Andrew Doyle, creator of Titania McGrath, discusses satire and hoaxes

December 14, 2019 • 12:30 pm

This is a very good talk (it’s 25 minutes long), and I highly recommend you listen to it, as it’s a powerful justification for Leftists mocking the excesses of the Left—one of the themes of this site.  Further, it’s an incisive analysis and indictment of “the Woke movement.” Finally, it’s sporadically hilarious.

We all know now that the über-woke Titania McGrath is the creation of British comedian Andrew Doyle, who also used to write for the character of Jonathan Pie. Below he discusses “Satire in the Digital Age” at the National Liberal Club in London (the talk was October 13). As the video’s description notes, “This event was part of the ‘Speaking Truth to Social Justice’ conference organised by Sovereign Nations.” The theme is the value of hoaxes in an age when people regularly comment on social media. Doyle sees them, as he sees Titania, as a way to improve the Left, to “challenge the dominant orthodoxy that generates so much resentment among normal people who are sick of being hectored by paternalistic moralists who claim the power to divine their secret thoughts.”  Doyle himself claims a place on the Left, and I have no reason to doubt him.

After recounting some history of satirical hoaxes, Doyle details the rising censorship and puritanism of the Left.  He mentions the “grievance studies” hoax of Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose, approving of it (despite strong attacks by Leftist academics on the endeavor) since it “was essentially a satirical project because it sought to expose the fraudulence that still exists within the powerful institution of academia.” As Doyle notes, “If you care about something, you want it improved.”

He then discusses the invention of Titania McGrath (who apparently has a fancy house in Kensington and another in a location I couldn’t make out) and shows some of her tweets.  Doyle adds, “The most vicious remarks you will ever see on social media come from either the racist far right or woke intersectionalist: they are really two heads of the same chimera. . . One of the most tragic things, I think, about the social justice movement is that it is largely well intentioned. . . . It makes sense, then, to think of the social justice movement as a kind of cult.”

He then indicts the British government for its unwarranted authoritarianism, as well as the Wokes for giving unwarranted attention to white supremacists and neo-Nazis by using the term loosely to apply to any of the Wokes’ opponents.

Doyle winds up claiming (as I have) that “a major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it is sufficiently Woke, the social justice ideology having infected our major media and irreparably degraded its standards.” He gives several examples, one of which I discussed this week. (He won’t admit writing it, but he surely did.) Are you listening, New York Times, New York Magazine, the Independent and The Guardian?

h/t: Greg

Babylon Bee mocks a NYT “free speech” op-ed

October 6, 2019 • 12:30 pm

I don’t usually look at the Babylon Bee, a satire site that many have mistaken for “real news”, but maybe I should check it out more often. Today’s column, “Free speech is killing us,” is especially good, because it’s not only a satire of Andrew Marantz’s New York Times column that I discussed yesterday, but says what I think that Marantz, deep in his heart, would have wanted to say.

Just a small excerpt from the column, which you can see in its entirety by clicking on the screenshot:

Using “free speech” as a cop-out is intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt. Yes, free speech is a glorious pastime of our wonderful, prosperous empire, but it’s not the only one. It must be held in tension with other values, such as equality, safety, good citizenship, worshiping me, and stamping out anyone who would be foolish enough to speak up against our utopia.

Look, I am not calling for repealing free speech entirely. What I’m arguing for is silencing those whose speech your majestic rulers—namely, me—find to be potentially seditious. Only when speech is carefully policed, with your betters determining what can be said and what cannot be said, can speech truly be “free.”

Anyone disagreeing with this op-ed is welcome to submit complaints directly to the office of Kim Jong Un and also report to the nearest labor camp.

h/t: Hos

Titania McGrath outed!

March 16, 2019 • 10:20 am

There’s nothing that can debunk stupidity or irrationality more strongly than satire. And that’s why, as “wokeness” floods across college campuses then spills into the workplace as members of the Offense Culture graduate, Titania McGrath, through her tweets and now in an upcoming book, has shown up the craziness of that culture. And she’s done it by pretending to be one of The Woke. She did it so effectively, even on Twitter, that she was accepted as one of them and demonized by the Right and those reasonable Leftists who didn’t get the joke.

