(dramatic electronic music)
- So, April 27, 2017
was the greatest day in the history
I realize that to you children, Twitter is an app.
But to us MILFs, it remains a website.
We have to dial in.
(dial-up modem chirping)
Connect me to hell.
This was the day that Fyre Festival,
a "luxury music event" hosted by Ja Rule
and some charlatan was scheduled to begin on private island
in the Bahamas.
There was a lot of hype.
Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid endorsed the festival
on Instagram, there was a promo video full of supermodels,
tickets were selling for thousands of dollars.
One Twitter thread summarized the marketing
as, "Exclusivity, conspicuous consumption, & many,
many promises of excellent selfies
for your already-insufferable Instagram."
So, when the day arrived, and the advertised
"best in food, art, music and adventure" turned out
to be two slices of pallid American cheese languishing
over sliced bread in an atmosphere
that can only be described as muddy third-world shantytown-
I mean if you weren't on Twitter that day,
I don't think you can even imagine the revelry.
- [Twitter User 1] Just learned about @fyrefestival
aka Ja Rule's Concentration Camp for Instagram models
and rich white kids.
- [Twitter User 2] Yuppie hunger games hosted by ja-rule.
- [Twitter User 3] Finish your food,
there's starving millennial
influencers in #fyrefestival.
- [Twitter User 4] Instagram entitled rich kids
meet Lord of the Flies.
- [Twitter User 5] Let them eat salad.
- It was a shuddering climax of pent-up class rage.
You know, maybe Millennials couldn't
get Bernie Sanders elected,
but at least those sandwiches were garbage!
Jameela Jamil is an English actress
who is just extremely pretty.
Imagine looking like this.
Imagine being perfect.
Why are you doing this to me Jameela?
Why are you doing this to women?
One day on Instagram, an ordinary peasant
told the Queen Jameela, "Your skin is so perfect uwu."
And Jameela replied,
- [Jameela] "My skin is currently clear because:
A, privileged people have more access
to good quality nutrition and also our lives
are significantly less stressful than those
with less privilege.
I also get to sleep more because of this.
All of these things keep my hormones in balance
and I'm able to address food intolerances easily.
B, I believe that trans rights are human rights.
C, I exfoliate twice a week."
- Oh boy.
Jameela they're gonna cut your head off, gorg.
I'll protect you queen!
- [Twitter User 1] Could she be more annoying?
- Someone wondered on Twitter, to 77,000 likes.
- [Twitter User 2] This trend of fake self awareness legit
makes me wanna rip my hair out.
- Now look, to be fair, everything Jameela said is true.
Being privileged does make it easier to spend time
and money on cosmetics.
But Jameela's acknowledging this, this recitation
of all the complex socioeconomic factors
that account for why she's prettier than you,
doesn't take any of the sting out of inequality, does it?
And that's is kind of at odds
with what activists used to say,
which is that you should check your privilege.
A suggestion which privileged people seem
to have taken to heart, since the rich
and famous now go around
delivering these orations
on how fortunate they are compared to rabble.
And this of course, turns out
to be far more annoying
than when they acted oblivious to it.
"I don't have any beauty secrets,
I guess I just drink lots of water."
Take me, mother!
A similar scandal occurred when Kim Kardashian
tweeted about her birthday party at the height
of the coronavirus pandemic.
- [Kim] 40 and feeling so humbled and blessed.
There is not a single day that I take for granted,
especially during these times
when we are all reminded of the things that truly matter.
After two weeks of multiple health screens
and asking everyone to quarantine,
I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip
to a private island where we could pretend things
were normal for just a brief moment in time,
I realize that for most people, this is something
that is so far out of reach right now,
so in moments like these, I am humbly reminded
of how privileged my life is.
Tag me, bitch.
So like Jameela, Kim is attempting
some kind of privilege-checking maneuver, and once again,
it has not gone well.
- [Twitter User 1] You are the Marie Antoinette
of the 21st century,
bragging about being "humble" and letting us eat cake.
- [Twitter User 2] Millions of Americans sick and suffering,
standing for hours in food lines and being evicted
as you flaunt your wealth and privilege.
Your tweet made 10 times worse by #ToneDeaf
"humbled and blessed" line.
- [Twitter User 3] Happy birthday.
I hope someone got you an alphabet book as a gift,
so you can learn to read the motherf*ckin-"
- So the response on Twitter resembles moral outrage.
But what people were upset about is not
that she had the party,
I mean, wouldn't you escape
to a private island if you had that MILF money?
The problem was more that she tweeted about it,
and that the tweet was, maybe just maybe,
a little bit yikesy.
But if having the party wasn't wrong,
then why was tweeting about it wrong?
"This isn't a good look," we say.
Relatability is not a moral category.
This is public relations, it's not ethics.
And it definitely isn't socialism.
Like I'm pretty sure Karl Marx
- [Karl] "The problem with the bourgeoisie
is they're not relatable.
They can't read the room, and it isn't a good look.
This should have stayed in the drafts.
- Isn't the issue that when Kim tweeted
this most people were trapped in quarantine.
We didn't get to have birthday parties.
Some people couldn't even travel
to visit their dying relatives.
So watching Kim get to travel
and celebrate her birthday like normal was, painful.
"Pain at the good fortune of others"
is how Aristotle defined envy.
And I think it's interesting that
whenever social media erupts in outrage
over luxury music festivals, or Kim K's birthday party,
or Jameela Jamil's... privileged pores?
-no one ever uses the word "envy."
It's like we're averting our eyes, avoiding confrontation
with this dark aspect of our own psychology.
So in this video I wanna take a long hard look at envy.
What is it, where does it come from,
and seriously, what is Jameela Jamil's skincare routine?
Drop it in the comments, bestie!
Okay, so what is envy?
"Pain at the good fortune of others" is not a bad start,
but there's more to it than that.
Envy is a syndrome, a complex of poisonous thoughts
and feelings about people
who have what we want but cannot get.
It's not simply wanting what another person has.
That's greed, which is a much more wholesome sin.
Because wanting what someone has can inspire us,
it can fuel our own ambition, it can even motivate us
to improve ourselves.
And sometimes people call that envy,
but it's not really envy.
It's emulation, or admiration.
At worst it's what the Bible calls "coveting."
Envy is something darker,
it's not just wanting what someone has,
it's begrudging them what they have.
You might even hate the person you envy,
and want them to lose what they have,
to be humiliated and destroyed,
even if their downfall doesn't benefit you in any way.
Like Satan, who was willing to lose heaven
just to spite God,
according to the poet John Milfton.
It's gonna be 90 minutes of MILF jokes, kids,
so strap in.
So envy is malicious.
It's a force of destruction.
For an example of the distinction between
envy and emulation,
think about incels, "involuntary celibates",
these men who can't get girlfriends
and are bitter about it online.
It was incels who contributed to our culture the concept
of "Chads", that is, beautiful, wealthy, masculine men.
For incels, "taking the red pill" means buying
into this ideology which says that women only want
to date Chads, or else they want to marry beta cucks just
to take their beta buxx.
Gaskeep, gateboss, girllight.
So if you're an incel you can either
go to the gym and become a Chad-that's emulation,
the aspiration to attain what another person has.
Or, and this is the more popular option,
you can "take the black pill" which means believing
that Chadhood is genetically determined at birth,
there is no hope, no woman will ever want you,
and therefore happiness is impossible,
you may as well lie down and rot.
This mindset of resentment has inspired
so many mass murders
that there's an entire Wikipedia timeline dedicated
to tracking them.
And the essential motivation for this violence is envy.
The incel's failed ambition and sense of incurable,
predestined inferiority turns venomous.
The logic behind the violence is,
if I can't get a girlfriend, if I can't get what I want,
then no one can.
In the words a murderer-
- [Murderer] "The Day of Retribution
is my attempt to destroy everything I cannot have."
- But most incels aren't murderers.
Most of the time, envy is most harmful
to the person who envies.
The philosopher Max Scheler called it
"a self-poisoning of the mind."
There's a Christian saying that
"envy is the only sin that gives no pleasure."
Because the other sins are fun, right?
Greed, gluttony, lust,
that's what I call a good time.
But envy is misery.
Though I wouldn't go so far as to say it gives no pleasure.
- [Twitter User 1] FyreFestival is an art installation
where mediocre people realize what their lives
would be like without rich parents.
- [Twitter User 2] Rich refugee crisis.
- We're living in a moment of growing inequality
Look around you.
We've got the guillotine memes,
the edgy teens tweeting "eat the rich."
And none of this is new.
The slogan "Eat the rich" actually originates
with the philosopher of the French Revolution,
Zsa Zsa Gabor, who supposedly said,
- [Jean-Jacques] When the people shall have no more to eat,
they will eat the rich!
- And fair enough.
That's a good source of protein.
But take it from me kids, cannibalism
is one of those tricky things. It's hard to do just once.
You develop a taste for it.
It's like they say at NA meetings,
once you vore you just want more.
Also who counts as the rich?
Am I the rich?
