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I created Paul Elam, and now I need your help to rein him in

PaulVsPaul

The jig is up. I and my collaborators have kept it secret for a long time now, but for reasons I will explain in a moment, I feel I need to come clean about this now, before it is too late:

I created Paul Elam.

That is: “Paul Elam” is a character created and developed by me and my friend Paul Henderson, an amazing improvisatory actor who has taken on the task of playing “Elam” in YouTube Videos, radio shows, and on a few occasions in the real world as well.

I first came up with the character of “Paul Elam” — “Elam” is just “male” spelled backwards — some seven years ago after reading Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power and wondering what an updated version of Farrell would look like today as a YouTube ranter. I brought the idea to my friend Paul Henderson, a feminist comedian who was already doing an “angry white man” character in his comedy act.

After a bit of workshopping, we created “Paul Elam” and his “Happy Misogynist” YouTube channel. I wrote the scripts, and Henderson read them out. As time went on and as Henderson got more into his new alter ego, he began adding bits of dialogue of his own. Sometimes when he got too deep into his character of “Paul Elam” he started to scare me a little.

After some success on YouTube and at Men’s News Daily, we decided to set up A Voice for Men. Shortly afterwards I set up Man Boobz, mainly as a way to promote AVFM and generate traffic for “Elam’s” site.

Since then, things have just snowballed. Henderson put me in touch with an amazing group of Canadian improv comedians called the Pouteenagers and the characters of Girl Writes What, John The Other, Typhon Blue, and DannyBoy were born.

Not all of those at AVFM are in on the gag. Dean Esmay for example, is completely sincere, as are most of the recent additions to the AVFM roster.

Up until about a month ago, the whole “Paul Elam”/A Voice for Men project seemed to be going swimmingly, generating buzz — and even a good deal of cash, much of which we have been donating to an assortment of feminist charities.

We kept piling absurdity on absurdity — like adding “human” to “men’s rights activist” to become “men’s human rights activist” — but no one ever guessed that it was all an elaborate prank! We were prepared to let the whole thing run for at least another year, getting sillier and sillier, before fessing up in a joint press conference with me and “Elam.”

But something terrible seems to have happened to my old friend Paul Henderson. After 7 years of playing “Paul Elam,” he seems to have become lost in the character he and I have created. Paul Henderson, in other words, has become Paul Elam.

He used to joke with April Fulieu, our makeup wiz, about how horrified he was each time he looked in the mirror and saw “Elam” staring back at him. But after we shot the last video with him he refused to let April take the makeup off, and when she went to tell me about this he fled out the back door of the studio.

We haven’t heard from him since. At least not as Paul Henderson.

I’m not sure what to do. He’s changed all the passwords on the AVFM server, so I can’t shut it down from my end, and I haven’t been able to contact any of the Pouteenagers either. I worry they too may have gone over to the dark side as well.

I can only hope that by posting this I can give him the wake-up call he needs – or at least arouse enough suspicion that the “sincere” AVFMers will confront him and possibly jar him back to reality.

He’ll deny it all, of course.

But at some point his fake beard will fall off.

That’s what I’m counting on, really.

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Rosie
7 years ago

Those prosthetic bulging eyeballs must get uncomfortable….

katz
7 years ago

Well played, David. I particularly like “Pouteenagers.”

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Nicely done. If only Elam was some sort of performance piece.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

How the hell did I do that?

grumpycatisagirl
grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

and even a good deal of cash, much of which we have been donating to an assortment of feminist charities.

It’s supposed to be going to cat food. We’re hungry.

fromafar2013
7 years ago

@ sparky

Even the blockquote monster is pranking us -_-;

Viscaria
Viscaria
7 years ago

On some level we have always known!!!

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
7 years ago

Well, that was awesome. I was cracking up the whole time I read it. Nicely done! Now, to wait and see how many MRAs actually start believing this, conspiracy-theory prone as they are… XD

vaiyt
7 years ago

So that’s the purpose of the googly eyes!

opium4themasses
opium4themasses
7 years ago

Any attempts to satirize MRAs run afoul of the Poe Mens’ Law. Poor Paul has stared too long into the abyss.

bluecat
bluecat
7 years ago

I spat my giraffe’s milk latte all over the screen.

leftwingfox
7 years ago

How the hell did I do that?

Gifception!

cloudiah
7 years ago

April Fulieu

Nice.

MEZ
MEZ
7 years ago

Seriously guys, I’m a professional associate of April Fulieu, and you guys need to start taking this seriously! A wayward male with the following of Elam could spark the uprising and disassociation of males from women; this could be a very real threat to the matriarchy!!! Again, you guys need to take this seriously, or we may all face a dim future where we’re eaten by wolves as we starve to death out in the cold elements! This is a real threat!!!11!!!!! Any and all sightings of Henderson/Elam should be immediately reported here!

