Lonely men and incels (and Muslim extremists)

I do know lonely men and incels are different from each other. Unlike lonely men in general, incels are toxic cretins who feel entitled to sex and female obedience and they blame women for their loneliness.

So, I cringed so hard when Jordan Peterson cried after being mocked by Olivia Wilde as incels’ hero; he asserted that there was nothing wrong about giving the marginalised ones a voice.

Now, as a Muslim, I am going to compare incels to Muslim extremists. I can’t help but seeing the similarities.

Yes, people from both groups do need help….. in fixing their toxic selves. Their worldview compels them to harm others, especially those who don’t share their identities and beliefs. They are hated not because they are inconsequentially different, but because they are dangerous to be around with.

The last thing we need is letting those people feeling even more empowered. They deserve to feel ashamed of themselves.

Now, what if those people didn’t start as such? What if the incels started as genuinely lonely men? What if the religious extremists started as members of marginalised Muslim minorities or Muslims who feel aimless with their lives?

If that’s the case, it shows our failure as societies. Our negligence result them in their desperation to seek help….. and the extremists are the only ones who lend hands, hands which guide them to the dark paths. Then, we have the gall to act surprise.

But, even with such tragic origin stories, I still don’t see why we shouldn’t crap on them. Their idea of self-empowerment is cruelty against others; they cannot comprehend that it can be achieved through other means.

They are also defeating their own causes. They went from deserving our support to ones who deserve to be hated. They also give other assholes more reasons to be negligent and discriminatory towards the likes of them.

I also don’t believe all incels started as lonely men and all Muslim extremists started as aimless or disenfranchised Muslims.

If you are a man who grew up among toxic masculinity, you can easily become incels without going through the “neglected lonely man” stage. If you are a Muslim who grew up among fellow believers who make Islam their entire personalities, you can easily become an extremist without going through the “aimless or disenfranchised” stage.

Overall, in differing ways, they are all victims of circumstances which they had no control over; it is important to acknowledge how they become the way they are.

But, it is also important to acknowledge that the way they are is dangerous. Considering humans are grey, we can both the victims and the villains. I don’t see why we can’t feel sorry for incels and Muslim extremists while also harshly condemning them at the same time, especially when they have fulfilled their violent desires.

I don’t see how not condemning them benefit anyone.

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Being a child of a single mother

Indonesia is like most places on earth. It is considered preferable for children to have both mom and dad. In fact, unlike in America and much of the west, almost every person here is conservative; truly liberal-minded people are a rarity here.

And yet, the vitriol against single mothers in America is extreme, something which I don’t see in Indonesia. Maybe single motherhood isn’t as common or talked about as much. But, I never heard about a huge number of Indonesians demonising single mothers, blaming them for every existing social ill.

Worse, those people even use scientific papers – which supposedly claim that children of single mothers are more likely to be worse off – as their evidences. They feel more empowered and, among the gullible ones, they seem to be an ideologically sound bunch.

I have never read those papers. Knowing how zealous ideologues can be, they may either oversimplify the content or straight up lie about it. But, even if the papers truly make such claim, they are peer-reviewed and their results can be replicated by other peer-reviewed researches, I still don’t see how it proves the dangers of single motherhood.

For misogynists, those studies affirm their preconceived beliefs about women, especially their supposed inherent incompetence in anything. For gullible people, they start thinking that the misogynists are on something.

But, for sceptical people who try their best embracing the complexity of reality, they won’t take the studies for granted and they acknowledge that no one and nothing lives in a vacuum.

They realise we are shaped not just by our homes, but also by our racial and ethnic backgrounds, our schools, work places, the media we consume, the dominant political and religious beliefs in our area, the political and religious beliefs we embrace, any places sociologists refer to as the “third places”, any thoughts we are exposed to, any interactions we immerse ourselves in.

If you are truly open-minded, you would not be too quick to blame something on only one factor, you would consider multiple of them.

You would not blame it entirely on single mothers, you would also hold other aspects of the society accountable for severely failing those fatherless children.

Yes, I know there are bloated elephants in the room: the absent fathers.

Unless the mothers slander the fathers and undeservingly end up with full custody of the children, we can definitely say the absent fathers are also a factor to consider. It is not the mothers’ faults that their partners died or were lost on the way to buy cigarettes.

I initially wanted to omit this, as it was too obvious and easy. But then, I remember the people who love demonising single motherhood never talk about negligent fathers and refuse to hold men accountable to anything. In the end, I have to state the obvious.

