I didn’t want to write a political piece…
Before this election cycle, I found it stimulating to go online and have intelligent conversations with people who didn’t agree with me. The exchange of ideas was an interesting pastime for me but, over the last 12 months, something changed. Last summer, I did a few political/social pieces and was swarmed under by frothy mouthed Langoliers devouring discourse while shitting out Pepe the Frog memes and Breitbart articles.
Idiocracy descended. Now we are looking into the abyss. We are staring into a yawning chasm of reductive pro-stupidity and it is consuming all that it comes into contact with. What remains is a new world of anti-logic populated by half completed thought thinkers and Flat-Earthers.
My first contact with this new reality came last summer after writing one piece that was blatant political satire (The Koch Brothers are the Super-villains we Deserve) and the other was more of an introspective piece about comics intersecting with the Black experience in America (LBWB: Comics in the Age of Black Lives Matter). While I was expecting people to have a variety of opinions regarding the content of Koch Brothers article, I was not expecting the level of vitriol regarding the concept that Black folks deserve to exist in the BLM article.
I realized shortly after publishing, that most of my trolls were just responding to the title of the article. In hindsight I realize that I was being besieged by a group of people who proudly admit that they do not read books, neither believe in science nor understand the difference between fact and opinion. My mistake was assuming that these same people would actually read the article and form an opinion based what I actually said instead of what they imagined I said. I was giving them the benefit of presumed rationality…completely my fault. So over the subsequent months, I intentionally stayed away from political/social topics. I started avoiding provocative topics altogether because of how deflating the experience was.
A few weeks after the election, I was just getting reengaged in Twitter and took a long scroll through what was trending, I realized that there was a campaign to silence outspoken Black/PoC artists and writers. Whether is was Facebook banning the accounts of Black and Brown people publicizing their experiences with racism on Facebook, or the legion of White Nationalist trolls residing in the shadows of Twitter, Black and other PoC writers were being assailed on the channels we use connect with our audiences. After seeing the situation for what it was, I got back to writing…on to the show.
The Gift/The Curse…
I have the ability to relate nearly every situation to a Comic Book or Action Movie. Outside of writing, this ability is unequivocally without any real world utility. It’s not through lack of effort on my end, but throughout many professional and personal real world interactions, my talent is majestically useless to others. For me, this talent helps me understand the grab bag of fuckeries that has been opened and sprinkled over the top of the social landscape.
In my quest to make sense of this new world, I drilled down deep into my reserve of random comic book trivia and got writing.
Life with Mojo.
Enter Mojo. He is a godlike petty savant in his home dimension, a magical Twitter troll. In the Mojoverse, TV ratings equal power and Mojo is must see TV. He creates spectacles by trolling the X-Men and their affiliates. Mojo is completely obsessed with public opinion and uses his media machine to rally his followers to destroy his enemies. In short Mojo was an oddly complected, funny fingered, tyrant who was obsessed with television. I’m not putting it in subtitles for y’all
The concept of truth is malleable in Mojo’s world and those that stand in opposition are cast as enemies of the state, under constant threat of injury by Mojo’s fans. MojoTV is a lucrative enterprise and it, in addition to his Slave Trading business have netted massive reserves of wealth for Mojo. This wealth acts as a slush fund to fiance his more ambitious petty endeavors such as
De-aging the X-Men…
Creating child clones of the X-Men
or de-aging the X-Men again.
He’s done other stuff, but on MojoTV, child endangerment is really popular and Mojo has elevated it to an art-form. That said, there is an uncomfortable amount of Mojo/X-Babies storylines.
Mojo vs Longshot: The beef nobody cares about.
As a tyrant, Mojo’s relationship with competing media outlets/rebels was defined by dead bodies. This brings him into frequent conflict with X-Men affiliate, Longshot. Longshot is character Marvel has been trying to make interesting again since 1985 when he peaked at his debut.
