Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.
By now I’m late to the #AlexFromTarget party. Every outlet on the Internet has a “think piece” up where they claim #AlexFromTarget proves whatever they want it to prove. That Andy Warhol quote we’re all sick of has been paraded out a thousand more times, and we’ve all stroked our chins at how profound and/or insipid the implications of the Interwebz are.
For those of you who missed it: someone snapped a picture of an above-average-looking bag boy at a Target store; suddenly, Twitter was blowing up with the hashtag #AlexFromTarget; one Alex Lee suddenly had almost a million followers for no real reason; then an Internet startup nobody had ever heard of called Breakr claimed responsibility; then someone pointed out that Breakr had absolutely no evidence to back up their claim.
So either some obscure Internet startup is really dumb, or teenage girls are really dumb. Not that either fact would be news to anyone.
I have nothing to say about any of this, but Caitlin Dewey over at the Washington Post says that the only lesson to be learned is that the Web is the first truly constructed reality, where anyone can invent whatever truth they want, and no one has any idea who’s right. So, since I have nothing to say about it, here’s a postmodern hodgepodge of takes on #AlexFromTarget, from every imaginable philosophical angle:
A Marxist Interpretation:
#AlexFromTarget is the opiate of the teenage girl masses, created to distract them from the reality that the money they’ve been spending on cheap cosmetics and Taylor Swift t-shirts is being used to enrich the already-wealthy while #AlexFromTarget himself is kept in wage slavery. Breakr has claimed responsibility because the proletariate cannot be allowed power over even their own simplest pleasures.
A Feminist Interpretation:
The dissemination of photos of attractive males by drooling females serves to perpetuate the patriarchy by making females slaves to heteronormative sexuality. When drooling males disseminate photos of attractive females, that also perpetuates the patriarchy, by encouraging men to objectify women. Also, the word “disseminate” serves to perpetuate the patriarchy, for obvious reasons.
A “Men’s Rights” Interpretation:
See? Women can objectify men too. That means rape isn’t a problem. Q.E.D.
A Mainline Protestant Interpretation:
It really doesn’t matter whether #AlexFromTarget is a real person, or whether he actually became an Internet meme, or whether Breakr was actually responsible; what matters is that we strive to welcome the #AlexFromTargets of the world into our own communities and live by his example.
A Thomist Interpretation:
#AlexFromTarget possesses essence but not existence. He was conceived in the minds of some basic teenage girls, but has no physical substance, since the idea of #AlexFromTarget is separate from the reality of Alex Lee the man, who possesses both essence and existence and may at times take on the accidents of #AlexFromTarget. And if you understood any of that, please explain it to me. Also, transubstantiation, because reasons.
A Fox News Interpretation:
WAKE UP, SHEEPLE! #AlexFromTarget was conceived as a clever distraction to keep you occupied while the government takes away your guns and sets up a Muslim-Communist-atheist-fascist dictatorship!!! Unless you lazy minimum-wage earners like Alex wake up and start producing like the heroes at Breakr and Target Corporate, you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves when Obama personally comes to your house and forces you to go on welfare! IT’S ALREADY HAPPENING.
A Modernist Interpretation:
#AlexFromTarget done me best when I was let. Thinking always if I go all goes. A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles and is there one who understands me? One in a thousand of years of the nights?
A Young-Earth Creationist Interpretation:
Breakr obviously orchestrated the whole thing. Why else would they say they did? The evidence might suggest otherwise, but you don’t know because you weren’t there.
An Evolutionary Interpretation:
Spreading breathless memes like #AlexFromTwitter is clearly a reproductive strategy of the human female. The human female attracts a mate by…I dunno, showering affection on a male who’s completely inaccessible, I guess? I dunno, it’s obviously a reproductive strategy, because everything is a reproductive strategy, because evolution. Q.E.D.
A Libertarian Interpretation:
The #AlexFromTarget phenomenon becomes morally clear as soon as we apply the common-sense libertarian principles of property rights and self-ownership. The initial photographer was free to do as she wished with the picture of Alex, since it was her property. Or maybe she was violating his right to self-ownership by taking a photo of him against his will. One or the other.
And then Breakr was free to claim ownership of the meme, since it existed unclaimed in a state of nature. Or they were in the wrong since it was someone else’s creation. One of those two things is right.
The point is, libertarian principles make everything clear. That’s all I’m saying.
A Quiverfull Interpretation:
What were these teenage girls doing looking at boys without their fathers’ permission?
An Environmentalist Interpretation:
#AlexFromTarget is a blight upon Mother Earth because everyone using a computer is contributing to global warming. Or maybe that’s a good thing, since people sitting at home on the Internet emit less carbon than people who are out driving around. Or maybe that’s bad because people sitting at home use more air conditioning. Or maybe air conditioning is good because that way we save water since people need to shower less. Wait, now I’m lost. Were we still talking about that kid from Target?
An Emergent Interpretation:
If Breakr says they created #AlexFromTarget and everyone else says they didn’t, isn’t it possible that, in a way, they’re both right? We need to hold what we think we know about Alex with an open hand.
A Chestertonian Interpretation:
It’s strange how everyone wants the cute-boy memes that Breakr propagates, and yet refuses to submit to Breakr’s authority.
A New Atheist Interpretation:
In this day and age it is utterly ridiculous to believe that a magical man named Alex lives inside Twitter and will bag your groceries for you whenever you ask. The assertion is so obviously ridiculous that we won’t even waste time looking at the photos of him or watching his “interview” that allegedly occurred on Ellen. That which can be asserted without evidence that we’ll bother looking at can be dismissed without evidence.
The Official CaPC Take:
The #AlexFromTarget phenomenon functions as a clear Christ-metaphor and/or a clear example of the imago Dei and/or a clear reflection of the evil in the hearts of humankind and/or a clear image of our need to use discretion when we inhale media and/or something-something. It’s absolutely not just a dumb internet meme we’ll all forget about tomorrow, because if it was, we wouldn’t be getting paid to write about it. Speaking of which, give us money.