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.

Matt Ramos on Twitter @mattramos77

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 Today, ecofascism is popular on forums like 8chan, and it often corresponds with an emphasis on outdated, misogynistic family values and a weird obsession with pine trees and Nordic imagery.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.




















CULTURE

Rush Limbaugh Is a 30-year Infection in American Media

His latest insanity involved claiming that the coronavirus is both "the common cold," and a bio-weapon designed by China.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

There are few people in American media as reliably unhinged and distasteful as Rush Limbaugh.

But to many in his audience of more than 15 million weekly listeners, Limbaugh is a bastion of straight talk. Since the late 1980s, his brand of antisocial advocacy has twisted and infected the nation's political conversations.

What makes Limbaugh so compelling is that he never pulls punches or offers any deference to basic human decency. He will fight for the rights of smokers to choke a restaurant with clouds of thick smoke, will happily claim that Planned Parenthood is committing genocide against black Americans, and will never shrink from accusing Michael J. Fox of "exaggerating the effects" of Parkinson's disease with no evidence beyond the fact that Limbaugh himself can do a morbid pantomime of wild muscle spasms. To regular listeners, these unequivocal stances reflect Rush's willingness to stand up to the leftist authoritarians and the woke scolds of the world. He speaks truth to power… Unless of course Republicans control the levers of power, in which case Rush will speak in power's defense.

Limbaugh mocking Michael J. Fox

That was the case on Monday, when Rush managed to argue—in the span of a few minutes—that COVID-19 (colloquially known as the coronavirus) is both "the common cold," and "a Chicom laboratory experiment that is in the process of being weaponized." Chicom is a reference to China's ruling Communist party, whom Rush is accusing of deliberately manufacturing this new strain of virus as a form of biological warfare. But due to their incompetence or some nefarious ulterior motive that involves getting everyone only mildly ill, their biological weapon is—according to Rush—"the common cold."

As evidence of its mildness, Rush cites the low mortality rate—"98% of people who get the coronavirus survive." Of course, this would seem to undermine the sinister plot that Rush has espied through his omniscience, if not for his clever discovery of Chicom's co-conspirators: the mainstream media. "The drive-by media hype of this thing as a pandemic, as the Andromeda strain, as, 'Oh, my God, if you get it, you're dead.'"

There's no doubt that the media has a history of exaggerating the potential danger of emerging epidemics—ask anyone who had the Swine flu and shrugged it off. It makes for a gripping story to tell viewers that a new disease that's spreading is coming to kill them and their loved ones, but the famously pro-communist "drive-by" media is legitimately too distractible to really focus on overblowing a health crisis while also covering election drama, Megxit, Trump's pardons, and Harvey Weinstein. So if they are giving the coronavirus too much hype, it can only be part of an elaborate conspiracy with Xi Jinping and the Chinese government…but to what end?

COVID-19 Timeline Wikimedia

As always, in times of uncertainty, we turn to Rush Limbaugh for the answer: "The way it is being weaponized is by virtue of the media, and I think that it is an effort to bring down Trump, and one of the ways it's being used to do this is to scare the investors, to scare people in business. It's to scare people into not buying Treasury bills at auctions. It's to scare people into leaving, cashing out of the stock market—and sure enough, as the show began today, the stock market—the Dow Jones Industrial Average—was down about 900 points, supposedly because of the latest news about the spread of the coronavirus."

Fascinating. Meanwhile the fact that nearly 3,000 deaths have occurred—with more than 80,000 confirmed cases and outbreaks spreading in Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan—must all be part of the hype. The fact that the virus is wildly contagious and not well understood is part of the hype. The facts that the entire city of Wuhan—with a population of over 11 million—is under strict quarantine and that containment measures throughout China are disrupting office work, manufacturing, and transportation is all part of a clever, convoluted plan to hurt the presidency of Donald Trump. The fact that tourism and travel have dropped off around the world, and that various companies have reported losses as a result of the virus and the measures taken to combat it, it's all just calculated to undermine President Trump's singular metric of success—the surging "economy" embodied in the stock market.

Stock market drop

Because there can't possibly be anything wrong with structuring economic policy entirely around a foundation of volatile investor speculation and a faith in limitless corporate growth. No, the strategy would be perfect if it weren't for the forces of evil aligning against Donald Trump to control global events in a way that hurts his political chances. In that sense, it's only reasonable for President Trump to dangle military aid in front of foreign leaders in exchange for dirt and propaganda against his political rivals. It's the only way he can fight back!

This latest drama comes on the heels of Limbaugh's receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom during President Trump's State of the Union Address—an honor which Limbaugh pretended to be surprised by. Some people have criticized the decision to give such a prestigious award to the kind of man who would glibly invent conspiracies about Chinese bio-weapons and downplay the severity of a little-understood contagion. On the other hand, if anyone should know about the dangers of viral respiratory infections—and the deadly pneumonia that can result in people with compromised systems—it's surely Rush Limbaugh. He is, after all, currently being treated for stage four lung cancer and is unlikely to recover.

