I Should Be Able to Mute America

The rest of the world should not have to know the name Bari Weiss

CHINA - 2021/04/02: In this photo illustration the American online news and social networking servic...
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Patrick Marlborough
No Yanks On The Thread

On June 2, Australian twitter account @parsfarce aka fungbunger (who has been referred to as Australia’s dril) tweeted out: “bloke at work who’s been here for like 6 years handed in 2 weeks notice last Friday & now he’s done the old Harold Holt. completely AWOL. managers goin off their heads. ghosting close work mates’ calls & texts. so fuckin good. the old scorched earth strategy for no fuckin reason.”

Australians joined fungbunger in celebration, a resounding chorus of you bloody ripper! and fucken oath, so good! and ol’ m8 livin the fucken dream! We were ecstatic, jubilant, and envious of what we recognized as a beautifully deft, and quintessentially Australian, act of get fukt dickheads, yeeeewwww!

If only we’d kept our joy private. If only we’d stayed humble! Instead, we caused the tweet to go viral and before we realized what was happening it drifted over to that foulest of places: American Twitter.

Soon, fungbunger was harpooned with replies from accounts with names like “PelotonMomForBiden,” “TeslaTerry,” and “JAGEnjoyer78.” They suggested that the man in question had killed himself, that he was a tortured soul, that this was actually the fault of our (their) failing healthcare system, that this was Governor so-and-so’s doing, that their wife’s friend had dramatically quit his job before shooting up the place, and so on. Worst yet were those boasting of how they had done something similar themselves, but in the grim, joyless way unique to residents of the 50 states.

Fungbunger plunged into his replies, laying waste to this plague of Americans like a bogan berserker.

“If this is to be my lot,” he tweeted, “an eternity of wrath, to slay the yank, to hunt its kind, then so be it. I shall walk into darkness and I shall cleanse it. I am the Yank Hunter.”

No yanks on the thread! came the rallying cry, NO YANKS ON THE THREAD!

For his courage, Twitter suspended fungbunger’s account.

The martyrdom of fungbunger has made it crystal clear in my mind: we need a way to mute America. Why? Because America has no chill. America is exhausting. America is incapable of letting something be simply funny instead of a dread portent of their apocalyptic present. America is ruining the internet.

America is the internet.

I’m a sandgroper from Perth, Western Australia, a place sometimes referred to as the most isolated city in the world. Perth is essentially one big gelatinous suburb with the temperament of a disgruntled stepfather and the drive of his dysfunctional failson. As such, it is a Facebook town.

But I am a Twitter tragic, tragically.

Australian Twitter is not unlike American Twitter in that it's a collection of wonks and wankers who work in or around the arts, media, and politics. Because all our wonks leave for newspaper internships in Sydney, and our wankers leave to mount one-man shows in Melbourne, Perth Twitter contains the dregs and weirdos of Australia’s terminally online.

Being three hours behind the East Coast, late night Perth Twitter is a bit like the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones: a rag-tag collection of rejects trudging along the great slippery ice wall of infinite scroll while the realm sleeps.

Unfortunately, this means that we’re the first to witness the awakening of that undead nightmare otherwise known as “American discourse.”

The greatest trick America’s ever pulled on the subjects of its various vassal states is making us feel like a participant in its grand experiment.

Before I sleep, I’m witness to many nightmares: Brooklynites are gutting each other over the sanctity of the bodega, Louisianan astro-poets are putting the wiccans to the torch because of their ongoing “amethyst erasure,” someone from Minnesota has gone viral claiming that it is an act of “class genocide” to know that drinking water keeps you hydrated, a Florida DSA chapter is publicly imploding over the contested value of feet pics, a Washington Post columnist is loudly pissing themselves over a petty workplace slight, the bassplayer from a long defunct hardcore band is begging people to share the gofundme page for a single mother made homeless by a twenty minute hospital visit, while armchair experts debate the value of mask mandates as #1milliondead and #bidenbts trend in your sidebar.

America insists that you bear witness to it tripping on its dick and slamming its face into an uncountable row of scalding hot pies. You do more than bear witness, because American Twitter has the same kind of magnetic pull as a garbage disposal unit. A sick part of you wants to shove your hand in. You want to let the blades cut into your knuckles, if just to see if you can slow them down a little.

The greatest trick America’s ever pulled on the subjects of its various vassal states is making us feel like a participant in its grand experiment. After all, our fate is bound to the American empire’s whale fall. My generation in particular is the first pure batch of Yankee-Yobbo mutoids: as much Hank Hill as we are Hills Hoist (look it up!), as familiar with the Supreme Court Justices as we are with the judges on Master Chef, as comfortable in Frasier’s Seattle or Seinfeld’s Upper West Side as we are in Ramsay Street or Summer Bay.

America has effectively built a Green Zone in our cultural consciousness, replete with the obligatory Maccas. Our imaginations, memories, and selves have been well and truly occupied, and the schizoid psychic agony of mainlining our nation’s duel nightmares is, more often than not, excruciating.

I should not know who Pete Buttigieg is. In a just world, the name Bari Weiss would mean as much to me as Nordic runes. This goes for people who actually might read Nordic runes too. No Swede deserves to be burdened with this knowledge. No Brazilian should have to regularly encounter the phrase “Dimes Square.” To the rest of the vast and varied world, My Pillow Guy and Papa John should be NPCs from a Nintendo DS Zelda title, not men of flesh and bone, pillow and pizza. Ted Cruz should be the name of an Italian pornstar in a Love Boat porn parody. Instead, I’m cursed to know that he is a senator from Texas who once stood next to a butter sculpture of a dairy cow and declared that his daughter’s first words were “I like butter.”

The irony is that so much of the rot at the heart of American discourse stems from a media empire founded by an Australian (Steve Irwin!!! [haha just kidding, it’s Rupert Murdoch]), and for that I apologize — you can take comfort in the fact that he’s stunk this place up like a backyard dunny too. But it would be great if we could stem the flow of poison that America sends our way, seeping, as it does, from that proverbial septic tank.

My nation’s finest lackwits have spent the better part of their lives trying to graft America’s culture wars onto our own. Just last week our new Opposition Leader Peter Dutton (imagine a young Barry Goldwater spliced with a mall cop and an orc) tried to get the “teachers are dangerous radicals” thing going here, right on the heels of his party crashing and burning in the recent federal election, alongside their version of American (and British, to be fair) electoral transphobia.

Oftentimes, it just seems easier to submit to the Americanization of self, nation, and internet — to meekly roll over and spell it “jail” instead of “gaol,” as in “the Seppos locked fungbunger up in twitter gaol.” Why fight the inevitable?

This is why funbunger’s thread was as cathartic as it was inspiring. There he was, pushing back against the American sensibilities that crawl their way into every last crevice of the internet, despite the platform, the users, and the algorithms insistence that he bend to them. A dial-up Breaker Morant staring down the barrel of a perma-ban and barking: oi you dog cunts, shut your Seppo gobs!

Patrick Marlborough is a writer, comedian, and musician based in Walyalup (Fremantle), Western Australia. They have words in VICE, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, NME, The Saturday Paper, Junkee, and "beloved other." Their novel A Horse Held at Gunpoint was shortlisted for the 2021 Fogarty Award, and they make music under the name Bang Bang Bart but they spend most of their days being bullied by their incredibly bad dog, Buckley.