I am a cautionary tale for others. Follow my newsletter: https://mattblack.substack.com Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/matttblack42

On substack

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hello,

This is a quick, non-paywalled post meant to give my Medium followers a heads up that I’ve started my own personal newsletter on substack. You can find the first post here. The newsletter is free to read, and free to subscribe.

Why did I create a newsletter? Mainly because I wanted to create a more personal, informal connection with my readers and followers. Medium is where I post my high-effort posts: the 20-minute long essays like my recent Catcher in the Rye post, or the Gay South Park post, or the one about the Violation of Male Bodies. …


Learning to understand my Trump-supporting family

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Photo: Lionsgate

Growing up, I was always comforted by the idea that my conservative family members weren’t that bad. Yes, they’d always voted Republican, but they were reasonable Republicans, the type that simply had a different way of understanding the world. They liked the idea of universal health care, but they didn’t trust the government’s ability to effectively carry the policy out. They didn’t like the idea of poverty, but they figured raising the minimum wage too much would cause inflation and higher unemployment rates, and would end up harming the poor more than it helped.

These were all valid concerns, ones I assumed were the foundations behind my family members’ conservative understanding of the world. It was shortly after watching Knives Out that I realized I’d been giving them way too much credit. …


A call for a more nuanced understanding of polling

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The final 2016 election forecast on FiveThirtyEight

America may be a highly polarized country, but there does seem to be one thing that everyone can get on board with: bashing on Nate Silver. Although he is not well-known outside the political world, those who closely follow US politics tend to have strong feelings about him, most of which are undeserved.

Hillary’s defeat

Back in 2016, Nate Silver got a lot of flak from liberals because his website, FiveThirtyEight, consistently gave Hillary a lower chance of winning than most of the other election forecasts. …


They view losing in politics like losing a football game, but when they win their politics are designed to materially harm real people

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AP Photo / John Locher

Imagine someone in your life who supported Donald Trump. You may no longer be close to that person. You may still hold a relationship with them, no matter how strained. You may be young and this person is a family member you can’t simply cast out of your life, even if you wanted to.

Imagine them saying to you something like this:

“Hey, listen. I’ve realized that I was wrong to support Donald Trump. Trump is a racist, corrupt, fascist President and I should’ve known that from the very beginning. The signs were all there. I should’ve seen them, but I made a conscious choice to remain ignorant to the damage he — and by extension, myself — was causing. …


Why the Biden Presidency might be better than some leftists predict

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Screenshot of the Associated Press’s Election Results, as of 9:18pm, 11/7/20.

Well, they’ve done it. The demonrats, libtards and snowflakes have managed to steal the election from the innocent, unassuming Donald Trump. They successfully managed to rig the election, although they somehow forgot to also rig the downballot elections in their favor.

People like to say how Trump should have been an easy candidate to beat, and the fact that he won so many votes shows an alarming failure on the part of both Biden and Hillary’s campaigns. That’s partly true, but the unfortunate fact is that Trump was a legitimately strong candidate with a powerful base, fueled by a massive right-wing media empire that demonizes liberals to the point where 45% of the country would never, ever vote for a Democratic candidate under any circumstances. …


Established writers don’t follow the same rules

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Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

A few weeks back, I wrote a tweet that did fairly well by my standards. I wrote, “The best way to be successful on Medium is to already be successful before you start writing on Medium.”

I think this is a funny statement, but it also stings. You’ll often see established writers and journalists — the ones who already have a few books published, or have written for The New York Times — decide to try out Medium and effortlessly make it into the “trending” section after a single post. A newbie writer can’t do that. …


How you can get thousands of views without an established platform

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Photo by Darren Chan on Unsplash

On August 1, 2020, I launched my own publication on Medium called Make it Personal. The first post, written by another user about Hollywood’s complicity in Scientology, was scheduled for 8 a.m. My publication, at this point, only had a handful of subscribers, and I knew I couldn’t rely on just curation to distribute each post to a wider audience.

I also knew I couldn’t rely on Twitter, because by that point I only had about 50 followers, so my outreach there was minimal.

I woke up at 7:59 a.m. that morning, opened up my laptop, got on Reddit, and went to the Movies subreddit. This subreddit has 23.4 million members. I submitted a link to the sub at around 8:05 a.m.:


Weaponized cringe in Sartre’s “No Exit.”

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Actors (from left) Maureen Porter as Estelle, JoAnn Johnson as Inez, and Tim True as Garcin rehearse Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” at Imago Theatre.

There’s a lot of narcissism in self-hatred.

At least, that’s according to Natalie Wynn, who discussed the increasing prevalence of cringe culture throughout the internet in an 83-minute long video essay.

Two minutes in, she references the following quote from Melissa Dahl’s novel — Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness.

The moments that make us cringe are when we’re yanked out of our own perspective, and we can suddenly see ourselves from somebody else’s point of view.

One example Natalie uses to convey this point is the sensation of hearing a recording of your own voice. People hate the sound of their voice the first few times they hear it because they’re forced into the realization that the way they sound doesn’t line up with how they’ve always assumed they sounded. …


Calling the comparisons overdramatic misses the entire point of the novel

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Credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

I’ll admit, when I see women dressed up as handmaids in order to protest conservative policies, I do feel a little embarrassed.

I have this reaction because I can so easily understand what conservatives see when they look at women in those red cloaks: “Oh, give me a break.”

As conservatives, moderates, and even those on the left have pointed out: we are still pretty far away from the world of The Handmaid’s Tale. Queer people aren’t being executed for their sexuality, women aren’t chattle, there are no public stonings, and women are still able to get jobs and control their own finances. …


What fiction writers can learn from the King of Horror

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First edition cover for The Shining, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1977.

As a freelance book editor who specializes in horror, science fiction and fantasy, I’m often tempted to tell some clients after reading a rough manuscript, “Just read some Stephen King and study how he writes.”

Stephen King isn’t the most respected writer in the world — his work is often dismissed by literary types — but he is undeniably successful. For the last thirty years, his name has taken up more space on his covers than the actual title of each book, because people love him so much they’ll read anything with his name on it.

How did he achieve this level of widespread acclaim? It’s not just his knack for creating memorable characters or his ability to scare you. It’s because the guy knows how to hook you in. He’s often criticized for having unsatisfying endings, but I have yet to see anyone claim his beginnings aren’t immediately compelling. …

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