Poseurs Are Why Not All Gatekeeping Is Bad

I used to skateboard. Now, I didn’t get into the hobby until my junior year of high school or so, but growing up in the 80s and 90s, man did I want to skateboard.

You have to understand that, even for a kid growing up in the middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire, California culture was everywhere. All I wanted to do was surf, do martial arts, be in a rock band, and skateboard.

Of course, my parents weren’t okay with such s dangerous hobby. But when I was old enough and had my own money, I bought a deck at the local skate shop and started to shred.

Sorta. I never approached mediocre, but I had fun. It was an excuse to be outside and hang out with all my friends who did skateboard–including some who were professionals while we were in high school–listen to cool punk rock and metal, and know what the hell I was doing when we all played Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater on our PlayStations.

I subscribed to Transworld and Thrasher, wore skater clothes, and used this new thing called The Internet to try and figure out new tricks.

I stopped skateboarding when I moved to Boston for grad school. I tried skating to class, but Beacon Hill isn’t exactly conducive to skating. And the big skatepark under the Zekim Bridge hadn’t been built yet, so I stuck to walking.

But what being immersed in skate culture, taking a deep dive as a total newbie, did was gave me an appreciation for having to learn about a subculture prior to being accepted.

No one will take you seriously if you show up to a skate park with a top-of-the-line deck, expensive skate shoes, and brand-new designer clothes, when you can’t skate, don’t know the history of skateboarding, and have no idea what the thingie on your skateboard that attaches the wheels to the deck is called . . . and especially if you can’t even skate.

But if you show up humble and willing to learn, and don’t lie about knowing stuff about the subculture, you’ll find you have a whole bunch of cool new friends eager to help ease you in. At the very least, the people in the subculture will respect you, even if they may resent your intrusion. In time, you learn to be a part of the crew.

Jamie Thomas

The same was true when I got into guitars and being a rock musician. And jazz too (scratch that–jazz musicians are assholes).

All this is to say, I agree completely with J.D. Cowan’s assessment that poseurs, not normies, ruin subcultures.

Imagine the poseur I described above. Now imagine he comes in and makes demands about the subculture he literally just joined seconds ago. Now even worse, imagine if the people in the subculture go along with it and let the poseur take over. Pretty soon, the poseur remakes the subculture in his or her own lame image, driving off the original people and ruining the subculture, wearing it as the proverbial skin-suit while demanding respect.

Says J.D.:

A long time ago, ever since culture began, there have been subcultures. These are smaller branches that connect to the larger trunk of our culture and identity. It means we are all in this together. Everything connects, and that is the way it should be.

This term was used all the way up until the 21st century when it was slyly replaced by those in charge to being called a “community”. This change matters because it has changed the scene in question from being about bonding over a certain, smaller aspect of culture that would unite to a greater whole into being a “community” of isolated obsessives. It became about being friendly and nice and going along to get along in order to escape the wider world which we cannot empathize with therefore are our enemies.

This is a radical shift, and no one ever questions why this change was made. But it is undoubtedly not the way it was meant to be.

However, what can be said is that these changes weren’t made by “normies” with limited investment of the subculture in question. This is because normal people have lives and interests away from said scene. By definition they can’t do what they are accused of doing. If I enjoy a game of Tetris every now and then I’m not going to go to a Tetris fan community and try to take over their moderation staff to enforce rules in my image. Why would I ever do that? That’s nonsense. It’s fiction. It doesn’t happen.

The reason this shift from open subcultures to closed communities was made wasn’t because “normies” got in charge, but it sure would be nice for the real culprits if you and them fought over it! The reason these changes were made was because fanatics who didn’t understand the subculture in question pushed themselves in charge and began rebuilding it in their image. This is the habit of the elusive poseur, evading detection for decades.

He’s absolutely right. We call subcultures “communities” and allow soyboy weenies and lame chicks to call the shots, wrecking what made the subculture great in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness.” We’ve seen this in rock n’ roll, tabletop role playing, sci-fi and fantasy, sports, video games, acting, improv comedy, and even farmer’s markets. I don’t know about skateboarding, but my bullshit detector points to “yes.”

About the only subculture that hasn’t been totally ruined is heavy metal, but give it some time.

What do a lot of these subculture have in common?

