“Patriot bros”, the fascist creep, and the spatial fantasies of white nationalist masculinity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The radical-right and fascistic eruptions are (re)surgent in many global contexts. But the relationship between space, ideology, digital representation and rhetoric, identity and the body is underexplored, especially with regard to networked masculinities. Place, the body, hyper-nationalism and white supremacism, and expressions of militarism and exaggerated masculinity (or the “heroic man”), emerge in the form of photos, memes and #hashtags, and are negotiated and reconstituted via social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. But these virtual constructions are also spatialised through produced territories, taking the forms of autonomous compounds of recreation (e.g. gym), capital accumulation (warehouses, products, crypto-mines) and local community infrastructures (homes, churches, schools). The patriot-bro, in other words, moves from online personality to spatial fixture, with implications (and perils) for democracy and community cohesion.

This chapter explores the online and offline spatial fantasies of American post-industrial white masculinity through a media analysis of the case of “Patriot Labs”, a bodybuilding and fitness supplement company with a vibrant social media presence. Through short, humorous films advertising products; Instagram “stories” and YouTube clips, and an aesthetic of hyper-patriotism, hyper-masculinity and radical-right political signifiers, the company constructs a reactionary, white, muscular space online (media) and offline (its warehouses, gyms and community infrastructures). The merger of online silly content, corporate values, radical-right ideologies and physical territory, therefore, represents a dangerous “creep” of fascistic formation with radicalising potential and ripple effects that reverberate elsewhere globally.

However, through an alternative reading informed by queer theory, this chapter suggests, somewhat paradoxically, that beyond the projections, representations and veneer of exaggerated white masculinity and hyper-patriotism, there is a more dynamic, empathetic and potentially (de)radicalising space of male vulnerability, bonding, softness, homo-sociality and homoeroticism. Through this more complex reading, the new “heroic man” is an unstable, cartoonish, self-reflective and satirical figure, with yes, fascistic and dangerous tendencies, but also, other, less essential, dynamic, playful possibilities and alternative trajectories and stories-yet-unfolding.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationToxic Masculinity
Subtitle of host publicationMen, Meaning, and Digital Media
EditorsJohn Mercer, Mark McGlashan
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Chapter4
Pages56-71
Number of pages16
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781003263883
ISBN (Print)9781032027067, 9781032205007
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023

Publication series

NameMasculinity, Sex and Popular Culture
PublisherRoutledge

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