Rush Limbaugh with a Cigar

That last point is worth restating: Rush Limbaugh most likely will not be with us for much longer. It's an important thought to keep in mind when things seem bleak.

MUSIC

Drum & Lace Talks New Album and the Art of Composing

The film, TV, and orchestral composer discusses her album "Semi Songs," her creative process, and her rising success in this candid Q&A.

@elliepritts

There's a good chance that you've heard Drum & Lace already, even if you aren't aware of her by name.

The Italian composer, Sofia Hultquist, has been described as a "sound artist." Her work, which often combines cinematic elements with ambient electronica and contemporary classical composition, has been featured in films such as The First Monday in May, The Gospel According to Andre, and Invisible Hands. If you haven't seen any of these films, then perhaps you will come across her music in the scores for the upcoming HBO documentary, At the Heart of Gold, or the AppleTV+ series, Dickinson.

As an extremely versatile and unbridled composer, it is nearly impossible to boil her work down to a simple soundbite. So we asked Drum & Lace to provide some insight into her forthcoming album, Semi Songs, in her own words:

Your forthcoming album, Semi Songs, takes the listener on a riveting journey from anxiety ("Outsider Complex Pt.1") to a quieter (perhaps solitary?) nature-driven meditation ("Parhelion and "Gardenia"), only to wind up in a renewed state of anxiety. Would you care to let listeners in on what sort of experiential arc and/or message is intended with this circular form (if any)?

I'm glad that this comes across when listening to the record! The way that Semi Songs was structured was very intentional and was put together to resemble how I've felt in the past about various situations and life in general. Starting off the record with the frantic riff of "Outsider Complex Part 1," which is all about anxiety and vulnerability, felt appropriate, because when you do get hit with those feelings, they come on suddenly and sometimes out of nowhere. That track and its "riff" help catapult the rest of the emotional kick that follows on the record.

The next piece, "Parhelion," is a slight step into the positive on an emotional level, and it was inspired by the concept of courage and discovery, but also deception. There is a nature element to this piece—a parhelion is an atmospheric phenomenon that causes you to see multiple suns, and I thought that was the perfect analogy for what I was feeling—this sense of duality. Unlike "Outsider Complex Part 1" and "Part 2," both "Parhelion" and "Gardenia's" perspectives are internal and self-checking/preserving.

"Gardenia" is the most personal of all the pieces and explores my relationship with love and loss, focusing in particular on my relationship with my mother. Relationships with parents can be beautiful, but also inexplicably difficult, and this piece felt like a way to dive deeper and explore things and feelings that I have internalized that have often caused me pain and joy.

When we finally do get back to "Outsider Complex Part 2," there is still definitely a bit of a state of chaos. But, hopefully, the listener will also feel a sense of resolution—like we've gone on this ride, and now that opening "riff" feels just a little different and sounds more hopeful and anticipatory. Maybe "Outsider Complex Part 2" won't read like that to everyone, and instead it'll instill a sense that we've still, somehow, wound up in the same place we started. Breaking a cycle is not always easy, and for me it was about letting myself be vulnerable enough to be able to arrive at a place where something like "Outsider Complex Part 2" would feel different.

As a composer, when an idea for a piece comes to you, does it tend to come in a particular instrument or instrument family? Do you tend to hear the entire ensemble at once, or do you hear, say, a particular melody and then build from there? Or maybe it's something else entirely?

Great question! More often than not, I'll start writing on piano or will start singing a specific melodic idea that I then lay out either on piano or with a specific sound, if that's what I'm hearing. Once an idea is written down, somewhat, that's when I'll often "hear" the rest of the instrumentation. There are also a lot of times when I set out to write something for a specific set of instruments, which makes it both easier and harder, as then you are having to work with a pre-determined palette. I think this is why, right now, I like the idea of writing for smaller ensembles and electronics. It gives me structure with the "real" instruments and then allows for me to add any other elements via electronics [...] As a final thought on this all, I'll just say that I love the cello, so most of what I compose will always have one or more cellos!

You have had a rather fruitful career in music composition, which is not necessarily an easy space to navigate. Do you have any advice to offer aspiring composers who might be reading this article, either regarding the composition process itself or anything else?

Thank you. I feel like I'm very much at the beginning of what I'm hoping will continue to be a really fulfilling career! It's definitely not been easy, and like with all creative and freelance work, it's all about the ups and downs and being able to navigate that. What I think has really helped me is that even when I'm not composing for a specific project or film, I'm always writing. And when I do, I try to write what feels good to me and what sounds right to me, without trying to fit into any sort of musical trend. [...] And it's also equally important to have your own voice—make sure your personality comes across in your music. It's all about the give and take, but being able to stick with the great moments and hardships will get you really far!