I certainly hope so.
'Cause I want you eat meee.
Shhh, stop it.
This is why I quit academia,
if I was a professor I'd have to behave myself.
And I don't wanna behave myself.
I want to be bad.
Do you wanna be bad with me?
Let's be bad.
(dramatic electronic music) (remix of Mozart's Lacrimosa)
So you might think
that envy is simply the product of inequality,
and that societies that have more inequality have more envy.
I used to assume that too,
but the more I think about it the more I realize
that might not true.
Envy is a basic part of human nature,
it exists in all societies and all economic systems,
and it begins any time two
or more people start comparing themselves.
"Part 2, The Desire for Mommy's Milk."
According to Sigmund Freud, or as I call him, Daddy-
-the first stage of human development is the oral stage,
in which the primary concern is oral gratification,
which is of course provided by mommy milkies.
Am I doing too much?
I'll tone it down.
Just a little bit.
So look, I get that a lot of people
are skeptical about Freud,
and it's true he was a bit
of a crackpot cokefiend who had a lot of zany ideas.
Like "p*nis envy."
Maybe there's transgender men who experience that
but I don't think it's a basic fact
of the female condition.
As for castration anxiety, is that a dare?
Because I take that personally.
I'm giving it very serious consideration, Doctor.
But I feel like even when Freud is wrong,
he's often at least onto something.
Like, with the Oedipus complex,
It's not that you literally desire your mother,
right, that would be weird.
It's more that you desire an archetype, Mother.
You guys get it.
Gen Z TikTok lesbians get it,
they're the ones who got me started on this MILF shit.
I'm a reverse Socrates, I've been corrupted by the young.
My innocent and delicate nature has been defiled.
So, Freud says that in the first two years
of life, libido is primarily focused on mommy's milk.
And it's also in this stage that envy first emerges.
So I was the oldest child in my family,
and I was less than two years old when my brother was born.
So I don't remember this, because I was one year old,
but my family tells me that when my brother was born,
I was just insanely jealous.
Oh, I guess now's a good time
to discuss the difference between jealousy and envy.
Scholars agree that there is a difference,
and usually they
and usually they describe the difference in one of two ways.
The first is that jealousy is defensive,
it's a kind of protectiveness over what is rightfully yours;
whereas envy is offensive,
it's resentment over what someone else has that you lack.
The second difference is that envy is between two people,
the envier and the envied;
whereas jealousy typically involves three people,
as in romantic jealousy where you have the subject,
the romantic object, and then the rival.
And the subject is jealous of the rival
because they're protective of their relationship
with the romantic object.
And that's also the dynamic of sibling rivalry,
just substituting the romantic object for mommy.
Of course in ordinary English,
people are always gonna say jealousy when they mean envy,
probably because envy has more negative connotations.
And I think it's pointless to try to fight that,
like don't go around "correcting" people,
but just keep in mind that there is a difference.
So sibling rivalry, is that envy or jealousy?
I think it's both, because initially you're defensive
of your privileged only-child relationship
with your parents.
But a new baby often gets more attention,
at least in your paranoid toddler brain,
and you might be envious of that.
And in romantic jealousy, you may also envy the rival,
if she has qualities that you wish you had.
You know, young kids are little egotists
who are very sensitive to when another child
might be getting preferential treatment.
One of the favorite phrases tiny babies is "it's not fair."
It's not fair, ehhh.
Tell me about it, bambino.
And I've got bad news,
life is not getting any more fair than this.
According to the Bible, one of the first events
in human history is story of Can y Abel.
Los dos hermanos.
I don't know why I said it in Spanish,
I guess I just thought it would sound cool.
Was I wrong?
It just sounds so much better than "Cain."
Cain and Abel.
Cain and Abel!
God tells Cain and Abel to each to make a sacrifice,
and then God prefers Abel's,
you know, 'cause God loves meat.
Then, in an act of malicious envy toward Abel
and spite towards God the father,
Can kills his younger brother.
In my earliest memories of my brother
I already loved him and I don't even remember the envy.
So I guess I wasn't a Cain.
So I must have somehow worked through this
without resorting to murder.
Freud says the older sibling's envy of the younger
leads to a recognition of impotence.
Because at first you selfishly
want to be the special most-loved child.
But you see that your parents love your sibling
just as much as you, and you're powerless
to do anything about it.
So your ambition to superiority fails.
And so you have to repress your aspiration to superiority,
as well as your envy.
And the result of that repression
is what's called herd instinct, solidarity,
this feeling of identifying with a group,
the equal siblings.
And as you get older the herd instinct
evolves into our feelings about justice, duty,
community, and equality.
But Freud thought these feelings
retain a vestige of repressed envy.
"If I can't be the favorite,
if I can't have special privileges, then no one can!"
From these observations Freud made the generalization:
- [Sigmund] Social justice means
that we deny ourselves many things
so that others may have to do without them as well.
- Okay, so we don't want other people
to have anything we can't have, so we enviously insist
on equality as a defense
against the greater prosperity of others.
I don't completely agree with that,
Like I think Freud is definitely onto something here,
but don't some community feelings also come
from a place of genuine care for other people?
I cared about someone once.
Well, we'll come back to that later.
Let's put a pin in me for now, a pin in it for now.
Freud, I mean.
Let's put a pin in Freud.
In a 1966 book titled "Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior",
the sociologist Helmut Schoeck argued
that rather than being-
That's very German name.
It's putting me in a German mood, sweetie.
Hallo meine Lieben.
Heute gibts ein neues Video!
I just get worse at German every year.
Schoeck argued that rather than being the result
of social or economic inequality,
envy is a universal experience across all human societies,
including very egalitarian ones.
For example, in tribal and village cultures
around the world, there's often a concept
of black magic or witchcraft,
which are thought used by envious people
to bewitch the ones they envy.
You're probably familiar with the concept of the evil eye,
which originates in Ancient Greece
or maybe even earlier than that.
Cultures all over the world today understand the evil eye
as kind of curse cast by the malignant gaze
of an envious person.
Now you might be thinking that sounds superstitious,
but I think the concept of the evil eye
reveals a more sophisticated awareness of envy and
of the social danger that it poses.
You've probably seen these amulets around,
there's an emoji for them now, which are supposed
to protect against the evil eye.
It's called a nazar, which comes from the Arabic word
for sight or surveillance, similar to the origin
of the English word "envy," which is the Latin "invidia,"
which just means to look at.
So there's agreement across cultures that envy is related
to sight, the malevolent gaze, the evil eye.
And these amulets show that a lot of people
are afraid of being envied and want to protect themselves.
I was just watching this Turkish YouTube channel
with an episode on the evil eye,
and the host explains that for Muslims-
- [Narrator] It's customary to say-
- [Narrator] Or god has willed it,
when admiring a person or object.
You know, to avoid unintentionally cursing them.
- I love that.
It's like "no envy!"
Like no homo, but no envy!
The top comment on that video says,
- [Marie] You want to protect yourself
from the evil green eye monster?
Well, don't tell others about your ideas, goals, or wishes.
Don't be flaunting your accomplishments on social media
or posting pictures of your children,
that's how you avoid being jinxed.
- See this is where Kim Kardashian went wrong
with her birthday post.
Clearly, no one in the Kardashian cinematic universe
has ever heard of the evil eye.
Wait, I thought these people were Armenians.
Why haven't they heard of the evil- oh.
Every piece of media they've ever produced
is about flaunting an enviable lifestyle.
This is a particularly American thing.
Most Americans have no concept
of the fear of envy.
Like there's advertisements here that literally promise,
"If you buy this exclusive luxury vibrator
you'll be the envy of all your friends!"
As if it's a good thing to be envied.
Oh but it is not.
If people envy you, they gossip about you,
they seethe over your successes
and celebrate your misfortunes.
Being envied is basically the opposite of being loved.
So why would anyone want to be enviable?
Well it's a contradiction of human nature.
On the one hand, we need to be loved,
but then there's this other drive
in us, this like Homeric striving for fame and glory
and riches, which is kind of in conflict
with our need to be loved.
In a past gilded age there were stories
like "Citizen Kane" and "Sunset Boulevard"
which warned what a sad and lonely thing
success can become.
In ancient democratic Athens,
there was a practice called Ostrakismos,
which is the origin of the English word ostracism.
Ostracism was a procedure where the Athenians
would assemble and each person would write the name
of a person they wanted to ostracize
on a pottery shard called an ostrakon.
And whoever got the most votes would simply be banished
from the city for 10 years, no questions asked.
I love the ancient world.
Things were so direct.
Often this was used to remove someone
who was becoming too prominent or too arrogant,
or just annoying.
According to Plutarch, I'm just gonna read from Wikipedia:
"In one anecdote about Aristides,
known as 'Aristides the Just,'
who was ostracized in 482, an illiterate citizen,
not recognizing him, came up to ask him
to write the name Aristides on his ostrakon.
When Aristides asked why, the man replied it was
because he was sick of hearing him being called 'The Just'."
It's so good!
