Tucker Carlson decided to open a new season of his Fox News show by tackling the big national problem no one wants to acknowledge – the decline of manly men. The pretty, bowtied WASP introduced his marks to his new favorite theme: a “collapse” in testosterone levels accompanied by a rise of male nancy-ness that threatens western civilization. His guest was some random dude selling “bromeopathy” through a faux documentary called The End of Men.
What followed his intro was the gayest minute on Fox News since Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson’s worshipful celebration of Trump’s health. Carlson treated his audience to a video montage beginning with nostalgic images of “strong men.” It included the caption that, “Strong men made good times” while in the background a strong man hurls his javelin. I mean, if that’s your idea of a good time…
The video featured sweaty shirtless hunks wrestling. A shirtless bearded Adonis swung an axe. An inexplicably shirtless underwear model fired an assault rifle. In case this was all too subtle, they threw in a shot of a guy pulling on udders. Yes, seriously, udders. At the close of the sequence, a nude Adonis flexes his guns while basking in the manifying red light of a magic ball scanner.
Fun observation – All of the burly men were white. The single black man shown was obese and lumbering. A montage full of ripped black men would be promoting a completely different porno, though the target audience would have been the same.
Why did Tucker Carlson open his season with an ad for a John Waters summer camp? There’s a lot here to unpack.
For starters, this montage is a helpful reminder that every Republican accusation is a confession. People screaming about “the gays” are almost always exposing their own sexual insecurities. From child trafficking (Matt Gaetz, etc) to voter fraud to “cancel culture” (Republican school and library boards all over the country), every Republican talking point exposes their darkest obsessions. Republicans don’t want anyone to “say gay” because every mention of the concept makes it tougher for certain Republicans to hold the act together.
What’s all the fuss about testosterone levels? A study a couple of decades ago seemed to suggest that male testosterone levels were declining globally. In hindsight, this appears to be a data glitch resulting from an overall aging population. The people who managed to ignore climate change and covid have not, in fact, uncovered a real problem. They have, however, exposed their own deepest terror – declining male power, mostly their own.
Carlson didn’t get rich by misunderstanding his audience. The kind of men drawn to Fascist propaganda are the kind of men who feel dogged by failure and inadequacy, easy marks for grifters pitching “real man” remedies. Fascism embraces a bizarre cult of male sexual power, perhaps best described as homoerotic homophobia, in which an erotic obsession with an ideal male form is pared with exaggerated demonstrations of not-gayness.
What does Fascist homoerotic homophobia look like? It looks like the far-right’s obsession with “cuckold” imagery and language. It looks like Steve Bannon’s erotic rhapsody on Fascist uniforms and style, all about leather, violence and power. It looks like Ernst Rohm, the openly gay leader of Hitler’s SA (predecessor to the SS), and his strange, homoerotic embrace of the mannderbund, or “men’s state.” You see it in the “Proud Boys,” who decided to give themselves a super-not-gay name better suited for a Castro Street bathhouse. It looks like Paul Pressler, the Southern Baptist preacher and Republican anti-gay political activist who’s a gay pedophile. It looks like Jerry’s Falwell Jr. ‘s three way with a Miami pool boy. An ideology that worships male power also worships male sexual power. That worship can be expressed in odd ways.
Strange as this Carlson episode is, it’s not new. Themes and images he touched on, caressed and fondled on his show are central to Fascist mythology and to the white supremacist ideology from which Fascism rose. Carlson dressed up his show with male underwear models because that kind of homoerotic imagery appeals to a certain class of homophobe while tweaking the aspirations of chronically insecure Fascist men.
Everything old is new again. To understand why Fox News cultists will spend the next year shelling out cash to tan their sad, shriveled balls, we should perhaps remember the American Nazi who became a millionaire selling goat testicles and racial panic.
John Brinkley may be the most American American who ever lived. He began his career hawking fake medicine in Tennessee in 1907 and by the 1930’s presided over a news and entertainment empire. Generations before Fox News or Tucker Carlson, Brinkley perfected the rightwing infotainment grift.
For most of the 1910’s, Brinkley rambled around the South scraping a living from phony cures. His frauds, affairs, bigamy and occasional thievery left him constantly on the run until he struck out west, making it only as far as Kansas. He settled in the little community of Milford, promoting himself as a doctor. It was there that he hit on the first half of an idea that would make him rich – goat testicles.
Brinkley started selling expensive goat testicle transplants as a cure for just about everything, but especially the loss of male “virility.” And yes, that means transplanting goat testicles into people. No, it didn’t work. He struggled for the first few years against a hostile medical establishment and the burden of some very unpleasant patient outcomes until he discovered the second half of this magic formula – radio.
