RIP Qanon, Part II: Q Is Terrible At Everything
Compliment sandwich time: It is genuinely impressive how Q has managed to serve as a sort of Mance Rayder figure that’s able to cobble together an uneasy alliance of warring Internet tribes defined by their shitty people skills: Conspiracy theorists, Incels, racists, Sovereign Citizens, serial killers, probably inflation fetishists, anybody who voted for Trump is 2020.
Yes, pretty much all of these groups are slightly different flavors of Self-Victimizing White Guy, but communicating with them is an art, not a science. There’s a lot of nuance in exactly how to arrange and vocalize the small collection of virtually identical whiny talking points endemic to each tribe in order to earn their trust. You can’t just go up to a gang of Joker-faced Blackpilled Incels and be like “Yo thickwrist, Chad’s taking an HB10 Stacey up the Carousel like a Wincel half past Poutin’ Time, you rope or cope?”
They’ll sniff you out like the sex-having narc you are and expel you from their territory, squawking a chorus of “COPE”s and “lmao”s¹ as you retreat in shame.
Then they’ll write unsettlingly long and elaborate fanfic where they accuse you of being a hot person in disguise, sent by the local Sex Havers’ Club, to infiltrate and undermine their group anti-therapy sessions by feeding them lies about how women would like you more if you stopped writing essays about how much you hate them.
My point is Q deserves credit for figuring out how to communicate with like eight different dialects of that miserable bullshit without directly plagiarizing everything Trump said word-for-word and hoping they’re too stupid to notice. (Oh God, would that actually work? Should I delete this?)
He’s like the Jane Goodall of the right-wing Betaverse, visiting them in their native Discords, gradually earning their trust and building rapport by slowly pointing at his chest and saying “lmao. I. ALPHA. BIGGUN NOCUCK. LIBS — TRIGGERED. lmao. JEALOUS.” He knows exactly how many Tearful Laughter emojis are appropriate for, say, a Boomer cartoon on Facebook about your eternal superiority over your grandchildren (16), versus how many you planned on using when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of giving Trump a bonus 70 Electoral Votes for no reason (1.16e⁷).
Content-wise, “Q-Drops”, beyond sounding like an early 2000’s Christian rock band on a mission from God to keep your dick dry, aren’t that remarkable aside from the hilariously cliched presentation. Q is more of an innovator in his medium than a revolutionary. There’s some modern twists on time-honored favorites, such as connecting thumbtacks with red yarn on a corkboard like in every fucking movie ever, and it gives a very J.J. Abrams/Star Wars vibe that kinda makes you appreciate Rian Johnson’s vision a lot more. Part of me wants to believe Q is playing a long con by LARPing as a lunatic impersonating John Kelly impersonating a 4chan poster, because even his craziness feels unrealistically on the nose.
Q-Drops are full of needlessly clipped language and gratuitous acronyms which I think are supposed to come across as a gruff, no-nonsense cable from a seasoned intelligence expert, but mostly just reads like a cross between beat poetry and haiku written by an elderly schizophrenic using Twitter for the first time.
As we’ll see, this is kind of a running gag with Q: He’s really bad at sounding professional because, while he’s too lazy to learn what real-world spies actually do, he also tries way too hard to sound like Solid Snake in his Drops. I used to be an English tutor back in junior college, and his writing style gives me bad flashbacks to English 101 students who’d try to impress their teachers with unreadable nightmares of convoluted, faux-”professional” jargon.
A typical….ugh, “Q-Drop” looks something like this:
POTUS grants no favors. Help (assistance) coming?
Why POTUS have buttons everywhere.
Push some but not all.
Alinsky: Falcon punch(?)
What beer for POTUS when he comes to my apartment? (Apple? TOO GAY!!!!!!!!)
Working on my Attraction Sign.
Triste-Zurich-London, 1918? 1918! Goddammit!
Sweetheart Search (Love Quest) on pause.
Trolls everywhere. Not safe.
