Underdog overlords

The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he’s just a lil guy

Underdog overlords


I saw someone say, in response to a negative comment about the NFL, “Let guys be passionate about something.” Yeah man. A few more brain injuries and the patriarchy is toast.

Some creators of AI-generated art have started using the term “creative privilege” in reference to human artists. What a fantastical world they’ve invited us into: one where you can be born not just with a portfolio of stocks in the form of a trust fund, but a portfolio of art, too.

Those opposed to critical race theory in Wisconsin have released a new commercial claiming it’ll make kids of color believe they can’t grow up to be what they want. I look forward to the next one, where they’ll say you’re kicking someone out of the neighborhood if you explain to them what redlining is.


Christina Aguilera once sang, “I am beautiful, no matter what they say.” Unlike the previous examples, this was in good faith; I have a feeling the things early-aughts studio executives said to her would make Harvey Weinstein blush. The song’s message is as pertinent as ever in the age of social media; it was re-released with a new music video in 2022. All this being said, there remains a surface-level irony in someone so conventionally beautiful singing those lyrics, which incidentally were written by one Linda Perry, not Aguilera herself.

We take original ideas and have to give them to hot people. Do you know how many unsettling engineering/studio art majors had to get pantsed before Harry Styles could wear a dress? No, give me a little freak. Give me a five-foot-one computer science major from Albany who makes animal sounds in public and has wet hands. Put him in a dress and stand him on stage at Madison Square Garden and see how the American teens treat him. He will go to jail.

— Chris Fleming


Too normie, too mainstream, too sincere in one’s passion for Marvel, too lacking in “alt” or subversive credentials, and one is cringe. Too niche, too much of a hipster, too passionate about something no one else is, and you’re still cringe. Don’t be part of a group but don’t be alone, either. Be somewhere in between: be alone but special, be part of a group but better than them. When enough people think this way — that they’re the lone freak in a mass of normies — it becomes the most normie thing you can do.

The mightiest titans of industry feel this. There’s a mass of people — labor unions, climate refugees — ready to pounce. The workers feel this. There’s always another project to work on, another trait to improve, another thing to buy or create, another way to increase your worth, because everything’s capital, including you. The climate may be breaking down and wealth inequality may be skyrocketing, but since everyone feels like the underdog, no one feels responsible for improving things, and no one does.

Title photo: Fighting dogs, Adriaen van de Velde, 1657