Indeed, it is impossible to watch White Noise and not be struck by just how pathetic the alt-right is (or was). Spencer, for all his intellectual pretensions (and they really are pretensions) is an awful speaker with almost nothing interesting to say, his leadership being the result of being the cream of a really sad crop. The alt-right conferences are remarkable for their near-total absence of ideas — these people aren’t Nietzsche, they’re losers who blame their circumstances on everyone but themselves. There is no substance to their rhetoric, just recycled stereotypes shot through with testosterone, anger, and bad haircuts. Listening to Spencer and the other alt-right figures, one reaches the inescapable conclusion that there is, as Gertrude Stein once put it, no there there.
Once you see the alt-right up close, it is obvious that Spencer and his comrades needed the media to give the impression that their sad and sparse group of frustrated men was . . . well, a movement. In reality, the alt-right is a perfect case study of what Mary Eberstadt describes in her recent book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Frequently fatherless and lacking the natural tribes of sprawling extended families that grounded men for generations, many young people are angry and adrift in a society that has overseen the mass rupturing of familial ties, depriving them of a genuine sense of identity. The alt-right and their mirror image Antifa are atomized folks desperate for belonging, and these identitarian groups are their gangs. The Proud Boys are actually the Lost Boys.