Culture Feature

Memes Protest Ecofascism: "Earth Is Healing, We Are the Virus"

The "Earth is healing, we are the virus" phrase often hides an underlying ecofascist ideology.


Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

It's true: During coronavirus, pollution has decreased.

Many people have taken to the Internet to celebrate this, latching onto inspiring stories about animals returning to nature in the absence of humans. One Twitter user wrote, "Coronavirus is Earth's vaccine. We're the virus."

The tweet garnered 70,000 retweets, as well as some criticism of what it implies. "The problem is not people," replied one user. "That's some ecofash sh*t that leads to genocide."

"Ecofash" stands for "ecofascism," an ideology that essentially disguises white supremacy as environmentalism. Ecofascists generally argue that humans should sacrifice themselves in order to preserve the environment—but usually, this implies that an authoritarian, fascist, genocidal state is necessary in order to keep down the human population and to preserve the natural world.

The ideology usually houses a hatred of all things "dirty," which quickly becomes racism and classism that can be used to justify horrific actions. Ecofascists tend to believe in eugenics and often harbor anti-migrant and anti-multiculturalist sentiments rooted in Nazism. This thought process influenced the Unabomber, the Christchurch shooter, and the El Paso shooter, who all shared a disregard for industrial human civilization and decided to channel it into homicidal violence. Today, ecofascism is popular on forums like 8chan, and it often corresponds with an emphasis on outdated, misogynistic family values and a weird obsession with pine trees and Nordic imagery.

Most environmentalists and people with brains openly reject this entire absurd concept, understanding the fact that environmental degradation is actually primarily the result of capitalism and inequality. Namely, we should probably blame the destruction of the Earth on the 100 companies who are actually the source of 71% of the world's pollution, as well as the super-rich who hoard wealth and use far more resources than most of the rest of the world combined.

Reducing migration and even decreasing the size of the human population will matter very little if we fail to shift the energy sector away from unclean energy. In other words, the unironic "we are the virus" memes bear echoes of ecofascism, even if the people reposting them didn't intend to promote that sentiment.

Coronavirus is hurting people tremendously, and to argue that it's a good thing—or to imply that the people suffering deserve what they're going through—is insensitive at best, genocidally motivated at worst. If any people posting this meme really did care about the Earth, maybe they'd be protesting the fact that the EPA is rolling back its environmental regulations in the US or that big oil is sneakily using this crisis as a chance to push the Keystone Pipeline forward. Or maybe they'd do a little research and discover that the whole "dolphins have returned to Venice's canals" idea is actually incorrect. According to the city's mayor, the dolphins were always there—and now that there are no boats on the canals, we're seeing them for the first time. A little temporary reduction in pollution didn't save the world. While there's nothing wrong with finding solace in animal-themed content during these scary times, be sure to check that your dolphin fetish isn't just thinly veiled white supremacy.

In response to existing ecofascist sentiments, the Internet's army of justice-defending meme warriors have created a new trend: They've been photoshopping animals and strange objects into places they don't belong, repurposing the "we are the virus" catchphrase to successfully parody the ecofascists into obscurity. So the next time someone texts you about how the goats have reclaimed Wales, send them any of the following.


In Defense of "South Park": TV Doesn't Define Culture (People Do)

Can one show ever really be held responsible for a culturally pervasive pattern of thinking?

Comedy Central

She-Hulk writer Dana Schwartz started a massive online conversation (debate? angry dude screamfest?) when she tweeted her take on South Park's negative cultural impact.

"In retrospect, it seems impossible to overstate the cultural damage done by SOUTH PARK, the show that portrayed earnestness as the only sin and taught that mockery is the ultimate inoculation against all criticism," Schwartz tweeted. She went on to polish her argument, recognizing that series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have seemingly reckoned with themselves over issues they felt they misrepresented (notably global warming with Al Gore and ManBearPig), and she clarified: "To be clear, I don't blame the show itself as much as I do the generation of boys who internalized it into their personalities. Which maybe isn't the show's fault!"

Sure enough, Very Angry Men™ showed up to offer slurs and death threats in response to (*gasp*) a woman expressing an opinion they disagree with online. To be crystal clear, the people coming after Schwartz are the worst kind of human trash––the sort of people who delude themselves into believing that they're intelligent and reasonable while simultaneously epitomizing every negative male stereotype in existence.