See this is why the idea of "cancel culture" is absurd.
This has been going on since the dawn of civilization.
People in most cultures, not all,
but most cultures understand that being envied
is a massive social liability,
so it's best not draw too much attention to yourself.
According to a Tamil saying,
"The tree that bears fruit will be stoned."
This is sometimes called "tall poppy syndrome,"
because the tallest poppies in the garden will be cut.
Schoeck argues that the fear of envy
is a major inhibiting force in many societies.
- [Helmut] In Haiti, GE Simpson found that a peasant
will seek to disguise his true economic position
by purchasing several smaller fields
rather than one larger piece of land.
For the same reason he will not wear good clothes.
He does this intentionally to protect himself
against the envious black magic of his neighbors.
- Now this kind of thing is not unheard of in America.
Like I've known people from seriously wealthy families
who move to the city and they dress like gutter punks.
Like they're trying pass as poor.
But in general Americans don't openly acknowledge fear
of envy the way many other cultures do,
and I don't think that's an accident.
We're a nation of show-offs.
And so the taboo against discussing envy is related
to our whole national ethos of shoving our wealth
in everyone's face.
But though the fear of envy isn't widely talked about
or admitted here, it's definitely still there,
only repressed; confined to the realm of dreams and art.
(dramatic orchestral music)
In the movie "Black Swan",
Nina is a perfection-obsessed ballerina
who achieves her dream of getting the lead role
in "Swan Lake", after which her life
and mind are totally unraveled by fear of envy.
Black magic, black swan.
At first we see how Nina's success comes
at the very real cost of being envied:
by her ex-ballerina mother, by the other girls
in the company, and by the former lead ballerina
- Did you suck his (beep)?
- Not all of us have to.
- I love Winona Ryder so much.
I love Natalie Portman so much.
I love Mila Kunis so much.
I just like women.
Where's my shock wand?
But reasonable fear of envy becomes paranoia
as Nina begins hallucinating Black Swan doppelgangers
and is seduced by bisexual demon Mila Kunis
who's trying to steal her role.
You gotta watch out for those bisexual demons.
- Did you have some sort of lezzie wet dream about me?
- Stop it.
- You could argue that Nina is actually suffering a kind
of self-envy, where she envies the disinhibited,
sexually liberated, corrupted part of herself
that's capable of adult eroticism and also
of dancing the black swan.
So she imagines that part of herself
as an envious rival who's trying to replace her.
It's like her mind is split between two impulses,
there's her dominant White Swan impulse
which we could call the Squidward personality:
perfectionistic and orderly, but reserved, priggish, stiff.
And then there's her repressed Black Swan impulse,
which we could call the Spongebob personality:
intuitive, chaotic, ecstatic.
In "Spongebob Squarepants", the character Squidward
is fundamentally a figure of envy,
stemming from failed ambition.
- Hello, you've reached the house of unrecognized talent.
- [Natalie] Squidward aspires to artistic achievement
but remains a mediocrity, partly because of his overly dry,
doctrinaire attitude towards art.
Spongebob is Squidward's social equal,
they're literally neighbors,
and they both work the same fast-food service job
for the same exploitative capitalist.
But Spongebob is a Mozartean intuitive genius
who's able to transform
the most mundane activities-blowing bubbles,
flipping burgers-into a kind of aesthetic rapture.
Squidward intensely envies Spongebob's uninhibited joy
and intuitive creativity,
but he can't admit that envy to himself.
So he convinces himself that what he's really feeling
is contempt, snobbish disdain
for Spongebob's childish behavior.
- What the people want is culture,
not dancing bubbles.
- Though deep down Squidward really wants
what Spongebob has.
- It's beautiful!
I mean, uh-
- Which we see when he can't help himself
from blowing bubbles, or when he trades away
all of his possessions for the chewing gum wrapper
that in Spongebob's hands
was a source of infinite entertainment.
A lot of people my age who watched Spongebob
as a kid rewatch it now and are horrified
to discover that they identify with Squidward,
whereas as children they identified with Spongebob.
Well, you either die a Spongebob or you live long enough
to see yourself become the Squidward.
- And there's a pain in becoming the Squidward,
which is usually explained as "the disappointing drudgery
of adult life," or simply loss of childhood.
I would argue the envy of childhood
is the distinctive Squidwardian emotion.
Are we saying that word?
Are we really saying this word out loud,
to an audience of millions?
It's basically the same dynamic as Salieri's envy
of Mozart in "Amadeus."
Oh my god, the evil eye killed Mozart!
You gotta watch out for that one kids.
If a mysterious stranger shows up on your doorstep
at midnight asking you to compose a requiem mass
for your own father, just say no.
So in Spongemadeus Mozartpants
we have the diligent though stuffy wannabe
envying the effortless playfulness
of the spontaneous genius.
(Spongebob and Mozart laughing)
-So Squidward's envy of Spongebob is,
well, it's Apollo's envy of Dionysus.
Look if we were to view "Spongebob Squarepants"
through the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche-
stay with me ladies, I have an angle here-
we could say that Squidward represents
what Nietzsche called the Apollonian impulse,
while Spongebob represents the Dionysian.
Nietzsche thought there are two conflicting artistic
drives in the human personality.
The Apollonian, named after the Greek god Apollo,
is the drive toward self-control, order, logic, morality.
And the Dionysian, named after Dionysus,
is the drive toward intoxication,
frenzy, passion, intuition.
Both Spongebob and Amadeus present these two drives
in conflict, with the Apollonian envying the Dionysian.
Of course this is a misrepresentation of how art
is actually created, because Nietzsche's whole point
is that you need a balance of the two drives.
In reality you cannot have a pure Dionysian artist
like Spongebob, because creating good art requires
at least some level of discipline and ordering.
It is all in the technique!
- Otherwise you're just some drunk idiot with a guitar.
Get off the stage!
So "Black Swan" is in a way actually more realistic.
In order to give the perfect performance, Nina has
to unify her fragmented personality and dance both swans,
resolving the envious rivalry
between her two artistic impulses.
- It was perfect.
(grand orchestral music)
- Another movie about fear
of envious ballerina doppelgangers-can you guess it?
-is Jordan Peele's 2019 horror film "Us",
which dramatizes the repressed economic guilt
and fear of the American middle class.
We meet the Wilsons, a moderately affluent family
with a vacation house and a boat, along with the Tylers,
a slightly better-off white family whom the Wilsons envy.
You saw their new car, right?
He had to do it.
He just had to get that thing to f*ck with me too.
- One night the Wilson's vacation home is invaded
by a family of their own monstrous doppelgangers.
Red, the only doppelganger who can speak,
explains that her family is metaphysically tethered
to the Wilsons, living wretched and destitute versions
of their lives in a liminal backrooms underworld.
It's super fucking liminal.
I'm on Ambien in an AA meeting.
- Once upon a time, there was a girl
and the girl had a shadow.
The two were connected, tethered together.
When the girl ate, her food was given to her warm and tasty.
But when the shadow was hungry,
she had to eat rabbit raw and bloody.
- We later find out that all over the US-
Oh US spells "Us"...
Hey that's the title of the movie!
The tethered have risen up
to kill their privileged doppelgangers
and to link arms across the country in a dark parody
of the real-world 1986 homelessness
fundraiser Hands Across America.
So my reading of "Us" is that it's an expression
of middle-class guilt about privilege, and fear of envy.
It's not a movie about the working class.
If it was about the working class,
then the working class would be able
to speak human languages,
and would not be scary monsters who make animal sounds
and stagger around like zombies.
This is a movie about the anxious middle class's nightmare
of the working class.
"Us" represents in a self-aware way
what other home invasion movies represent unconsciously:
the fear of the envious poor, of revolution,
of slave revolt.
- Tell me you did not just reference "Home Alone."
- But "Us" diverges from other home invasion movies
by not just being fearful about the underclass,
but also guilty.
The idea of the tethered underclass represents life
as a zero-sum game where every moment
of your happiness is bought with someone else's suffering.
It's an incredibly guilty fantasy, an internalization
of the black-magic logic of people
who blame their own misfortunes on the people they envy.
As Schoeck puts it, "My neighbor's harvest
can only have turned out better than mine
because he has some how succeeded in reducing mine
by black magic."
So the fear of envy, and the guilt of success,
are repressed in American culture,
but they still find expression in movies.
Jordan Peele is kind of like the Charles Dickens
of the 21st century.
"Us" actually reminds me of "A Christmas Carol",
a story about the guilt of the rich if ever there was one.
You know Scrooge is visited by ghosts
who show him how wretched and sad the lives
of his employees are, and how he'll die alone
and hated by everyone, and his funeral is only attended
by businessmen on the condition that lunch is provided.
Dickens was truly the master of scaring the rich straight.
So maybe fear of envy can serve a
softly regulatory function by motivating charity
and generosity in the rich.
But in general I'm suspicious of envy
as a motivation for politics.
'Cause remember, the basic logic of envy is,
"if I can't have it, no one can"
which is a purely negative, destructive style of thinking.
