Review: Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle, Zero Books

Kill All Normies explores the short but influential history of online culture and its sway over politics, culture and education.
Review: Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle, Zero Books

Angela Nagle's Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, published by Zero Books.

We’ve all had to swim out of the depths of our constant consumption of content at some point to remind ourselves that it’s probably not all real. It’s the internet. It can’t affect us IRL.

But what happens when the online culture makes its way into your living room, either on TV or in conversation? Had you been avoiding it, or were you the one to bring it up?

Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right follows the Alt-Right from its 4Chan origins and into the White House. Almost proud of their heritage are the ‘incels’: men who took "The Red Pill" and became free-thinkers – harassing women online who won’t have sex with them. Kill All Normies explores another harassment campaign of online rape and death threats then targeted female game developers, known in online culture as Gamergate. Then, during the 2016 presidential election, a conspiracy theory falsely connecting Hillary Clinton’s emails to a human trafficking and child sex ring, run out of a pizza restaurant in Washington DC, led to a mass shooting – Pizzagate.

Worth noting that on Kill All Normies June 2017 release it was the Alt-Left’s progressive Twitter and Tumblr horde which reacted badly to Nagle's narrative, those who Nagle called 'anarchist liberals; radical people' that 'have to attack anything with popular appeal whatsoever.'

If you’re still unsure why Milo Yiannopolous or Alex Jones is worth any attention or how they became household names, this book will provide a coherent account of the chaos. It’s about the embarrassing online edginess and counter-counter-culturalism influenced by atomised and masculine themes. Exactly what do the Alt-Right find in Fight Club to create a 'digital, leaderless counter-revolution?' Or, more specifically, how did so many young men lose themselves in the postmodern electric bubble of click holes and conspiracy theories to then put their theories into practice?

The Alt-Left’s reaction to Kill All Normies comes when Nagle explores its beginnings on Tumblr: where those who identify with progressive gender and sexuality became authoritarians against homophobia, trans-exclusion, and anything deemed "anti-progressive". This evolved into Twitter’s weekly ritualistic burning of the witch for accounts which don’t uphold progressive values. Which gave way to the "Enlightenment" of the Alt-Right in which Richard Dawkins and now Jordan Peterson have placed themselves in intellectual hot water at universities.

While Nagle provides the irksome details of how online culture wars affect the US political climate and now abroad, she also provides readers with a dystopian present – or at least a feeling we’re witnessing the second fall of the Roman Empire. At one point she reminds us how the Alt-Left and the Alt-Right rose concurrently into our living rooms.

But before you call Nagle a centrist for not knowing the difference between fascists and anti-fascists, she reminds us 'who holds the torch today,' that 'the Left got the universities and culture, while the Alt-Right got the white house.'

3 ½ stars ★★★☆

Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right
By Angela Nagle

Paperback $16.95
30 June 2017

Zero Books

James Arbuthnott

Tuesday 25 September, 2018

About the author

James Arbuthnott is a regional journalist in the Campaspe area, Victoria and book reviewer at ArtsHub Australia. Twitter: @we_forgot