Of course, Schwartz is hardly the first person to criticize South Park's libertarian-skewed, "both sides are terrible and nothing is sacred" brand of humor. In a semi-viral Reddit post from 2015, one user made a very good argument for their categorization of South Park as a "safe space" for people who don't want their views to ever be challenged: "It's a show that teaches their audience to become lazy and self-satisfied, that praises them for being uncritically accepting of their own biases, and that provides them with an endless buffet of thought-terminating cliches suitable for shutting down all manner of their challenges to their comfort zones."

But as a member of the generation of boys who grew up with the show, and, as Shwartz suggested, maybe even internalized it into my personality to some extent, I do think that there are reasonable arguments to be made in disagreement. After all, I turned out just about as leftist as a Brooklyn-based writer can get, and I still love South Park.

Nuance is a necessity here, and that tends to get lost amidst all the vitriol online. For starters, I agree with Schwartz on her point about the fault lying largely with many of the show's viewers––the men who showed up in her comments and DMs prove that point better than any argument anyone could possibly make.

So with that common ground on the table, my main disagreement with Schwartz is that I don't believe any one show can ever be held responsible for a culturally pervasive pattern of thinking.

It's important to keep in mind that South Park is a satirical comedy. That's not to suggest it's an invalid target for criticism. In fact, the argument that "it's comedy, don't take it so seriously" is one of the most brain-dead, non-thinking arguments that constantly shows up online and, again, paints the people who make it in a worse light than I ever could. But it is to suggest that the job of satire is to hold a critical mirror up to society and that, by its very nature, any position that South Park takes is reflective of the culture surrounding it.

Let's take the 2006 episode "ManBearPig" as an example, considering it's one whereby SouthPark clearly ended up on the wrong side of history. In that episode, Al Gore visits South Park to warn everyone about ManBearPig, a horrible mythic creature that served as an allegory for global warming. The thrust of the episode involved Al Gore making increasingly dangerous attempts to catch ManBearPig, which never actually shows up. It's still a funny episode, albeit one that aged very poorly.

But even though the episode aged poorly, and even though we now know for a fact that Matt Stone and Trey Parker were wrong about global warming, it's incredibly unlikely that "ManBearPig" actually convinced anyone that global warming wasn't real. Back in 2006, global warming was not as accepted as it is today. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth came out in the same year, and while it majorly shifted public awareness around global warming, doubt was still a lot more prominent. The movie's liberal sentiments and scientific accuracy were criticized in publications like The Boston Globe and even ScienceDaily, which would be inconceivable in the modern day.

People who believed the science surrounding global warming in 2006 were not going to be convinced otherwise by South Park. Similarly, anyone who took South Park's sentiments at face-value was almost certainly not someone who would be doing research for themselves in the first place.

Therein lies the main point here. South Park can't be held responsible for the beliefs of its viewers. Anyone who uses a show like South Park as a form of confirmation and protection for their beliefs is, at best, deeply ignorant, and someone like that is going to be ignorant regardless of whether or not they have a show like South Park to back them up.

When I was a suburban edgelord sh*thead in the mid 2000s, I agreed with South Park's general outlook on the world much more than I do now. But I wasn't an edgelord sh*thead because of South Park. Plenty of angsty teens going through puberty act like assh*les, and that was a fact long before South Park ever existed. Moreover, my political views were shaped far more by the conservative household I grew up in than they ever could have been by a TV show.

But as people grow up, they mature and hopefully question the "f*ck anyone who cares about anything" ideology that tends to plague angsty high schoolers. Of course, the people who cling to that outlook tend to become adult assh*les, but the ability to make it through adulthood while staying closed off to outside world views is much more closely related to complex, systemic socioeconomic issues (class mobility, the ability to afford a higher education, freedom to travel/leave one's hometown) than it is to what a person watches on TV.

Even as someone who strongly disagrees with a lot of the political views that South Park currently suggests, I still find the show funny. I enjoy the PC Principal character, for instance, and I like being able to laugh at some of the more absurd elements of my own opinions and beliefs. It's important to note, though, that I don't face the same sort of discrimination as someone who is non-white, non-male, or LGBTQ+. I'm capable of admitting that South Park can be genuinely super-problematic on a lot of issues (first and foremost, its frequent transphobia) and that I fully understand the reasons that a lot of people dislike the show and refuse to watch it. Not liking a show is valid, as is calling out the ideologies it supports.

But the truth is that TV shows, even incredibly culturally prescient ones, don't dictate people's views. People are either interested in doing the work or they're not.


Steven Mnuchin Can Give Greta Thunberg Life Advice After He Becomes Human

He's in Davos this week, deflecting questions and smelling with his tongue.

