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Trolling as an Art:
Travis LeBlanc Interviews Porsalin

[1]3,862 words

Porsalin is no mere drama channel, and if it, it’s Drama with a capital D. A documentarian and Internet cultural critic, his videos are not merely collections of random, boneheaded moments, but in-depth character studies which cut through to the essence of the of their target with white-hot, witty insults.

After starting out doing takedown videos of characters in the extended Opie and Anthony universe, he branched out to include of Alt Lite grifters like Baked Alaska, e-celeb trainwrecks like Owen, and Alt Lite grifters who are also train wrecks like Sargon of Akkad.

With his newest documentary, Uhuru, Porsalin takes us into the journey of the rise and ignoble fall of Gavin McInnes. Today, he sat down to talk with me about Gavin, comedy, Internet culture, and the ridiculous nature of e-celebrity.

On Porsalin

Counter-Currents: You make documentaries about the two lowest forms of human life: stand-up comedians and e-celebs. How did you get started doing this?

Porsalin: It all started with an obscure, Italian-identifying comedian and an Opie and Anthony subreddit. Joe Matarese, a down-on-his-luck pillhead LARPing as an East-coast stand-up, had come to the attention of r/opieandanthony courtesy of a live rendition of his Fixing Joe podcast. He had somehow managed to invite Jim Norton, Anthony Cumia, and Artie Lange on the live show in hopes of conducting some sort of self-indulgent therapy session with all three expected to unironically investigate what is wrong with Joe Matarese’s brain. But instead, all three immediately turned their attention to piling on Joe. He reacted terribly, accusing them of being miserable before boasting at how much better a life he has. He’d say how he “likes that they’re getting the laughs,” knowing he wasn’t, before complaining that he can’t get a word in on his own podcast. I was lurking around the Opie and Anthony subreddit at the time, and naturally, we all took notice. Joe suddenly had around twenty thousand bored aspies one-upping each other in trying to break this man’s spirit. I contributed by creating this goofy podcast called 100% Italian where I’d do an awful impersonation of RedBar Radio host Mike David’s impersonation of Joe. I’d then edit together audio segments from random podcasts involving cellar crowd comedians to make it sound like a real conversation, only my Joe was a far more desperate, miserable, and pathetic version of the real Matarese. He again reacted terribly, and over the course of about a year, would try anything to either wriggle free of the subreddit’s attention or somehow exploit it for fame or money. Anyway, a while later I saw a YouTuber known as “Beige Frequency” had started a series covering Anthony Cumia’s many evil misdeeds. These misdeeds would include such things as biting and strangling women, fucking pre-op trannies in hotel rooms, and grooming who he thought was a 14-year-old girl on Twitter. After seeing Beige Frequency’s Demented World series on Anthony, I saw the immediate potential in a Joe Matarese documentary. I asked Beige if he minded if I jump aboard this YouTubian docu-train; he said sure, and the rest just sort of happened.

Counter-Currents: Your videos are not in-your-face propaganda, but they are not purely “for the lulz,” either. There is a moral undercurrent to your videos, and they do hint at your true beliefs. To what extent would you say your videos have any kind of agenda or message beyond, “Hey, check out this lulcow!”?

Porsalin: How to answer this without being arrested? I would probably say that you’re about half-right. There’s definitely some ideological bleed-through in my content, and I think denying that would be disingenuous. But I think what bleeds through isn’t some immediately identifiable belief system as much as a handful of independent positions on certain things. As far as specifics, I’m sure you could probably work it out from watching my content. I have far too much fun with the wider communities of those I cover to explicitly reveal whatever political identification I do or do not hold. I mean, to see fans of Gavin McInnes, Sargon, Baked Alaska, and Owen Benjamin earnestly and without any reservation mischaracterize me an SJW Leftist is an incredibly satisfying part of this entire process. I simply don’t think my political persuasion necessarily matters for the content I create. Ultimately, my videos are little more than comedic profile pieces, and very few of my objections to the behaviors or actions of my subjects are of a political nature. I don’t particularly enjoy injecting too many of my own beliefs or even my own personality into these documentaries, as it both dilutes my role as narrator and detracts from the subject too much. More often than not, whenever I do allude to something political, chances are I’m moving more towards setting up a joke and less of making an actual statement. I think a lot of what people read into my documentaries is more me attacking sacred cows, just to do it, and less of me dog-whistling in any particular direction.

Counter-Currents: The old stereotype is that American humor is about exaggerated overstatement, while English humor is more about sly understatement. English humor slices, whereas American humor bludgeons. While you are a fan of American comedy and make documentaries on American comedians, your own sense of humor is very much in the English style, more Chris Morris than Anthony Cumia, which makes for an interesting contrast of styles in your videos. Are there any English comedians who influenced your style?

