The anonymous poster returns to a changed America
It’d been 7 hours and 563 days since we last spoke.
But here he was again: Q. Just an alleged employee of the Trump-era Deep State, stood before a message board of cranks, white nationalists and sexless men, asking them to “play the game again”.
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Q: anonymous leader of QAnon, the 2020 conspiracy theory that turned middle-aged middle-Americans into an army of Manchurian candidates, obsessed with how Trump would redeem a fallen US by purging it of bureaucrat-pederasts.
Q: also the guy who another army of podcasters and investigative journalists have since very convincingly outed as Ron Watkins, 35, whose father Jim Watkins owns the 8kun domain on which Q’s “drops” would be found.
After the investigative journalists, the criminals trials, and the multiple quite good documentaries, this was a story that seemed to have run its course. Q went dark immediately after January 6th. One of his last posts was of a massive American flag, fluttering on a hillside. The final one was a dead link to a deleted YouTube video. It was a fitting send-off.
Q is tiresome, and we are all tired.
But here we are again. “Shall we play a game once more?” said the first post, which was signed Q. Other messages followed: “Are you ready to serve your country again?”. And: “remember your oath.”
There followed a piece of doggerel about Roe v Wade. A decent enough trigger point to launch a new season. But the vibe has shifted. Remember Houseparty? Remember Pokemon Go? Remember QAnon? Even bored dads in Tallahassee change their pop cultural hobbies every 18 months.
Plus, like the present Swiss cheese of the Star Wars Franchise, there is a point in any cultural product’s evolution where the narrative tropes that made it attractive become inflated to nothingness by everything that comes after.
In January 2021, Q got out at the right time, like Ricky Gervais and The Office. In the best telling, he was Salvador Allende, barricaded in his office with a Kalashnikov and one bullet as Pinochet’s goons marched up the corridor. He warned about the Deep State. Then it came for him.
Now, like the tedium of watching Trump pout and stalk in the margins of the internet as he awaits his own comeback chance, there is a sense that the sound is turned down on this channel. Q’s back? And? The US Navy has a transgender admiral; the “QAnon shaman” is not yet halfway through his 41 month prison term. The game has moved on.
By considerable coincidence, Ron Watkins happens to be running for Congress this autumn, in Arizona’s 2nd District. What would Ron be wanting with a massive publicity foghorn capable of geeing up the most rabid sections of the Republican base?
Ron still denies he is Q. His counter-argument was simply that, if he were actually in charge, he would have made that last Q drop more artistic.“If I were Q I wouldn’t have made that last post to be that last post. I would have done something more exciting.“
No doubt George Lucas once felt the same about Return of The Jedi.