's afraid of the "Globalists," but here you have made a classic error. First, the "Globalists" as conceived by Alex do not exist. He has completely invented them as a windmill to fight as part of his Quixotic quest (Don Quixote, incidentally, is fantastic satire). His fear is of having the high social standing he enjoys by default because he is a straight, white, Christian male taken away from him in a more pluralistic society. The fear is of minorities being treated equally; he merely uses the "Globalists" as an imaginary group that is tricking them into fighting for equal rights as a smokescreen to obscure his outright bigotry.

I'm afraid I'm getting off track.

The point is that Alex does not understand what satire is. I suspect that he is really just wanting to say "I was just fucking around," but he also wants to sound like his fucking around was smart or served a bigger point than killing time between boner pill ads.

The thing that I find particularly interesting is that Alex really only trots out the "it was satire" defense when he is caught propagating a particularly ugly narrative and feels like the mainstream is about catch him in a net of his own making.

The "Michelle Obama is a man" narrative reveals that he has no real integrity in his criticisms of President Obama. If he is going to spend airtime on this level of nonsense, it calls into question the validity of any of the other complaints he's made about the man ("that he was not born in America," "that he was born in America but his dad was Frank Marshall Davis," "that he was trying to turn the US into a Muslim caliphate," just for a few examples).

That narrative in particular further reveals his deep-seated transphobia, and the incredibly low-bar he requires to consider something "evidence" enough to launch a narrative (an off-hand joke by a comedian). In the light of day, he cannot afford to have any of these questions asked in earnest, so he plays the role of the coward and claims it was satire all along.

On January 8, 2018, he did this again, this time in response to his absurd rant about the smiles of CNN's Brian Stelter and author Michael Wolff. Of course he was performing a bit, in the same way he is when he fakes crying when he prays sometimes, but the things he said in that rant were ugly, and again were very revealing. When too many figures in the media started to note that the language he was using was textbook antisemitism, he retreated to his favorite refuge, "the appeal to satire:"

Beyond the fact that Alex is lying about what he said (he never mentioned Jared from Subway in his rant, for instance), he is once again clearly mixed up about what satire is. All definitions of satire do not include "just having some fun" or "letting yourself off the chain." Those descriptions sound like they would fit better in the definition of "fucking around," but unfortunately, in this case, it would be deeply antisemitic fucking around [For more on how Alex's worldview is entirely based on repackaged antisemitism, check out this article].

The entire Stelter/Wolff rant hinged on the fact that Alex didn't like the men's smiles, which makes playwright Dario Fo's distinction between "satire" and "teasing" particularly relevant:

Teasing is the reactionary side of the comic; it limits itself to a shallow parody of physical appearance

So maybe the next time Alex is called out about something, he should switch it up and say, "hey, why are you all so upset? It was just shallow parody!"

The other day, I was listening to Alex's show, and I was struck by something so incredibly ironic that I got lost in thought for the better part of an hour. Coming back from commercial break, Alex Jones decided to play this song as a bumper:

In case you don't recognize that, it is Amerika by Rammstein, and it is a deeply satirical song.

The chorus is "We're all living in America, it's wunderbar (wonderful)," but the rest of the lyrics are all about how shitty America is to the rest of the world. The lyrics translated are:

When we dance I want to lead
When you turn yourself around alone
Let us control you a bit
I’ll show you how to walk right
We create a lovely round dance
The freedom plays from all violins
Music comes from the White House
And in front of Paris stands Mickey Mouse

I know the very useful steps
And I will protect you from missteps
And who does not want to dance at the end
Does not know that he must dance
We create a lovely round dance
I will show you the direction
To Africa comes Santa Claus
And in front of Paris stands Mickey Mouse

This is not a love song
This is not a love song
I don’t sing my mother tongue
No, this is not a love song

That may lose a little something in translation, but it's pretty damn clear that the point of the song has to do with how insulting it is that America has a presumption of cultural superiority over the rest of the world. If you think that may be an unfair assessment from the lyrics, I invite you to watch the music video and reconsider:

That, my friends, is satire.

20% of me thinks he played the song to signal to his audience that his entire show is a biting satire on the dangers of radical nationalism and illiteracy; the last two years being a particularly harrowing satire demonstrating the personal toll a man experiences when he sides with a petty aspiring tyrant. The other 80% of me is certain all he heard was the word "America" in the song and thought, "fuck, this song is Americana."