Good day, comrades.

titianblue
titianblue
7 years ago

You are a genius! If only it were true.

Rosie
7 years ago

Reblogged this on FEMBORG.

sn0rkmaiden
7 years ago

Well this is miles funnier than Matt Forney’s April Fools Day prank of posting that he’s going to kill himself at nine o’clock this evening.

Binjabreel
Binjabreel
7 years ago

@opium-
I read “Poe Men’s Law” as “the po’ menz law”, as in, “awww, the po’ widdle menz”.

Also, jesus, if only these assholes were part of a long con to discredit the anti-feminist backlash. I can only take solace in the fact that most MRA’s are such credulous idiots that some of them might take this seriously. They already show up on every thread when an MRA does something awful to accuse it of being a feminist false flag operatikn.

Binjabreel
Binjabreel
7 years ago

@snorkmaiden-
Please fucking tell me that Matt Forney DIDN’T think that threatening suicide would be a funny prank.

These assholes can’t even do mean-funny right!!

Ready-Or-Not
Ready-Or-Not
7 years ago

I read Matt Forney’s post. I know that it’s just a lame attempt at an April Fool’s joke but a girl can dream, right?
Seriously, Forney has no sense of irony whatsoever.

sn0rkmaiden
7 years ago

@Binjabreel: I’m afraid he does think it would be a funny prank, though the post is so heavy with sarcasm it’s kind of obvious he’s not serious (I hope).

These guys don’t so much scrape the barrel as punch their way through the bottom of it.

Megan
Megan
7 years ago

I wish this were true.

Viscaria
Viscaria
7 years ago

@sn0rkmaiden: Are there no depths that man won’t gleefully sink to? That’s appalling. I’m sure he doesn’t give a damn about anyone he disagrees with but what about his own followers who will be damaged by that “prank?”

10knives
10knives
7 years ago

God fucking damn it, I forgot how much I fucking hate Internet April Fools Day pranks. Every bloody year…

kittehserf
7 years ago

I passed all April 1st with no jokes at all, thank goodness – but this is the first one I’ve seen that made me laugh, David. 🙂

samantha
samantha
7 years ago

Happy April Fools day to you, too, David! This was pretty funny!

Laudanum (@MxLaudanum)

This isn’t actually funny. Not even remotely. He is responsible for hatred towards women on a level that I can’t put into words. To jokingly throw about that he’s a fake personality with all the bile and hatred spewing from his mouth, is akin to a rape joke. His kind wish rape and all manner of horrors on women, and you think it’s a good idea to imply that’s a joke because you made him up? What the fuck were you thinking?

Oh yeah, you weren’t.

You played your male privilege card really WELL there, asshole.

lightcastle
lightcastle
7 years ago

“Pouteenagers” is a brilliant touch.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

UPDATE: According to the GPS tracker I secretly installed on “Elam’s” moped, he’s just outside of Minneapolis, headed north. Obviously he’s making a break for Canada.

Hold up! I’m in Minneapolis. Quick give me the coordinates and I’ll chase him down.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

This isn’t actually funny. Not even remotely. He is responsible for hatred towards women on a level that I can’t put into words. To jokingly throw about that he’s a fake personality with all the bile and hatred spewing from his mouth, is akin to a rape joke. His kind wish rape and all manner of horrors on women, and you think it’s a good idea to imply that’s a joke because you made him up? What the fuck were you thinking?

Oh yeah, you weren’t.

You played your male privilege card really WELL there, asshole

Uh, oh. Looks like David created the next #cancelColbert campaign!

grumpycatisagirl
grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

Uh, I think a whole site dedicating to mocking misogyny can be permitted the once-a-year April Fool’s fun. Making fun of this shit is the whole point.

grumpycatisagirl
grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

Uh, oh. Looks like David created the next #cancelColbert campaign!

Ha. Indeed.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Laudanum: maybe you should read some other things here? You know, where David exposes all the awful, evil shit Elam says.

To jokingly throw about that he’s a fake personality with all the bile and hatred spewing from his mouth, is akin to a rape joke.

I hope you didn’t sprain anything with this reach.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Also, can we not compare things that aren’t rape to rape? Thanks.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Blockquote monster’s still demanding tribute. That second graph is from Laudanum.

Xodima
Xodima
7 years ago

Still though, I don’t think you deserve to be called an asshole. It was definitely funny IMO and your intention was obviously good. c:

Thanks for all your hard work!