In 1923, Brinkley scraped together the money to buy a radio station in Milford, KFKB. He filled the airwaves with goat testicle promotions along with long political rants, farm reports, fundamentalist preaching, country and gospel music, and whatever other entertainment he could assemble. Business boomed.
But for the brief, covering reference to “the female,” this sample of Brinkley’s pitch for his goatnut cure is almost as gay as Tucker Carlson’s video clip:
“Note the difference between the stallion and the gelding. The stallion stands erect, neck arched, mane flowing, champing at the bit, stamping the ground, seeking the female, while the gelding stands around, half asleep, going into action when goaded, cowardly, listless, with no interest in anything. Men, don’t let this happen to you. A man is as old as his glands.”
Another pitch began, “Are you a manly man, full of vigor?”
And another urged them to fight, “the disease that’s in your body, the disease that’s destroying your earning power, the disease that’s causing you to keep your nose to the grindstone and spend every dollar that you can rake and scrape. You men, why are you holding back? You know you’re sick, you know your prostate is infected and diseased… Well, why do you hold back?”
By 1928, Brinkley had raised the power of his transmitter to the point that the station could be heard nationwide, a position he secured by carefully offering time to politicians across the political spectrum. Spreading the wealth was a key to Brinkley’s widening scams. When doctors in nearby states complained that his broadcast advice was undermining their business, he organized a syndicate of doctors and pharmacies. Listeners would be told to get their care through associated providers and those providers would deliver kickbacks to Brinkley.
Careful cultivation of politicians and a willingness to cut others in on the action helped protect Brinkley from a flood of malpractice suits and investigations, at least for a time. A steady stream of assaults on his bogus medical license were absorbed by doctors and officials with little incentive to crack down.
By 1930, the federal government couldn’t ignore the wave of complaints or Brinkley’s consistent flouting of broadcast rules. A crackdown ensued. As the tide of the investigation turned against him, Brinkley decided to run for Governor of Kansas. He began his campaign too late to get on the ballot, so he toured the state holding massive, entertaining rallies to train voters on the write-in process. Brinkley probably won. Enough of his write-in ballots were invalidated on a technicality to swing the election against him. In February 1931, his final appeals failed and his Kansas radio station went off the air.
Brinkley wasn’t done. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor again in 1932 and 1934. Meanwhile, he sold the Kansas station to a local insurance business and gradually moved his operations to Del Rio, Texas. Just across the border, out of reach of the US government, Brinkley set up the largest broadcast tower in the world, originally ten times the power of his Kansas station, later 200 times stronger.
His Mexican operation set him free to sell his wildest schemes yet, selling “crazy water crystals,” an increasingly bizarre collection of fake remedies and autographed photos of Jesus Christ. His Mexican radio station also became the genesis of modern country music, bringing figures like the Carter Family, Jimmy Rogers and Gene Autry to a mass audience. Right along with them, Brinkley introduced his new Nazi friends, William Pelley and Fritz Kuhn. Brinkley funded William Pelley’s new Nazi organization in North Carolina, the Silver Shirts. His radio station offered them time to share their anti-semitic conspiracy theories nationwide.
Brinkley’s obsession with sexual vitality dovetailed nicely with Nazi themes of eugenics and the threat to the white master race. The Nazis made the use of abortion and birth control severe crimes. Raising birth rates and promoting the sexual vitality of the master race was a vital Nazi concern. Brinkley was a natural ally of the Fascists, using both his money and his media platform to support them. The kind of people excited by a mythology of endangered male potency are easily drawn in by an ideology of threatened male power.
The 1940s were a bad time for Fascists. In a decline that seems remarkably similar to Alex Jones, Brinkley’s many enemies seemed to pounce at once. As war began in Europe, Brinkley’s Nazi sympathies drew fresh hostility from Washington. In 1941, the US government reached an agreement with Mexico to shut down Brinkley’s station. The same year he was indicted for fraud in Arkansas. He promptly declared bankruptcy, dying a few months later in 1942.
Neither the homoeroticism of Tucker Carlson’s dick lamp nor the paranoid themes behind it are new. White people are Schrodinger’s Race, simultaneously a beautiful, master race of supreme vitality and a weak, declining, impotent force, forever sinking beneath a dusky wave. Carlson’s End of Men shtick embraces this paradox. He offers viewers a magic ritual to awaken their lost racial supremacy, attaining a kind of elevated white power unavailable to their “affluent” city cousins who foolishly listen to “experts.” Like 19th century Ghost Dancers, Carlson is introducing the mythology and worship rituals which promise to restore their lost power. There are a lot of insecure men unhappy with their plight, looking for trouble. Carlson and the Republicans are offering them an attractive explanation, recycling a Fascist ideology to weaponize them.
