Jordan Shanks-Markovina, aka YouTuber Friendlyjordies (Image: Friendlyjordies/YouTube)

Arresting Kristo Langker is not just a thoroughly bemusing use (misuse?) of police powers. It also risks making a martyr of one of the internet’s most egregious egos. YouTuber Friendlyjordies (aka Jordan “Persecution Complex” Shanks-Markovina) was already soaking up victimhood status after NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro starting suing him for defamation.

And now Langker, Shanks-Markovina’s producer, has been charged by the NSW Police Fixated Persons Investigations Unit, paving the way for Friendlyjordies to follow the Pauline Hanson script even more closely.

Like Hanson, Jordies has tapped into disaffection in specific pockets of the community and exploited it mercilessly for power and money. Hanson has eked out sympathy by playing the victim ever since her 2003 prison term, and Jordies pitches himself as the brave soul battling dark and powerful forces who feel threatened by him.

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On the face of it the arrest seems like a massive overreach, as lawyer Michael Bradley argues here. The high-profile arrest of an (allegedly) satirical video producer could pose a genuine threat to free speech (as opposed to the phantom threat cooked up by the I-should-get-a-platform-to-say-whatever-I-want crowd).

It’s hard not to think that the unit’s time would be better spent hounding the hordes of fascists, angry incels, and enraged men’s rights dudes that appear everywhere online. Court processes should show whether there’s more evidence we’re not aware of for now.

Meanwhile, the move will fuel the perception of victimhood that Jordies and his fanatical followers already had.

Like Hanson, former US president Donald Trump and others of their ilk, Jordies’ brand is of the outsider who “tells it like it is”, who has the cojones to reveal truths that the mainstream media can’t, or won’t. Where Trump weaponised the phrase “fake news”, Jordies accuses all media of being propagandists, of being indoctrinated. He picks on the ABC and others for being tools of politicians despite all evidence to the contrary.

Such high-falutin’ hypocrisy. This is a guy who explicitly exploits internet algorithms to get more clicks. “We’re slaves to the algorithms like everybody else,” he told Rolling Stone. That article also details how he wants to be the next Rupert Murdoch, and how he fanboys far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The other Jones (Alan) also meets with his approval. As do Ray Hadley, John Laws and Andrew Bolt.

His strategy works. He has more views than many news channels, and Cam Wilson details here how that translates into a healthy income stream.

While he dishes out supercilious scorn, he has a glass-jawed intolerance to any criticism of his rants. He’s being sued for racism. The Daily Telegraph has pointed out his sexism. And those who mention his many failings are personally vilified. Last year The Sydney Morning Herald published this considered piece about him. It includes an allegation of harassment after he tweeted a photo of himself outside a journalist’s house, and Jordies’ version of “he said, she said” after allegations that former NSW opposition leader Luke Foley had sexually assaulted a female journalist.

Jordies’ butthurt response comprised mainly name calling: “Sucked in”; “You’re dumb.” One reporter had a funny-shaped head, he said. Riveting stuff. But it works. His followers credit him with breaking stories that the “mainstream media” ignores, even when he flashes headlines from the original stories in the mainstream media.

Like Hanson, like Trump, like many of these types who pretend they’re outsiders while they cynically manipulate a disenfranchised public, it works. And that’s at least partly because of this post-truth environment where people pick sides, and stick, and suck up alternative “facts”.

As these court cases play out it is possible to hold two thoughts in one’s mind simultaneously: one is that there may have been a serious misuse of the police unit’s powers; the other is that Friendlyjordies doesn’t deserve being martyred for anything.

And keep your eyes peeled for his next YouTube hit: “If you are seeing me now, I have been murdered…

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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