The last post was fairly abstract about movement building. Let me illustrate.
College football programs change their uniforms all the time. They almost never change their logos and color scheme, no matter what pressure is put on them. This is because football is central to the college experience. The teams themselves mostly lose money, as we noted yesterday, but they’re loss leaders – they build the brand.1 This is also how ranked schools have creampuffs to mollywhop every opening weekend. Yeah, Cupcake Tech gets paid to travel to Big State and get stomped, but have you ever wondered why the hell Cupcake Tech has a football team in the first place? You can’t run an entire program from a single game’s paycheck. Again, it’s all about the brand — Cupcake Tech gets stomped by Big State on national tv.
What, you thought the faculty decided that athletics is a central part of a well-rounded education? Profs hate sports in general, and football in particular, with the heat of a thousand suns.2 All that toxic masculinity! I promise you: Every fall, all the faculty loudmouths (that is to say, the entire faculty) at every college in America get together and go down to the college president’s office to complain about the football program. And every fall, the president tells them to get bent, not because he’s a football fan — college presidents are eggheads, too — but because he’s the one guy on campus who sees the bottom line. I’m not exaggerating too much when I say that without its annual stomping by Big State, Cupcake Tech would pretty much cease to exist.
No, really. If “athletic success” can increase applications 30% in two years, simply being on tv with the big boys must do something.
“The primary form of mass media advertising by academic institutions in the United States is, arguably, through their athletic programs,” says Harvard Business School Assistant Professor of marketing Doug J. Chung.
That’s what I want everyone to keep in mind: The brand-building effect. Let’s say you’re a parent who doesn’t want to send your snowflake off to Big State — you bought into the bullshit about “smaller class sizes” and whatnot (and it is mostly bullshit, but that’s a rant for another day). Where do you start looking? Well, there was that college on tv the other day… they had a cool logo, nice colors….
The specifics don’t matter. At all. Snowflake doesn’t know what she’s going to major in, or what she’ll do with that degree once she gets it. Nor will the first three or four years on campus clarify it much (what, you thought “undeclared” was just for freshmen? HA!!). But I promise you: Snowflake will have all the gear. It’s an almost perfectly inverse relationship, in fact — the less you know why you’re in college in the first place, the crazier your devotion to the school mascot. (Yeah, sure, it’s anecdotal, but I’ve got a lot of anecdotes). Snowflake will be a Cupcake Tech Fightin’ Pastry until her dying day. And since the student body nationwide is close to 60% female…
Let’s apply that to Our Thing. The very first step in building a successful movement is letting the world know your movement exists. This seems obvious, but read the biography of any successful revolutionary — it’s littered with alphabet soup, the clunky acronyms of a zillion low-rent “movements” that never got out of somebody’s basement apartment for lack of publicity. Here again, the specifics don’t matter. At all. The first, and most pressing goal, of a Direct Action Group — even before “getting a better name, for pete’s sake” — is to create the impression of ubiquity. Turn wearing a white ballcap into a fashion statement. This shouldn’t be all that hard to accomplish — see “undergraduates, female majority of,” above. College girls are the most conformist creatures on God’s green earth, with high school girls running a close second.
Again, because it’s critical: The specifics don’t matter. They don’t need to know — indeed, definitely should NOT know — that a white Pats ballcap (or whatever) means you’re part of #TheRealResistance (or whatever). That comes later. Your cadre should know…
… because that’s our white hat’s second critical function at the start: Signalling. This is old-school spycraft, right out of the Fifties. The eighteen fifites, which is why it
is will be so effective in the modern high tech urban surveillance environment. “Affects and effects” were standard communication techniques for secret agents. How do you know who your contact is, since basic operational security means you’ve never seen him before? Ahhh, he’s the chap with the red flower in his left lapel, holding yesterday’s copy of the Telegraph in his left hand, leaning against a lamp post at Euston Station between 12:30 and 12:45 (he’ll recognize you by your white hatband). If the meet’s on, he’ll rapidly open and close his paper; if it’s off, he’ll pretend to drop his pocket watch.
So: Are you really in #TheRealResistance, or just some trend-surfing poseur? Ahh, you have a shamrock pin on the left side of the brim. You’re a Cell Leader Third Class in the local Organization. Combine the two for extra fun — get the trend surfers wearing “pieces of flair” on their hats like that dork in Office Space.
