Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Twitter Follies

The PopCulteer
January 28, 2022

I was a bad boy.

Last week on Twitter I made a joke that is the type of joke I normally keep to myself. It was slightly political, but mainly was poking fun at Twitter algorithms and the way their trending stories work.

But it was a joke in questionable taste.

It was funny as hell, but I knew it would gravely upset some emotionally fragile people of a particular political stripe. I do feel a twinge of guilt about that. I spent the first twenty years of my online life getting into political arguments, and in that time I discovered that folks who lean to the right politically tend to have hair triggers for their outrage, and they combine that with an obliviousness to when they, themselves, have said or done something incredibly beyond the pale. Having fun at their expense is almost cruel.  Sometimes, however, a guy just has to crack a joke.

First, let me explain the joke (never a good idea, but I want to set the scene)…

It was last Friday morning. I woke up, took care of the morning routine, and logged into Twitter. I saw “Meat Loaf” trending, and as almost anyone does when they see a celebrity’s name trending on Twitter, I thought “Gee, I hope he didn’t die.”

Unfortunately, he had.

About an hour later, I saw “Louie Anderson” trending. Again, I thought, “Gee, I hope he didn’t die,” and again, was saddened to see that he had, indeed, passed away.

Another fifteen minutes goes by and I see “Jon Voight” trending. For those of you who don’t know, Voight is an actor, primarily known for his role in Midnight Cowboy 53 years ago, but far more famous as the estranged father of Angelina Jolie. More recently he has also been in such movies as Anaconda, Superbabies: Baby Genius 2, The Karate Dog and Holes. 

By this point, numbed by the two earlier deaths, I clicked on the trending topic, only to see that Mr. Voight was alive and well, and was only trending because he had posted a video rant online, screaming that President Biden was not really the president, that Trump was, and that the disgraced former president was, in fact, really running this country, guided by God and the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.

This is actually pretty typical of the kind of stuff Voight posts, and explains a lot about why he’s estranged from his daughter.

A joke immediately sprung to mind, and in this rare instance, I did not resist the urge to post it.

“Not a good day on Twitter.

Meat Loaf is trending. Turns out, sadly, he has passed away.
Louie Anderson trending, also, sadly, he has passed away.

Jon Voight trending…no such luck”

Little did I realize the Twitstorm that would provoke. About forty people took me to task, saying I was an evil liberal scumbag who was wishing a great American hero dead.

Which I wasn’t. I was merely expressing disappointment that, after the morning’s other deaths, Voight was still alive. There is a difference there, you know.

Given how many of the offended people (seen right) wish death on President Obama or President Biden with every drawn breath, you’d think they’d be able to take it when somebody dishes it out to their side. But no, their pearls were clutched and their panties all awad, and they had to lash out.

I could tell by the hateful bile that these folks spouted that they didn’t really care about Jon Voight. They just wanted to yell at a “librul.”

I only got six death threats (all reported to Twitter), three from people who, in their screen names, actually wish death on other people (two to our justly-elected president, and one to “all libs”). Irony died a long time ago, in case you missed it.

I found the whole experience amusing, if a little tiring. I avoid posting political comments these days primarily because, while it can be exhilarating, it can also be exhausting, and a couple of decades of arguing politics online has taught me that, even if you are right all of the time, you will rarely get the satisfaction of hearing the people who are wrong admit it.

But I figured, what the heck? One little semi-political post could’t hurt.

I did get some good out of it. I blocked every single person who objected to what I wrote, mostly without even reading their garbage. It’s a win-win. I don’t get exposed to their stupidity, and they are deprived of my genius. They don’t deserve to read what I write anyway.

If that seems arrogant, rest assured that it’s just shtick to piss off the easily-triggered snowflakes on the right even more. However, I do block jerks on a regular basis on Twitter. Life’s to short to be reminded that folks like that exist. I carefully curate Twitter, because I can get enough right-wing buffoonery on Facebook. I want at least one social media outlet that doesn’t make me lose faith in humanity.

Besides the 40 or so people who were deeply offended, over 750 people liked my Tweet (which is more than twice as many people who follow me on Twitter) and 112 people re-Tweeted it.

I wish my Tweets plugging PopCult would get that kind of reach.