It's taking privileges away not for the material benefit
of the underprivileged but merely
for the psychological satisfaction of the envious person.
And it's even worse when you consider
that envy is subjective.
It doesn't necessarily target objective power and privilege.
So envy in politics is not by any means relegated
to the left.
Conservative politics is brimming with envy.
Like this debate about forgiving student loan debt,
you often hear people say,
"I had to pay my student loans, so they should too.
Debt forgiveness is not fair!"
The logic here is,
"Since I didn't get my student debt forgiven,
no one should."
It's intergenerational envy, which is a pretty common thing.
Usually older generations envying the young.
"Kids these days have it so easy,
when I was young we ate nails for breakfast
and sent text messages on the Pony Express."
The feeling is basically, it's not fair
that kids these days don't have to suffer like I suffered.
Or think about the concept of a "welfare queen"
which openly reeks of envy and white resentment.
Or the way conservatives talk about immigration,
it's all this envious suspicion
about illegal immigrants sneaking in
and getting government handouts
without having to pay taxes.
"I had to work hard for my money
so why should these people get a free ride?"
Not that's what being an illegal immigrant is actually like,
except in the imagination of people who envy them.
Envy is felt more intensely by prideful people,
so it's especially sharp when it targets people
who are "supposed to be beneath you."
The Jewish radical feminist Andrea Dworkin made
what I think is a pretty compelling argument
that both anti-Semitism and misogyny
are partly rooted in envy.
She quotes a bigoted argument made
by the wife-killing protagonist of Tolstoy's story
"The Kreutzer Sonata", who resents that women
and Jews find a kind of paradoxical power
in their own oppression.
- [Leo] Just like the Jews: as they pay us back
for their oppression by financial domination,
so it is with women.
"Ah, you want us to be traders only, all right,
as traders we will dominate you,"
say the Jews.
"Ah, you want us to be merely objects
of sensuality, all right, as objects
of sensuality we will enslave you."
- [Natalie] Dworkin explains-
- [Andrea] This dominance of men by women
is experienced by the men as real, emotionally real,
sexually real, psychologically real; it emerges
as the reason for the wrath of the misogynist.
The woman appears to control sex.
The man needs it.
This causes his rage at her perceived power over him."
- Women control access to what men want,
which gives women a kind of indirect power
that some men envy.
They envy the sexual power of women.
It doesn't matter to the misogynist that, especially
at the time Tolstoy was writing,
women objectively have less power in society than men.
He envies women because they "have" what he desires.
Likewise, it didn't matter to Weimar anti-Semites
that Jewish people were a marginalized minority.
Anti-Semitism is often rooted in an envious obsession
with the disproportionate influence
and affluence of Jewish people.
- [Helmut] It is not the absolute differences
between men which feed envy, but subjective perception,
the optics of envy.
(dramatic orchestral music)
- Magic mirror on the wall, who is the c*ntest of them all?
- Thou art c*nt my queen.
But hold, a lovely maid I see.
- Oh yes, it's me.
- In a way, I'm kind of just in the beginning
of this whole transition, you know,
like a young little girl
going through all these things.
Having a sleepover with the girls.
What do we do on a sleepover?
Do we have like pillow fights and all that stuff?
- Alas, she is more c*nt than thee.
- My pussystunting on the gram has come to nothing!
(dramatic orchestral music)
The classic 1937 Disney movie
"Snow White and the Wicked MILF"
is the story of a quote "vain and wicked" queen
who obsessively envies the beauty of her own stepdaughter.
Are you sure this was for children?
Every day the MILF Queen asks the mirror,
who is the fairest one of all?
And the mirror responds that the queen is the fairest,
till one day it says the stepdaughter Snow White
is the fairest, which sends the queen
into an envious fury resulting in a series
of bizarre murder attempts.
So first of all, can we talk plot holes ding?
Are we really supposed to believe
that this is more beautiful than this?
Isn't Snow White like 12 years old?
What's goin' on, Walt?
Why don't you take a seat?
Maybe she's not 12, I don't know,
it's hard to tell 'cause she's constantly
surrounded by manlets.
But she's just so boring!
And the queen is such a baddie.
Step on my throat, mother.
This is a horny video.
Well, yeah, 'cause I quit riding that brown tiger.
I can feel the pulse back in my veins.
So despite the injustice it does to its lead MILF,
"Snow White" does illustrate
some interesting things about envy.
Once again we have black magic and witchcraft
as an expression of envy.
We have the age difference, intergenerational envy,
the envy of youth.
It kind of reminds me of those Millennial women
who hit 30 and suddenly feel a need to rage against GenZ.
Pretty counterproductive, since if you're
worried about seeming old,
complaining about the youths is probably
not helping your case, gorg.
You might wonder if there's also jealousy involved
with the evil queen,
like is she worried the King is gonna fall
in love with his own daughter?
Well, I don't think so, because we never even see the king.
The queen doesn't mention him, it's not about the king.
So there's no romantic jealousy involved,
it's just one woman envying another over beauty
for its own sake.
We stan a Bechdel-test-passing
movie about women hating each other.
Gatekeep, gas...girl, gategirl, gaskeep, lightboss.
In fact in the original Brother's Grimm version,
the queen first tries killing Snow White
with beauty accessories, poisoning a comb
and lacing her to death with a corset.
I wish I could die that way.
What's really striking is the pure kamikaze malignity
of it all.
This queen who we know is obsessed with her look
is willing to transform herself with witchcraft
into an ugly old hag just to give Snow White
the poisoned apple.
And the queen disguising herself
as an old hag parallels Satan disguising himself
as a serpent.
You could actually argue that the queen
is simply a persona of Satan,
it's "Paradise Lost" all over again,
which also happens to be the title of my memoir.
The queen is incredibly petty because even according to the,
again, wrong and tasteless-mirror,
the Queen is still the second most beautiful woman
in the world.
How could someone so close to the top of the hierarchy
still be consumed by envy?
Well, basically because that's how envy works.
It's petty, it's subjective, and it's indifferent
to the magnitude of inequality
or to the absolute position on the overall hierarchy.
So you can be the second best in the world
and still be obsessively envious
of the one person who may barely even be above you.
In fact there's studies showing
that Olympic silver medalists
are actually less satisfied with their prize
than bronze medalists.
Probably because the bronze medalist is just happy
to be on the podium at all, while the silver medalist
is so close to first they can't help but wonder "what if?"
Humans form our sense of identity and self-worth
not by comparing ourselves to any absolute standard
but by comparing ourselves to each other.
And we're more likely to compare ourselves
to the people around us, than we are to people far away.
We could call this the proximity effect of envy.
We're more likely to envy people who are close to us
or similar to us, especially people
we're in competition with.
That's why social media is such a nightmare.
It's an incubator of envy.
Because it puts everyone next to everyone else,
so we're all being compared, all in competition.
And it can destroy your self-esteem
because you're comparing your actual life
to these idealized images. And it turns public figures
into lighting rods for envy,
because of the numeric visibility of popularity and success.
It's also perverse consequence of the proximity effect
that envy within an oppressed class
is often more venomous and obsessive than envy
for the oppressor.
So for example, in "Snow White"
and "Black Swan", you have women
envying other women, because women are often
in competition with other women.
And I know it's kind of a misogynistic trope,
in media there's constant portrayals of vain envious women,
jealous bitches fighting over men, over youth, over beauty.
It's like drag queen femininity,
"Death Becomes Her" femininity.
- En garde,
- So yeah, it's kind of a misogynistic trope,
but, how do I put this delicately,
sometimes reality is misogynistic,
like when my eyelash won't stay glued on.
The patriarchy's machinations are clearly to blame.
In her 1976 essay "Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood",
feminist Jo Freeman wrote about her ostracism
from within the women's movement.
- [Jo] I have been watching for years with increasing dismay
as the Movement consciously destroys anyone
within it who stands out in any way.
- [Natalie] She quotes a speech
by fellow feminist Anselma Dell'Olio.
- [Anselma] And who do they attack?
Achievement or accomplishment of any kind would seem
to be the worst crime:
do anything that every other woman secretly
or otherwise feels she could do just as well
and you're in for it.
You are immediately labeled a thrill-seeking opportunist,
a ruthless mercenary, out to make her fame
and fortune over the dead bodies of selfless sisters
who have buried their abilities
and sacrificed their ambitions for the greater glory
- [Natalie] Freeman speculates-
- [Jo] The primary reason there have been so few
great women blank, is not merely that greatness
has been undeveloped or unrecognized,
but that women exhibiting potential
for achievement are punished by both women and men.
The "fear of success" is quite rational when one knows
that the consequence of achievement is hostility
and not praise.
- So at no point in this essay does Jo Freeman
use the word envy, but as usual,
envy is right below the surface causing all the trouble.
(dramatic orchestral music)
So Freeman is describing
how people from marginalized groups whose ambition
raises them above the typical limits of marginalization
are often ostracized from their own communities.
But she has no causal explanation for why this happens.
I have an explanation.
The explanation is envy.