But who was she/he/hir/it/zir? Everybody knew that Titania (and her “male” counterpart Godfrey Elfwick) were pseudonyms, but who had a sense of humor that good?

Well, as revealed in the two pieces below, one from Spiked and the other from the Torygraph, Titania is none other than Spiked columnist and humorist Andrew Doyle.

Torygraph:

 

The Spiked column is not only funny, but incisive in indicting Woke Culture, and I recommend you read it. An excerpt (my emphases):

Last April, I decided to set up a satirical account on Twitter under the guise of radical intersectionalist poet Titania McGrath. She’s a po-faced young activist who, in spite of her immense privilege, is convinced that she is oppressed. She’s not a direct parody of an existing individual, but anyone who regularly reads opinion columns in the Guardian will be familiar with the type. Given that such individuals are seemingly impervious to reason, and would rather cry ‘bigot’ than engage in serious debate, satire seemed to be the only option.

The obsession with victimhood from predominantly bourgeois political commentators is something I have always found inherently funny. It’s a phenomenon that has been amplified to a great extent by social media. This extremely vocal minority of activists enjoy pontificating to the masses from their online lectern, berating those who fall short of their moral expectations, and endlessly trawling through old tweets in the hope of discovering a misjudged phrase or sentiment that could justify a campaign of public shaming. In their eyes, there is no possibility of redemption. The most vicious remarks you’ll find on social media come from the racist far right and woke intersectionalists. They are two heads of the same chimera.

American physicist Steven Weinberg famously remarked that ‘with or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion’. It makes sense, then, to think of the social-justice movement as a kind of cult. Its members are generally decent people with good intentions. They have an unshakeable certainty that their worldview is correct. They feel the need to proselytise and convert as many of the fallen as possible. And even though they are capable of the most horrendous dehumanising behaviour, they think they are the good guys.

We are in this position because identity politics in its current form is a collectivist ideology. It does not value an individual for the content of his or her character, but instead makes prejudicial assessments on the basis of race, gender and sexuality. In the name of anti-racism, identity politics has rehabilitated racial thinking. This explains why an affluent and privileged person like Munroe Bergdorf can be invited on to national television to proclaim that ‘the white race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth’. How is well-intentioned racism even a thing?

A similar regression has occurred within the feminist movement. Fourth-wave feminism is predominantly victim-centred, and is based on the conviction that women are invariably oppressed and require the protection of authority figures. When the BBC promoted a smartphone app to help women speak up in meetings, it was merely toeing the standard feminist line on the intrinsic fragility of women. So we are left with the curious phenomenon of good people who are opposed to misogyny. subscribing to an essentially misogynistic perspective. [JAC: This is also seen in the valorization of the misogyny of Islam, and of wearing the hijab.]

Can you disagree with a word of that?  Here’s Doyle (right) with his alter ego:

Doyle also reveals who is half of Elfwick (I suspect the other half was Doyle himself):

Titania was an attempt to highlight the inescapable hypocrisies of such a mindset. I was inspired by the brilliant work of the satirist Lisa Graves, who was one half of the Twitter persona Godfrey Elfwick. Although often accused of ‘punching down’ at vulnerable minorities, the actual target of Elfwick’s satire was the woke establishment. It was inevitable that he should be banned by Twitter, because those in power cannot tolerate being ridiculed.

You can see Lisa Graves’s genuine Twitter account here.

The Torygraph adds that Doyle is a former private school teacher, is 40 years old, and has a doctorate in Early Renaissance Poetry from Wadham College, Oxford. His studies gave rise to Titania’s name, which comes from the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s A Middsummer Night’s Dream. As Doyle explains, McGrath got her/his/hir/its name because “all of this ‘woke culture’ is an utter fantasy world.”

Doyle told the Torygraph this:

“This social justice movement is full of people who are arrogant, narcissistic and very certain in themselves. The very idea that they could be wrong doesn’t even cross their mind. That to me is incredibly funny. I thought Titania could embody all of that.