Porsalin: It’s incredibly difficult to be inspired by just about anything comedic in Britain right now. The BBC has choked the living piss out of real comedy, and only Channel 4, home of that pudding-brained dyke Cathy Newman, has ever historically competed with the BBC for comedic programming. The BBC is so deeply infested with hyper-diverse mania that they’ve even created something called “BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Only” applications: jobs that explicitly rule out competent whites from the outset. How could an institution that invested in tasting their own virtuous farts possibly platform any sort of real comedy? It’s just so frustrating as a British comedy fan right now. It feels like for decades, we’ve had to feed on scraps of formulaic wank-flakes like Mrs. Brown’s Boys, Not Going Out, or Miranda. And that’s when BBC executives are not shamelessly appeasing minorities by promoting “diverse comedy” at the expense of the real thing. So right now, there’s few of note to really draw from.

On a more positive note, I would say you’re spot on with Chris Morris. I’d have forceful, penetrative sex with a dog’s mouth to bring back The Day Today. His deadpan delivery of the most ridiculous subject matter is definitely something I’m trying to channel, if largely unsuccessfully. But then again. I’m no Chris Morris. I’d maybe add Armando Iannucci to that conversation, too. I cannot stand the guy’s politics, but he’s the best comedy writer out there. His ability to find the perfect few words to craft an insult are what made The Thick of It one of the best pieces of political satire out there. It’s something I’ve tried to adopt and had great difficulty with, but somehow Armando gets it just about right every time. Oh, and he also happened to create one of the greatest characters in British television in Alan Partridge. So there’s that. And finally, David Firth for me has deserved a far bigger platform for over ten years. His series The News Hasn’t Happened Yet is a direct throwback to Brass Eye and The Day Today, and is every bit as funny. How on earth a production company hasn’t just given David a bucket full of money and six episodes to do whatever the fuck he wants is beyond me. I’d say that writing- and tone-wise, I wanted my documentaries to in some way channel that classic Chris Morris/David Firth serious-yet-silly delivery, whilst pissing all over it with Armando-like insults and cutting one-liners. Ultimately, I fall significantly short, but that’s not for lack of trying.

On Gavin


Counter-Currents: Your most recent documentary is about Gavin McInnes. Why did you choose him for your most recent subject?

Porsalin: Gavin had been suggested to me on and off for about a year now. For a while, I didn’t really fancy it. It just didn’t draw me in like others I’ve covered. I think on some level I was still holding on to my liking of Gavin from his earlier Compound days, before all this Proud Boys tomfoolery. I tuned out from Gavin right as he left Compound Media, and never really paid much attention after that. It’s a shame, too, as he’s an absolutely perfect subject for anybody doing what I’m doing. But the more I was prodded in the ribs by eager tweeters, the more about Gavin I’d learn, and soon enough, the story arc made total sense. He’s built his entire legacy on cardboard foundations: continually putting himself in the most cack-handed of optical impasses I’ve ever seen. He’s your typical in-over-his-head guy who’s long forgotten who, exactly, he’s trying to appeal to and why. What I like most about this subject is that I’m fundamentally torn with Gavin. I can never quite decide whether his current misfortunes are a result of a series of haphazard blunders, or a calculated abuse and exploitation of the movement and his fan base. I think the answer is somewhere in between. What I know for sure, though, is that this man has the most awful foresight I’ve ever seen from a self-titled multimillionaire.

Counter-Currents: The problem with Gavin is that he didn’t want to go full White Nationalist, and yet he didn’t want to be Ben Shapiro safe, either. Do you think he would have been better off just going full Nazi?

Porsalin: I think that’s one of the bigger problems he’s faced, for sure. As for Gavin going full Nazi being the better option, I just don’t think so; not for him. You have to remember that we’re dealing with a family man, first and foremost. He is beholden to his wife and children, and I firmly believe that any time he’s backtracked, cucked, or disavowed, it’s mostly because of them. And ultimately, I sympathize a little. Trying to live any sort of practical family life for Gavin already seems like a thankless task, so adding a literal Nazi affiliation would only severely worsen matters. I mean, this isn’t just anybody we’re talking about. Gavin’s the founder of a now global and super-progressive media company. He was hamstrung from the very beginning, and could have never crossed that White Nationalist line, regardless of what that means in terms of consistency of argument or compassion for the white working man. I firmly believe identifying as a full-blown, sieg-heiling Nazi would have immediately cost Gavin his family. But more than that, and more importantly to him, it would have cost him a lot of money and any sort of notoriety. And we have to remember, his prime motivation was never really ideological. I feel like at this point he could give a shit about the so-called “movement,” and it’s now all about rebuilding his personal reputation. Rightly or wrongly, Gavin sees himself as a perpetual victim of mass media abuse, and as we’ve all seen with Defend Gavin [3], victimhood brings with it significant financial rewards. So, Gavin going full-blown Nazi and simply being exactly what the media says he is doesn’t get him anywhere. He’ll just be unapologetically vindicating them. But being willfully misrepresented by the lying media elites and them ruining your life sure does get those cash-ready Boomers and wino spinsters ready to smash that donate button on his already paywalled Website.

