I have a confession to make, dearest Filthy Dreams readers, I’m fascinated with Milo Yiannopoulos. I know, I know, I know–you don’t have to tell me how I should ignore him outright. And it’s been much easier to ignore the conservative provocateur and his attention-seeking tactics after his career fell into an immediate and dizzying tailspin earlier this year. Nevertheless, I still find myself scrolling through his Instagram in shock and awe late at night.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s mostly Milo’s combination of camp and misanthropy that scrambles my wires. It’s as if he read all our Filthy Dreams ramblings on camp, took it to heart and then ran in a completely different direction–conservative camp. And it worked–for awhile! Also his Instagram recently featured one of the most heroically disgusting posts I’ve ever seen–footage of Milo receiving liposuction. Awake during the procedure, Milo filmed himself kissing the tube that was sucking the bloody fat from his body (which would then get re-injected into his ass). I gagged. It was so twisted and decadent–it was almost…ok…it was role model-worthy.
So when I noticed Milo’s recently published book Dangerous was on Scribd, which I subscribe to, I decided I should probably delve into its demented pages. I know the fact that I even dared to read and even worse, review the book on Filthy Dreams will alienate some people. But, I’m of the opinion that we should read and consider everything, even if it is Dangerous. As a lover and connoisseur of trash, I can’t restrict my critical eye to only Leftist trash. Sometimes you’ve gotta have a cross-over episode. And in reading opposing opinions, you might uncover some uncomfortable truths buried in the free speech-fetishizing text. But more on Milo’s similarity to certain queer theorists later…
“You didn’t really think I was going anywhere, did you?” Milo begins his forward entitled “So, About That Whole Drama…” “I am far too hot, popular and quick-witted to be disappeared by outraged op-eds appearing in every major publication in the world…The only thing that can stop me is a well-placed mirror,” he quips.
Now, I think we probably all know the story leading up to Milo’s self-published book, yes? Just for a refresher, he lost his contract with Simon & Schuster (who he is currently suing for $10 million) after a footage from a podcast came out in which Milo appeared to be defending man/boy love (“In the gay world…some of the most enriching…relationships between younger boys and older men can be hugely positive experiences”). This lead Simon & Schuster to revoke the book deal, adding to the avalanche of lost business opportunities from his speech at conservative conference CPAC to his job at Breitbart.
Apparently, though, Milo claims he’s over it in Dangerous: “The whole thing takes up less space in my head than the time David Bowie called me out on a shitty Louis Vuitton knockoff. I responded by throwing up in his sink, but I’ve never bought a knockoff bag again.”
The truth is, though, despite Milo’s attempted nonchalance, he isn’t exactly as popular as he once was. In fact, according to his Instagram, he doesn’t seem to be doing much now other than blowing that big advance donors’ gave him to do…god knows what. Take that money and run, baby.
In fact, his book sale numbers have some discrepancies that Salon and others in the media have pointed out. Revealing that Milo & Co may have overinflated news of Dangerous’s sales by more than 400%, Salon published on July 13 that only 18,268 copies of the books had sold, according to Nielsen Bookscan, with a meager and laughable 152 in the U.K. Now, perhaps rightfully, Milo asserted that the book was not yet for sale in the U.K.
But, this waning popularity matters–and matters hilariously–when read in conjunction with all of Milo’s references to his enormous fan base throughout Dangerous. For example, Milo explains, “Without an endless supply of eager young activists, the Left is nothing. And I am hoovering up those young people and spitting them out as mischievous dissident free speech warriors who don’t give a damn about your feelings.” And later he writes, “Trump and I have many of the same supporters. If the media wanted to judge where the wind was blowing, they should have paid attention to my soaring Google rankings…” Oh honey…
Now, I find it hard to poke too much fun at Milo’s overcompensation for a dwindling fan base. When Milo refers to his supporters as if they’re an overwhelming crowd rather than maybe a handful of people, something felt a tad familiar to me, dearest faithful Filthy Dreams readers.