Photo by Markus Spiske (Unsplash)

United States Treasury Secretary and noted lizard-person Steven Mnuchin was confronted about Greta Thunberg's policy proposals at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

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Billie Ellish performs at Sir Lucian Grainge's 2020 Artist Showcase Presented By Citi and Lenovo on in Los AngelesSir Lucian Grainge's 2020 Artist Showcase Presented By Citi and Lenovo, Los Angeles, USA

Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

This just in from lunatic Twitter: Billie Eilish is officially canceled.

"Why?" you might ask. After all, Billie Eilish is 17-years-old and not particularly controversial, so why would any sane person want to cancel her on Twitter?

First of all, how dare you. Never question the outrage of a Twitter mob.

Secondly, Billie Eilish literally said the word "Yikes" during an interview in response to the interviewer mentioning Lady Gaga's meat dress. Can you f*cking believe that? Let me repeat that. Billie Eilish––a 17-year-old vegan––said "Yikes" in regards to a person wearing a dress made out of actual animal meat.

So you better believe Lady Gaga stans are putting their cancel pants on. They got #BillieEilishCancelParty trending on Twitter, so that means Billie Eilish is totally, officially, verifiably canceled––at least by a group of crazy people on Twitter who think being vegan is a good reason to try to destroy a 17-year-old girl.

But there's more to the story, because while people on Twitter scream at one another over whether or not Billie Eilish should be canceled (she shouldn't, obviously, jfc), our planet is dying.

According to a recent study that "takes a comprehensive look at all the global climate models published from the 1970s to 2007, including the models used in the first three reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," the climate models for global warming and its detrimental effects have been mostly accurate the entire time.

This means that when experts say that the effects of global warming are compounding––fires, floods, heat waves, the ice caps melting––they're not just talking out their asses. More importantly, when scientists say that our window of opportunity to change the future is growing smaller and smaller, and will require increasingly drastic measures the later we decide to finally implement global change, anyone who is not an actual Bond villain should sit the f*ck down and listen.

"It's more urgent than ever to proceed with mitigation," said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization. "The only solution is to get rid of fossil fuels in power production, industry and transportation."

On top of doing everything in our power to reduce our own carbon footprints, we need to demand that our governments move towards clean energy solutions if we want to even have a chance of leaving a habitable planet behind for our grandchildren. At this point, valuing capitalist interests over the future of our planet and the lives of future generations is akin to genuine evil.

If Donald Trump quits the Paris Climate Agreement, Americans need to put their selfish interests aside and march out in the street en masse to such an extent that everything shuts down until our government complies with the rest of the world.

F*cking birds are getting smaller. Entire species of wildlife are diminishing because we can't get our sh*t under control. Do you honestly think we're going to fare better when the climate irreversibly goes to hell? The only upside is that if humans can't band together and act decisively against climate change, if the whole world really does eventually become uninhabitable due to our own evil interests, then humans will go extinct and we will have definitively proven our species deserved it.

But please, keep Tweeting about how Billie Eilish should be canceled.


Amidst the bush fires currently ravaging Australia, an amazing video emerged depicting a grandmother rushing into the flames to rescue a koala.

The woman douses the crying koala with a water bottle and then literally takes the shirt off her own back to wrap him up and carry him to safety. Her display of bravery and compassion for a helpless animal bearing the damages of global warming did not go unnoticed.

Grandmother rescues koala from

After his rescue, Lewis the Koala was given a 50/50 chance of survival. He had serious burns to his arms, legs, and nose, but he still seemed to be eating well. Internet denizens from around the world followed the story with bated breath, rooting for Lewis's recovery.

Sadly, though, Lewis didn't make it.

People took to Twitter to voice their remorse.

Some shared fan art of Lewis.

One guy even compared Lewis's death to the death of Harambe the gorilla in 2016.

That got me thinking: Why do the deaths of specific animals seem to have so much more impact on Internet audiences than the deaths of specific humans? Why does #RIPLewis trend on Twitter when so many people die everyday and nobody cares? Why did Harambe turn into such an enduring meme? Do Lewis and Harambe have anything in common other than being animals who met untimely deaths?

First thing's first: On the surface there are some major differences between Lewis's and Harambe's deaths. Whereas Lewis was a harmless koala caught in a bush fire, Harambe was a massive gorilla dragging a child who fell into his cage at the zoo. As such, there are many people who might view Lewis's death as tragic, but Harambe's as "justified."

But I disagree. Both deaths are incredibly tragic, and I believe there's a common reason that both of them have affected people on the Internet in such a deep way: Their deaths were both unnatural and the result of human failure.