“The majority of people are desperate for this culture to be mocked. [Titania’s] account has become so popular because people are sick of feeling that they can’t say what they want. It used to be the case that if someone spoke out of turn, you would say that’s a bit much, apologise and everyone would move on. Now you post a screenshot on Twitter and try to get someone fired.

“Titania is staying the stuff that most people want to say.”

Finally, the Torygraph presents a selection of Titania’s best tweets:

An interview with Titania McGrath

March 4, 2019 • 8:45 am

Not everyone yet knows that Titania McGrath is a spoof, which only goes to show how extreme the Woke Left is: you can’t tell satire from reality. This week’s Spectator has an “interview” with McGrath by Tanya Gold (click on screenshot below to read it). Nobody knows who McGrath really is (that photo isn’t her, and “she” may be a “he” but probably not a “they” or a “hir”), and so Gold recounts the unusual circumstance of the interview:

Titania McGrath, 24, is a radical intersectionalist vegan activist, feminist slam poet and the author of Woke: a Guide to Social Justice. She won’t meet me in person for security reasons – she fears doxxing – or send me a photograph of her face. Rather, she consents to an interview by email from her gîte in the Buis-les-Baronnies district of France, where she is “working on a new anthology of slam poetry which will end the patriarchy” in the nude.

I suspect that Ms. McGrath is the same person as the male spoofer Godfrey Elfwick, but who knows?  At any rate,Titania uses the interview—really a collection of bon mots—to flog her new book Woke (see below).

A few gems from the interview:

She wrote Woke because, “I was permanently banned from Twitter for a whole day. This gave me time to reflect on my subjugation as a woman in a patriarchal world and write a book about my oppression. The entire document is a masterpiece unparalleled in the history of the written word”.

I am not sure a book dedicated to the destruction of the Capitalist patriarchy should be available on Amazon but there is no contradiction for Titania: “I’m attempting to destroy the capitalist system from within, and the only way I can do that is to make a shit-load of cash”.

She is confident of good reviews, but she will not allow men to review Woke: “Any male who attempts to review my book will be committing a form of sexual assault”. (I hope the literary editor is reading this). She thinks men are the cause of all misery, and should wear blinkers, like horses: “They’re gruff. They’re bad-tempered. They have base sexual instincts. And they sleep standing up”.

And the best bit:

She is not afraid for herself, “but I am deeply concerned that free speech extremists will find a way to prevent the state from monitoring what people say and think. We need to ensure that the police can arrest those who digress from woke ideas in order to prevent the rise of fascism”.

This is pretty close to what the Wokers at places like Williams College say for real.

Titania’s new book is available at Amazon UK, which carries the following blurb.

In Woke, Titania McGrath demonstrates how everybody can play their part in the pursuit of social justice. As a millennial icon on the forefront of online activism, Titania is uniquely placed to guide her readers through the often bewildering array of terminology and concepts that constitute twenty-first-century ‘wokeness’. These new ideas often leave the general public bemused, particularly if they don’t read the Guardian.

Being woke is actually much easier than people think. As Titania demonstrates, anyone can be an activist. By simply adding a rainbow flag to your Facebook profile, or calling out an elderly person who doesn’t understand what ‘non-binary’ means, you can change the world for the better. Indeed, social media has now made it possible to show how virtuous you are without having to do anything at all.

Timely and indispensable, Titania’s step-by-step guide will help you to become the woke person you need to be in an increasingly progressive world. In a non-patronising manner, Titania will explain why you are wrong about everything and how to become more like her.

The book is already #117 on UK Amazon, and it actually promises to make Titania some dosh, which of course she needs to destroy capitalism from within (click on screenshot to see or buy the book):

Godfrey Elfwick is outraged

February 17, 2019 • 12:15 pm

Godfrey Elfwick (aka Titania McGrath) apparently now has a regular column in The Spectator USA, and, frankly, I’m surprised that even a semi-conservative magazine would present Elfwick’s musings without saying that they’re satirical. After all,  Elfwick, McGrath and their/hir/zir schticks are so close to the fulminations of exteme Control-Leftism that they sometimes gets mistaken for being serious Woke Leftism. In other words, Elfwick and McGrath present an ongoing “hoax” along the lines of Boghossian, Pluckrose, and Lindsay’s more arduous efforts.