Coupled with the frequent nods to his fans, Milo’s Dangerous reads like a personality disorder. The chapters, at least until final few, are organized by taking down a group (or a company) that hates him, including “Why The Progressive Left Hates Me,” “Why The Alt-Right Hates Me,” “Why Twitter Hates Me,” etc. You get the picture. He sets himself up as a renegade, comparing his clownish act and his free speech warrior personae to everyone from Lenny Bruce to George Carlin to even, Andres Serrano and his infamous Piss Christ. It is a stretch. He even refers to himself as, “I’m like the Zsa Zsa Gabor of political discourse,” which, I’ll hand it to him, is a great line.
When he isn’t equating himself with comedic and artistic greats, Milo often reminds readers just how hot he thinks he is: “Challenging the myths of the Left causes them to lose their minds. I puncture their fantasies with attention grabbing wit and style. I’m also hot, which I’ll cover in excruciating detail throughout this book.” And he’s not lying–it’s everywhere, as is his obsession with looks. In particular, feminists like Lena Dunham get it the worst: “And let’s face facts: some of them look frightful. My old favorite Lena Dunham is a particular travesty, being both shockingly unattractive and determined to pose nude at every chance she gets. And she loves bitching about how people give her a hard time about it. So as a thoughtful gentleman, I will comply. No one wants to see obese hairy men with their tops off, so why does she assume people want to see her sprawling naked like a beached manatee. I just don’t understand it. Luckily for all of us, the stress of President Trump is getting her skinny. That’s my Daddy always helping the helpless.”
But, I know the question that’s on your mind, faithful Filthy Dreams readers: how dangerous is Dangerous? Well, not very. It’s mostly Milo’s talking points that should be familiar to anyone who starts YouTubing Milo videos after a couple glasses of wine. Wait, nobody else does that? Never mind. Anyway, in particular, his chapters “Why Muslims Hate Me” and “Why Black Lives Matter Hates Me” are so wrongheaded–and typical for conservative commentators–that they’re merely boring rather than inducing clutched pearls.
Milo even tries to teach you “How To Be A Dangerous Faggot (Even When You’re Not Gay).” This chapter features rules on how to be dangerous like “Stay Humble” (“I’m the best at being humble. No one can touch my modesty”), Be Twice As Funny As You Are Outrageous (“No one can resist the truth wrapped in a good joke.”) and Be Hot (“Advocate for tax exemptions for anyone under 12% body fat!”).
But the reality is: I kept falling asleep reading parts of the book. It should really be marketed as a natural sleep aid, maybe that would get the sales numbers up. Someone else’s “dangerous” is my version of Sleepy Time Tea.
When Milo is wrong, he’s sickeningly wrong, but sometimes, he’s just a bit right. And it’s arresting, given the source. For example, take Milo’s observation about the Progressive Left’s threat to leave the country after Trump’s victory: “Did you notice that these whiny celebs uniformly threatened to move to overwhelmingly white countries? Imagine the chutzpah and obliviousness it takes to call white-working class Americans racist while you plan to move to Canada if your candidate loses. At least Snoop Dogg promised to move to South Africa, although, it’s hardly the Congo down there. I’m guessing what Snoop had in mind was a nice gated complex with other rich westerners…Guatemala doesn’t even have a Whole Foods, so Lena Dunham had to cross it off her list.” Gulp.
Overall, Dangerous can, in parts, be quite amusing, though I’m not sure if I was laughing with him or at him. I suspect the latter though in a chapter on trolling he does mention, “It’s an old trick I picked up from drag queens: always tell the joke the other guy is going to tell about you first and make it funny. It’s an incredibly disarming tactic.”
Yet, the chapter that I found perhaps the most resonant, at least for our purposes on Filthy Dreams, is “Why Establishment Gays Hate Me.” Beyond his hysterical yet startling description of Donald Trump as a gay icon (“He’s the drag queen president! It’s easy to see why so many gays I know secretly adore him. All that pizazz and bluster!”), the chapter features an argument for not only gay anti-assimilationism, but that being gay should be wrong in order to stay transgressive. Milo rants, “I do consider being gay to be wrong. But I also like being wrong. Gays should be proud to be degenerates. Listen up, homos. Rescue what’s left of gay culture. Dump social justice. It’s so much better being bad.”