  1. Predominantly male
  2. Not where the stereotypical “Chad” tends to spend his time
  3. Insular
  4. Culturally influential

It’s the first and the last that make them such attractive targets, and the first and the second that make them so easy to infiltrate.

Here’s what I mean:

Male-only spaces have to go. Especially male-only spaces that are culturally influential. The little parasitical, zero-accomplishment NPC-types want that power! And a influential subculture made up of mostly socially awkward young men has a huge weakness: female attention.

Get enough attractive girls with an agenda interested into a group, and you can infiltrate it and change it from within.

Women and, to a lesser degree, high status men.

RPG geeks and video game nerds, for example, crave female attention. And since men, contra decades of feminist agitprop, really like women, they’ll accommodate to let them in all for the merest possibility of even getting a hug from one of them. They’ll tolerate rule-changes and will modify their own behavior so as to not offend the girls in the gang, and before they know it, their subculture is over.

Now, it is true that there are females in various subcultures who honestly enjoy partaking in said subcultures and are not, in fact, poseurs. These women also want to keep the subculture they way they were that attracted them to it in the first place. The thing is, in my experience women are better at picking out the female poseurs than men, because men in the group just like thinking girls want to be around them.

Except skateboarding. That attracted misfits, anarchists, and guys who were pretty successful with women. Of course, skaters also skew very left, so I’d imagine they’re on-board with all manner of SJW lunacy.

The end result is that you have to be vigilant or your subculture will be destroyed. I’m with J.D.: not all gatekeeping is bad:

This is why gate-keeping exists: to keep everything in order, guide normal people who are interested in, and to make sure the narcissists stay out of power. This is how a subculture retains its identity and grows at the same time. By letting obsessives in charge, everything has shrunk. We got fat and lazy, and cared so little for our fellow man that we let them destroy themselves by taking charge of things they had no right taking charge of, simply because we didn’t want to be called mean names. It is our fault this happened.

Without some kind of initiation, some probationary period, you allow your subculture to be infiltrated and dominated by people who hate it and want to remake it in their own twisted, pathetic, and lame image. Everything is not for everybody, and that’s not a gendered thing.

It’s a personality thing.

No one, absolutely no one, wants miserable, mentally unstable and emotionally incontinent, narcissistic, power-hungry, and hate-filled wretches with daddy issues of either gender as a part of their group. Don’t be afraid to freeze them out.

One final point: there is nothing wrong with male-only spaces or male-dominated subculture. There is also nothing wrong with female-only spaces and female-dominated subcultures.

Yet only male-only spaces and male-dominated subcultures are marked for destruction. This is why I’m not outraged at all by trans-men competing in and utterly dominating women’s sports. I find it utterly hilarious and a perfect encapsulation of the non-logic undergirding the majority of life in twenty-first century America.

One way in which bad gatekeeping is being overcome is in the realm of publishing where the arbiters of “approved” sci-fi and fantasy can be circumvented. Support independent authors!


  1. Gatekeeping also preserves religions, as we can see in the culturally isolated eastern half of Christianity. The Church is for those who would seek Christ like gold or silver, so we shouldn’t baptize any old weenie who shows up to RCIA.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve beat this drum a lot. The exclusivity is a good thing. I did a fair amount of tabletop, skating, listening to punk that eventually grew into post-punk goth, and other degenerate activities. But, I was always exclusive. We had our friend group and if you weren’t cool we didn’t invite you back. Simple. The concept of the super open table is a liberal sickness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A super-open table sets the stage for takeover by the lunatics.

      There’s a reason groups, subcultures, tribes, and nations with high in-group preferences survive for millennia, and why idiotic super high-trust Western European nations are in such completely self-inflicted crisis. Look at Sweden for the most glaring example.


  3. Chuckling here, because I am one of the original California skate boarding street kids from the 70’s-80’s It wasn’t glamorous at all, it was the lifestyle of abandoned and abused kids with a bunch of self absorbed boomer parents still chasing after Woodstock. We found ourselves trapped in the middle of both busing and endless drought. So in a weird neighborhood with no friends and lots of abandoned concrete construction and empty swimming pools, the perfect environment for skateboards. I never got very good with it and I soon moved over to roller skates, but I was there. So in a way that whole culture was co-opted, swept away by Thrasher mag, by normals and celebrity endorsements.