Now, for my anecdote as a son of a single mother.

I was very young when my father died, I don’t have a single memory of him. I started to long for a father figure when I was a teenager. Inexplicably, that longing feeling died out after I graduated high school.

Now, as a thirty-year-old man, I am glad I was raised by one parent. It is emotionally burdensome to face the demands from one parent. I cannot imagine facing demands from two!

I don’t know what kind of person he was. He might be able to balance my mom’s burdensome bearing. But, it is also possible he was either equally burdensome or my mom’s biggest apologist. Considering what kind of person my mom is, you have to be either toxic or permissive with toxicity in order to enjoy her presence, let alone marrying her.

Oh, and so-called manliness is not a concern. For one, I don’t give a fuck about conforming to an arbitrary and ever-changing gender role. But, even if I do, my conservative mom loves upholding gender roles anyway. She loves shaming me every time I show lack of interest in anything automotive and outdoor-related… or, more frequently, show my fear of height.

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Do you hate trans and non-binary people? Traditions are not on your side

Well, some aren’t. I am certain some of you are familiar of what I am going to say below.

There are traditional cultures which recognise the third gender, in which you were assigned as either male or female at birth and then you end up identifying as the other gender, both genders or neither.

South Asian cultures recognise the Hijra.

Some Indigenous North Americans recognise the two-spirit (note: the English term for this concept is contentious).

Different Polynesian societies traditionally recognise third genders: Faʻafafine of the Samoans, Māhū of the Hawaiians and Tahitians (may be pejorative in Hawaii), Fakaleiti of the Tongans, Whakawahine of the Maoris and Akava’ine of the Cook Islanders.

The Balkans have the Sworn Virgins, people who were assigned as female at birth, identify as male later on and live a celibate life.

In the South American countries of Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, the Warao people have Tide Wena, who identify neither as male nor female.

In Indonesia, the Bugis people take it even further by recognising five genders: Oroané, Makkunrai, Calalai, Calabai and Bissu.

Oroané and Makkunrai are males and females respectively. Calalai and Calabai are males and females who were assigned as the other genders at birth, respectively. Bissu are both male and female and they may or may not be born intersex.

In some cases, people who identify as the third (or fourth, or fifth) gender are highly revered by their respective societies due to perceived supernatural prowess. The Bissu are a good example.

No, I don’t think those third genders validate their modern (and western-centric) counterparts.

Apart from the poor comparability (I may have oversimplified descriptions or misunderstood the concepts), it is also intellectually dishonest to determine rightness based on how “traditional” something is; if that’s how we do things, we should also validate anti-LGBT+ bigotry as well, considering it is the tradition in many places.

But, at the same time, those facts demonstrate how humans have always had the ability to be fluid with genders. The rigid male-female binary is not as innate and “traditional” as you think it is.

You have to use other arguments.

And no, biology is not on your side, either. I can remind you that intersex people exist and non-trans women can also have high testosterone level in their bodies.

Even our corporeal existence isn’t black and white.

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How to build a civilisation?

Obviously, this requires complex answers. But, if I have to answer it simplistically, I would say civilisation requires good education and discipline.

Maybe it is just me. But, I doubt one can build great things by being disorganised airheads. I mean, it makes perfect sense. I state the obvious because it seems some people have other thoughts about this.

In the west, there are people with strong far-right inclinations who genuinely believe patriarchy, racial and cultural homogeneity, Christianity, cisheteronormativity and machismo built ancient civilisations.

In the Muslim world, there are people who credited Islamic theocracy and highly devoted populace for the Islamic Golden Age. While I encounter them way less, it is hard to ignore them.

If I try hard enough, I am sure I would find even more absurd shits people claim as civilisation builders.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend their notions about ancient societies are accurate (very likely not)*. It still does not make any sense.

Those ancient western civilisations might by misogynistic, homogenous and devotedly Christian. But then, the same things can be said about the least developed parts of the western world.

Take America, for example. Admittedly, the blue states and cities are far from perfect; they certainly have their share of problems. But, you cannot expect me to believe their red counterparts are doing any better.

Those red states have less diverse economic sectors, higher teenage pregnancy rates, higher obesity rates, higher dependence on federal welfare and higher high school dropout rates. Not to mention they are less likely to possess America’s major economic, scientific and cultural centres.