And finally, here’s Republican Congressman and man’s man, Madison Cawthorn, in lingere. Yes, this is real.
This is the only forum I have to say this so I’m saying it here in the hopes that somehow someday it’ll hit the right ears:
If you want abortion rights in the United States, investigative reporters have to keep a fucking EAGLE’S EYE on conservative politicians in Texas and in general for when they, invariably, inevitably, at some point, pay for an abortion for one of their mistresses. Especially if they are Texans. Then aforementioned investigative reporter should not only publish it, but execute the law in Texas to sue them for the crime.
In fact, as long as there are enough investigative reporters on the beat, basically they should pay attention to every single Texan worth more than $10million. Literally. Just sue the shit out of these rich white Texans over and over again and that will bring abortion both the light as well as the antiprivacy measures of the law. Eventually rich Texans will get so pissed off about it that they’ll countersue all the way to the Supreme Court for their rights to privacy, which is what the basis of Roe V Wade really was, and it’ll be re-implemented under a ‘protect the rich’ framework.
Couple of issues with your premise. Countless GQP politicians have been caught pushing their mistresses to get abortions and the Trumpanzees do not care. As long as they are STIGGINIT to the liberals and brown folks they can get as many abortions as they want. As for the law, does anyone really believe the law will be allowed to be used against one of the chosen?
As for the SCOTUS, I have no doubt they will use their legal gymnastics to make sure the laws do not apply to anyone with the right initials behind their name.
The difference between “Hey Trump forced abortions on his mistresses” and this Texas law is that the Texas law is a law and thus they have to go to court to defend themselves even if they proclaim not to care. They have to, it’s law. And of course yes they’re rich and can afford delays etc. so forth, but it makes it far more expensive to be them.
The fact is Republicans abort at a higher rate than Democrats anyway, because their states provide less social support so parenthood is more desperate. Also because they’re not as comfortable with mixed families and other untraditional relationships.
They want to weaponize the law to target libs. Two can play at that game. And they have far more targets to potshot at.
People assume the Roe v Wade decision will gin up the left to vote in politicians to pass real legislation defending abortion rights.
They don’t seem to recognize that it’ll gin up the right equally or more now that passing real legislation banning abortion is on the table.
This goes back to my general frustration about the left/right divide in the U.S. The left always goes, “Oh good, we won!” and then goes back to their life. The right always goes, “Oh good, we won!” and then seeks the next victory. The left always goes “Oh no, we lost!” and then blames their own leaders for being ineffective. The right always goes, “Oh no, we lost!” and votes in meaner, angrier leaders.
It’s totally imbalanced. All the left ever really does is cauterize wounds and then shrug and say the system is broken.
I am of the belief that the right-wing members of the SCOTUS (no, I will no pretend these Justices are non-partisan) leaked the draft decision with a specific goal in mind. The leak will allow the GQP to see the willingness of the SCOTUS and how the SCOTUS could allow the dismantling of other court decisions such as gay-marriage and other civil rights laws. The final decision will be presented with those unpalatable references removed but the message has been sent that the SCOTUS will support the removal of rights of those demonized by the religious right.
Margaret Atwood says enforced childbirth is slavery.
How do you think Republicans feel about that?
I think the party that defends statues of enslavers and the symbols glorifying slavery has no issue with Atwood’s comments.
I think the right wing of SCOTUS has a bigger agenda than just taking away a few rights from women and marginalized demographics. Read this newsletter from Heather Cox Richardson (https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-18-2022?s=r) about half way through, where she talks about “nondelegation doctrine” and how a recent ruling from the 5th Circuit – if allowed to stand – could lead to dismantling most of the US Government.
They haven’t been able to drown it in a bathtub, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been trying.
Chris I am sure you will have a column up on this fairly soon, which as always will be interesting. In the interim, I’m going to share a few thoughts.
Those are largely based on two rules that I use to evaluate the probability of action in DC at this time of extreme polarization and closely divided government. These are:
1. A crisis that severely effects the white, middle class is required for significant policy change to occur. That is particularly true if that change requires Congressional action.
2. For any Congressional action that benefits the people or is progressive in nature, significant majorities for the progressive party of the time are required. Furthermore the progressive party must hold the Presidency and must have an overwhelming majority of the Senate. When it comes to budgetary measures the required majority is not quite as large.