And woman are more likely to envy other women.
Trans women are more likely to envy other trans women.
Oh God, am I really gonna go there?
If we did this topic justice,
this video would be nine centuries long.
- En garde,
- A lot of people assume that trans women envy cis women.
And there is some truth to that.
There definitely was a time in my life
when I used to envy cis women for being cis women,
but now I kind of just don't even allow myself
to have the thought "what if I were a cis woman?"
So in a way, because becoming a cis woman is impossible,
it's unattainable, I actually envy cis women less.
So trans women are more likely to envy other trans women.
Because of the proximity effect,
and because another trans woman represents
an actual possibility of what I, a trans woman,
She is a standard to which I can plausibly compare myself.
Here's a post someone made on my own fan subreddit.
- [Poster] Am I the only one who finds it hard
to watch trans creators?
Before I realized I was a trans woman
I fucking loved people like ContraPoints, NyxFears,
and other trans creators.
But ever since I realized I was trans,
I just get this angry resentful feeling in the pit
of my stomach whenever I get recommended any
of these videos.
I seriously loved ContraPoints,
but whenever I try to watch any of her videos,
I just want to scream.
I have this feeling towards passing trans people in general.
I feel such a hatred for them, and I don't know why.
Am I just a toxic person?
- Well sweetie, you're not a toxic person.
At least not any worse than anyone else.
It's just that human nature is a toxic person.
And that "angry resentful feeling in the pit
of your stomach" that "makes you want to scream"
and "feel such a hatred" has a name.
And the name is envy.
I actually admire the person who wrote this post
because they're doing the best any of us can do really,
which is noticing the feeling without endorsing the feeling.
I wish more people could feel things without rushing
to a "rational" defense of the feeling.
And isn't rationality often simply the attempt
to make our feelings contagious?
Sometimes people have no self-awareness about it at all.
For example, there's a certain kind of,
uh, boomer transsexual who complains that,
"When I transitioned I had to go through
rigorous medical gatekeeping, but kids these days
just waltz on in and walk out with hormones."
It's intergenerational envy, trans edition.
"It was hard for me so it should be hard for everyone."
Like the student debt debate.
If I can't have it, no one can.
And look, I do have sympathy and admiration
for older trans people,
like being trans in 2021
is already the maximum level of adversity
that I can handle.
I cannot image how hard it was to do this in the '80s.
However, the pain of envy is not a valid argument.
Envy is not sacred rage.
And the malignant demands of envious people
should be ignored.
God, this community.
The constant competition, the envy, the cringing.
It makes it really hard
to get along with other trans people.
Oh, speaking of which.
Gay tangent, everybody, gay tangent!
Envy presents kind of a unique problem
to same-sex attracted people,
because of the increased risk
of envying the very people you're attracted to.
- [Lil Nas X] I wanna (beep) the ones I envy,
It's the classic,
"do I want you or do I want to be you" problem.
I've heard feminine queer women
say they could never date another femme
because they're worried they'd just end up envying her.
So dating masculine women solves that problem.
Because having separate roles, separate aesthetics,
helps to avert proximity envy between partners.
Unfortunately, I am not that smart.
Basically I am attracted to femininity,
but I also want to embody a kind
of feminine archetype myself. I'm not masculine
and I don't want to be.
You know, I used to think I'd only want to date
another trans woman because of the mutual understanding
but I've kinda realized that at this point
it may actually be more psychologically healthy
for me to open up to dating cis women.
I used to not want to do that
because I was afraid it would make me feel like a man,
but at this point, honestly, just be a man.
Whatever, it's fine.
As a drag queen once said,
"I'm more of a man than you'll ever be,
and more of a woman than you'll ever have."
Can we get the tequila out of the frame please?
I think at a distance it's okay
to indulge the attraction/emulation ambiguity,
but if you want to actually have a relationship
with someone you have to make up your mind
that you desire this woman and you do not want to be her.
Because think about it from the other perspective.
What could be less attractive than someone
who literally wants to be you?
"Teacher, make her stop copying me."
Like as much as I joke in every episode
about how Buffalo Bill is an iconique trans legend,
you don't want to date that bitch.
Imagine trying to date Eve from "All About Eve."
So if you're a queer woman, or a queer anything, honestly,
and you find yourself envying your partner,
my advice is, stop overthinking a good situation.
An enviable woman wanted to be with you.
So sit back,
and enjoy the clout.
I get it though, it's complicated.
You know we're all supposed to proudly affirm
what we truly desire,
but how do you know what you truly desire?
Do I want mommy, or do I wanna be the mommy?
Anyway, let's go back to talking about Sigmund Freud.
- The mother half took over completely.
(dramatic electronic music)
- Do I look okay?
Is my head on straight?
So we keep running into this avoidance of the word "envy."
People especially cannot seem to notice
when they themselves are feeling envious.
Like that person who puzzled
over the "angry resentful feeling in the pit
of their stomach" without being able to name
what they were feeling.
There's two reasons why people are usually
in denial about their own envy:
one is guilt and the other is shame.
Shame! Shame because admitting to yourself
that you envy someone implies that you feel inferior
to them, which is shameful.
It wounds the ego.
And guilt because envy is malicious.
If you envy someone you may feel angry
and miserable about their success and good fortune,
and you may wish to see them ruined or brought down.
That's cruel and anti-social, it goes against most ideas
of morality, and it's a thought
that's usually not socially acceptable to admit.
So envy is shameful, guilty, and socially unacceptable.
And we deal with that by suppressing it from our awareness.
But it is still there, and in order
to maintain the denial, we have to convince ourselves
that this angry resentful feeling
in the pit of our stomach is actually something else.
Think about how in Spongebob, Squidward
shows contempt for Spongebob's childishness,
for blowing bubbles, for having fun at work.
When in fact, Squidward envies Spongebob's uninhibited joy
and intuitive creativity.
But he can't allow himself to have the thought
that he envies Spongebob,
because that would mean
recognizing the intolerably shameful truth
that he feels inferior to Spongebob.
So what he does instead is convince himself
that what he really is is a refined sophisticate,
scoffing at this childish fool.
- How did I ever get surrounded by such loser neighbors.
(tuneless clarinet music)
- We could call this envy-to-contempt sublimation.
Sublimation is a psychoanalytic term which means
that you transform an ego-wounding feeling
or socially unacceptable longing
into something more ego-flattering or socially acceptable.
So the classic example used by Freud
is the transformation of sexual urges,
of erotic energy, into creative expression.
It's like the founder of the no-fap movement, Lady Gaga,
once said, "I have this weird thing that
if I sleep with someone they're going
to take my creativity from me through my (beep)."
So, according to Freud, the vast majority of erotic longings
can never actually be fulfilled. Tell me about it Sigmund.
But there's a positive side to this,
supposedly, which is that you can sublimate
your erotic longings
into a more socially acceptable productivity.
So, instead of flicking the bean,
maybe you write novels about thirsty vampires,
or for that matter philosophical treatises
about the will to power.
Oh we'll to get to you.
Freud thought that civilization itself is built
at the cost of our instincts,
most of which we have to sacrifice to live in a society.
So like erotic impulses, I think envy
can be sublimated, which is what's happening
when it becomes contempt.
Another example is the blog McMansion Hell,
which makes fun of the tasteless architecture
of suburban ostentatious trash.
I would argue that part of the fun of this blog,
is the pleasure and relief of looking down at the rich.
Because looking enviously up at the rich is painful.
It makes you feel inferior.
And a way to alleviate that pain is to sublimate envy,
and pretend that you're an aristocratic aesthete scoffing
at the vulgar taste of the arriviste.
"These flying buttresses are in extremely poor taste."
Another example is, oh, shit-talking plastic surgery.
I once heard a trans woman say,
"At least I don't look like a botched sex doll!"
The subtext is, there's a certain kind
of trans woman influencer who lives in LA
and has had a lot of cosmetic surgery
to achieve a doll-like aesthetic.
But it costs a lot of money to look like this.
And a lot of trans women can't afford surgeries
that they want.
And one way to deal with frustrated desire
is to convince yourself that the thing
that's out of reach is not worth having anyway.
See also the discourse on Twitter
about how "Passing is transphobic".
There's an ancient Greek fable where a fox
wants some grapes but he can't reach the vine,
so he walks away bitterly
and says, "well the grapes are transphobic anyway."
The cisgender version of this is maybe the
"not like other girls" meme,
which is classic envy-to-contempt sublimation.
The trope is usually that other girls are popular
and slutty, they have fake tans and fake nails,
they like partying and makeup and stupid music for idiots.
But I'm quirky and real, I listen to Pink Floyd
and read books and eat lots of pizza late at night alone
There's usually a subtext of anxiety about inferiority,
the "other girls" being more socially accepted,
feminine, and put together.
A lot of times, "the other girls" don't even exist,
right, they're a media construct of idealized womanhood.
Right, like where are these "other girls"
who've never eaten pizza and enjoy wearing makeup
at nine a.m. on a Saturday morning?
Are they between the sofa cushions?