That’s the same with other western countries. London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, they tend to be less religious and more liberal-minded than most other places in their respective countries.

While correlation certainly does not equal causation, it also reminds us that misogyny, homogeneity and Christian devotion do not guarantee civilisation-building.

The Muslim world also has something similar. If Islamic theocracy builds civilisation, then explain why Saudi Arabia, Taliban-ruled territories and ISIS-ruled territories are not the most developed parts of the Muslim world. From all theocratic** Muslim-majority countries, Iran is the only one with high rate of research papers publication and thriving film industry.

In Indonesia specifically, the Sharia-practicing province of Aceh is also far from the most developed.

Of course, I have to give another ‘correlation does not equal causation’ disclaimer. There are more religiously pluralistic provinces which are equally underdeveloped or even more. Not to mention that places outside Java are relatively more neglected.

But, it also proves enforced Islamic devotion does not guarantee progress.

My point is even if ancient civilisations were as religiously devoted, misogynistic and homogenous as they want to believe, it still does not prove anything.

It only shows how societies grow despite of those traits, NOT because of.

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*Let’s face it: the average people often have wrong facts about the past. They love exaggerating and whitewash the past lives. Hence, why I am sceptical about their claims. Heck, I already know that they get some facts wrong.

What we consider as western civilisation already started long before Christianity took over. Ancient Rome only became Christian in its later years and Ancient Greece was never Christian.

The territories which experienced the Islamic Golden Age also had thriving Christian and Jewish communities. In fact, Al-Ma’arri – a highly anti-religious philosopher and poet – was a highly-regarded figure. While I cannot say whether irreligiosity was common or not, it is obvious that being anti-religious did not stop others from admiring you.

**Having a state religion is not the same as being a theocracy. Having one means the state subsidises its rituals, without necessarily deriving its governmental policies from the religion’s teachings. England is a good example of that.

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Are all gender roles inborn?

No, they are not.

If they can be explained biologically, then they are indeed inborn. The problem is some think every gender role – even the non-biological ones – is inborn.

Women must wear heels, men cannot wear dress, cooking is a must for women, automotive is a must for men. If you believe those, then you must also do the following:

Prove that your idea of gender roles is upheld not just by literally every human society, but also literally every human being in existence.

Prove that it existed in the prehistoric era. Show us the evidences of prehistoric women wearing heels and dresses, of prehistoric men enjoying automotive.

If you believe women and men are “programmed” that way, then you should also believe heels and cars are as old as mankind.

I believe humans are “programmed” to enjoy beauty. Do I have proofs? Yes, I do.

Our prehistoric ancestors painted on their cave walls and sculpted tear-shaped stone knives. Amid the urgency of survival needs, they still created art. It reveals we are born with hunger for beauty; it sticks with us regardless of our circumstances.

It would be dishonest of me to declare a victory. But, without doubt, my claim has a backbone and yours doesn’t.

Like it or not, my demands are reasonable. If you say faeces is delicious, you bloody better prove it.

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Does shaming work?

Of course, it does. I don’t get anyone who think it does not work against bigots and conspiracists.

I mean, if shaming does not work in general, then how can you explain the self-hatred suffered by members of marginalised communities?

How can you explain women who knowingly support policies which take away their rights as human beings?

How about darker-skinned people desperately wanting to bleach their skin?

Parents refusing to pass down their stigmatised ancestral heritages because they don’t want turn their children into outcasts?

Westerners of Jewish and Asian descents who sympathise and collaborate with white supremacists?

LGBT teens who end up either committing suicide or joining anti-LGBT forces as adults?

No, those behaviours are not inborn. If they are, it does not explain why many of them are the exact opposite of what I describe above.

Well, you can claim the feeling of empowerment is a sign of mental illness and self-hatred a sign of mental soundness; I have encountered the so-called claim too many times before. But, you have to provide actual evidences if you want to be taken seriously by anyone other than your fellow inbred faeces-eaters.

You may be reluctant to support shaming because -instead of planting self-hatred- it may compel bigots to embellish their words and actions in order to not sound blatantly-hateful. Considering the ones in the west are becoming better in concealing their true selves (and there are too many idiots who cannot read between the lines), it is a concern which I cannot dismiss.

But, some of you are against shaming because of your supposed hatred of malice…. and yet, you defend the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones -who love attacking anyone they despise- under the guise of freedom of speech.

It is either you are too big of an imbecile to understand the purpose of freedom of speech… OR you just want an excuse for your abnormally pitiful inability to cope with even the most inconsequential human differences.