When it comes to the draft Abortion Opinion, remember that the legalization of abortion did not occur via Congressional action, but via a Supreme Court ruling. I hate to say it, but the legalization should have occurred via statute not a court ruling. The court ruling short-circuited the normal process that is required in the US for significant change to occur. For same sex marriage, the court ruling only occurred after many states legalized it.
Taking these into account, I believe the following:
1. The ruling will stand, but the draft opinion will be modified to make it more palatable to the white, middle class. Some of the language threatening contraception and LGBTQ rights will be removed.
2. The result will be that white, middle class women will be able to travel to seek abortions when needed. The blue states such as CA, WA, Northeastern States and some of the Great Lakes States will provide abortions and they will pass measures to thwart the worst aspects of the TX law or there will be court rulings precluding its interference in interstate commerce.
3. A black market in abortion services will develop. White, middle class women will be able to access safe abortions via that means. Some of the most draconian aspects of the TX law will be ignored or not enforced.
4. Because white, middle class women will have access through the means mentioned above, banning abortion will not qualify as a crisis affecting white, middle class women.
5. For women of color or those who are poor it will be a crisis.
After applying my rules, I believe:
1. The Republican effort to pass a nationwide law to ban abortion will fail. It will not be a crisis that meets the criteria for Congressional action and the Republicans will not have a sufficient majority to get it passed and in any event the President will veto it.
2. Regarding the effort to codify Roe v. Wade, that too will fail because the Democrats do not have the overwhelming majorities to pass it.
3. Efforts to defang the TX legislation and its approach will likely succeed in some fashion, either judicially or Congressionally. Regarding the Congressional path, the full implementation of the TX approach could well create a sufficient crisis affecting white, middle class women for sufficient pressure to build to overcome the constraints on Congressional action.
I will conclude by stating that I personally dislike these rules of thumb and that the white, middle class applicability is not compatible with the multi-cultural, multi-sect and multi-color, diverse society America is becoming. However, due to the white Christian supremacy, that engulfs America, it is a reality and has been largely since its founding. Very and too slowly it is breaking down, particularly in the metropolitan areas in which most Americans now live. But the Constitution has significant biases towards the small rural areas. That combined with the polarized and closely divided society has allowed the retrograde portions of the nation, particularly the South and its allies in Appalachia and the Far West, to be dominant for several decades, as Colin Woodward has discussed in his several books regarding the Nations of North America. I believe that is changing and within the foreseeable future they will no longer be dominant.
Well Chris some years ago you posted a few times how it would be political suicide for the fascists to overturn Roe, and rational Con’s would not allow it to happen.
Guess you were wrong on that one. You can suggest that this leaked doc is a gift to all Dem’s, as they now have something to actually rally around and campaign on. But the loser party is incapable of that, and the political system is set up now that it simply does not matter.
The loser party is going to be wiped out in November. Abortion will be illegal in the majority of the country (maybe all as the nuts will sue anyone in a blue state that does one), and the slope towards fascism will will a cliff, with the country in free-fall, with no handholds.
Welcome to Gilead.
Then can you please shut up and hide in your bunker instead of bringing perpetual doomsaying to this comments section? I really wish there was a block option so I’d never have to see your pessimistic drivel ever again.
Uh huh…keep on ignoring reality. That has worked for the loser party so well.
You offer up no other solutions besides murderous fantasies while contributing nothing of worth to the actual discussions at hand. You’re the one clearly ignoring reality.
Go camp out in front of a courthouse and scream about the apocalypse, loser.
Welp. looks like they finally did it, they blew it up. the maniacs.
So, Chris, what do you think the fallout from this is goin to be? are the Dems suddenly gonna win cuz this is the kind of thing you would think would be a home run.
worst is, if you read the opinion it looks like they intend to overturn not only abortion but also stuff like gay marriage and maybe even interracial marriage and anti-sodomy laws as well if cases involving those make it to them.
I’m Canadian, how long until i have to seriously consider opening my home to American refugees?
It’s impossible to say how this affects the midterms. At least on paper, barely 20% of Americans (according to Gallup polling) side with banning all abortions with no exceptions. Small wonder Washington Rs are sticking to talking about only the SCOTUS leak and not the substance of overturning Roe.
On the other hand, never underestimate the self-centered stupidity of voters to focus only on inflation and gas prices, abortion rights be damned. Culture war issues are fantastic for turning out the frothing Republican base, but the same can’t be said for Democrats.
If anyone’s telling you how they know this will pan out, they’re lying to you. All I can hope is that Dems play this smart and tailor their messaging to being about extremist Republicans stripping constitutional rights away, not expanding the Court or any other nonsensical shiny objects.
