A funny thing happened last week. As the political fervor whipped up all across social media, the gloves came off and authors, filmmakers, stand up comics, and people from all walks of life with Etsy stores, vitamin pyramid schemes, and yardsale facebook groups stopped acting like used car salesmen and went nuclear on each other.
And it was fucking glorious.
It was glorious because, for years, I’ve been criticized high and low for speaking my mind publicly, for always being honest and never playing politics in any group of people I’m associated with, be it filmmakers back when I was still making Hack Movies or in writer circles once I started writing Strange Fiction. I’ve ALWAYS taken shit for not being diplomatic and calling out douchebags for being douchebags.
Suddenly the whole fucking WORLD was acting like Kevin Strange across social media. Think about it. If half of this country voted for Hillary Clinton and half of them voted for Donald Trump, then it stands to reason that when someone publicly and vociferously took a side on their social media, they were going to alienate half of their coveted, precious, fragile little social connections.
Now, everyone knows, salesmanship 101 states NEVER talk politics or religion on social media. Indeed never take a controversial stand on any subject lest you alienate your audience. And your audience is ALL THAT MATTERS.
The only time it’s OK to even argue online is when you’re dogpiling a person marked with the dreaded social media pox: RACIST! SEXIST! MISOGYNIST!
And so, when Election 2016 rolled around and the gloves came off, I laughed as people who have, for years, sat back with their good-guy masks on, being good social media salesmen, never rocking the boat (except to ostracize a RACIST! SEXIST! MISOGYNIST! from the precious ranks) cast off their fake personas and went at each others’ throats in a way I’ve personally never witnessed.
Family went after family, old high school friends came to digital blows and yes even those precious, delicate literary connections went out the window as THE ENEMY AT THE GATES Donald Trump challenged Liberal stronghold Hillary Clinton for the most powerful job in the free world.
For weeks people stopped acting like their livelihoods (or full-time hobbies in most cases) were at stake every time they posted online. They were honest with each other. They were outwardly MEAN to each other, instead of keeping their vicious politics private and secretive.
The gauntlet was thrown down and people got HONEST and LOUD with each other! Then, when the smoke cleared and Donald Trump won the presidency, SHIT GOT EVEN LOUDER! I saw people lose publishing contracts and indie film companies split up because of how real shit got in the days after the election.
Amazing. Every rule had been broken for the sake of, I don’t know, trying to be virtuous and “ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY!” as the more melodramatic folks liked to frame it.
But in the end, a week after the election, life has, shockingly, gone on. We’re back at work, back at trying to sell our vitamins and our novels and our limited edition Blu Rays. People are trying to put their fake masks back on and pretend they weren’t calling their fathers and brother, neighbors and fellow artists LITERALLY RACISTS! or LIBERAL CRYBABIES!
This is all quite funny to me because I’m fucking immune to it. I don’t have to try to put a cat back in the bag or a genie back in a bottle because I’ve never worn a fucking fake mask to try to sell shit. I’m Kevin Fucking Strange. Have been since day 1 and will be until my dying day.
THIS is why it doesn’t pay to be a lying, sanctimonious fuckhead in public. Once you’ve exposed the “real” you to a knee jerk audience made of political and social cheerleaders who buck off anyone they deem controversial, there’s no going backward.
MY fans don’t give a single fuck what I post online. They’re here because they LIKE the fact that I speak my mind and give zero fucks. A lot of them don’t get to tell their boss to fuck off. They can’t talk back to their spouse. They don’t have the kind of voice I have so they live vicariously through me.
That’s a real fanbase. That’s why I can do this and outsell a lot indie filmmakers with distribution and small press authors with publishing contracts who only cater to trendy social groups. It’s why I can do it with virtually no support from any literary community.
For a few weeks, everyone acted like Kevin Strange on the internet. But me? I get to be this guy every fucking day of the year.