    If you think about it, that is kind of the way of the world, the struggle all misfits and outliers face. Our little sub cultures are always being co-opted, changed beyond recognition, normalized. And once something becomes normalized, we no longer fit in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right. There’s a clear pattern that happens with every subculture movement.

      >People who see the world different due to unique circumstance create something
      >Unaffiliated see it and are impressed because it’s new
      >Normies wear it because they like the aesthetic
      >Poseurs get in because they see prestige they could have
      >Normies get bored and leave
      >Poseurs dig deeper in, reshape it in their image
      >Originators are kicked out

      The difference these days is that we’ve conflated the mostly harmless normies with the always harmful poseurs. A subculture can still recover from normies losing interest as long as poseurs are kept out. Metal keeps surviving things like Metalgate because they stick to their guns.

      Why no one else does is a mystery.

      Liked by 4 people

      • There was a Metalgate? Somehow I missed it, whatever it was…what even was it?

        (Also, this thing where every controversial thing is a “-gate” bugs the hell out of me. We really need to move on.)

        My theory on why the metal subculture is resistant to poseurs is that it still values a fundamental skill. Metal is *hard* to play. If you can’t play the instrument or don’t have the pipes, it’s painfully obvious — and thus you don’t get to do the thing that makes the whole scene tick, and that’s all there is to it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “My theory on why the metal subculture is resistant to poseurs is that it still values a fundamental skill.”

        Yeah! Great point. I think that’s why skateboarding at least seemed resistant to infiltration by poseurs as well. Show and prove, right?

        And I agree: adding “-gate” to everything was already old in the 90s…


      • Another thing about today’s metal scene: it’s the result of the post-grunge collapse, when all the normies went for a new shiny object and the poseurs had finally sucked rock music’s pop-culture viability dry.

        The people who remained were fans because they LOVED that music and didn’t give a rat’s ass whether it got played at parties anymore. If you’re just in it for the clothes but don’t like the music, metal fans will know. Plus, there’s not a lot of money or fame in metal as a general rule, so the people who play that music and join the scene do it because they love it, not because they get to be rich or be a celebrity and/or manipulate masses of people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Metal was always fringe. It just happened to get big in the 1980s. But somehow, many (not all) involved managed to STAY metal. They gatekept themselves. There’s something about metal that seems to attract really hardcore, dedicated people with lots of personal integrity who take the scene seriously. It also attracts a lot of satanists who are “totally just joking around with the devil worship stuff, guys!” so there’s that too . . .


      • “Why no one else does is a mystery.”

        I think it’s because they get distracted by the proverbial lollipops and fancy pants the poseurs, especially the female and relatively high status male poseurs, dangle in front of them. Whereas metal people—some of the coolest people on the planet, by the by—are actually VERY secure in who they are to fall for it. I love sci-fi, video game, and RPG geeks as much as the next guy, being one myself, but boy we’re we a bunch of socially awkward people. Metal dudes are a different breed.

        You’ve also described the subculture life and death cycle perfectly.


      • There was an attempt at a takeover of Metal about 4 years ago. They successfully chased them out. Razorfist did a video on it when it happened:

        But they’ve tried several more times:

        Notice every video was a year apart. They haven’t stopped trying to break in for four years now, but they’ve been beaten back every time. No one in the scene listens to them. Instead they get laughed out.

        Gotta hand it to the Metalheads, They can do what the rest of us can’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Okay, so it looks like Metalgate is an attempt at the same kind of thing the poseurs and progressive entryists have been doing to everyone for 30+ years now: find some angle of attack that could ruin the target’s social credibility, attach “gate” to it as a signal to the unknowing public, and use the weakness you’ve created to force your way inside and turn it into the proverbial whited sepulcher.

        Except that one of the things I love about metal in general (and aside from loving the music, it’s why I like to call myself a metalhead) is that it *does not care* what you think, which makes it highly resistant to entryist poseurs. Of course I’m happy whenever I find someone who can appreciate metal with me — but I’m not going to change just to please you, no matter who you are.

        I LOVE the cover images of those videos, especially Marduk. Makes me wonder what the SJWs thought was going to happen when they went after people who look like that and love it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Except that one of the things I love about metal in general (and aside from loving the music, it’s why I like to call myself a metalhead) is that it *does not care* what you think…”

        Unlike too many subcultures made up of misfits and awkward young men, instead of turning into a self-loathing pity party, metal became incredibly and fiercely independent, tribal, and clannish in good ways. “Us against the world” and all that. I love it.


