How the internet wreaked havoc on Alex Jones and Elon Musk
TW: Genital mentions, profane language
I have three words for you: Kung. Pow. Penis. These three words are emblematic of how the internet was leveraged to destroy the good fortunes of two of the most destructive, bloatedly egotistical forces known to our times: Alex Jones and Elon Musk. Both these men were upended by online mayhem recently, and their upendings can give us all hope that perhaps, if we are smart, the same trollish tool that brought Donald Trump to power can also be used to unseat him.
How? Well, settle in, because Dr. Meme Studies is here to give you a complete history, synthesis, and conclusion in about ten minutes.
First, I want you to briefly astrally project yourself back to mid-2016. Donald Trump had not yet been elected. We were out playing Pokémon Go and drinking Rose in the sunlight of God’s love. But an icy wind was sweeping across the golden garden of our thoughts. We first felt the goosebumps from it when Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic primary.
To a certain demographic of earnest progressive, Bernie was beloved, and his failure to secure the nomination left them genuinely bereft. In July of 2016, political cartoonist David Horsey captured this in a plaintive image of a crying Bernie Sanders voter being comforted by Bernie himself. In the original comic, Bernie pats the voter’s shoulder, and says that Hillary Clinton is a politician, but she’s not a threat. She’s not Donald Trump.
The comic is painfully sincere. It speaks to the pain of naively wanting something and not getting it.
One day, a random furry on Tumblr took the comic and replaced Sanders’ dialogue with a three-word phrase: Kung Pow Penis.
This image was eventually recreated as an audio file, which spread across Tumblr widely during the early weeks of 2018. It’s unclear why the meme’s moment came then, or what the creator’s original intent or ideology was. All we know is that Kung Pow Penis became a means of reacting to political knowledge we otherwise don’t know how to cope with.
Fast forward to August 2018. Conservative firebrand and frog homosexuality conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, is kicked off Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter for terms of service violations. This is a man who has sold rancor and terror without consequence for years. He is unaccustomed to following rules. So he regroups, and runs to a platform known for tolerating mayhem: Tumblr.
Tumblr is a place where people who want to be erotically swallowed by Kaa from The Jungle Book rub reluctant shoulders with white supremacists and pedophilia apologists. Virtually no one has their Tumblr account deleted. Alex Jones was certain he could build himself a new home there.
What he didn’t count on was the power of Kung Pow Penis.
As soon as Alex Jones created a Tumblr, left-wing users started flocking to it, sharing his posts but adding the phrase “KUNG POW PENIS” to them. Alex Jones immediately got upset and annoyed. When you get a notification on Tumblr, it covers up a significant strip of the website, and if you get enough it becomes impossible to scroll or look at any transphobic porn, which is Jone’s favorite pastime.
Soon users began trolling him by reblogging anything he posted, and merely adding the letter K. Another user would then reblog that, and add the letter U, and so on, until Kung Pow Penis was slowly spelled out in full. This meant that a single instance of Kung Pow Penis resulted in Jones getting 12 notifications, and a huge, spaced out KUNG POW PENIS covering his screen.
Alex Jones deleted his Tumblr after just two days.
But there was another, far grander incident this past month that truly sends home the power of the internet to unseat reactionary royalty and deliver chaotic comeuppance. I am talking of course about the fall of Elon Musk. Libertarian meme lords have always adored Musk; Reddit and Twitter have been his playgrounds for years. Until very recently, when his social media irresponsibility transformed him into God’s Fool. We have one person to thank for this: Azealia Problematic Banks.
I will try to keep this story both as brief and as lurid as possible. For the past few months, Tesla magnate Elon Musk has been dating the electronic musician and bog witch, Grimes. Now, I am someone who both vapes and cuts their own hair quite badly, so obviously I love Grimes. And I was heartbroken to see her love an elitist manbaby and Republican campaign donor. He convinced her to wear a Tesla logo as a choker! I was aghast. My belief in art and hope for humanity was shattered.