Counter-Currents: An interesting development is that Gavin and Milo have started their own media outlet and hired Soph, the infamous 14-year-old White Nationalist girl. Do you think Gavin is finally conceding that he has to have an honest-to-God White Nationalist on board for his project to have sufficient street cred? Granted, by getting a 14-year-old, he did it in the goofiest and most ironic way possible, but it seems like an admission that civic nationalism on its own is no longer enough to register a blip on anyone’s edginess radar, and he has to at least throw the White Nationalists a bone.

Porsalin: I think Soph was actually a fairly significant coup for Gavin for a number of reasons. She’s given him a path to redemption by appealing to an upcoming generation of far-Right Zoomers whilst retaining a child-sized human shield against any potential backlash. Soph needed a space, too, after her own platform difficulties, so the whole thing seemed to make sense on a practical level. But I think you’re right in that civic nationalism has failed as an argument. Well, not so much “failed” as rather “proven to be insufficient.” If civic nationalism requires all to abide by cultural and societal standards, then it only makes sense that we ask why these cultural or social confrontations exist in the first place and why they’re so predictable across racial boundaries. Unfortunately for Gavin, that argument inevitably leads to racial and genetic differences, and before you know it, you’re making far too much common sense to partake in civilized society. It’s admittedly a dangerous line to cross if you care about living a somewhat practical life, and with a wife and children I don’t blame Gavin for not turning over that particular stone. Regardless, fewer and fewer are convinced purely by civic nationalism alone, and I think people like Gavin have to offer more if they want to be taken seriously. But again, I revert back to my belief that Gavin doesn’t really give a shit about the wider ideological ground. He has always been a man of personal optics first. We saw as much after his Kessler showdown post-Charlottesville. He’ll no doubt be attuned to the general perception of him from those further to the Right as yet another of these pro-Israel alt-liters with nothing of tangible substance to offer. So bringing in Soph may very well be his way of dealing with that.

Counter-Currents: One thing your videos show — especially the most recent Gavin doc — is that “too hardcore for the normies but not hardcore enough for the Dissident Right” is not a stable place to be. How long can these edgy centrists — the “I’m going to laugh at both sides while the world burns” types — hold on before they have to declare themselves either explicitly pro-white or explicitly anti-white? Even South Park, which used to excel at that sort of thing, has struggled to deal with the hyperpolarization of politics [5].

Porsalin: I think it depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. For the Gavin types actively engaging in the cultural and political debate, clearly it’s an impossible position to be in. From the perspective of what’s actually true, such a position is simply unsustainable. If, like Gavin, you truly believe “the West is the best,” how could you possibly support some sort of pro-Western civilization without acknowledging the racial components of Western success? I suspect that in an ideal world, Gavin would prefer to say white and not Western, but he’s understandably wary of the consequences of White Nationalist association. And if by “the West” he actually does mean including anybody who shares our values of any culture, religion, or race, he’s either willfully ignorant or stupid. As for people not necessarily engaging in political or social discourse, and, as you say, who are just looking to “laugh at both sides while the world burns,” I think it depends on what they’re looking to achieve. If the content is purely of a comical nature, then I can’t really see much of a problem if it’s good enough. But it definitely makes the job far more difficult. Ultimately, any comedic content traversing that line is bound to trigger one of two responses: If it’s good enough, it’ll make most people laugh regardless of the take. If not, it’ll likely be written off as some sort of subversive, partisan hackery. Again, it makes the job harder, not playing to any particular base, but “funny” is an incredibly mobile concept, and I think even in a hyper-polarized environment it can still exist anywhere on the political spectrum. Adult Swim’s Squidbillies is a great example. Clearly, it’s a show lampooning the Deep South and creating a caricature of the redneck Republican, but it is extremely funny nonetheless. There will always be those who struggle to move past whatever subversive political messages may or may not exist in the comedy they consume. But I believe the better written the comedy, the less of an issue this becomes.

On Baked Alaska


Counter-Currents: How does one sit through dozens upon dozens of hours of Baked Alaska without committing suicide? I once wrote an article about Baked Alaska [7] that necessitated me sitting though eight hours of his livestreams, and the experience nearly killed me. How absolutely drunk did you have to be to inject that much mental retardation into your mind for hours on end without going completely mad?

Porsalin: The research phase for these documentaries can sometimes take north of a hundred total hours. Reading, listening to hour after hour of podcasts or streams, searching for obscure interviews, and organizing everything into a general arc takes its toll regardless of who I’m covering. But as you can imagine, it makes the process that little more difficult if you’re forced to watch some chrome-toothed wigger jump around the screen like he’s about to shit his pants. It’s rough at first, but I think somewhere around the 45 hour mark, I’d weirdly find myself totally detached from him as a person. It’s like Baked’s story arc takes over, and what I’m investigating isn’t even real anymore. Perhaps that actually is me going completely mad after all.

