The Man Who Would Never Be What They Made Him To Be What They Made Him Be

I had never heard of Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace—a comedy show that Adult Swim launched in August—before we wrote a piece about it yesterday (“The Battle Over Adult Swim’s Alt-Right TV Show”). But many readers have seen it, and they responded to the hello
callout we placed on the piece after closing the comments section. The first writes:

I’d personally consider myself left-wing and I’m not fan of Trump, but I’ve been following for the past few years and I truly don’t think the recent allegations toward them, or the alleged links to White Supremacy, are fair at all. Sam Hyde never even really mentioned his political views before this year, and MDE itself, especially World Peace, is really not that political. There were no comments on their politics before this election cycle, by any of the sources that have reviewed their online content. (For example, here’s a 2013 profile from The A.V. Club, “Take in the work of the comedy provocateurs in Million Dollar Extreme.”)

Yes, Sam is a right-leaning Trump supporter whose views I don’t necessarily agree with, and his politically incorrect humor may attract certain trolls, but he has never said any serious hateful things to people of marginalized groups. And on reddit, Sam has made it clear there were NO swastikas on set. And the MDE guys are not bigots and have never been on 4chan or /POL or anything spouting this stuff.

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Yes, MDE does have some brutal satire that pokes fun at PC standards and tropes of the day, and the show may not be for everyone, but as a society we need to be able to laugh at all societal aspects, including our own progressive causes and philosophies, instead of holding sacred cows. Regardless of how you feel about Sam’s personal views, it should not affect how you feel about whether MDE succeeds in making you laugh or entertain you. Until there is sufficient proof they’re “neo-nazis,” I think Adult Swim should continue to allow their program.

Another reader:

I’m Jewish, and I can see why someone would look at Million Dollar Extreme and think that Sam Hyde is a total bigoted shill for the alt-right. I have my own personal qualms about some of their stuff, especially the fan-generated content. Even Sam has called the MDE subreddit a “total shithouse.”

However, I’m also a huge fan of MDE because I think that what they are doing can be very easily compared to the outlandishness of punk rock bands like Crass or the Sex Pistols. Both of these bands used swastikas and other fascist imagery in a rather successful albeit sort of ignorant way of spooking audiences and acting as flies in the ointment of popular culture. Yes, it’s in your face, and yes, it offends most of your sensibilities, but that’s the purpose of Million Dollar Extreme. MDE, like punk, is meant to shock you and poke you and make you question yourself and everything around you.

I’m glad Adult Swim is taking the serious economic risk of putting a show like this on the air, and I hope some news outlets will eventually publish a review of Million Dollar Extreme: World Peace as a TV show instead of examinations of its politics.

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We actually just received a pitch from a freelance journalist along those lines—but your emails might be just as strong. Another:

I’ve been watching Sam Hyde and MDE for years, and the reason it has such a cult following is because of his ardent attitude of restoring the soul of humanity in a world of anti-human mechanisms. The heart of MDE is underneath all its visceral anger and misanthropy. If you want to see the essence of MDE, just watch Sam’s improvised derision of marketing futurist Michael Rogers . There is a quote at the 10-minute mark that shows what Sam is all about:

When I was 17, I painted a swastika in my closet. I don’t like swastikas—they’re a symbol of hate—but I was just doing it for the shock value. I was 17 years old, making lots of mistakes. But I think that, what this guy has chosen to do with his life, is so much more, infinitely more poisonous, and damaging, and sucking the life out of everything than if I were to be painting swastikas in my closet all my life. And that’s the point I try to argue with my mom all the time and she never gets it.

People who say he’s racist or sexist miss the point. His enemy are these people who can’t understand it without seeing it as racist or sexist. The mission of MDE is for people to regain their critical thinking and to be more in touch with the human soul. It is against the fakeness and authoritarian thought parasites that suck everything good out of life. Those of us who are acolytes know that every now and then he breaks character and shows just how much he cares about people. And the videos reflect this—with an occasional poignant sadness that forces you to empathize with the person being so viciously mocked. People have said they can’t finish watching Sam’s “Kickstarter TV” series because it is depressing to watch untalented people with failed dreams being ruthlessly insulted.

MDE is constantly straddling this line of humanity and inhumanity—a stark contrast to the culture that needs puppies and safe spaces to avoid anything dissonant to their world view. It’s about facing the ugliness. And this is why it irritates us so much when we see comedians like Brett Gelman or Buzzfeed journalists seek to take Sam down because of a surface-level meaning and a complete ignorance of what MDE is about. Brett calls it an “instrument of hate,” when it could not be any further from the truth. If people actually go into it deep, they would see the beauty underneath the ugly satire.

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Another reader zooms out from the show:

What we are seeing here in real time is the notions of “safe/unsafe” content changing. In a Bush-era administration, provocative networks did very well for themselves by skewering/lampooning the religious right and conservative values in general. Under eight years of a Democratic president, it is only natural for content like MDE to not only exist but gather wild support. Left-leaning ideology has often been in the minority, but it would be safe to say that it is no longer marginal.


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