Did you put them in with the other laundry?
Are the other girls in the room with us right now?
The feeling of inferiority
toward "the other girls" is reframed
as kind of contemptuous hipster superiority,
which is really just an ego-defensive persona of resentment.
Like Janis in "Mean Girls."
She's not even really a lesbian.
- Regina got confused.
And then she dances with a boy
at the end and is readmitted into girlhood.
Thank you for that Tina Fey.
That's very helpful.
(bitter gay sighing)
Another way we can reframe feelings
of envious inferiority is by transforming them
into moral superiority.
Moral superiority often being the refuge
of people with nothing better to feel superior about.
We don't have to feel guilty or ashamed of envy
if we convince ourselves
that what we're actually experiencing
is "justified" "legitimate" hatred.
So for example think of the morality around sexuality.
Part 69: Sluts
Yeah what are you gonna do about it?
- En Garde,
- Why does everyone hate sluts so much?
Sluts never did nothing wrong to nobody.
Open sexual promiscuity is in a way analogous to opulence.
You're conspicuously enjoying something
that other people want, and might not be able to get.
Many cultures have norms about modesty,
for example expecting women to cover their hair in public.
This is usually explained as prophylaxis against male lust,
but I wonder if it also serves
to prevent a more generalized envy,
which female beauty has a way of attracting.
Men often slut-shame because they want
to control female sexuality.
And by female sexuality, I do mean male sexuality.
Because often what they're really struggling
to control is their own desire.
But slut-shaming is also done pretty viciously
by women to each other.
And that's a complicated thing, it's more than just envy.
Sometimes it comes from a sense that a woman
who's having casual sex with a lot men
is compromising the collective sex-withholding power
of the group, almost like she's crossing a picket line.
But there's also sometimes a resentment
that a woman who's showing skin is using her body
to get "unearned" attention.
And that smells like envy to me.
"I don't use my body to get attention, so no one should!"
The repressed feeling is "maybe I'm a little jealous
that she's getting all this attention
by posting thirst traps."
But you don't think that, you think: I am above this.
Because I am chaste, I have class, I am a feminist.
I would also suggest accusing her of
"pandering to the male gaze",
that's of course the feminist way
of calling someone a lowdown hoebag skank.
So again we have envy-to-contempt sublimation,
and often the contempt is "moral" "virtuous".
The psychological need to convince ourselves that envy
is morality can become so strong
that we actually start inventing things
to be outraged about.
Take for instance the tendency to imagine
that the wealthy and powerful
are enjoying wild Satanic orgies,
and indulging all the forbidden salacious pleasures
that we ourselves are denied.
Like QAnon, these conspiracy theorists who want us
to imagine Hillary Clinton reclining
in a garden of early delights
sampling the pleasures of ephebes.
Live laugh love that for her.
Envy is very imaginative when it comes
to the hedonistic extravagance of the envied.
Let's talk about Marie Antoinette,
the Queen of France who was guillotined by the Revolution.
If you know one thing about Marie Antoinette,
it's probably that when she heard about a famine
where the people had no bread,
she infamously responded "Let them eat cake."
What an evil bitch.
How could she say that?
Well, she didn't.
She never said it.
It's a lie.
The phrase "let them eat cake",
originally "let them eat brioches" first appeared
in Rousseau's Confessions, written in 1765
when Marie Antoinette was nine years old.
Rousseau attributed the line
to "a great princess."
Probably, no one ever said this.
It's kind of like how the most famous photo of Paris Hilton
is the one where she's wearing a "Stop Being Poor" T-shirt.
What an evil bitch.
How could she wear that?
Well, she didn't.
The actual shirt said "Stop Being Desperate."
Envy likes to fabricate the diabolical crimes
of its enemies, I assume
to complement their hedonistic extravagance.
I mean what is a Disney villain
if not an opulent homosexual seen through the eyes
of the envious.
- See how I glitter.
- I'm gonna try lowering the ISO
'cause it's so (beep) bright in here now.
Okay, well that's a much lower ISO.
What if I get another light over here?
That's what this channel's really about,
One biological female's quest to create a harmonious
In the years leading up to and during the French revolution,
Marie Antoinette was constantly defamed
in these sleazy tabloids called Libelles.
It's the same root as the English word libel.
The often pornographic Libelles depicted the queen
as a bisexual demon, who was constantly
having drunken orgies
and sexually manipulating everyone around her.
All of which is very interesting, but none of which is true.
The historian Robert Darnton called it
an "avalanche of defamation" that "has no parallel
in the history of vilification."
This woman took the blame, the moral blame,
for the structural failings of a broken economic system.
And by the time she was brought
before the Revolutionary Tribunal in 1793,
the actual person Marie Antoinette
had long ago been overshadowed
by the libelous caricature of her.
Now there was maybe one good reason
for executing the former queen,
which is that the legitimacy of your new republic
is a little more secure
when you don't have living monarchs hanging around.
Someone better tell the English.
But the problem with that reasoning is it has nothing
to do with whether the Queen "deserved" to die.
And beheading a recently widowed mother of two
in front of a jeering crowd
for political expediency might weigh a little heavy
on the conscience.
So the Revolution had to convince themselves
that the former queen "deserved it,"
which was pretty easy after decades of again,
false and defamatory gossip.
In her biography of Marie Antoinette,
Antonia Fraser describes how the prison guards
separated Marie from her eight-year-old son,
who they plied with alcohol and groomed
into accusing his own mother of incestuous abuse.
To justify killing Marie Antoinette they had
to destroy the idea of this woman as a mother.
So she was convicted of what may
as well have been crimes against ethics
in games journalism and sent to the guillotine,
where her last words were sorry to the executioner
for stepping on his foot.
Uh, women stop apologizing challenge!
This is what a girl boss winning looks like.
So, Marie Antoinette literally did nothing wrong.
Hey how are you.
An innocent MILF was killed that day.
And I, for one, won't stand for it.
So look, we have a psychological incentive to believe
that people whom we envy are immoral monsters.
Because then we get to label our hatred
and violence towards them "justice."
Cruelty generally cannot conceptualize itself as cruelty.
And part of the reason for that is calling cruelty what it
is takes the fun out of it.
It reminds me of the second best day in the history
of Twitter: October 1st, 2020, the day that Trump got COVID.
And I'm gonna be honest,
I have never felt more schadenfreude in my entire life.
Well well well, if it isn't the leopards
eating people's faces party
having their faces eaten by leopards.
(dramatic orchestral music)
Let them eat cake.
Like Dan Savage said, it felt like Ronald Reagan got AIDS.
The next day I tweeted: "These last 24 hours
have been the first time I've genuinely
enjoyed Twitter in years.
Because this website is good for one thing only.
Reveling in the cruelest of human impulses."
And someone responded to that saying
- [Twitter User] Oh my God,
could you even be a bigger killjoy?
- But why was I being a killjoy?
The tweet was about how much I was enjoying it!
Well, for most people, I guess not me,
but for normal people, for other girls,
cruelty is only pleasurable
as long as they're able to convince themselves
it's something other than cruelty.
So again "reason" "rationality"
are often the attempt to publicly communicate,
to evangelize our private feelings.
And morality, ethics, and justice are often put forward
as the respectable public face of private envy,
vindictiveness, and hatred.
But is this a corruption of morality,
or have we stumbled onto something darker.
What if morality itself is simply the expression
of some kind of sadomasochistic urge?
It's too early for this.
It's literally seven a.m. where I'm filming.
I don't know how this keeps happening to me.
My head gets cut off one afternoon,
puts me in a philosophical mood.
Next morning, I've stayed up all night
and I'm still talking about the philosophes.
(light orchestral music)
Hello again kittens.
Let's talk about justice uwu.
I look like a Supreme Court Justice.
It would actually be fierce if I wasn't, you know,
if I wasn't being Nyatalie.
Look, I've been seeing a lot of comments about me lately
along the lines of "Natalie used to do
serious academic arguments.
Now she only cares about makeup."
All right you little shits.
You want book-learnin'?
I'm gonna learn you so hard,
I'm gonna learn you so hard
you're gonna have a goddamn headache in the morning.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
Do you mind if I call you Fred?
Frederick was a German philosopher who had a lot
to say about envy and morality.
But before we get into that, I want
to say a little about his life,
because it's just very funny.
Nietzsche is famous for his concept of the Ubermensch,
but Frederick, sweet beautiful little Frederick,
he was not what most people think of as an Ubermensch.
Frederick was a chronically ill, chronically in pain,
nearly blind incel who probably slept with a prostitute
once and got syphilis and died.
Life is funny.
Sad, but funny.
In the Introduction to "Beyond Good and Evil",
the editor says,
"Though he prided himself on being comfortable
with women, he does not seem to have been very successful
in establishing emotionally satisfying relationships
with them, which is hardly surprising"
I love it when the introduction to a book
is just a brutal roast of the author.
Who wrote this?
You're killing it Rolf.
You're a savage.
Frederick's books sold a "dismal number of copies"
in his lifetime.
