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The Fine Art Of Trolling

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

Trolling is a new art that is still in its early days. Trolling is the challenging of expectations of social norms. We already live in our postmodernist meta time. We all wear things ironically and speak with sarcasm. Most of the things we say we treat like “as if I’d ever really say that” or “as if I’d ever really do that”. But we’re doing it. We talk in memes and references a lot of the time. Trolling is taking that meta level of existence to another level. Trolling is a fine art. It’s an acquired taste. It’s an esoteric performance art. Its method acting taken to the next level.

Like comedian Andy Kaufman. People didn’t understand him in his time. People don’t understand him now. He was in character all the time. To the point where when he told his family he was dying from cancer they thought it was a joke. He was in character in talk shows that needed you to play a different type of character. Talk shows were the ultimate close up of what society tries to be. It’s good looking rich people in suits and dresses talking eloquently and promoting their future endeavors.

Andy Kaufman would go in and deliberately destroy the social etiquette and norms that are staples of late night talk shows. He would have snot running from his nose, he stuttered, he acted as awkward as possible. He acted abnormally normal to prove a point. That late night shows are bullshit so he would take it to the extreme and expose the bullshit from within. Because everyone’s nose runs but your nose isn’t supposed to run on a late night show. You’re supposed to look perfect and act perfect.

It reflects our environments through classes and work spaces and just life in general. We’re supposed to dress a certain way, talk a certain way and act a certain way. Andy Kaufman exposes that while being hilariously himself. It’s what Joaquin Phoenix did on Letterman in 2010. He made sure to act as non charming as possible. He dissed the crowd and the shows host. He responded with one word responses, was awkward and stuck his gum underneath the table. He didn’t meet any of the expectations that are set for an Oscar nominated superstar.

It’s what attracted kids to Odd Future. They were cool cause they were a joke their fans were in on. It was so meta that they swore to each other that none of them could seriously freestyle at radio stations. As they got older their music became more honest and sincere and they’ve individually abandoned the meta gimmicks and serious free styling rules for the most part. But that’s what attracted people to them. It’s what rappers Lil B and Ugly God do. They were crossing lines we didn’t know existed till we saw them crossed.

We’re all scared of how people will see us or what they’ll say, so we won’t do certain things and we won’t act a certain way because we’re enslaved to the idea of other people’s opinions. Like most art forms in their beginning trolling won’t be appreciated now. It’s not meant to be understood but it is challenging thought. It’s playing and toying with your expectations of reality. It’s a view outside of our social matrix.

Kanye West is a troll but I think he’s an example of trolling used on a large scale for good. I think Kanye knows how big his platform is so he says outlandish things to bring relevance to him so that he can spread a positive message. Because the negative headlines are the ones that spread the fastest. I heard some profound things from him in both the TMZ interview where he said slavery was a choice and the Trump interview in the White House. Both are very controversial moments and headlines. And Kanye knows that. But if you watch the full versions he’s talking about media programming, montessori schools, black ownership, African proverbs, prison reform and many other conscious messages. Clearly the way to get the most attention is to troll the media to get the most possible press, even if it’s negative. It’s also creating performance art spectacles that we’re talking about around the world. As well as being a good promotional tool.

I think the only thing trolling can be compared to is pro wrestling. Pro wrestling operates under kayfabe. It’s the story line that the audience is being fed that the wrestlers and promoters were putting on. The wrestlers were forbidden to break character in front of audience members. It doesn’t exist as much anymore cause the internet made it possible for audience members to find out pro wrestling is scripted. There are still characters and moments that uphold kayfabe while tearing a hole through the 4th wall, kind o