Lewis's death comes amidst international cries for action against global warming. And while conservative pundits and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have argued that the bush fires in Australia are unrelated to global warming, experts disagree. It's very likely that human failure to properly act against climate change led to Lewis's death.

Even for people who don't care about climate change conceptually, it's hard not to feel bad when failure to act is attached to the image of a charred koala bear clinging to life. Perhaps some people viewed Lewis's survival (alongside the bravery of his rescuer) as indicative of hope in the face of global warming. His death, then, might serve as a symbolic blow to the hope for adequate change.


Harambe's death was also the product of human failure. Regardless of whether or not shooting Harambe was the morally correct course of action, any danger he posed to the young boy who fell into the cage was part and parcel with being a gorilla.

Humans decided to put him in a cage for the enjoyment of other humans. Humans failed to properly watch one of their own, thereby allowing a small child to enter a dangerous situation. And ultimately, a human decided that protecting another human was worth killing a gorilla attempting to guard his home. Memes aside, the concept of murdering a gorilla in his own home is inherently upsetting–even more so when viewed in light of the human failures that led to such a tragedy.

Perhaps the reason animal deaths tend to affect us so much more than human ones (at least on the Internet) is that humans essentially rule the earth, whereas animals live at our mercy. When a human dies, we put ourselves in their shoes and consider what we would do in their situation. We question what actions led to their death, and oftentimes, we assume some degree of fault. But animals are innocent. Lewis was innocent. Harambe was innocent. They were just animals being animals, and human action led to their untimely deaths. And while there's a whole lot of awfulness on the Internet, one thing has always been true: The Internet loves animals. #DicksOutForHarambe and #RIPLewis forever.

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The History Channel, now known simply as "History," is the biggest joke of a television channel in...well, history.

Anyone unfamiliar with History might understandably assume that the channel airs documentaries and educational content related to its namesake. But while that assumption might have been correct back in the mid-90s, modern History is an unapologetic wasteland full of the worst reality TV shlock humanity has to offer. In some sense, though, maybe this is the History we deserve. Maybe humanity really is just a vapid, brain-dead virus destroying our planet in the name of empty profit, and History Channel truly is the history of us. And if that's true, if these History shows are reflective of who were are as a species, then perhaps global warming is the reckoning we deserve. Just take a look at what's on this channel.

5. Ice Road Truckers

Ice Road TruckersHistory

Ice Road Truckers is a show about truckers driving trucks down long, cold stretches of icy roads. 3.4 million people watched its premiere for some reason, and it aired for 11 seasons from 2007 to 2017. I don't know who watched Ice Road Truckers in the first place, and I don't know who kept watching it for 138 episodes. But I do know that if the only good thing that comes from global warming is that Ice Road Truckers can't get a reboot because all the icy roads are no longer icy, then maybe we're on the right track.

4. Swamp People

Swamp PeopleHistory

Swamp People is like Duck Dynasty except stupider. I never thought I'd need to type that sentence, but here we are. The show revolves around a bunch of Louisiana hillbillies hunting alligators in a swamp. That's it. There are spin-off shows and mobile games and absolutely none of it makes a lick of sense. Millions of people tune in every week to watch a middle-aged man shout "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' 'BOUT!" as he shoots alligators in a swamp. This is all anyone needs to know about humans to know that we're fully deserving of being destroyed by the planet.

3. Pawn Stars

Pawn StarsHistory

If you replaced all the old, kindly appraisers from Antiques Roadshow with four yelling obese men, you'd have pretty much created Pawn Stars. It's certainly more entertaining than Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People, what with its deeply unlikable cast of overly dramatic pawnbrokers, but it also somehow offers less educational value, which should be impossible. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Pawn Stars is most popular in rural Kentucky. Luckily, Las Vegas is already pretty hot as is, so if we're lucky, global warming will destroy it first.

2. Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms HistoryHistory

This History Channel masterpiece follows two Army veterans who now run a gun shop in Utah where they build souped up weapons and harass their daughters about wearing make-up. It's an absolute pandering dumpster fire geared towards the kind of gun owners who are frankly too stupid to be anywhere near a bathtub, let alone a round of live ammo. When global warming destroys Utah, it will undoubtedly be for the best.

1. Ancient Aliens

Ancient AliensHistory

If ever there was a show that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt why humans no longer deserve planet Earth, that show would be Ancient Aliens. The premise of the show is that a group of lunatics lie about and attempt to decontextualize human history in order to pretend that ancient humans once made contact with aliens. There are 14 seasons of this show. It is still running, and it airs on a channel called History. I pray these idiots are correct, because while global warming might destroy us within a few centuries, aliens would be a whole lot faster.