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Turning them female and not-white

When I say ‘them’, I am referring to fictional characters. And I am against changing their gender and race.

But, not for the reason most people have.

I don’t give a fuck if the changes defy the original ideas. If it is acceptable for white actors to portray actual non-white historical figures, then it SHOULD be acceptable to change the gender and race of fictional and definitely not real characters!

I am opposed to the change because it is insulting to racial minorities in the west and women.

If the studio executives really do care about being inclusive, they would demand the creations of new and original hero characters which women and non-white actors can portray. They would never hand them roles that are basically leftovers.

If anything, it shows how they don’t have the desire to respect identities that are not white and male. It shows how they are entirely motivated by profit instead of genuine sense of social inclusivity. It is all about lucrative pandering.

Admittedly, it is not as bad as the tokenism in which they create non-white and/or female characters mostly as punchlines or sidekicks and barely have compelling stories of their own. It is dehumanising to be seen as nothing but money-generating pigeon-holed props.

I acknowledge it as a leap forward. But, considering it is only a few inches forward, it is not worthy the celebration.

This celebration is akin to me patting myself on the back for exercising and having strict diet just for one day.

It is akin to perceiving Saudi Arabia’s decriminalisation of women drivers as a catalyst for the Muslim world when the rest of the Muslim world never ban them from driving in the first place.

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Feminists and anti-feminists: a common ground

*puts on a mask*

Some people support feminism because they believe it is the most effective way to coerce women into embracing western liberal values.

They shame women who willingly embrace modest fashion, who willingly choose to become stay-at-home moms, who willingly choose to become abstinent and who willingly choose to become/stay religious.

Their reasoning? They want to liberate women from the oppressive and medieval eastern values, especially the Islamic ones.

Some people oppose feminism because they want to protect women from western values and coerce them to keep embracing eastern values, particularly the Islamic ones.

They shame women who willingly show the slightest appearances of their skin, hair and bodily curves, who willingly choose to be unmarried and childless and who willingly choose to have active sex lives.

Their reasoning? They want to liberate women from the oppressive and overtly-sexualised western liberal values.

I have to a suggestion for both feminists and anti-feminists:

Why don’t you just make peace with each other?

I mean, it is quite obvious how you actually have something in common with each other: you are advocating to take women’s right to think and act for themselves under the pretense of liberating them.

Wouldn’t your goals become easier to achieve when you find a common ground with the “others” and form a gigantic and influential alliance?

Together, you can oppress women to the fullest.

*takes off the mask*

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Tradition: a misguided argument against mandatory hijab

Yes, it is indeed a widely-used argument. But, believe it or not, popularity does not and will never determine rightness. A million people can be wrong. Well, ‘wrong’ is too broad of a word; ‘ignorant’ is more fitting accurate.

I hate it when ‘traditions’ are used as arguments against novelties. If I ask you to define the word, you would probably answer it as ‘old’ things; my dictionary defines it as things that have been around for many generations. The more I think about it, the more I don’t see how any of those definitions support the arguments.

Old things used to be young. Being passed from one generation to another means there was a starting point. Those definitions insinuate that traditions started as novelties which existence were initially opposed by the reactionary voices in their respective societies, insinuate that novelties will become traditions later in the future.

Of course, one may also argue novelties must be conceived within our own borders. We should never let foreign powers dictate our identities and we must always thrive to be ourselves. If you are an Indonesian Muslim, why become an Arab? But, too bad humans don’t live in vacuums.

Of all the things we consider as traditional to certain places, lots (and, depending on your backgrounds, probably the majority of them) are “foreign”. The traditional food we eat and the traditional arts we pretend to care about would probably would not exist without outside influences.

If you think your country is unique, just remember it is not the only one that has Mother Nature in its mythology, not the only one that has flutes and drums among its traditional music instruments and it is certainly not the only one where cheese, noodles and fried battered foods are traditionally eaten.

Of course, as an Indonesian, I can use my country as an example.

This land of Austronesians (and Melanesians as well) has been influenced by foreigners since forever. Mie ayam, nasi goreng and pangsit would not exist without the Chinese. Sindhens, gulais and Garuda would not exist without the South Asians. Keroncong, tanjidor and pastel would not exist without the Portuguese. Klappertart and kastengel would not exist without the Dutch. Nasi kebuli and martabak would not exist without the dreaded Arabs. Apart from the English loanwords, our national language is also laced with Indian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and, yes, even Arabic ones.