Semi Songs will be released on Friday, 7/19!

At the Heart of Gold (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)


Top Stories

Three Underrated Netflix Foreign-Films Worth Watching

The success of Roma should bring attention to the seriously underrated selection of foreign-language Netflix original films. Here are three other foreign films worth watching.

Variety.com

Roma has been quite the cinematic achievement for Netflix.

After a series of flops (think Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox), Alfonso Cuarón's film represents an exciting step forward for the platform's original content. Roma's success should also bring attention to the seriously underrated selection of fascinating and impactful foreign language Netflix originals.

Like Roma, many of these foreign language films boast compelling characters and storylines, aesthetically pleasing cinematography, and commentary on social issues in their respective cultures.

Happy as Lazzaro

Alice Rohrwacher's Happy as Lazzaro tells the story of Lazzaro, a friendly and hardworking sharecropper on the tobacco farming estate, Inviolata, in the 1970s. Lazzaro and his fellow sharecroppers live in deep poverty, always in debt and often going unpaid. He befriends the landowners' son, Tancredi, who, eager for adventure to spice up his cloistered and privileged existence, enlists Lazzaro to fake his own kidnapping. Eventually, the police come searching for Tancredi but instead discover destitute, slavery-like conditions.

As it happens, Lazzaro falls off a cliff only to miraculously wake up nearly 20 years later to discover the land and the manor are now empty. The sharecroppers have been replaced by immigrant day laborers from Africa and Eastern Europe. Lazzaro, desperately looking for Tancredi and his friends and family from Inviolata, ventures to a nearby city. He finds his former sharecropping community, still living in desperate poverty. Lazzaro eventually runs into Tancredi, who he finds in a dramatically worse state than years before.

Happy as Lazzaro is worth watching for its gorgeous cinematography alone, but its use of magical realism is the real attraction. These fantastical elements sometimes blur the line between dreams and the real world. Lazzaro is often transfixed by his imagination and dream-like visions — his method of escapism.

At its core, Happy as Lazzaro about the inescapable class divisions in Italian society. Lazzaro and the sharecropping community are constantly exploited by the wealthy landowners with no chance to escape their oppressive economic situation. The relationship between Lazzaro and Tancredi can't escape the rich-poor class dynamic, as Lazzaro understands he serves Tancredi, not the other way around. Even when years later Lazzaro discovers his family from the village in the city, they haven't progressed economically at all. They live in an empty water tower by the train tracks, surviving by scamming people on the street. Tancredi is often seen wearing a Walkman, whilst Lazzaro wears the same tattered clothes. Not only are they of a different class but seemingly from a different century.

Happy as Lazzaro makes an undeniable political point. It's an indictment of how the flow of global capital has racked the lives of the Italian working class. Lazzaro, no matter how decent, hardworking, and honest he is, will never escape the fate consigned to him by economic forces outside his control.

Time Share

Directed by Mexican filmmaker Sebastian Hoffman, Time Share is the story of a couple, Pedro and Eva, and their young son, embarking on a much-needed vacation. Very quickly, what should be a week in paradise, goes from bad to worse. The resort accidentally books another family in their timeshare and, later, Pedro breaks his nose while playing tennis. Eventually, Pedro suspects the resort is plotting against his family.

Time Share is a pointed criticism and a darkly funny satire of the idea of the "dream" vacation and corporate culture. When the time share is double booked, Pedro meets with a resort manager to try to rectify the problem. Throughout, the manager repeats the same script, telling Pedro that it's the resort's job to make "your dreams come true." This just adds to the absurdity and the hopelessness of dealing with inept, out of touch customer service.

It's a takedown of corporate culture is revealed most poignantly through two resort workers, Andres and Gloria. Andres works downstairs in the laundry, usually quietly going about his business. He's a veteran at the resort, but has been slow to adjust to the culture pushed by the resort's new ownership. No longer respected by anyone, he's completely broken down by his job. Gloria, his wife, is also reeling from a recent personal tragedy. In one scene, Tom (RJ Mitte), a motivational speaker brought in by the company, implores her that she is part of the "Everfields [the resort chain] family" and they will do anything she needs. But we're left feeling that these sentiments of family are just a smokescreen to get their employees to pledge loyalty to a faceless corporation.

The film is also visually striking with an eerie neon glow in almost every scene. But what makes it so terrifyingly relatable is the devastating lampooning of the hellish vacation everyone's experienced, and corporations who try to be your "friend" just to sell you something.

