I have found my new favorite account on Twitter. It is @ISIS_karaoke.
The account has only been running for a short time and currently has only 30-odd tweets, but has already won a bunch of fans in the media (BuzzFeed ran a short profile). The premise is simple and delightful: Each tweet shows a photo of ISIS fighters or maybe an extremist rally, adds a few lyrics from a karaoke classic, and makes you imagine the murderous buffoons singing.
"That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight, losing my religion" pic.twitter.com/c5M59MNRpT— ISIS Karaoke™ (@isis_karaoke) August 21, 2015
The idea is pretty clearly to belittle and mock ISIS militants. BuzzFeed's Hussein Kesvani reached out to the man behind the account (he goes by the pseudonym "Jimmy"), who told him, "Mel Brooks once said something about laughing at the barbaric (in his case the nazis) and I guess that's all I'm doing really." That's a mission pretty much anyone can get on board with.
"Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man, no time to talk" pic.twitter.com/GklVAzMs8t— ISIS Karaoke™ (@isis_karaoke) August 16, 2015
So here are the musical stylings of Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:
"Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone, I hear you call my name and it feels like home" pic.twitter.com/K7lTtLArOT— ISIS Karaoke™ (@isis_karaoke) August 17, 2015
There's actually something meaningful happening here. We have a tendency to mythologize ISIS, to see them as they wish to be seen: as powerful and terrifying beyond anything the world has seen before. In reality, while they have managed to exploit the circumstances in the Middle East to do things that are indeed unusual, deep down they are really not that different from other militant groups; their fighters are not 7-foot-tall superwarriors.
ISIS's propaganda wants you to think of them as unstoppable warriors of destiny instead of the fallible group that they actually are. That's a key part of their recruiting pitch. We should deny them that image — and one way to do it is by pointing out that their fighters are actual humans who, with the right song lyrics, can look utterly ridiculous.
Laughing at these tweets, then, isn't just amusing — it's a small way of eroding ISIS's power:
"My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they're like it's better than yours" pic.twitter.com/udIvqmFCsk— ISIS Karaoke™ (@isis_karaoke) August 18, 2015