Like anybody suffering broken-brain syndrome from being too online, I think about @dril a lot. The incomprehensibly funny Twitter account that defined and, let’s be honest, outlasted the rest of what we once called “Weird Twitter” has — through inhuman output, avant-garde insight and sheer longevity — become the platform’s reigning prophet. Just as Donald Trump can do or say almost nothing without being undermined by one of his old tweets, @dril’s pre-2016 archive is like a blueprint of all the horrors due to follow.
He knew in 2014, for example, that Ted Cruz would “like” a porn tweet on 9/11 in 2017.
In 2013, he envisioned the fallout from having one’s dick likened to an animated character. Recently, we learned that the president’s dick looks like Toad from Mario.
In 2012, he foresaw the downfall of far-right pedophile apologist Milo Yiannopoulos.
It’s telling that @dril — who is almost certainly a dude, though I prefer to allow “him” a little mystery — has long reveled in male humiliation and collapse. It’s as if he knew, when he first began the account, that men were coming due for a reckoning; that an old ideal of masculinity was on the way out. Even his avatar, a smugly smoking Jack Nicholson, has degraded into blurrier versions over the years, gradually effaced by time. The pixelation mirrors the actor’s own arc from silver screen heartthrob to idle slob.
If @dril foretells the future, then, it is a future of men’s unraveling. You see it everywhere in his work. One thread, analyzed by Sean T. Collins for the Huffington Post, concerns a group of mythical “boys” to which @dril belongs, e.g., “me and the boys.” As an ideological entity, the boys can be unpredictable, Collins notes, though they circle a definite boyishness, whether that’s the rambunctious energy of the “large adult son” or the exclusivity of fraternal orders. Of course, he undercuts whatever elite prestige the boys may claim by bragging about it, like in this inspired bit on a secret Arby’s menu:
This pathetic grasping for proof of male superiority is endemic in today’s social landscape, where guys demand that women debate them with logic while chiding them for embracing “victimhood” in the #MeToo movement. It informs the misogynist backlash to women-centered films and credible allegations of sexual assault. Through it all, the Toxic American Man promises that he will never log off, and never, ever stop posting.
This commitment to archaic notions of dudely stoicism is beautifully deconstructed in a section of @dril’s new book, Dril Official “Mr. Ten Years” Anniversary Collection. Devoted solely to “Tough Guys,” these tweets hammer home the character’s inability to confess weakness, shame or error. To the contrary, any evidence of @dril’s idiocy propels him to a loftier form of rhetoric that in no way matches the context of his ruin.
Meanwhile, he continues to indulge in one of the classic male privileges: Being an asshole in the name of “controversy” and becoming more reactionary at any pushback. No matter how vile his beliefs, a cocoon of denial and indifference protects him.
Just recreating the macho bluster that poisons much of the internet, however — talking up your martial arts skills and gaming stats and powers of Socratic reasoning — wouldn’t satisfy @dril’s larger satirical project. It’s not quite enough that he shits his pants as he cites a medieval code of chivalry; he also has to demonstrate how men evince their fragility at the very moments they assert it. His tweets on fatherhood hint at the ways that trauma informs adherence to damaging clichés of virility. Despite his alleged clout and confidence, his “wife” is always getting the better of him. And “the boys” are so wracked by homophobia that they clean their asses with dishwashing soap. At every turn, men are feeble in thought, cowardly in their defiance. They are falling to pieces.
But @dril is at his most vulnerable, perhaps, when directly addressing gender and the body. In these moments, he occasionally reveals an overzealous attempt to become a woke ally — see the infamous “This Whole Thing Smacks Of Gender” tweet — or a dysmorphic confusion at his revolting male anatomy. Virtually any mention of “my dick” is guaranteed to portray it as unwanted and inadequate, more a curse than a cock.
What can we take from @dril’s gospel, seeing how well it aligns with the male paroxysms of rage that meet any suggestion that their grip on the world is loosening? That, contrary to the culture they once knew, consequences mightlie ahead? For one thing, his posts convey the spastic, scattershot quality of this meltdown. The @dril voice can spit violent words at any target, take offense at any supposed provocation, because a man’s inclination is to lash out and buy into the “victimhood” they wrongly imagine serves as a shield against criticism. It’s no accident that @dril sees himself endlessly persecuted by a surprising array of enemies while male politicians and pundits amplify the canard that “it’s a dangerous time for men,” arguing that a false accusation of sexual misconduct or assault could come from anywhere, at any time, for any reason at all. The hysteria @dril exercises is a portent of how desperately these same men will bellow and rant in a bid to save their status, devolving into a sideshow of puerile tantrums.
Beneath it all, naturally, @dril is still a guy who dreams of “a gun that is also a boomerang” and does headstands to “let the cum from my balls flow directly to my brain and make me more intelligent.” He is a closed circuit of masculine fantasy, hostile to whatever threatens that system…yet also oblivious to how he participates in its slow destruction. And as crucial as it is to see women shouting at senators for failing basic tests of courage and empathy, it matters as much that that those men and men like them, the corporate goons and incel gamers and climate deniers and fascist cops, are constantly snitching on themselves, boasting of their worst behavior. If @dril gives us any hope, it is that the worst of humanity will paint a target on their foreheads. We hardly need to ferret them out — they already post their bullshit wherever they can.