There was a time, probably circa 2014 or so, where you could make a fairly credible joke about the U.S. Congress not being all that dissimilar from one of the more virulent strains of internet message boards. The parallels draw themselves: The insular culture of established elites, the knee-jerk hostility, the tendency to launch into long, deeply uninteresting monologues that benefited only oneself. At the time—i.e., several years ago—it could have been a fun little chunk of satire.
Anyway: A sitting U.S. congressperson has now been censured by the House Of Representatives for shitposting an anime meme video. There’s no joke there; we just live in it.
Said Representative is, of course, Arizona’s Paul Gosar, who came under criticism earlier this week for posting a video on his Twitter that showed an edited version of the uber-popular anime Attack On Titan, in which Gosar was depicted attacking a giant with the face of fellow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, killing her. (The video also depicts anime-Gosar launching an attack on President Joe Biden, as well as a whole bunch of ugly scaremongering about illegal immigration.)
Today, Gosar faced a censure vote from his colleagues in the House, becoming the first member of the body to face the formal reprimand in more than a decade. (He was also stripped from a pair of committees.) Tragically, the words “Attack On Titan” do not appear in the formal resolution of the censure, denying us a truly surreal moment of American democracy.
For those unfamiliar, Titan is a hugely popular, and sometimes controversial, anime series, focused on a world in which humans, trapped inside a single city, have to fend off giants that would like to eat them. The series has come under criticism in recent years for its occasional invocation of fascist imagery, as well as accusations of antisemitism related to its plot; it has, probably not coincidentally, gained a lot of popularity among the internet-active right over that same time.
Anyway: The internet was a mistake.