Cinzia La Strega
7 years ago

It certainly made me smile! It is true that I often have a hard time finding the humor even though it’s the only element of following this scene that keeps me half way sane.

Alice B (@Alice_Brierley)

The work you do is hugely respected David. You help me deal with all the nonsense misogyny I see everyday from the MRAs on the internet. The types that invade comments forums on every article about feminism to make it all ‘whatabouttehmenz’ and divert the topic of conversation away from women to being about men, again. They are thoroughly awful, and wrong about just about everything.

This blog helps to show them up for what they are, idiots, and makes everything easier to deal with for any woman who has an opinion on the internet.
Of course, if I or another woman wrote this blog, we’d be absolutely slaughtered and destroyed by extensive hate mail, threats and harassment. So in many ways it’s best that a man writes it.

cloudiah
7 years ago

There are plenty of places that take on Elam and his ilk from a serious standpoint, and I’m glad they do. But as a snarky feminist, I prefer to mock them, so I’m very glad David takes this approach. I’m also glad he continues to slog through the muck they produce.

Keep on keepin’ on, is what I say. This place isn’t for everyone, but there are a bunch of us who love it.

Viscaria
Viscaria
7 years ago

I don’t want to tell anyone else what to feel, but I chuckled at this. Had this April Fool’s day joke been intended to actually fool someone, or believable enough that it might have unintentionally fooled someone, I would have had an issue with it — but it wasn’t, and it didn’t. Or if Dave jokingly excused anything Elam has done, or engaged in some “””””ironic””””” sexism, or anything like that. But it didn’t do any of those things. It was just silly.

I agree that comparing it to a rape joke is pretty disrespectful tbh.

Adam
Adam
7 years ago

Laudanum, I’m sorry, but this is absolutely not akin to a rape joke. Rape jokes trivialize rape, they make it seem as if it’s not a big deal, they ignore the pain its victims experience. They’re not just horrible because they’re not funny and hurtful, they’re horrible because the people making them and laughing at them kinda, sorta think rape really isn’t a big deal, and they absolutely don’t care about how rape victims will be affected by that joke. They are written, whether the writer consciously did so or not, to make rapists laugh. I am reasonably certain Dave, you, and everyone else who read this is 100% convinced that Dave didn’t actually create Paul Elam, or put any of the awful things he’s said into his mouth. For that matter, even within the context of the joke, Dave says he found himself frightened by some of the things “Paul Elam” was saying. This doesn’t make MRAs seem acceptable, or their ideas arguably reasonable- it makes them look stupid and so insane that they’ve subscribed to the ideology of a fictional character. And I think we can all be pretty certain Dave doesn’t think Elam’s ideas are in any way funny or acceptable.

fromafar2013
7 years ago

I’m just going to copy something I had written on my crap blog yesterday about Man Boobz:

“I frequent Man Boobz for the lulz because laughing at horrible people with a bunch of awesome people helps prevent you from losing all faith in humanity.”

Maybe it’s just because I had come here straight from Feministing’s “RIP Patriarchy, We Won!” post that I was in the April Fools mind set, but I got that it was a joke from the title alone. Mocking the monsters makes them less scary, and helps me realize that the things they say are as ridiculous as they are horrible, and that I’m not alone.

I get my serious (and often depressing) news from other blogs first, then I pop by Man Boobz to laugh off the shit.

So thanks, David. You make the manosphere less intimidating and help me keep my outlook positive.

Herman Fethez
7 years ago

I think you are wrong about Dean not being in on it. After all his last name is pig-Latin for “Mess”. Clearly this was done to go along with the “Elam” “Male” trope.

magnesium
magnesium
7 years ago

Comparing this to a rape joke is also pretty poor logic. Rape jokes are harmful because they help to normalize and excuse rape culture, and are used by rapists to rationalize their crimes. They are used to mock and blame victims of sexual assault, or to suggest that rape is “no big deal”, akin to being beaten in a video game.

David is using humour to mock a terrible person who is taken very seriously by terrible followers. Elam’s approach to getting what he wants is to use terror (doxxing, impotent threats of violence, “look what you made me do” manbaby harassment) and openly mocking him shows him, and his fanboys, that he doesn’t have that power over us. That’s not to say that he and other dangerous parties shouldn’t still be taken seriously (they’ve engaged in some pretty awful behaviour, which is well documented on Manboobz) but humour is still effective in this particular context. It would be different if David was using “punch down” humour, or mocking the women who are victims of AVFM’s hate machine, but he isn’t.

On a personal note, I find having a place to safely laugh at MRA’s to be quite soothing. People that are as full of hate as MRA’s can be so draining to read about without a nice joke break in between.

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