Islamic extremism is indeed something to be fearful about. But, it is pointless to fear Arabisation when some of our supposedly beloved ancestors ‘endured’ it and, in fact, had their identities enriched thanks to it.

Okay, it is a very simplistic statement. Foreign influences can both enrich and devalue our heritage. It depends whether the existing traditions are ‘improved’ or wiped out entirely. But, in the context of the previous paragraph, I solely use the word ‘enrich’ because some Indonesians don’t realise that their so-called beloved heritage has Middle Eastern influences in it.

Should I also mention that Islam is a religion of fucking Middle Eastern origin? I mean, if they really fear Arabisation, why don’t they ditch a religion that uses Arabic as its fucking liturgical language and start practicing animism like their ancestors did?

In case you haven’t noticed, I draw a strict line between Arabophilia and Islamic extremism. The former is an entirely secular endeavour while the latter often goes along with the embrace of Arab culture… or to be precise, what they feel is Arab culture.

In reality, there is no such thing as Arab culture, only cultures. Plural. A country is considered ‘Arab’ because it uses literary Arabic as its national language, NOT because of its cuisine, clothing, arts and brand of Islam. The Maghreb, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Gulf and the Levant are culturally and religiously distinct from one another.

If you actually learn the basics of Arab cultures, you would realise those Muslim extremists have little knowledge about the traditions; if they really are into them, they would wear agal, eat hummus, drink Arak, watch MTV Arabia, do belly dancing and, you know, actually speak Arabic as their fucking first language!

And, just like the Islamists, many moderate Muslims also know nothing about Arab cultures. They see long white garments and hear Arabic-sounding words and they think the Arabs are invading! While I am with their anti-extremist stances, I despise how they use this crisis to justify their anti-Arab prejudice.

Moderate Muslims constantly claim they are against prejudice despite their blatantly prejudiced attitudes.. How can you defend yourselves from your barbaric enemies when you keep pointing the guns towards your feet? How can you fight the epidemic when you falsely see yourself as immune?

Also, those people forget how Indonesia is being infiltrated by contemporary western cultures which have done a great job wiping out our traditions. While the west is indeed more free than the Arab world, the double standard is too infuriating for any reasonable humans to ignore.

And I haven’t talked about the misogyny yet.

The title of this article clearly says ‘mandatory hijab’. I believe the amount of exposed hair and skin is none of our business. It is entirely up to them if they want to wear shorts and show their cleavages. If the sight of skimpily-dressed women is too distracting for you, just simply avert your gaze! Your problem, not theirs!

And the same thing can be said about hijab.

Unless the women are involved in activities where covering up can possibly result in bodily injuries, the amount of covered hair and skin is also none of our business! It is up to them if they prefer to cover their hair and skin. If the sight of ‘modest’ fashion is too distracting for you, just simply avert your gaze! Once again, your problem, not theirs!

There is a frequently-touted rhetoric that hijab is inherently oppressive which means literally every hijabi is an oppressed, rescue-worthy woman and banning the garb is the only mean to do so. This so-called expression of feminism champion women’s rights to wear anything they want… by taking their right to wear anything they want.

Such rhetoric is often divulged either by westerners or Uncle Toms who romanticise the west. I have never heard it being embraced by my fellow Indonesians and, frankly, I am not surprised. Unlike westerners who champion oppression of women under the pretense of feminism, Indonesians never bother to do so.

Heck, they even never bother utilising the anti-extremism pretense. Indonesians, including the ones who identify as moderate Muslims, are very open about their misogyny. They are proud of their endeavours of championing subservience among housewives and holding women to higher standards of sexual mores than men… and they are certainly proud of their shaming of women who cover up and refuse to fulfil the ‘traditional’ dress codes.

No, I don’t think Indonesian moderate Muslims are as bad as the extremists; the former certainly have stricter morals than the latter. Between those two factions, taking sides would not be much of a dilemma. But, both still have some things in common with each other and anti-feminist approach to life is certainly one of them. They are holding the country back from becoming more civilised.

To summarise my rambling…

Using Arabisation to justify one’s anti-hijab sentiment is uneducated, prejudiced and misogynistic.

Uneducated because it falsely thinks humans live in vacuums and pretends that intercultural interactions is a recent human phenomenon.

Prejudiced because it is an excuse to dehumanise the ‘others’.

