Much like the man he calls ‘Daddy’, Milo Yiannopolous’s rise and fall from grace has been spectacular. As Trump rampaged through the GOP primary, Yiannopolous rode his new found fame as the poster boy for the surging Alt-Right movement. When Trump beat Clinton in the general election, Yiannopolous was vindicated and in his mind, the Alt-Right philosophy he promoted on Breitbart.com had won.
But then Trump became president, and the facade came crashing down. As Trump was revealed to be what his detractors always said he was — a feckless charlatan with no business running a national government — Yiannopolous’s suffered a similar fate. Behind the flamboyant preening and pseudo intellectual pontificating was a damaged young man with no depth and no real purpose. When tape was released of Yiannopolous advocating pedophilia, Breitbart dumped him instantaneously and he lost a lucrative book deal with Simon and Schuster, making his brand became as toxic as Flint’s water supply. Fresh off of his appearance on ‘Real Time’ with Bill Maher, Yiannopolous genuinely believed he had hit the big time. He had dressed superbly for the occasion, fluttered his eyelids at Maher relentlessly and charmed the audience with his syrupy British accent. Milo had arrived. And only days later, he was booted from the celebrity party without a second thought.
For those of us familiar with Milo and his ‘work’, this was not exactly surprising. As my late colleague Chez Pazienza wrote in the wake of Milo’s demise:
Yiannopoulos has never been anything more than a fraud, an entirely self-created character whose opinions and beliefs never added up to a damn thing because they weren’t, in reality, opinions or beliefs, merely contrivances aimed at gleefully generating outrage and spinning that outrage into personal fame and fortune. Milo’s only interest is self-interest. His only concern is what best benefits the Milo brand. As writer Laurie Penny said in a piece about the new con men of the conservative movement, published last July, she wouldn’t dare debate Yiannopoulos for the simple reason that “I know I’ll lose, because I care and he doesn’t – and that means he has already won”
Unfortunately, the thing about people like Milo Yiannopoulos is that their paradoxical nature ultimately becomes their downfall. Put simply, Milo wanted to be famous and the way he achieved it was the way so many do these days: by being as insouciantly offensive as possible. Sure, this made him a huge hit with the antisocial Reddit and 8chan kids who make up the alt-right’s shock troops — young men Yiannopoulos himself once dismissed as “unemployed saddos living in their parents’ basements,” until he realized that exploiting them could be a stepping stone to bigger things — but the people he really sought the attention of were always going to have different standards.
No longer accepted by the people he ultimately sought approval from, Milo is still hammering away online, using his Facebook page to promote his nasty brand of fascistic politics to anyone still willing to entertain him. But when you take a look at his timeline, it is all rather sad. He is pushing hate filled clickbait articles from his website filled with spam ads, and hawking shitty t-shirts with childish slogans from MiloBoutique.com:
Yiannopolous is basically following the Sarah Palin model of failed Trump associate/celebrity. After Trump stopped shamelessly using her as a campaign prop, Palin was left spamming her facebook fans with clickbait garbage in order to continue making a living. Yiannopolous is catering to a more intelligent audience (which wouldn’t be difficult), but the strategy the same — use what you used to be good at to attract what is left of your audience. Yiannopolous is the equivalent of a washed up boxer fighting in carnivals against foes he would have demolished in his prime. Still able to throw a decent punch, Milo attacks the opponents he knows can’t hit back, hoping the drunken audience will shell out to see him perform.
It’s hard to generate much sympathy for Yiannopolous given the delight he takes in picking on the vulnerable. Women, fellow gays and minorities have felt the force of Milo’s nastiness, and now the Alt-Right has disowned him, there are few people he can turn to for support. The chances are, Milo will continue trying to make a living selling t-shirts and hate from his mini-media fiefdom until his audience dries up completely. And when that does, expect a come-to-Jesus moment and political pivot to whatever end of the spectrum he thinks he can cash in on.
Ultimately, Milo lived as an internet troll, and died like one. And good riddance.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.