"What emerges is a picture
of a totally isolated, highly neurotic man who had
to try hard to avoid thinking of himself
as a complete failure."
He we also doing huge doses of opium, relatable,
and writing himself prescriptions for sleeping pills
and signing them "Dr. Nietzsche"
Pretty sure I got an Xanax prescription
from that guy once.
Behind a Dairy Queen.
Nietzsche was also a failed musician and was in love
with the composer Richard Wagner's wife.
The virgin Nietzsche contra the Chad Wagner.
You beta cuck.
Why did I do that?
Can we all agree that cat-girl Nietzsche
is by far the most cursed thing I've ever done?
I just wanna mom this guy, honestly.
I don't even care that he's a misogynist,
his misogyny is simply too sad to be offended by.
You know I think it's interesting that a person
this pathetic can also be a genius whose name
will never die.
He's someone who had a lot of reason to be envious
and self-pitying, but his philosophy
couldn't be more against that.
And, as a person of pathetic experience myself,
that is unironically kind of inspiring to me.
So let's go in.
In his book "On the Genealogy of Morality",
Frederick wants to explain the origin of the concepts
of good and evil.
"Under what conditions did man
invent the value judgments good and evil?
And what value do they themselves have?
Have they up to now obstructed
or promoted human flourishing?"
Hang on, my food's here.
That's right, you're getting a mukbang, sweetie.
Did you think I was gonna sit at this giant table
and not be eating something?
This video's been going on more than an hour,
so I assume you guys are drunk by now
and we're just kind of hanging out at this point.
You guys can't even see.
Well, here, I've got a bunch of sushi
and it's my mission to eat all of this
while summarizing the entire life and work
of Friedrich Nietzsche.
Trisha Paytas, Nikocado,
consider this a challenge.
So, Friedrich argues that "good" and "bad",
not yet good and evil, that's different
we'll get to that,
but good and bad
were originally the self-affirming values
of people with power.
So to be good meant to be powerful, strong,
beautiful, healthy, and to be bad meant to be weak,
sick, common, ugly.
I wanna eat one like a cat.
And Frederick supports this speculation with etymology.
So in a lot of languages the word that means morally good
or spiritually noble, originally meant noble
in the sense of aristocratic, the propertied class.
Like in Buddhism the arya satyani, that's Sanskrit
for Noble Truths.
Arya means noble,
and arya is used to mean spiritually noble,
but earlier it meant the aristocracy, the rich,
and originally it was just the name that a culture
in Northern India gave themselves, the Aryans.
I'm really working not to get soy sauce on this lace.
This was later misunderstood by Europeans
who wrongly thought that "Aryan" was a race.
Can we not?
Frederick traces the origin of the German word "gut"
or English "good" to the name of the Goths,
no not those Goths, the Scandinavian people
who invaded Europe.
Frederick calls them, "the blond beasts of prey."
I like to stalk my prey in the small hours of the night,
The German word "schlecht" which means bad is related
to "schlicht" which means "plain, simple,"
originally "common, low" not aristocratic, not noble.
So "good" and "bad" were originally the values
of warrior aristocrats who were
like Homeric heroes celebrating themselves.
And Frederick calls their value system master morality:
this glorification of combat, feasting, athleticism,
sexual conquest, beauty: these things were called "good."
And their opposites: weakness, impotence, ugliness,
were called bad.
The ancient nobles worshiped noble gods
who acted like them and shared their values.
I mean if I created a personal goddess,
I think you all know what animal that would be.
Me and the ancient Egyptians, on the same page.
So for example Roman warriors could worship Mars,
the god of war.
And it was like they were worshiping themselves.
They were dumb jocks worshiping dumb jock gods.
Well good for them.
But what about the people who got shoved into lockers?
Well, Friedrich's example,
and this is gonna create some misunderstandings later,
but his example is the Jews, who were colonized by the
Romans in Judea.
And it's certainly not that the Jews didn't try to revolt,
oh they did.
But for several centuries the Romans were just too powerful,
no one could stop them.
So the question is what happens psychologically
to people who are oppressed and who lack the power
to overthrow the oppressor?
Well in that case frustrated vindictiveness builds
over time to become this deep bitterness
that Nietzsche gives the French name, Ressentiment.
Resentment in English.
Oui. Eh... eh...
I don't speak French.
I just enjoy making vaguely french noises.
Ment, bas, quatre, eh, eh oui.
I don't like the English but I like the French even less.
Because they're always dressed so well,
and they speak a sexier language than me.
This is your final warning comprendez-vous?
Good wine though.
I'll give them that.
So there's German word, Neid, which mean means envy.
So why is Frederick using this French term, ressentiment?
What's going on Frederick?
Why are you speaking French?
Are you nervous?
Are you trying to impress me?
Nietzsche must have said ressentiment
because he thought it was something different than envy.
I think the difference is resentment,
and I'm just gonna use the English word
so I don't sound like an asshole,
resentment is born not just
of wanting what someone has,
but of a permanent frustration of the desire for revenge.
It's born of weakness, inability to get revenge.
Now revenge itself implies weakness,
at least a temporary weakness.
We say "Revenge is best served cold", but actually,
revenge is only served cold.
If it's served hot, if someone slaps you
and you slap them back immediately,
that's retaliation, not revenge.
- You brought this on yourself.
- Revenge is only a possibility
when you can't retaliate immediately,
so you become vindictive, you start plotting and scheming.
But if you're too weak, too impotent to have any hope
of revenge then you become resentful.
So Nietzsche's argument is that a person
who's too weak to get material revenge
can instead get psychological revenge
by creating a new morality.
In Frederick's words, "The beginning of the slaves'
revolt in morality occurs when ressentiment itself
turns creative and gives birth to values".
This is a little high concept for a mukbang, isn't it?
What are you doing, Frederick?
So while master morality says that "good" is power,
riches, health, strength; and "bad"
is the opposite-slave morality,
the morality of resentment says, "blessed are the poor,
the meek, the sick, the powerless."
This is the "good" of slave morality,
and its opposite is not the "bad" but a new concept,
And what is evil?
Well, everything that master morality says is good.
(light playful music)
He's talking about Christianity here,
he's not talking about Judaism.
But Frederick thinks of Christianity
as the spiritual revenge of the Jews against the Romans,
an inversion of the Empire's values.
But, he thinks that slave morality
is fundamentally dishonest.
It's like the fox and the grapes.
is called not-wanting-to-take-revenge,
it might even be forgiveness".
Slave morality says that weakness is righteous.
Submission to people you hate is called "obedience,"
having to wait is called "patience."
Inability to satisfy sexual desire is called "chastity",
"purity" and so on.
And while master morality is born of saying yes
to yourself, as a powerful. noble beast of prey;
slave morality is born of saying no the master
and everything he has that you can't.
I like to have my belly rubbed.
Scratch my back above my tail, please.
I'm gonna put the rest of the fish away
because it's getting warm and I'm full.
This has not been a successful mukbang.
It turns out that it's actually very difficult
to do a mukbang while talking.
I should've thought this through a little harder.
So slave morality is born of a repressed desire
for revenge, but that desire
for revenge never completely disappears.
It's there for example in the Christian idea
of the last judgment.
No need to take revenge against wicked, my sheep.
God will do that for us.
And in the meantime, being weak is good actually.
I find this book thrilling to read,
honestly, and I am not easily thrilled, especially
not by philosophers.
I think this book in particular gets me because
especially if you were raised Christian,
this is so the opposite of everything we were ever taught
to believe that it almost feels like, dirty.
Like should I be reading this?
Is this allowed?
'Cause even if you're not religious, most of us
still agree with a lot of Christian morality.
Like yeah Jesus was a good guy, blessed are the meek, sure.
But then Frederick comes along and he's like, mmm morality
is just a cope for frustrated vindictiveness.
And you're like, I need to lie down,
where's my smelling salts?
(dramatic orchestral music)
(glass clattering) (objects clattering)
But wait, there's more!
This gets even darker.
Nietzsche thinks that over the last two millennia
of European history, slave morality has triumphed.
St. Paul made Christianity marketable.
The Emperor Constantine converted,
and by the Middle Ages even kings
and aristocrats were kneeling down not
to powerful warrior gods made in their own image,
but to a god that was weak, suffering,
So by the 19th century slave morality
had become the only morality.
And it's not just Christians either, the secular version
of these values became socialism, anarchism.
About freethinkers and atheists, Nietzsche has this to say.
"We loathe Church, not its poison, apart from the Church,
we too love the poison."
Okay the poison, what is "the poison"?
Well Frederick thinks resentment poisons the mind
and turns humans against our own natural instincts.
Not just against aggression, but against sexuality,
against ambition, against power, against life itself.
And there's two possible outcomes of this.
One is that resentment becomes a political movement,
"the conspiracy of those who suffer,"
the tyranny of the herd, the revolution that eats itself.
"'Only we are good and just' is what they say,
as though health, success, strength,
pride and the feeling of power were
in themselves depravities for which penance,
bitter penance will one day be exacted.