Misogynistic because it is used to shame women for refusing to dress ‘traditionally’ and preferring to dress like ‘foreigners’.

You geniuses will never be the ones who defeat extremism and you certainly will never be the ones who advance women’s rights.

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My thoughts about the Try Guys

Since I watched Shane Dawson’s conspiracies and ghost-hunting videos, I cannot help myself from judging the critical thinking of my favourite entertainers, including the Try Guys. Sadly, scientific scepticism is not their forte.

And it is ironic because Ned is a Yale chemistry graduate and he fails to bring scientific scepticism to the group (a good reason to not worship people’s educational backgrounds). There are some videos where the guys take the words of so-called experts for granted. But, I think the video that sticks out the most is the acupuncture one.

Admittedly, this is one of the most entertaining Try Guys videos, mostly because of how Eugene’s discomfort juxtaposes with the others’ comfort and the acupuncturist’s charm and wit. But, I am also annoyed by how quickly they accepted the validity of acupuncture.

They could claim they felt the qi flowing inside them. But, there is such thing as placebos. Just because one feels better, that does not mean one actually gets better. You feel better after the treatment because you believe it works.

Okay, I just watched the video again and I was wrong about Ned not being sceptical. He actually was, even though he eventually changed his mind. He and the others might actually feel something. But still, I doubt they were feeling the qi.

Even though I am no biologist, I do know our bodies have sensory neurons all over. So, when one gets stabbed by pointy objects, one ought to feel something; no sensations means one is medically fucked. The sensation they were feeling might be the acupuncturist messing with their nervous systems. But, all four of them failed to realise that which inevitably led to their acceptance of alternative medicine.

I also have another less consequential problem with the Try Guys. On Youtube, there are videos exposing how unfunny the quartet is. Even though I haven’t watched a single one of those videos, I do understand why some people think that way.

Sometimes, when they have guests on their shows, they don’t even bother to read the room; they clearly make jokes only for their online audience, not the one right in front of them. As a result, I often see the guests looking awkward; it somewhat reminds me of Rhett and Link, whose antics have been known to put off some of their guests.

I know I sound a bit too harsh on them. I make it sound like they are unfunny idiotic hacks. In actuality, I don’t believe they are.

Despite the presence of thoughtless jokes, there is also an abundance of wits. In fact, I notice the guys have become wittier as time goes by; they have been entertainers long before their fame, giving them many years to learn. Not to mention there are also guests whose sense of humour is in tune with theirs.

I also cannot be certain about their idiocy. Regarding their validation of acupuncture, it is hard to say if they were being sincere; they might try to not offend the charming and seemingly-nice acupuncturist. Or maybe, they changed their mind about its cogency after they recorded the video. Basically, we should never take people’s words for granted, especially if they are public figures who are known for carefully maintaining their images.

But, even if they are indeed easily duped by pseudoscience, I still refuse to call them entirely idiotic. I mean, they are content creators who maintain their success even after leaving a big corporation that can generously provide resources for their endeavours. If anything, I believe their quality increases after their departure.

In general, the content of their videos can be described as escapist fun with occasional bouts of seriousness; the seriousness often includes topics like health, gender, immigration and even the Try Guys’ own personal lives. They have been thematically consistent throughout the years. But, their professional independence does bring changes to their videos.

First of all, they have bent their definition of ‘trying things’, as shown by the time when they tried to make Eugene AKA Mr. Aloof to sit on Keith’s lap; despite its bizarre yet oddly wonderful pointlessness, the video -which some fans consider as simultaneously the best and the worst- lives up to the group’s name (kinda). Because of that one video, I am expecting more of such outlandishness in the future.

Second, fans have been noticing how the Try Guys have been more carefree than ever. The thing is Keith, Ned and Zach have always been exuberant and I never notice any notable increase in their carefreeness. But, when it comes to emotionally-reserved Eugene, I do notice the change.

Some fans believe the independence, no matter how stressful it can be, is a joyfully liberating thing to have in one’s grasp. Others believe he exaggerated his stand-offish personality just to make Buzzfeed videos more entertaining. I personally speculate that Eugene is happier because he felt he was constantly being used as a clickbait by his former employer.

It is also possible his increasing devil-may-care attitude has nothing to do with his professional life. Nevertheless, I cannot help myself from thinking how plausible those speculations are. Of course, as they are speculations, I must refrain myself from accepting them as the absolute truths. But, as much as I love seeing the goofy side of Eugene, there is a third change that I love the most: the videos’ durations and narrative chronologies.