You really just want to be able to recognize your fellow Fight Clubbers, but if these nimrods want to volunteer as camouflage, let them! If your Basic College Girl has at least fifteen pieces of flair on her hat, you can stealth-transmit half of Atlas Shrugged.
Obviously I’m being more than a little facetious — obviously — but “piggybacking” on a trend that you yourself started is incredibly effective. Witness the lulz with the OK sign, which was openly a prank from day one. It’s to the point now where undercover shitlords really could signal to each other that way. It’s got plausible deniability out the wazoo, everything from “do I look like I follow internet memes?” to “seriously, that’s really a thing?” to “haha quit joking” to “I’m standing up to the Alt-Right — take back our hand gestures!” But if the other guy flashes OK back at you, now you have much to discuss….
Alas, the plausible deniability requirement means Our Thing’s “uniform” really will have to be something common. I take a backseat to no man in my disdain for poseurs, and while all modern fashion is stupid and it’s getting worse as we careen closer to real-life Idiocracy, creating a “look” from scratch is too risky — you’ll get “outed” before it turns into a trend. It’d be easy enough to get bespoke gear made — the local screen printing shop can set you up with an all-white hat with any logo you choose — but it totally compromises operational security. As does picking some minor league team’s gear — while nobody will find it suspicious if the New England Patriots suddenly have a lot more fans (particularly if they win another Super Bowl), a bunch of y’all running around Dallas wearing the hats of the worst team in the New Hampshire Co-Rec Softball Weekend Beer League’s weakest division might raise a few eyebrows, even at such an enstupidated institution as The Feeb.
In short: Start thinking like a dumb, mal-educated, hormonal college girl. What would she wear, and why? Use that, and once it gets good and popular….
THEN it’s time for the big reveal. Or, you know, the microscopically small reveal, because you want to maintain plausible deniability at all times. You want it juuuuuuust well-known enough that it’s slightly “risky” to be seen wearing one. Take a lesson from the so-called “EdgyCons” here. Whatever you think of their message, guys like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, etc. make really nice livings at the very edges of “respectable” opinion. A certain kind of person would find you slightly dangerous if you carried a copy of 12 Rules of Life around. If they asked you, though, you could just as easily say “it’s a research project; I know he’s a horrible badthinker, I want to see just how bad it really is, to make sure nice sweet people like you who love Big Brother don’t get sucked in.”
Obviously you’ll get a lot more of a certain type of poseur with this tactic, and that’s ok. For one, they’re a fertile recruiting ground, especially the ones who want to get in your face about it. Goebbels bragged he could turn a Red (Communist) into a Brown (Nazi) in two weeks, because both Commies and Nazis are easily excitable losers who are already worked up about politics, so all you have to do is shift the emphasis a little bit (he only implied that last part).
For two, imagine the reaction of the kind of hysterical wanker who gets worked up by the OK sign, Pepe the Frog, and the rest. If they start thinking that maybe, just maybe, an all-white Pats hat is the uniform of the Neo-Neo-Klan, then isn’t all Pats gear suspect? Hell, isn’t all NFL gear suspect? I mean, cardinals are well known as the most racist of birds, and that Jacksonville team could’ve picked an all-black jaguar for their logo, but picked the spotted one instead. Clearly racist. And don’t get me started about the “Packers” — packing Jews into concentration camps!!!3
Have some fun with it. So long as it’s plausibly deniable and no none gets hurt, it’s good. (Or, you know, don’t have fun with it, because all this is purely a thought experiment. Totally hypothetical).
1 The teams that do money make tons of it, and hey, whaddaya know, Oregon — the undisputed world champ of wacky uniform changes — is third on the list. They started changing their uniforms every week when Nike CEO Phil Knight got involved. Hey, ya think Phil Knight — the guy who brought Air Jordans to the world — knows a thing or two about building a brand?
2 Yes yes, the “gender studies” people love softball, I’ll give you that. And field hockey. But since about 14 total persyns play those, they have no impact on campus life.
3. Again, obviously I’m kidding. This is 100% satire. I advocate nothing. I love Big Brother (in fact, I’m required by my institution’s ethics board to notify you that this — all of it, this whole blog — is all a big experiment in the Department of Sociology. I’m trying to see just how gullible and manipulable you suckers really are. I’m With Her, all the way).