Manosphere Grusel

There are some real limits to the English language. The German word "Grusel" translates roughly to "horror" but what gets lost is the fact that there's an undercurrent of enjoyment; horror in the theatrical sense rather than the real sense.

I get a sense of Grusel from Australian artist Tiyan Baker's Hard As You Can. It's a short film/video art piece that explores Fight Club as a text of significance to the online manosphere and alt right groups.

On one level it's simply worth watching to get a quick idea of that milieu. Baker does a good job of conveying some of the insecurities and vulnerabilities that often form the centre of these groups' misogynistic "might makes right" ideologies. 

On another level I wonder how aware the artist was of her own sense of Grusel when she made the piece. How straight is it being played? There's something inherently comedic about some of the body builder and pick up artist conversations that are documented in the first half of the video—especially when you remember that the author of Fight Club is gay. 


The second half of the piece explores the undeniably fascistic groups that are regularly engaging in Fight Club-esque one-on-one brawls. But the two are presented with a stylistic flatness that implies that they are essentially one and the same thing. I'd agree that there's cross pollination but I don't really buy that body building or "Pick Up" is always a gateway drug into fascism. 

But maybe that isn't even what's being said. As a video artwork rather than a straight documentary Hard As You Can has the liberty to explore machismo and insecurity in a more archetypical way. Ending on a flickering freeze frame of Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden hints at how Fight Club seems to be imprinted onto so many mens' subconscious in a way that I found thought provoking. 

Oh, also the Prototype (the site/project the video is being curated on) has some squishy, awesome web design that you should go have a look at. Very 90's cyberfeminist—which is perfect because that movement also originated down under. Woop! 

~Check out Hard As You Can and Protoype~