But then, Grimes made the mistake of inviting rapper and rogue tweeter, Azealia Banks, to Elon Musk’s mansion, so the two could collaborate on a single. Banks agreed to come visit, though she has later revealed that she only said yes because she wanted to meet Elon Musk and ask him to invest in her side business selling an ass-bleaching soap called Bussy Boy.
Now, a Bussy is a butt that gets fucked (like a pussy), and the soap apparently smells like plums because Banks has written song lyrics about her labia looking like a plum. Banks sells this rectal bleaching Bussy soap as merch at her concerts. None of that is especially important. What’s important is that Banks shows up at Musk’s mansion on August 10th. No one greets her or interacts with her for two or three full days.
Banks ends up waiting all weekend at the mansion. She has to help herself to food in the fridge and find herself a place to sleep. She stumbles into a drug-addled Elon Musk, whom Grimes has given acid to. Grimes eventually shows up, and tries to manage Musk’s drug induced stupor, but fails, and Musk starts tweeting about wanting to make Tesla-branded thigh-high socks. Then, at some point, either Musk or Grimes propositions Banks for a threesome, and Banks leaves.
We know about all this because Banks was updating her Instagram story with a live play-by-play the entire time. Tesla stock began to immediately plummet as a result. In the intervening days, Banks shares private messages that Grimes has sent her. In them, Grimes suggests that the two women get into a pregnancy pact, says Musk’s South African accent is “fake” and “made up”, and attempts to again entice Banks into a threesome by saying Musk’s dick is huge. Banks responds by telling Grimes to get sober, and implies that anyone’s dick looks huge if you’re 110 pounds.
In the wake of this fracas, journalists began speculating about Musk’s competence to run his company, Tesla’s shares continued to fall, and the SEC begins investigating Musk for fraud, because Grimes revealed he set Tesla’s stock value at $420 as a weed joke. Shortly thereafter, Musk unfollowed Grimes on Twitter, and the two unceremoniously broke up.
Banks meanwhile gained thousands of new Instagram followers, wrote a letter of apology to Musk, revoked the apology, and announced a Tesla Fan Fiction competition immediately afterward. Her fans are invited to write a fictional account of events she endured in whatever format they prefer — be it a screenplay, short story, or comic, and submit it for a chance to win a $1000 prize. She continues to sell out of Bussyboy soap at all of her concerts.
At first blush, it may seem like this frenzied confluence of tweets, threesome propositions, weed references, and rectal soaps has nothing to do with Alex Jones or Kung Pow Penis. But both the online ousting of Alex Jones and Elon Musk reveal how the internet tides are turning. They presage a way out of the hellscape we are living in.
In 2016, reactionary trolls stole left-wing memes such as Pepe the Frog, and warped them into conservative icons of propaganda. Random, irreverent internet humor and unruliness were weaponized against lefty earnestness to great effect. Being a shitbag became the height of cool, and the biggest shitbag of all time became our President.
But we’ve come a long way since then. We’ve transformed from dejected, forlorn progressives into nonsense loving anarcommunists. We’ve gone from mourning Bernie Sanders to reveling in our enemies’ suffering. We have become the irreverent, provoking Kung Pow Penisers of the world, and it is the conservatives who have become the eager-to-please, flusterable, earnest ones.
For too long the unruliness of the internet was leveraged by people like Alex Jones and Elon Musk — selfish white men who could peddle hate or corporate overreach with a self-satisfied sneer. Now they are trapped in the deluge of their own bullshit, and they’re losing control, and their fear of loss is not a good look. It’s weak, flinching, and self-defeating. They can’t meme their way out of it. We have all lost a catastrophic number of things this election cycle, but unlike them, we have not lost our sense of humor. So even as we prepare for Midterms, we do not need words of heartfelt motivation. We need only the incantation that has gotten us through so far: Kung Pow Penis.
This piece was originally read live at LitCrawl as part of The Skewer, a monthly reading series in Chicago.