And Breathe Normally

This film from Iceland follows the lives of two women facing vastly different circumstances whose lives intersect after a chance encounter. One woman, Lara, is a single mom battling unemployment and drug addiction. The other, Adja, is an asylum-seeker from Guinea-Bissau attempting to reunite with her family in Canada. While training to become a border guard Lara encounters Adja trying to pass through an airport checkpoint with a fake passport. Adja is taken into custody, and begins an arduous process through the Icelandic immigration system. One day, Lara is desperate to find her five-year-old son, Eldar, who has run off after his cat. After hours searching, she finds him with Adja who helped Eldar find the cat. Lara reluctantly offers to give her a ride back to the refugee center, and from there their relationship begins, Lara now resolved to help Adja get to Canada.

And Breathe Normally illustrates the dehumanizing bureaucracy surrounding the immigration process and shows the desperate measures migrants will take to get to their destination. Adja pays a smuggler to bring her to Canada on a cargo ship but declines at the last minute. It also starkly reveals the tremendous difficulties placed upon people by the vicious cycles of unemployment, addiction, evictions and custody battles. Lara's only way out is to take a job she soon finds ethically problematic. In a film of bleak circumstances set to the backdrop of a drab Icelandic landscape, Eldar stands out. His innocence and curiosity are especially endearing. He too develops a relationship with Adja, despite the language barrier.

In the end, it asks a crucial question of the viewer: What lengths are you willing to go when your values and someone else's life is on the line?

These three films contain themes and stories strongly connected to the countries from where they come, but are also extremely relevant to American audiences. They are stories of poverty and exploitation, of vacations gone terribly wrong, of migration and refugees, of unemployment and drug addiction, of unlikely relationships. They are stories of characters we can identify and empathize with. They are stories of our common humanity.


Dan is a writer and occasional optimist in this chaotic, stupid world. You can follow him on Twitter @danescalona77.


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Bye.tide Premiere 'Heartbeat'

Italy's soft-electronic duo oozes suggestive tones.

Photo Credit: Marco Zanella

Two Italians, producer Francesco Pellegrin and singer Andrea Zambonini, make up Bye.tide.

The soft-electronic duo hooked up in 2017, when chance brought them together in a car traveling to a show in Milan. During the road trip, the two started talking music and discovered they shared similar musical tastes and production techniques.

A few days later, they got together and began work on music and lyrics that eventually became "Heartbeat," a song characterized by contemporary electro-pop elements: shimmering synths, as well as soft electronic percussion.

The official release of "Heartbeat" is tomorrow, December 7, on the Italian label, Factory Flaws.


"Heartbeat" opens with dark, industrial synths flowing into softer colors. The electro-pop-flavored tune rides cool, tight energy atop a thrumming bass line. The lyrics portray an attitude of envious disapproval, grudging admiration, and unwilling loyalty.

"Try to be cool / Worn out by you / Feel like a fool / I thought I knew you."

"Heartbeat" glows with brilliantly tight sonic projections and exquisite dynamics.

Follow Bye.tide Facebook | Instagram



Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.


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Marco Cavax Premieres "Until I Die," ft. Oh! Wow

En vogue pop music with tight dance energy.

Photo Credit: Kamil Kwiatkowski

Italian producer Marco Cavax premieres "Until I Die" on Popdust. The track features the talents of the Swedish/UK trio Oh! Wow.

Created in Stockholm in the midst of a frigid February, the finishing touches to the song were added during the summer heat on the Italian Adriatic Riviera. The song is about the consuming power of love.

Marco Cavax, star of the Italian and European fashion club circuit, performs at deluxe venues, including Forte dei marmi, Salento, Madonna di Campiglio, Cortina, and St. Moritz. Oh! Wow is made up of Paul Aiden, Max Billion, and Markus Videsater. Prior to realizing his musical gift, Billion managed male models for couture houses like Prada, Saint Laurent, and Diesel, while Aiden worked as a busker until offered a recording contract on a street curb.

Together, Marco Cavax and Oh! Wow have accumulated more than 100 million streams on YouTube and Spotify.

"Until I Die" opens with a muscular pop groove flavored with vibrant dance energy. The thrust of the bass line booms with reverberating depth, as infectiously crowning synth colors push out fluctuating textures that create glistening sonic realms. The verses rumble with booming drive, while the bridge twinkles with hues, prior to the harmonic layers coalescing on the chorus forming a dynamic wall of sound.

The posh vocals glide on polished sensuous tones, smoldering, chic, hot-blooded, and stylishly evocative. Filtered tones infuse the music with compact intensity, tight and robotic, adding heat.

The lyrics reflect concentrated urgency focused by a singular adoration.

"I don't wanna know / What side you're on / I don't wanna know / Where you've been gone / Cause you got the world inside of your palm / All I wanna do is be in your arms … Because I just wanna be with you until I die."

"Until I Die" projects multifaceted dance pop colors pulsating with driving momentum. Marco Cavax and Oh! Wow definitely got next up.

Stream/Download "Until I Die."

Follow Marco Cavax Facebook | Instagram


Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.


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