“I became a homo precisely because it is transgressive. And I want homosexuality to continue being transgressive and even degenerate,” writes Milo who goes on to decry the safety of mainstream gay politics, with its emphasis on marriage and the military. It resembles some statements I believe we’ve all heard in LGBT politics and in academia: “As the cause of gay liberation advanced, our community’s reputation went from feared purveyors of moral corruption to cuddly, married, middle-class suburbanites with neat haircuts. In short, we have stopped being dangerous. It almost makes me miss the time when we had to stay in the closet.”
Milo goes on to invoke two transgressive icons of gay culture: Oscar Wilde and Quentin Crisp to show how gays should reject normalcy. While anyone can conjure up the ghost of Oscar Wilde, it was Milo’s reference to Quentin that really got me: “Then there was Quentin Crisp, someone whose lifetime saw the rapid acceleration of gay rights. The British writers and raconteur was even more shocking than Wilde. Not only did he find enjoyment in taking a bazooka to society’s sacred cows (he once described Princess Diana, Britain’s most beloved public figure, as “trash”), he also loved to needle the gay rights movement. He infuriated campaigners with his willingness to question his own gay instincts and lifestyle, once even stating that gayness was something that ought to be avoided if possible. He was a mischievous rebellious hero…Crisp was someone who would tolerate no limits on his independence. In the first half of his life, he plainly ignored society’s rules against his gay lifestyle. And in the second, he flouted the gay community’s expectations of him as well.” Is he reading Filthy Dreams?
In a section called “Return To Degeneracy,” Milo argues to make homosexuality taboo again: “Gay men are chaos incarnate. We are gods of mirth, mischief, danger and innate perversion. As society’s subversive rebels, unencumbered by humdrum family ties, we can go further than anyone else. We can smash taboos. We can achieve greatness. We should never try to be normal.”
If the references to degeneracy and normal send you searching through your old queer theory required reading materials, it’s no mistake. Though certainly more extreme, Milo, probably to his own dismay, finds himself in line with a number of queer writers and theorists. They range from Bruce Benderson’s Toward The New Degeneracy, which, like Dangerous, romanticizes the bad old days of Times Square, to Michael Warner’s The Trouble With Normal that skewers the LGBT community’s drive toward same-sex marriage and normalcy. If I were a professor, I’d assign this chapter along with these texts because, whether inadvertently or not, Milo acts a mirror for a lot of views in academia (largely by white gay cis male academics, unsurprisingly).
Don’t believe me? Let’s play a game–Name the author:
- “I pointed out that gay marriage reinforced the idea that being gay is a normal or acceptable lifestyle choice, which it isn’t–and shouldn’t be. The very term “mainstream gay” is at odds with everything homosexuals have always represented.”
- “Normalcy is the evil side of homosexuality”
- “I don’t want to have a spouse and kids and a front lawn. I want to be hurled out of a nightclub at three in the morning in a drug-fueled stupor”
- “So it is ironic to say the least, when we are now told that our aspiration should be to see ourselves as normal. No doubt gay people regard this as the ultimate answer to the common implication that being gay is pathological. No, they want to insist, we’re normal. But this is to buy into a false alternative.”
- “For decades, being gay has meant transgression and the violation of taboos. It’s been an act of rebellion, an automatic entry pass into society’s underworld. Our weirdness is our strength–it gives us an edge, a power and a charm over everyone else. Why would we want to give that up?”
Answers: 1.Milo. 2. Filmmaker Jack Smith 3. Milo 4. Michael Warner in The Trouble With Normal and 5. Milo again.
Freaky isn’t it? And certainly damning. It’s a shame that everyone in academia will be too triggered in their safe spaces to realize the chilling similarities they share with one of the most hated commentators of our time. And it’s for this reason that it’s important to keep reading much-loathed materials–you may find some strange bedfellows in there.