Longshot has luck-based powers and is super-humanly acrobatic. He is prone to memory issues, which is sort of a meta-commentary because his character is completely forgettable. Longshot is exactly nobody’s favorite character and he hasn’t done anything that’s mattered since 1993. Longshot is a mainstay of the X-Men’s history with Mojo, but as a central character, his existence is largely inconsequential to that history. Shatterstar is his son and was introduced at a time when Marvel was just randomly combining adjectives/verbs/nouns to formulate character names. Look…the less we discuss Longshot here, the better. Nothing meaningful will come from his involvement in future storylines.
The Sliding Scale
Mojo is a victim of Marvel’s sliding scale of team-buster level X-Men villains. His powers are poorly defined. Every writer adds new abilities to him, but nobody really has a grasp of what he actually does. In some books his presence on Earth kills plants and wildlife. Sometimes he’s a super-strong killdozer who is immune to the abilities of the X-Men
….other times, he’s a coward hiding behind his loyal followers. Mojo World is either a harsh dystopian hellscape or it’s like living in a really interesting Reality Television themed nightmare.
As the Tyrant of Mojo World, Mojo is the main character and quite literally exactly whatever he needs to be to progress the story. In his world he is all powerful but he is devoid of any sort of substance aside from reflecting the worst impulses of his followers on the big screen. His productions are a manifestation of the thoughts of population on the ruined planet he rules over: cruel, cynical and hopeless. A population of beings looking for an ‘other’ to punish as a proxy for the untouchable being creating their suffering. The Mojoverse is the flyover dimension of the Marvel Universe. Unless you are from there, or know someone who resides there, or have been kidnapped and magically de-aged or are rescuing someone who has been, you don’t really have a legitimate reason to spend any time there.
Meanwhile on Earth-1218
We are living in the Mojoverse. We are seeing what happens when Social Media and Reality TV converge to infect public policy in the real world. Right now, this country is ruled by an oddly complected, funny fingered, tyrant who is obsessed with television and has the introspection capacity of a goldfish. He has a cadre of lackeys who work hard to distort reality so our Mojo can exist in a more comfortable delusion. Any time our Mojo comes into contact with information that contradicts the delusion, he takes to Social Media and whips his zealots into a frenzy and looses them on the source of the contradiction.
The zealots patrol social media and comments sections of websites and spam nonbelievers with insults, crime statistics or anything else to shift or pollute the narrative. Some of of his more extreme followers take their poisonous dialog offline to harass and threaten nonbelievers into silence. His zealots range from Soccer Moms to literal Neo-Nazis, even some confused kneegrows have joined their ranks. This would be baffling if we didn’t know how self hate works. As long as there have been racist White folks, there have been self loathing kneegrows caping up to defend them, but I digress. His zealots are unified in their unquestioning support and they are often willing to lie down on the barbed wire of his most indefensible positions. Politics tends to create a unique sort of buyer’s anti-remorse. People just don’t cop to regrets for voting for the wrong person.
In the 616 and the 1218, Mojo’s fans always find a way to justify his actions. They didn’t care how many “others” are hurt or killed by his productions. They turn a blind eye to how his masterpieces are destroying their environment. They ignore the living beings who are being exploited to prop up Mojo’s empire. They are able to convince themselves those most vulnerable to Mojo’s abuses, are deserving of it. They continue to align themselves with segments of society they formerly claimed were repulsive and they engage in a performative morality that values compliance over compassion. The irony of all of this is, Mojo is simply a vessel, he exists simply as a reflection of the desires of his followers. He tells his followers what they want to hear, with little planning or even intention of following through. Since his platform is built on oppression, his regressive endeavors are met with resistance by the targets of that oppression, giving his followers a limitless pool of enemies to lash out against. The resulting conflict creates more shitty impulses for Mojo to feed on and arms him with more talking points to whip his followers into a frenzy with…It’s the circle of life.
I don’t have a soliloquy that neatly ties a bow on this. We are stuck watching this shit show for a few years. Keep a helmet and a pistol next your bowl of popcorn. Protect yourselves and each other.