During the Buzzfeed years, the videos have varied durations; some are as short as two minutes while others are over twenty-minutes long. But, I notice the less-ten-minutes-long ones dominate the playlist. The videos’ storylines are also predominantly linear.

After leaving Buzzfeed, their videos’ narratives have become more nonlinear and the durations have become significantly longer; most of their videos are over ten minutes long with the short ones being a tiny minority. While some may find these aspects too trivial to concentrate on, I think they have greatly enhanced the quality of the content.

More nonlinearity means less sluggish pacing and more enhanced conveyance of emotions, consequentially creating a more captivating storytelling. I also love the challenge (if one can call it that) of deciphering timelines of nonlinear stories without the help of time stamps and, thankfully, Try Guys’ nonlinear videos almost never have them; I hate the unnecessary usage of time stamps as it discourages the audience to take more heed of what they are watching.

More time span means more capacity to showcase more content (obviously); it prevents the feeling of hastiness, it does not keep viewers out from more interesting happenings and, most importantly, it allows the Try Guys to convey a wider range of emotions. I still stand to my earlier description about how their content is mostly fun and occasionally serious moments. But, thanks to the longer durations, there are more manifestations of grave emotions.

Buzzfeed Try Guys videos are like the typical American sitcoms; their seriousness is so rare that they are still considered as comedies. Post-Buzzfeed Try Guys videos remind me of Marvel movies; while light-hearted and may be seen as overrated by some, the mixture of jokes and emotional depths easily put them in the drama-comedy category (if drama-comedy also includes non-fiction).

Dramedy is one of my favourite genres ever. Light-hearted enough to not take itself too seriously, sombre enough to emanates and encourages thoughtfulness. It has the best of both worlds… and I fear the Try Guys will choose only one in the future. The fear comes from them being featured on Youtube Rewind 2018.

In case you don’t remember, Youtube Rewind 2018 is something that can only be described as Youtube’s shameless effort to embrace advertising-friendliness by the means of disregarding the real circumstances of the Youtube communities. If you were a content creator who had never expressed discontent against the establishment or whose content was never deemed controversial, you would be the platform’s golden children.

You would never experience involuntary demonetisation and suffer any consequences for breaking any rules, ensuring a constant stream of fame and fortune. Such privilege is encapsulated by being featured on Youtube Rewind 2018. Basically, the Try Guys haven’t offended the Youtube establishment. Yet.

Of course, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with not being openly anti-establishment. The problem is not being so comes with a lot of perks and those perks may discourage anyone from being more thoughtful and truthful. Frankly, I understand why anyone would keep their mouths shut, especially if one is a financially-independent content creator like the Try Guys.

As I have said multiple times before, their videos have no hesitance in embracing thoughtfulness. If they intend to stay as the establishment’s darlings, there is a possibility they will refrain themselves from creating meatier and riskier content… or worse, will remove the thoughtfulness altogether. But, at the same time, I am also glad they are Youtubers instead of Hollywood personalities.

One thing that I and many other fans love about the Try Guys is their embodiment of healthy masculinity. They are willing to try things many men will feel uncomfortable about, including wearing make-up, wearing women’s pants, getting nail extensions, naked wrestling, drag performances and wearing women lingerie. Their masculinity is anything but rigid (which really triggers Alpha-wannabes Youtubers). And, thankfully, Youtube allows this so-called gender ‘deviance’.

No matter how much you hate it, Youtube is certainly more socially progressive than Hollywood. On the website, members of racial, sexual and gender minorities can enunciate their own authentic and unfiltered voices, some members of the ‘beauty’ community (beauty does not refer to personalities) are men and, of course, male Youtubers are popular despite or probably because of their unorthodox masculinities.

Compare the situation to one of Hollywood, where cis-heteronormativity is still the law of the land, where the groundbreaking character Newt Scamander is considered a boring male lead protagonist for not fulfilling the gender stereotype; while the most outspoken figures are indeed progressives, many of the values imposed by the higher-ups are still very conservative and outdated. Hollywood still has a long way to go.

In the end, no matter how tyrannical Youtube can, it is still free enough for male Youtubers to express wholesome and undogmatic versions of masculinity. So, unless the higher-ups decide they want to impose puritanical gender norms on the platform, I will still love the Try Guys regardless.

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