Off-topic. Analysis illustrates why corporations are not our friends and will never save us.
Much is written and said about inflation and how the checks written by Biden at the beginning of the pandemic are the source of the problem. Shame, shame on those free-spending Democrats. Look what they’ve done to us all.
Here’s what various corporate executives say:
“Pricing will be an important lever for us this year and is expected to drive most of our growth,” CEO Michele Buck [Hersey’s] told investors.
“ Most of our – if not all – of our net sales growth for 2022 would be driven by price/mix.”
Amit Banati, CFO [+54% profit growth Q3 2019 to Q3 2021]
“ We’re pretty fortunate with the pricing power we have … so we have more room to take the price as we need to. We see no resistance to date with the levels that we’re currently at.”
Brian Niccol, CEO
Steel Dynamics profits increased 809%. The company was “not materially affected by inflation” as higher prices “exceeded” increased supply chain costs.
Fertilizer giant Nutrien’s profits shot up by about $1.2bn on “higher selling prices [that] more than offset higher raw material costs and lower sales volume”.
There’s no shared customer/corporation inflation burden. We the people are carrying it for CEOs and friends.
You have a pubmed reference here, on a political blog. That doesn’t happen often. Thank you for that.
Some good news on the democracy vs nutzo RW autocracy front, French President Macron is winning over crazy Le Pen by a solid 19 point margin. I wish American voters could be at least as good at spotting people who ought not to hold power.
And Slovenia has done the same. Abbott and DeSantis deserve to be next, but I have little faith in TX and FL voters.
Here in Fort Bend county Texas I will continue to do my best to fight against these a**holes.
I nominate Tucker Carlson of bowtie and faux scowl fame to laser first. Balls up, as it were. We are truly living in a sick society as your excellent recitation of history documents. The only thing not mentioned was the sterility problem found with some males who contracted covid.
Personally, I hope every one of Carlson’s sycophants takes the laser challenge. The world will be a better place.
In 2014, Nick Hanauer published an article in Politico that said “You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”
More and more, I see a police state coming.
Every day, the u.s.’ descent into fascism accelerates a bit more. Great article Chris.
Excellent piece as per usual, Chris! I’ve never heard of this Brinkley fellow, but reading about him helped put some historical context on this mess. I also appreciate you did come back and revisit the paradoxical element of homoeroticism present within the fascist obsession with “male power.”
Though I would be interested in knowing some of your thoughts (if you have them) on some other current events going on. I’m a little surprised that the midterm elections haven’t been mentioned again now that the generic ballot has swung to R+4 and most forecasts are showing a very good election for the GOP. Unless something happens to take the news cycle and voters’ minds off the economy and “inflation,” they’ll be rewarded at the polls.
The other issues I’d be curious for your thoughts on include the coordinated, state-level rolling back of LGBTQ rights across the GOP-controlled country – with an especial focus on persecuting transgender children and their families.
By extension, I think it would be both timely and in fitting with the theme of your other writings to mention Gov. DeSantis’s direct legislative retaliation toward Disney for (tepidly, half-heartedly, and belatedly) criticizing his flagship “anti-grooming” bill designed to prevent positive discussion of LGBTQ people and families in schools.
It’d be interesting to see a discussion on how this plays into how fascist regimes deal with corporate interests, as well as your thoughts on whether or how much this could hurt the Florida GOP, assuming DeSantis’s aggressive 20-8 gerrymander doesn’t get overturned by the courts.
I just reread this and realized that first parenthetical may come off as disrespectful. Sorry about that! I’ll rephrase that whole sentence: I’d be curious to know your thoughts about the other current events I mentioned above.
I believe that the Villages also benefits from one of those special extra autonomy deals, but don’t anyone hold their breath waiting for that to be canceled.
Back when the movie 300 came out, I was legitimately confused about its strange mix of homoeroticism and homophobia. I stayed confused with Snyder for years after that, until I read about the Nazi’s cult of the male figure and things snapped into place. Is one of the reasons Watchmen managed somehow to repeat the original comic book frame for frame while still missing the point: Alan Moore was like, “Look, superheros are essentially fascists” and Snyder responded with, “See, fascists are superheros.” Difference in inflection on the same sentences.
It’s even worse for today’s RWNJ manly man, because unlike the 30s and 40s, women need not be economically dependent on men if they don’t want to. It hasn’t escaped my attention that, confident that Roe vs Wade will be overturned, the reactionaries are taking aim at Griswold.
Hi Chris: Just an FYI – this article isn’t visible to the public on the home page, just to those with an account.
Needed to update the name servers. Might be some further disruption over the weekend but should be ok by Monday