Alex Vickery-Howe reminisces about his schoolyard days and criticises the adults who would rather spread lies than admit their rival has earned her success.
I have little respect for sore losers.
In Primary School, we played handball – sometimes known as four square – every recess. I wasn’t very good at it. The brief periods where I ruled as a despotic king were horrendously outnumbered by the interminable stretches as a dunce in the loser’s square. But I loved it. I solidified friendships playing that game. When the bell rang, we all barrelled down to the quad, spare tennis balls in hand.
A player who shall remain nameless used to steal the tennis balls and spit on all the players when he lost. It got to the point where some of us would pre-emptively run, as the viper hissed and gobbed on us, sometimes pursuing us all the way to the ‘adventure playground’ (disused pine equipment frequented by brown snakes – you gotta love growing up in ‘80s Australia).
Teachers used to correct this behaviour, of course. Both the spitting and the running. We were given detention, or – in the unilateral ruling of one unforgettable disciplinarian who prowled the oval’s curve – made to pick up rubbish, by hand, for the entire recess. These days, we’d say that was unsanitary. It probably was.
I’m not a parent, so I don’t really have an informed perspective on child-rearing, but I was an afterschool care worker on and off in my youth. It seemed to me then that many children lacked both emotional intelligence and emotional resilience. We were instructed not to play too many games like handball, because the losers would cry.
I think Donald Trump would suck at handball.
Trump has lost pretty much everything he has attempted in his life. I’ve listed some of his many screw-ups before, but it’s fun listing them again: Trump Steaks, Trump Mortgage, Trump Shuttle, Trump Taj Mahal, and Trump University all tanked. Some of these disasters ended in lawsuits, which he again lost.
From the first pathetic attempt at a presidency, we could add the failed Trump Wall, the failed Trump Covid Response, the failed Trump Health Policy (never even released), the failed Trump Nuking Hurricanes Scheme and, yes, my favourite… the failed Four Seasons Press Conference. God, that was fantastic.
As we know, all of this culminated in the failed coup of January 6. Trump and his dickheads lost that one too. They went further than schoolyard spitting that time – they smeared shit on walls. Sore losers.
Suckers. Chumps. Dupes. Children who never grew into men. I say ‘men’ because ‘manliness’ – thwarted, frustrated masculinity – can be found at the core of Trump’s anger, and the anger of many who bow before him.
You’ve heard me say this before. My friends are weary of my vitriol. Republicans would claim I have ‘Trump derangement syndrome’, which is ironic coming from people who actually voted for an illiterate insurrectionist. I get it, though. I’ve been a broken record. Here’s my new tune…
Taylor Swift is a psyop, according to Fox News. She’s James Bond with better hair. Or any hair, since I found out recently that Connery wore a toupée.
Now, Fox is dishonest. Fox is really, really dishonest. This development, however, is absolutely, absurdly delicious. Jesse Watters – babbling fool or brilliant character actor, you decide – has declared, with zero evidence, that T-Swizzle is a Pentagon spy tasked with correcting public misinformation. I love this. It may well be the stupidest thing anyone at Fox has ever put their name to.
To outline his case, Watters provided a clip of someone he claimed was a NATO operative expressing their love of the singer. It wasn’t a NATO operative. In the context of a plan supposedly hatched by the Biden administration, I’m not sure how NATO is relevant, or if Watters even knows what NATO is. Regardless, his smoking gun was actually a research engineer with no ties to the US military, or their allies.
I despair at how swiftly – I deleted that adverb three times, but it’s irresistible – these weak, tired, desperate, cringy, asinine lies manage to spread online. What I love though is how their fantasy about ‘Asset Tay’ reveals that conservative commentators, and by extension the Republican base, are terrified of losing again. So terrified, in fact, that they’re laying the groundwork for how ‘manipulative’ and ‘unfair’ it all is. This is the equivalent of a childhood friend claiming the tennis balls were rigged, or the teachers who dished out reprimands were part of ‘the deep state’.