Actually, I really don’t care about social media numbers. I have my loyal readers. One person that I blocked tried to ridicule me for not having many followers on Twitter. Like I care about such things.

The funniest thing was, my Tweet was getting likes and reactions for about twelve hours. Voight only trended for an hour or two. My joke lasted longer than his relevance that day. And I didn’t have to soil myself and stand screaming in the middle of the road like he did (metaphorically).

It does make you wonder how Twitter’s trending topics really work. There’s something like 70 million Twitter users in the US. I’m sure the vast majority don’t spend more than five minutes a week on the service, but still, at any given time there ought to be at least five million people using Twitter in the US at any time.

Yet, some of the trending topics are pretty obscure. I’m fully aware that, perhaps, Twitter is using algorithms to feed me targeted topics, but if that’s really the case, why is half of my trending stories feed filled with British soccer scores? I couldn’t give half a crap about soccer (no offense to those who do). I used to click “not interested” on every sports story, but I gave up doing that because it took too much time and did nothing to improve my news feed.

Another reason I wonder about Twitter’s “trending stories” is because last week “Green Lantern” was trending, and being a longtime comic book nerd I clicked on it because I thought it might be news about the new HBO Max series, or the 2011 animated series that was cancelled too soon. However, the entire reason “Green Lantern” was trending was because of one silly Twitter thread where somebody got an obscure detail about the comic book wrong.

There were maybe ten people involved in that thread, tops. And it was trending. It was the only thing trending under “Green Lantern.”

Are we expected to accept that, out of five million people online, less than a dozen people talking about a comic book character is enough to make him land in the top five trending stories?

I can believe it when something newsworthy, like extreme weather, COVID information, or even Eddie Van Halen’s birthday is trending. It makes sense that thousands of people might be Tweeting about stuff like that….but Jon Voight and Green Lantern are both fairly obscure pop culture relics whose most memorable work happened over fifty years ago. It’s like seeing folks Tweet about Gilbert O’Sullivan or Dan Blocker.

But I did have a goofy little Twitter adventure. A few dozen folks started following me, and I hope they find their way to PopCult. I also think I might have filled my arguing politics on social media quota for the year too.

{Editorial note: I am well aware that Meat Loaf was also pretty conservative, and was an anti-vaxxer that died of COVID. However, he did not go out of his way to pollute the internet with his toxic views, and was far less obnoxious than Voight has been. That I mourned him and was sad that a talented singer had died should have proved that I was not playing political sides with my little joke. It’s a subtle distinction that the chronically butthurt right wing was not able to pick up on.}

MIRRORBALL Returns To 1976

MIRRORBALL takes its second trip to the Bicenntennial year of 1976 on a great new hour of Disco classics courtesy of my lovely wife, Mel Larch, debuting Friday afternoon.  Please enjoy this red, white and blue new episode of MIRRORBALL which will be followed by a very cool recent edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.  The AIR is PopCult‘s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.

At 2 PM, Mel Larch revisits the topic of her fifth episode on a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music presents a wild collection of classic dance tunes from 1976, with no repeats from our first 1976 show.

Check out the playlist…

Rose Royce “Car Wash”
Lou Rawls “You’ll Never Find”
Candi Staton “Young Hearts Run Free”
Rhythm Heritage “Theme From S.W.A.T.”
Billy Ocean “Love Really Hurts Without You”
Andrea True Connection “More, More, More”
Donna Summer “Love To Love You Baby”
Maxine Nightengale “Right Back To Where We Started From”
Barry White “You See The Trouble With Me”
The Brothers Johnson “I’ll Be Good To You”
Tina Charles “Dance Little Lady, Dance”
The Bee Gees “You Should Be Dancing”

You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays this Saturday at  8 PM (kicking off a mini-marathon), Sunday at 11 PM, Monday at 9 AM, and Tuesday at 1 PM  exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with an encore episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat that  brings you two full hours of The Go Gos. You can find the playlist HERE.

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.

That’s what’s on The AIR Friday, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back because we have a fresh post every day and next week I plan to catch up on more stuff I didn’t have time to tell you about this week.

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Wheeler

    “Life’s to short to be reminded that folks like that exist. ” Amen. I found your entire post very interesting and entertaining reading. I’m not on Twitter. And I have no great desire or need to be, really.

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