On Owen Benjamin

Counter-Currents: Do you plan on doing a sequel to your Owen Benjamin documentary? It ended before he got seriously obsessed with Jews and he’s done a lot of spiraling since. What do you make of recent Owen Benjamin developments [9]?

Porsalin: Yes, there will definitely be a second part. Right now I’m purposefully avoiding all things Owen until I have to. He’s just too much to absorb at any one point in time, and truth be told, it’s just tough to continue being outraged at whatever crazy-ass shit he’s up to. Don’t get me wrong, he’s wildly entertaining. It’s like every new conspiracy is designed to out-crazy the previous one. But then, every once in a while, he’ll make complete sense for a straight hour. He certainly keeps us on our toes. I hear he recently called dinosaurs a Jewish conspiracy. I love that he wrote out a list of twelve reasons dinosaurs don’t exist on his Instagram. I can just imagine somebody scrolling through dozens of insta-thots before landing on Owen’s insane eyes and a list of why dinosaurs are fake. It started off with things like, “There were no dinosaur bones discovered before 1842,” and “The bone wars have been debunked.” I think he must have got bored halfway through as one of the points simply said, “I’m devastated I’ve spent my whole life dreaming of dinosaurs.” One of his points was literally, “Big Bear sad.” I wouldn’t have been surprised if he at some point got distracted and accidentally meandered into other conspiracy theories: “Reason fourteen that dinosaurs don’t exist: The Moon is just Earth’s reflection on a giant space mirror. Reason fifteen that dinosaurs don’t exist: Google the Rothschilds.” I’m torn with Owen. It’s hard to gauge how much of this is some elaborate act and how much represents his true beliefs. Either way, everything since the documentary has only got wilder and crazier, and I’m looking forward to another deep, big bear dive in Part Two.

On Sargon

Counter-Currents: The line between e-celebrity and “real” celebrity (TV, movie, stage, etc.) seems to be blurring. Your have e-celebs like Candace Owen rising up to become “real” celeb, but you also have “real” celebs like Owen Benjamin being banished from the mainstream and reinventing themselves as e-celebs. I don’t think anything quite embodied this phenomenon quite like Sargon [10]’s run for the European Parliament, which was like the Internet crashing the real world’s party. Will the world ever be ready for an edgelord President, or has Sargon ruined it for everyone?

Porsalin: Sargon’s ruined so much for so many people, so it wouldn’t surprise me to never see an e-celebrity candidate again in my lifetime. I’m just so happy I was alive to see his EU candidacy end in such typical Sargonian fashion — and I say that as a staunch Brexiteer. Truth be told, he was never going to make any sort of legitimate impact in any direction whatsoever, and as we’ve discovered over the last month or so, this Brexit thing is far larger and far more unlikely to happen than even the most rabid of Leavers anticipated. I think politics is still so wrapped up in its own incestuous elitism that it simply cannot happen on a grand scale. Trump was an unconscious blip, and one that I doubt will happen again for decades, at least. And seeing a democratic vote in my country descend into inevitable betrayal and widespread political apathy in Britain has all but extinguished my hopes for any sort of “rising up.” But perhaps if the political divide continues drifting apart, a breaking point might just allow something exciting to happen. Maybe accelerationism’s the way to go after all?

Counter-Currents: What would you do if your son or daughter came to you and said, “Daddy, I want to become an Alt Lite e-celeb when I grow up”? What would be more horrifying: Walking in on your son watching gay porn or walking in on him watching Baked Alaska?

Porsalin: As for the first question, I think a situation not too dissimilar to Josef Fritzl’s, minus the decades of unrelenting child rape, might solve that one. Or I suppose I could just wait for the inevitable moment the Alt Lite slide into obscurity in, say, six months’ time or so. As for the second question — either way, I’m raising a faggot. Flip a coin.

On the future

Counter-Currents: What can we look forward to from you in the future?

Porsalin: Well, I’ve now put out ten long-form documentaries over the last year and change, so I recently had a little think about what to do next. For quite some time, I was considering just bailing on the channel after ten. It seemed like a nice, round number, and I’d be ducking out before people got truly sick of me. But I quickly realized that’s what a no-good faggot quitter would have done, so I immediately drew up a list of the next ten. In no particular order, I’m looking to documentaries on TJ Kirk, Maddox, Mike Cernovich, The Young Turks, Owen Benjamin Part Two, After MDE (a follow up to Blacklisted), Trad Thots, Vaush, Artie Lange, and Pick-up Artistry. That should keep me quite busy deep into and beyond 2020.