I quite like Taylor Swift. What’s not to like? She’s talented and she promotes cats. I pretty much am a cat – I doze, brood, and claw with little provocation – so I appreciate her perspective. I’ve been discouraged from watching her actually play a cat in Cats, but, in an undeniably stellar career, not every decision can be golden. Taylor Swift has more than earned her place in the enduring lexicon of popular culture. She is not, however, Emma Peel or Sister Harriet. The idea that she is a secret government operative is plainly insane.
This is hardly the only senseless rumour poisoning cyberspace at the moment. I’m equally entertained by the nonsense that Martin Scorsese plans to gender-swap Jesus in a new film. The far right is paranoid to the point of hilarity. You can’t write this.
Or you can… if you’re Robert King, Michelle King, Phil Alden Robinson, or one of the other spookily prescient, scarily clever writers of The Good Fight. This series wrapped up in 2022, staring Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, Audra McDonald as Liz Reddick, and Delroy Lindo as Adrian Boseman (this man is a criminally underrated performer), as well as the late André Braugher as Ri’Chard, a lawyer so magnificently flamboyant that he makes William Shatner’s Denny Crane seem shy.
I could go on for a long time about the superb writing and how it is all carried smoothly and effortlessly by the whole cast, led by charismatic Baranski, who is clearly having a great time. There are so many things this show got right and so many things it saw coming. Just as The Simpsons prophesied smartwatches, the Siegfried and Roy tiger attack, the censorship of Michelangelo’s Statue of David and the Trump presidency itself (as well as the debt he’d leave behind), The Good Fight kept its finger on the pulse – or slightly ahead of it – tackling everything from Roe v Wade to a certain videotape.
And it predicted this Taylor psyop scandal.
It wasn’t complete augury. Taylor Swift has, in fact, been drawn into the American culture wars since 2018, despite her previous attempts to convey neutrality through her unbiased public persona. The 4Chan response to her eventual endorsement of US political candidates to the left of centre was – don’t say ‘swift’ again, Alex – quick and brutal, and so very, very wrong. One poster called her “literally retarded”, revealing that their understanding of ‘literal’ was every bit as flawed as the rest of their hateful vernacular, while another claimed she’d “… just ended her entire career.” Ha! 2018? The end of Taylor Swift’s career? I guess not everyone can predict the future, buddy.
In the interests of balance, there was a spike in voter registration following Swift’s endorsement and this event provides some context for why the Republicans, and their Muppets propped behind the Fox News desk, are still wetting themselves over her popularity. She is more powerful than they are, and they don’t like it.
In The Good Fight, the fictional country singer Sabrina Wynne, played by Mackenzie Mauzy as a more naïve and trusting Swift – perhaps the hopeful younger incarnation, prior to having her mic snapped, mid-speech, by an incensed and unhinged Kanye West – is manipulated by Diane and Liz. This make-believe version of Taylor does, indeed, become part of a psyop to manipulate voters. I wouldn’t be surprised if an idiot like Watters used a scene from this show as ‘proof’ of the conspiracy he has concocted. He doesn’t seem to be terribly diligent about checking his sources, or terribly competent in general.
Fox is a disreputable organisation and largely irrelevant to political discourse. Hacks like Watters are the quintessence of their own ‘fake news’ rhetoric. No grand revelation. But, for all you Swifties out there, the Republicans are attacking your artist and they’re doing it because they’re scared of her. Please vote accordingly.
And, no, I’m not part of any psyop either. I just hold even less respect for liars and cowards than I do for sore losers. Imagine playing handball with people who’d rather start a riot than give up a square with honour and dignity, and return to play again another day.
Life is ups and downs. We all win some. We all lose some. But the definition of ‘loser’ isn’t just someone who suffers losses… it’s someone so weak, so craven, so lacking in self-awareness and self-reflection that they have a compulsive need to blame everyone else for their personal failures. That’s not just Trump himself anymore.
The pre-emptive propaganda in the Republican Party has begun. Shills are spreading conspiracy theories that are feeble and pathetic even by their own pitiful precedents. They are literally whinging because a popstar makes them feel frail and small.
It’s clear who the snowflakes are….
It’s them, hi, they’re the problem, it’s them.
Donate To New Matilda
New Matilda is a small, independent media outlet. We survive through reader contributions, and never losing a lawsuit. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue speaking truth to power. Every little bit counts.