The latest Elfwick production takes off from a recent cover of Esquire, which made the mistake of profiling a white boy during Black History Month in the USA. Here’s the Esquire cover.  You can tell just from the words underneath “AN AMERICAN BOY” that it would rile up the Outrage Brigade.

And, after all, well-off white males are the most demonized of all groups of Americans, and it’s not out of the question to ask how this demonization has affected them. But not during Black History Month! The expected pushback arose quickly, as documented by, among other venues, the Guardian, the Independent, and, of course, PuffHo.  Here are just a few examples:

Now I haven’t read the story, which may well be dire and cloying, and were I an editor I probably wouldn’t have run it during Black History Month. Nevertheless, it still demonstrates how quick the Callout Culture is to react, and how strongly white males are being demonized—as if they represent some sort of monolithic, toxic and repressive cult.

But Elfwick comes to the rescue, in a funny article claiming that it should have been him—a “transblack genderqueer Muslim atheist”—who was profiled by Esquire. He makes a compelling case!

He rewrites the article in a way that even PuffHo would be proud of!  A few excerpts (the captions are Elfwick’s):

Rather than waste my valuable time talking about this Trump-adoring pale manchild, I have decided to rewrite the article, this time featuring a true warrior. Someone who deserves the limelight. A role-model for the marginalized. A social justice icon who more accurately represents the youth of today.

Godfrey Elfwick is 27 and happy to be a genderqueer Muslim atheist, born white in the wrong skin. From an early age, xe knew xe was special. At the tender age of 14 months, xe was already making protest banners in support of marginalized people while xir’s older brother Moneer, played with his toys, oblivious to his sibling’s struggles.

Godfrey Elfwick knew from an early age that xe would change the world

Being an activist is hard and requires a lot of emotional strength, Godfrey tells me (ximself). A lot of people think it’s just posting stuff online and getting offended about meaningless things…but it’s so much more than that. There are important protests to attend.

. . . Only last year, I stormed into a home for the elderly close to where I live and no-platformed an ignorant racist who was giving the residents a talk called ‘World War II Memories’. There’s no place for that colonialist rhetoric in the current year.

After walking through the front entrance, I came face-to-face with a bunch of old white people (probably Nazis), openly enjoying a lecture on what life was like during the war. It made me feel sick to my stomach when I heard one of them make a positive comment on Winston Churchill. That was when I understandably lost my shit and demanded they shut down this endorsement of fascism ASAP.

Well, maybe it’s a bit heavy-handed, and less likely to be mistaken for real Social Justice Outrage than are the lucubrations of Ms. McGrath, but still. . .

Here’s Elfwick’s self-portrayal as a woke person:

Godfrey is a strong, powerful black woman who takes no crap from anyone

Straight from Brooklyn!

And, for good measure, Titania’s latest:

A parody on Canadian television highlights the divisiveness of religion

April 9, 2018 • 1:15 pm

Diana MacPherson sent these two videos, one of which is a real commercial and the other a parody. As she says:

 I hope you can view these. It’s for “This Hour Has 22 Minutes“, a political and satirical comedy show in Canada. Here they make fun of religion as divisive based on an Ancestry.ca commercial about finding out about your DNA.

The show Diana refers to appears on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a government entity.

First we have the legit commercial—the one parodied by the satire below. It’s tribalistic and way over the top, but that’s how they’re sellling ancestry tests in Canada. (I wonder, as an atheist Jew who has ancestors in Galway, if I’d be greeted so warmly!):

And here’s the “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” parody:  [JAC: be sure to watch to the end.]

Can you imagine this being shown on any television station in the U.S., much less one run by the government? Ceiling Cat bless Canada!

It reminds me of this joke related by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion:

A journalist, researching for an article on the complex political situation in Northern Ireland, was in a pub in a war-torn area of Belfast. One of his potential informants leaned over his pint of Guinness and suspiciously cross-examined the journalist: “Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?” the Irishman asked.”Neither,” replied the journalist; “I’m an atheist.”

The Irishman, not content with this answer, put a further question: “Ah, but are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?”