The winning numbers for tonight’s Powerball will be 62 13 11 54 20 33*. I know this for a fact. This comes from my most trusted source and he stressed that he’s 100% certain about this, so if these numbers are incorrect, I’m a total fraud doing all of this for attention and you should never listen to me again.
Is FLOTUS lonely (want/need friends?)?
You may have noticed one of those felt out of place.
Normally, if you’re angry at your liver and want revenge, you’ll take a shot every time the words “vague” and “conspiracy theorists” appear in the same paragraph. And yes, if you do that here, you will die. But while Q seems sort of aware that the best cons require a subtle combination of vagary and specificity, he has no idea how to balance the two.
If anything, he has them totally backwards, being specific about things he should keep vague while being vague about things that demand specificity.
As any self-respecting doomsday prophet will tell you, there are two rules to prophecies: Keep them vague, and set them in the distant future. You never say “If the Washington Generals don’t defeat the Harlem Globetrotters at tonight’s game, never listen to me again.” It’s just not done!
But you know what? Rules were meant to be broken, nerd. Q plays by his own rules! Just so he can break them!
Which means constantly making extremely specific predictions about major events set in the immediate future that are always unambiguously wrong.
Q introduced himself to the world on October 28th, 2017, when he claimed that Hillary’s passport had been “approved to be flagged” on October 30th and that we’ll see massive riots in response (to a vague rumor about someone setting a date to schedule when to consider flagging a retired, unpopular politician’s passport).
Later that day, he got bored and declared Hillary had already been detained (not arrested, he helpfully clarifies).
First impressions matter. We’ve known about the existence of Q for like 35 minutes and already his first action was to go out of his way to repeatedly sabotage his own nonexistent credibility with multiple gratuitous plot twists. That’s Psy Ops for ya, baby!
God he sucks.
This wasn’t even a one-off, either.
It’s not like Q wised up afterwards and learned from his shameful public boners. The Wikipedia entry for Qanon has a comically long list of times Q repeated this extremely preventable mistake over and over again. It’s so massive that halfway down, you can spot the exact moment the Wikipedia editor realized he’d be here all night if he included every single time Q embarrassed himself and starts using “Multiple instances of claiming [name of person] will be [removed from power]” as a shortcut.
Q’s only saving grace is that he’s so bad at predicting the future, whatever contempt you initially had rapidly dissolves into “oh honey no” pity after you watch him incorrectly try to guess a number between one and three 56 times in a row and start to wonder if you’re allowed to laugh at a person God clearly hates that much.
But while Q can’t stop making hilariously specific guesses about things he’s totally ignorant of, when it comes to things that matter, he has the exact opposite problem. (Professional writers call this a “transitional sentence”.)
Imagine, for a moment, that Q is telling the truth. Turns out, there actually is a powerful cabal of Satanic cannibal pedophiles running an international human trafficking ring that specializes in selling infants to be abused and eaten! Out of a pizza parlor. Run by Lucifer. While Space Jews blast us with lasers. How would you even begin to communicate that to the world?
Through Resident Evil puzzles and vague, open-ended riddles shrouded in ambiguity and poetic license, hidden in unremarkable, everyday phrases people use all the time in a variety of situations, obviously.
Q’s seen enough late-80’s Rutger Hauer action movies on TBS Afternoon to know spies are secretive and vague and use codes and stuff, and good for him! They sure do, buddy! But had he been paying attention to the movie instead of occasionally glancing up while folding his laundry, he would’ve noticed that they’re cryptic for a reason.
There’s basically two problems here. The first is that Q is confusing real-world Spy Codes, which use arbitrary, predesignated passwords, with video game puzzles, where you have to solve brain teasers to prove your worthiness to enter the Pharaoh’s tomb.
Unless you’re trying to get laid on a first date, riddles are a terrible means of communication. The whole point of predesignated codes is that smart people can’t guess them. In real life, using someone’s “cleverness” as the basis for whether or not they have access to, say, nuclear launch codes is a really, really bad idea. There’s a reason wars are fought among nations and not quarreling teams of Sudoku enthusiasts.
