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If you were going to draw up a short list of places on the internet that should be excited about the first good Star Wars movie in more than three decades, you would have to include 4chan and 8chan.The infamous, anonymous image boards are nerd culture sanctum sanctorum, places with dauntingly high cultural literacy in science fiction, fantasy, and Japanese animation.Boyega is a black actor with a lead role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.By all accounts, he turns in a charming and sympathetic performance as Finn, a Stormtrooper with a conscience.Beneath literally every page on 8chan lurks Trump’s face, which, as Elspeth Reeve put it wonderfully, is “very good to look at.” It is the avatar of Chanterculture.A feverish industry of meme-making has grown up around its contours. Trump performs for the Chanterculture a very similar function to the one he does for his political supporters: giving loud public voice to culturally unsafe (racist, xenophobic, hateful, choose your adjective) sentiments.
A shock tactics internet comedy troupe threatening the life of a female game developer for lulz. This racist, reactionary, offense-embracing, meme-savvy internet is not simply a disparate collection of ravings from immature and bitter young men with too much time on their hands.
That may be the protagonist of a web comic (about which, more later), or a journalist, like Milo Yiannopoulos, or a politician, like Donald Trump.
(This counterculture is equally adept at creating or adopting villains: J. Abrams, Barack Obama, Emma Sulkowicz, Brianna Wu, and so on.) It’s telling that both Trump and Yiannopoulos are often described as “characters.” In this culture, they fulfill important roles.
Perhaps the most obvious example where these things came together was in the rise of #cuckservative — a racist epithet as hashtag, born of online porn, illustrated with memes. Chan posters harassing the internet sleuths who discovered Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s manifesto.
8chan trolls posting to Twitter as “black looters” during the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore.