This article originally appeared on VICE US.
In March of this year history was made. For the first time ever, something cool actually happened at SXSW. Bernie Sanders was speaking during the tech conference week of the festival, and InfoWars had dispatched a team of intrepid InfoTeens to hassle his supporters outside of the event. The result was a clip they put together called "Liberals Defend Socialism At Bernie Sanders Event." While it was posted shortly after it happened, the video seems to have been taken down off their channels some time recently. Perhaps because, and this is another first, they realized how dumb they look.
You don’t need to watch the whole thing—it still lives online elsewhere—unless you’re a fan of flop sweating reporters and bleak cringe comedy. But there is one highlight that is a must watch. It was reposted on Twitter earlier this week by Dasha Nekrasova, one of the people InfoWars’ Ashton Whitty attempted to interview, where it quickly went viral, owing almost entirely to her super human levels of indifference.
Nekrasova, a 27-year-old podcaster, socialist, and actress from Brooklyn who was at SXSW to promote her new film Wobble Palace, a relationship comedy set in the final days before the 2016 election, handles the onslaught of stupidity from Whitty exactly how ambush interviews like this should be handled: not with an earnest attempt at debate, which isn’t what InfoWars is after in the first place of course, but with soul-chilling indifference, perfect comedic timing, and a series of instantly memorable line-readings. “You people have like worms in your brain, honestly,” she says at one point to Whitty’s questioning about people in Venezuela eating rats due to... socialism, or something.
Since Nekrasova’s tweet has exploded, Whitty has offered another rejoinder, which she posted to YouTube and I’m not going to watch but you can if you want, and a predictable chorus of the most disingenuous and dumbest people alive, like Pauly No Mates, have jumped in to destroy Nekrasova with her own logic, by pointing out a socialist drinking an iced coffee is a disqualifying indulgence.
I called Nekrasova to talk about her appearance on InfoWars, and life after going "softly viral."
VICE: Why did you decide to repost the video this week?
Dasha Nekrasova: They took it down because it became sort of softly viral I guess, and they probably realized they looked stupid.
What was going on that day when they tried to interview you?
Bernie Sanders was there giving a speech, which I couldn’t go to because I had to do an interview for my film. So I went and got an iced coffee. I was on my way to do another interview when Ashton Witty accosted me. The phone I’m holding right before InfoWars came up to me, a SXSW staffer had handed me the Google Pixel phone I’m holding to fill out a survey. That’s why I’m kind of preoccupied with the phone because there’s a woman off camera that’s waiting for me to fill out this survey at the same time.
You seemed to think it was funny at the time. Do you still think it’s funny?
I think it’s funny. I didn’t realize it was an InfoWars reporter at first, which is why I’m so enthusiastic to talk about Bernie Sanders. And when she asked me what’s so great about socialism I sort of like… I told her I don’t want to do this! But InfoWars is such a joke. I watch InfoWars.
You mention they have brain worms, what do you think is actually wrong with these people?
Ashton Whitty has a real victim complex. She’s an interesting person who’s like a social justice warrior who got red-pilled. She’s operating in the same way that obnoxious libs do, but she has a conservative worldview. I think she watches this propaganda and absorbs it. I don’t know what’s wrong with them, they have like a paranoid conspiracy worldview.
She definitely wasn’t on the top of her game that day.
Well, her whole thing is she’s from Berkeley, and with her victim complex pretends that she came out as conservative and it ruined her relationship with her family. I think she’s also an aspiring actress, and she attributes her failure in Hollywood to her red pill politics. It’s remarkable.
Do you think if this keeps getting bigger it will get a reaction out of Alex Jones?
Well, Ashton just did a new response video. I think she should lose her job! She’s a terrible reporter. But no I don’t think it will make it all the way to daddy. I think it would be wise of them to abstain.
You watch InfoWars to goof on it or?
I don’t watch it regularly. But it’s highly entertaining.
Alex Jones and Ben Shapiro are having a beef now. If you had to choose, gun to your head, who are you siding with there.
Um, Alex Jones!
He seems more human in his horribleness to me.
Yeah, I would agree with that.
Like a meaty, fleshy, horribleness. Not a wooden boy.
Yeah, he’s alive.
So at some point in the video your friend seems like he realized, Yeah, I don't want to be in on this.
That was my film’s producer AJ. We were all stunned when it happened. I was kind of afraid. It was very nerve-wracking. Me and Ashton both were like trembling, like vibrating as we were talking. She had a very nervous energy that made me very nervous. I think I reflexively had this very nonchalant demeanor. After it happened I was positive they were going to chop it up and edit it to make me seem totally stupid. I was surprised when they posted the un-edited video.
That’s funny that you say you were nervous because I think the general reaction has been, Oh my God, she is playing it so cool… So that’s not your natural affect?
Not exactly. The coffee sipping seems like it. I knew when I said eating the rich that was something they would like hearing. There was like a performative aspect to it. But the performativity was like a defense.
I didn’t realize you were an actress when I saw it. I wonder if you were playing a role in retrospect.
Maybe a little bit. I really was trying to listen to her and engage with her and respond. But then when she started talking about rats and Venezuela and stuff I realized it was like talking to a mentally ill person. I was sort of improvising.
I’m sure you’re getting a lot of people saying you’re a bad ass and a lot of horrible shit from the InfoWars mutants.
It’s been more of the former. The InfoWars critique is that I seem very much like a millennial caricature. And obviously I’m wearing that sailor outfit.
That does add to the absurdity!
Right! I seem like a cartoon of a millennial. But it’s mostly like, if you’re such a socialist why are you… drinking coffee?
What advice would you give anyone who finds themselves ambushed by one of these people?
They’re so hostile and aggressive. I mean, I think you just do your best. I think you keep in mind what they’re trying to do is get a reaction out of you, which is what I think people appreciate about my InfoWars appearance, the high-nonchalance. But when that happens to you you just have to go for it.
It’s almost the same rule for Twitter. Don’t get mad.
For sure. Like, don’t make a spectacle out of how mad you are. I think they want people to get mad.
You do a podcast called Red Scare. Is it mostly really left wing political stuff?
It’s me and writer Anna Khachiyan and we do neoliberal critiques, with a focus on women’s issues and Russian American affairs. The last episode we talked about the White House Correspondence dinner.
Where did you come down on that?
I think our guest on that episode, comedian Stephen Phillips-Horst, made a really good point, that it’s almost the perfect story because it gives people on the right a chance to be outraged about the content of her jokes and people on the left get to do a preachy free speech to power thing. A big part of Trumpism is the impression I get that everyone is role-playing or LARPing. It’s this reality TV spectacle of politics, which InfoWars very much is. At the same time, a lot of rose emoji communists online are also doing that, too.
You said your film is political as well?
It’s sort of a political movie. It’s set Halloween weekend before the 2016 election, and it’s sort of an improv-y relationship sex comedy. It’s very much a time capsule of that period. The two characters in it, who break up, they meet in 2012 in line to vote for Barack Obama, and the relationship spans the Obama administration, and you see them in these three days before the election when everything is sort of falling apart as Trump is about to win.
Did you ever get to the bottom of what Whitty was talking about with the rats?
Do you remember the video of the rat taking a shower? It’s not a rat. It’s like this Venezuelan rodent. And it’s not showering it probably wants to get the soap off its body. But I think that’s what Ashton was referring to. I think they eat whatever that rodent is called.
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