(Besides, the puzzles in Resident Evil barely qualify as puzzles. 90% of the time there is literally a 15-foot oil painting of the solution right next to it. Being patronizing is one thing, but I’ve never had anyone hate my brain so much they commissioned Caravaggio to immortalize me struggling to fill out a Junior Jumble in front of a disappointed Jesus.)
The second problem is that anyone who guesses the correct answer is insane and should not join your team.
There’s something almost charming about how oblivious Q is to the way neurotypical humans would react to his revelations. At no point does it occur to him that this may come as a surprise to some people, and that he should present his case with that in mind.
No, Q treats this as if he’s just confirming what we already suspected; until now, we were reasonably certain Space Jews were blasting us with lasers, and Q is just giving us the tools to draw our own informed conclusions. It’s an empowering, hands-off praxis that respects your intelligence and promotes critical thought. Sorry if you’re not used to being treated like an adult by the SUCKstream meDIEa.
You know how everyone makes fun of those old episodes of Lassie where humans can extrapolate the exact GPS coordinates of the well Timmy fell down just by light dancing in Lassie’s eyes? Imagine if instead, Timmy’s big brother thought Lassie was barking something about Space Jews and getting to the main reactor before the orbital laser is fully charged.
Wouldn’t a sane person’s first instinct be to ask the dog to repeat what it just said more slowly and without the unprompted anti-Semitism, thank you very much? Maybe ask the dog to write down what it was trying to convey instead of going “Space Jews it is, then!”
Or let’s use a simpler example: Remember “Got Milk?” Remember what a masterclass in concision it was? Simple. Memorable. Effective.
But if we’re being fair, “drink milk” is a pretty clean message to begin with. Cows secrete fluids from their nipples that we put in our mouths to protect a skeleton. No shit.
Now, if your message is something more complex, such as “The Largest Political Party In The United States And Also This One Pizzeria In Maryland Are Actually Two Separate Fronts For The Same Satanic Cabal Of Baby-Raping Cannibals Lead By The Devil And That Insane Honking Goose Man You Just Voted Out Of Power Is About To Enact A Bloody Coup That Will Turn The United States Into A Military Dictatorship While Every Living Former President Plus Their Wives Are Publicly Executed On Live Television Oh And Also You Won’t Be Able To Change The Channel, Just Wanted To Toss That Last Bit In There, Apparently That Matters,” communicating it through the medium of interpretive charades is probably less efficient than just telling us. This is how marriages fall apart.
Q. Buddy. This is kind of a big deal. You’re exposing the deepest, darkest secrets of the most powerful and evil political force in history. It doesn’t matter if you reveal it through puzzles or say it outright. Either way you’ve squeezed the toothpaste. It isn’t like Obama will send slightly fewer assassins at you because you exposed his Baby Sex Ring to the world by directing an interpretive ballet about it instead of an encrypted email sent to all major news outlets.
There is zero benefit to being coy or dragging it out beyond a desire for attention. These are people who hang out with Satan on what I imagine to be a fairly regular basis. Even with your imaginary government protection, you’re still being hunted by equally imaginary assassins. Under no circumstances should you feel safe enough to risk being killed before the truth is revealed.
If anything, they’d have a much stronger incentive to kill you before you’re finished blabbing. If you went public and talked to the media, at least there’s a small chance they’d realize killing you would only confirm your claims.
It’s pretty clear Q has no idea what he’s doing. How could he? There’s no way he prepared for this. For him, this is a D&D game that spiraled horribly out of control, and now he has to remain permanently remain in character, even as the real-life stakes escalate ever higher, until the Secretary Of State starts drunk dialing his character at 3 AM and delivering an uncomfortably intimate monologue where he calculates whether blood is truly more expensive than oil and also is it normal to be gay for exactly two years?
Even in-universe, his D&D character’s motivations are confusing and inconsistent. The only workable information we have is the man clearly enjoys tattling on his friends, is terrible at keeping secrets, lies constantly, cannot be trusted, and is deeply, deeply lonely.
We’re through the looking glass, people.
¹One unusually universal loanword revered among all the Insecure White Guy character classes, “lmao” is used to convey extremely intense denial and/or end a conversation.