Among them we find plenty of vengeance-seekers
disguised as judges, with the word justice continually
in their mouth like poisonous spittle."
So you get the mentality
of a hyper-moralistic resentment mob,
which I'm sure we'll all familiar with.
The other outcome is that this moralism turns inward,
and attacks the individual conscience,
producing asceticism, self-denial, guilt.
Because slave morality condemns not just the external beasts
of prey who are oppressing us, but also the beast
of prey within, our animal instincts,
what Christianity calls "sin."
So Frederick thinks modern humans have become sick:
we hate ourselves, we hate our own nature,
we hate life itself.
I mean, is he wrong?
You see a girlboss winning,
I only see the will to power.
Frederick thinks of modern men as once-proud wildcats
who've become domesticated house pets
at the cost of everything great in the human spirit.
That's very valid Frederick.
That's super hecking valid.
Look I've been pretty positive about Nietzsche so far,
but I do have a couple critiques I want to say.
One is that Friedrich's associating slave morality
with the Jews is very irresponsible.
Even though he didn't intend to be anti-Semitic
and even though he was outspoken against anti-Semitism
in his own time,
when you keep referring to the Christian values
that you're critiquing as "Jewish hatred"
and "Jewish revenge," some people might get the wrong idea.
And some people did, Frederick.
Like your dumbass sister Elizabeth Nietzsche,
who became a literal
alternative-ethno-identitarian-goddamn it Liz.
Kind of goth goals though?
Yes that kind of goth, you're right this time.
My other critique is that it doesn't seem
to have occurred to Frederick that genuinely caring
about other people is an option.
Like not because you're repressing your true selfish nature,
but just because caring about other people
is part of your nature.
And isn't it?
Isn't caring about other people also in our nature?
I do think that most of what Nietzsche says
about resentment accurately describes a very real thing.
But it's not the only thing.
There is genuine care and love in this world,
I've been told, I've heard rumors.
And I'm even gonna go so far as to say #NotAllChristians.
Christ I'm defending the Christians,
what has this channel come to.
There are Christians, maybe not most, but still some,
for whom love and forgiveness are genuine experiences,
and not just some kind of twisted, impotent,
Where I agree with Nietzsche, and with Freud,
is I do think a lot of the emotional foundation
of "justice" and "morality" is retribution, envy,
or some combination the two.
But maybe it doesn't have to be that way.
There's a famous Martin Luther King quote
responding to Nietzsche:
- [MLK] What is needed
is a realization that power without love is
reckless and abusive, and that love
without power is sentimental and anemic.
Power at its best, power at its best is love
implementing the demands of justice, and justice
at its best is love correcting everything
that stands against love."
- So Reverend King concedes to Nietzsche
that to simply call power evil is a sickness-"anemic."
But there still needs to be some kind of emotional
or spiritual force that keeps humanity
from tearing itself apart.
And maybe something like this Christian idea
of love for humanity is the missing piece.
Because without something like that, I just see retribution
and envy snowballing into human self-destruction.
And I hate that for us.
It's not very sliving of us.
Do you guys know about sliving?
Do you even subscribe to Paris Hilton's YouTube channel?
She doesn't have as many subscribers as I do, but, you know,
I try to support smaller creators.
- Sliving is basically slaying and living our best life
into one word.
It's the new "That's hot."
- Maybe I'll do a video about love,
when I'm in a better mood.
So for now, well, let's put it this way:
God is dead and we have killed him, nyaa.
(light playful music)
(singing in German)
okay, I'm moisturized, I'm primed.
I've proven my academic credentials,
now it's time to do my makeup.
That's right, children, I'm going full Bailey Sarian.
I'm going full suspish.
So, I guess I should say something
about the political implications of all this,
since I guess this channel is about politics?
Sometimes I have to read my own Wikipedia article
to remember what I'm doing with my life.
So this morality of resentment, of impotence
and permanently frustrated revenge,
judges that power is evil.
I don't use foundation, I just use concealer.
I know that's like not how you're supposed to do makeup,
but I don't need to be good at makeup, okay,
I have a million subscribers on YouTube.
I don't need to be good.
There was a New York Times article
about young women's attitudes toward political ambition,
and one of the women who was interviewed said,
"As a white woman, I know I have unearned privilege,
so am I the best person to be in leadership?"
Yes you are.
Because we need leaders like you who
are capable of questioning the legitimacy
of their own authority.
Otherwise we're gonna be stuck
with another blond beast of prey.
Of course it's good to be aware of your privilege,
especially as a leader.
But, let's not be so self-effacing
that we efface ourselves off the face of the earth.
This is the self-sabotage of resentment values.
If you think that power is evil, then you've given up
on the ambition to acquire any power.
Which virtually guarantees your political irrelevance,
since, like MLK said, you have to at least
have some power to implement the demands of justice.
Remember what incels call "taking the black pill",
this conviction that the reason
you don't have a girlfriend is just
that you're genetically undesirable.
There's nothing you can do to change it,
and I guess women are just too shallow
to be attracted to all the amazing hatred
and spite that festers in your heart.
For a lot of blackpilled incels it seems
like there is only one thing left in life that they enjoy,
which is simply the pleasure of complaining,
of moaning in pain.
It reminds me of a comment from Dostoevsky's
second-most horrible protagonist.
- [Fyodor] Even in toothache
there is enjoyment, in that case,
of course, people are not spiteful in silence, but moan;
but they are not candid moans, they are malignant moans,
and the malignancy is the whole point."
- The moan is a protest against the meaninglessness
And part of the satisfaction of moaning
is inflicting your pain on other people.
This malignant moaning, it's kind of the opposite of music.
Because a lot of music, like blues, is benevolent moaning
that transforms pain into pleasure.
That's what blues is all about.
My woman don't love me no more, but I know her sister will.
You know, optimism.
I think a lot of incel discourse
is really just Dostoevskyan moaning.
It's not an attempt to diagnose or solve any problem,
it's just a contagious expression of misery.
A moan of pain that masquerades as a political agenda.
"Sexual Marxism" they call it.
The redistribution of sex.
That's very valid.
Of course they don't actually expect any of this to happen.
That's not the point.
So, incels are kind of a universal punching bag online,
it's very easy to point and laugh at them.
But what's harder is to look in the mirror
and notice how these exact same tendencies are rampant
in our own communities.
So the incel Blackpill is just one instance
of what I call an "ideology of resentment", a discourse
that outwardly appears like moral or political critique,
but which on examination is mainly just a resentful moan.
The goal of resentment politics
is not to improve conditions.
In fact, the resentful ideologue is full of contempt
for any "morally compromised sellouts"
who are trying to enact plausible reforms.
They don't want victory, they don't want power,
they want to endlessly "critique" power.
Because for them "critique"
is a psychological defense against feeling impotent.
Scheler described it this way.
- [Max] It is peculiar to "ressentiment criticism"
that it does not seriously desire
that its demands be fulfilled.
It does not want to cure the evil:
the evil is merely a pretext for the criticism.
- What am I gonna do with my eyes?
I think a pink kind of look.
We've been doing a lot of pink looks?
I just love that hay fever look.
As a general rule,
the more radical a political community claims to be,
the more likely it is to be a community of resentment.
Self-styled radicals will tell you,
"Superficial surface reforms do not interest us.
The problem must be critiqued at its root."
And the root turns out to be this universal,
all-encompassing evil, right?
Society itself, the system,
A resentment ideologue always imagines himself engaged
in a kind of Satanic revolt against an omnipotent,
Okay, I just need to do makeup for a second.
It's harder than it looks to be a makeup vlogger.
It's hard to talk while doing this.
And nothing short of total revolution counts as any sort
of victory whatsoever.
"We have to dismantle the entire system!
Burn it all down!"
I guess it's pedestrian to point out
that this is the revolutionary utopian equivalent
of Christians awaiting the last judgment.
Our Kingdom is coming comrades!
Often the appeal of utopian ideology is similar to religion.
It's not about healthcare, higher wages,
relief from police violence: those are actual goals
that could be demanded, worked for, and achieved.
Utopian ideology instead promises relief
from some general malaise, "alienation."
And so ironically it can have the same opiate effect
that Marx ascribed to religion.
But release from the general anguish of human existence
is not a political goal.
There's been many revolutions in last few centuries
and so far zero utopias.
Resentment, envy, and hunger for that matter
are not satiated by the downfall of the old regime.
When the people have no bread they eat the rich.
And when the rich are gone they eat each other.
And because of the proximity effect,
envy may actually increase after the revolution.
You may be more envious of a favored comrade,
a successful citoyent, oui, a kulak, than you ever were
of the aristocrats.
So envy gets paranoid and imaginative
in revolutionary moments, it's sublimated into morality
and the accusations start flying.
That citizen is conspiring against the revolution!
That peasant is hoarding grain!
So the guillotine starts slicing thousands of heads off,
the gulags fill up.
Or an authoritarian strongman takes over
only to announce another revolution two decades later.
The things people will do to stay relevant,
And for what?