    • That’s so interesting! I didn’t know that. And yeah, the more I learn about it the less glamorous it seems, but to a New Hampshire kid in a town of maybe 3,000 in the late-80s, skateboarding and California culture in general looked like the promised land. And by the time Thrasher and punk rock and Tony Hawk and the X-Games all of that transformed skater culture into what it became in the late-90s, I was hooked.

      “If you think about it, that is kind of the way of the world, the struggle all misfits and outliers face. Our little sub cultures are always being co-opted, changed beyond recognition, normalized. And once something becomes normalized, we no longer fit in it.”

      That’s the amazing part about all of this: the people who started a subculture get driven out of it by their own success and popularity. It’s a really fascinating phenomenon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is what annoys me about the modern pushback against subcultures being taken over.

    Take Star Wars for example.

    “The normies will like anything Kathleen Kennedy does, so they’re the problem. As long as it says Star Wars on the time they will buy it.”

    1. Who put Kathleen Kennedy in charge?
    2. Why wasn’t she gatekept out to begin with?
    3. If normies will buy anything with Star Wars on it then the argument is irrelevant. That means if you were in charge they would still be buying it. That means they don’t actually support the changes. And dropping profits means they don’t and are turning away from it.
    4. Why would normies who have little investment waste their time being invested in it online and arguing with you?
    5. Star Wars merch sells less than it ever has since she took control.

    Normies are actually doing quite a bit in this case. The ones who aren’t are the poseurs still propping up Rian Johnson’s piece years later and telling you how it’s True Star Wars. IE Poseurs.

    It’s aggravating explaining what was common sense not even a decade ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    • To really push back you have to gatekeep. It’s an irony because the whole promise of the Internet was to circumvent gatekeepers, but there is a distinction between certain types of gatekeeping:

      1) Distribution Gatekeeping: It’s not easy to publish a book or release music. At least, not until technology developed to the point were at now. If you have, say, a great album that no record company wants, you can release it yourself.

      2) Scene Gatekeeping: Far different, and far more important. This is what your post, J.D., was talking about, and what I’m talking about here. Keeping poseurs our and making sure anyone who wants to enter a scene or subculture is honestly into it and willing to learn, and not some wacko activist trying to take over.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s exactly it. For art to thrive we should have as many channels of distribution as possible. At the same time we need the scenes these that these things come from to stay on course in order to keep producing the art we like.

        What we tend to have these days is the opposite of that. Big companies actively quarantining and working against scenes and subcultures, and “communities” allowing anyone in charge who recites a bit of trivia they found on wikipedia. That’s how you get closed spaces with the reach of dismembered midget shouting into the void

        Most of the problems with Clown World would be fixed if we did just about everything backwards.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. The beauty of metal is that it can’t really be easily “cancelled,” because the labels know the fans don’t care, so it makes no sense for them from a business standpoint to ditch them if they say something controversial. People might think you’re a dick, but they’ll still listen to your music and respect your right to be a dick. The only thing that will get someone truly cancelled is pedophilia. You’re dead to fans at that point. Take Inquisition, for example. They were really hot for awhile, critical darlings and all that. Child porn charges? I haven’t seen a single mention of them anywhere other than “fuck them,” lol. https://www.google.com/amp/s/metalinjection.net/metal-crimes/inquisition-frontman-plead-guilty-to-child-pornography-charges-in-2009/amp

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alexander,

    Thanks for your post and JD’s elaborations. I finally get it why gatekeeping is important for the hobbies but not for publishing, movies and music.

    Hobbies aren’t scalable to use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term. In other words what works great at a guys basement with 5 buddies simply won’t work if it’s in UniGalacticHobbycon scale.

    Further, the subcultures are tendrils that tenuously connect to the greater culture. Or better yet fractal.

    The poseurs are basically demolition man. They strut in blow up the hobby then look at their work indifferently and move on to the next hobby.

    They lack any respect for the subcultures because as roaming demolition men they destroy they build nothing.
    Bradford has a really good post on how to deal with the poseurs who gammify: plomo o plata.


    Liked by 1 person

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