Treading the fine line between past and present, This Week, in History is a round-up of the latest historical events and findings which continue to impact the world today. This week, we look at the deaths of Northern Ireland’s secret peace negotiator, Brendan Duddy and disgraced Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, while also looking at ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’ ten years on.
Northern Ireland’s Secret Peace Negotiator Brendan Duddy dies
Brendan Duddy, otherwise known as “the link” between the Irish Republican Army and the British Government from 1972 to 1993 passed away on May 12th at the age of 82.
Born in Derry, Duddy first made a name for himself as the owner of a fish and chip shop, which was noteworthy for having its hamburger meat delivered by a young Martin McGuinness, who Duddy said “used to chat up the girls behind the counter and had absolutely no interest in politics.”
A pacifist republican, Duddy became secretly active in the Troubles during January of 1972 as Stormont was being dissolved. At the request of Derry’s police chief, Frank Lagan Duddy was delegated the task of persuading the Official and Provisional IRA to remove their weapons from the Bogside in the lead-up to Bloody Sunday. In total, 54 arms were removed, but in the aftermath of the massacre, he became devoted to creating a lasting peace.
In early 1973, he made contact with Michael Oatley, a British government official, whose messages Duddy agreed to communicate to the IRA’s army council. The pair struck up a relationship over their shared commitment towards including the IRA in the North’s political process and their first achievement together was the 1975 IRA ceasefire.
The two men would remain in contact up until the early 1990’s, with Duddy acting as a go-between throughout that period. Then, in 1991, the peace process gained considerable momentum after Duddy managed to convince Oatley, ten days from retirement, to meet with Martin McGuinness.
His last public appearance was at the funeral for McGuinness in March of this year.
Commenting on his death, journalist Nell McCafferty wrote, “It feels like much of our Bogside history is falling off the tree like autumn leaves.”
Fox News Founder and Complicated Man, Roger Ailes dies
Fox News founder and political advisor to Reagan, RNixon and H.W. Bush, Roger Ailes also passed away this week aged 77. Dying as a result of a head wound sustained in his home, the controversial right-wing media pioneer was best known in his later years for a string of sexual harassment accusations brought against him during his tenure as CEO at the network.
Having founded the network in 1996, living out his and Nixon’s ambition of creating a popular right-wing television network, his impact in this sphere was captured nicely by Gabriel Sherman, Ailes’ unofficial biographer and author of The Loudest Voice In The Room:
“One of Ailes’ lasting legacies will be that for millions of Americans, news is now no longer viewed as a way to be informed about the world; it’s a way of gathering information that advances your side.”
Ailes was forced by the Murdoch family to step down as Fox News chairman and CEO in 2016, after his history of harassment in the workplace was exposed by Sherman his his 2014 book, before later being corroborated with the experiences of Gretchen Carlson, Andrea Tantaros, Shelly Ross and former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
Ousted on July 21st, 2016, while receiving a pay-out of $45m, he remained a consultant for the network until his death.
Remembered as a “complicated man” by Bill O’Reilly, another “complicated man” similarly pressured into resigning over his own work-related complications, Ailes has received every tribute under the sun, from former-House Speaker Newt Gingrich calling him a “genius” to Clayton Purdom of the A.V. Club describing him as a “human boil”. However, it is Julia Angwin of ProPublica who deserves the final say on Ailes, when she recalled an encounter the pair had after she wrote a 2005 profile on him:
“Roger Ailes once threatened me that he had the rest of his life to get back at me for an article I wrote. Looks like he ran out of time.”
‘Watch It We Did’: Two Girls, One Cup, Ten Years
When it comes to debating the historical significance of viral content, there might some who dispute the inclusion of 2007’s scatological short ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’. Writing in MEL Magazine, however, Vanity Fair and McSweeneys contributor Miles Klee offered up a case for the video on its 10th anniversary, with an article titled ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup: An Investigation of the Web’s Shittiest Mystery’.
Famous primarily for being the video that received thirty-two million hits over the course of six months, Klee decided to assess this legacy by tracking down director Marco Fiorito, and the two actresses Karla and Latifa.
Sixty-seconds in duration, and originally a trailer for the press-shy Fiorito’s sole work to date, Hungry Bitches, which has a 5.0 rating on IMdB, the real impact behind ‘2 Girls…’ was not necessarily one’s trauma at witnessing two girls masticating fecal matter, but rather the market for said trauma.
The video served as a catalyst for the now ubiquitous trend of reaction videos, i.e. those Youtube videos of people watching videos. After all, there were only two reasons a person watched the video, Klee went on to note. Either you were curious, or you were tricked, and whichever it was, if your first impression was filmed, then it had value.
By 2008, these reactions nearly set a legal precedent in the Department of Justice, when another fetish filmmaker, Ira Isaac’s was brought before the federal court to face charges on the sale and distribution of obscene materials. Isaacs would receive a four year sentence, as well as being mistakenly identified as the mind behind 2G1C. In his defense, and to illustrate the value of shock art, Isaacs went as far as to compare himself to James Joyce and Marcel Duchamps, while also preparing a 20-minute video of reaction videos to further his case.
Sadly, he never exhibited said video, and the federal courts of America remained a realm of credible content, as opposed the trashy part of Youtube that you stumble upon at three o’clock in the morning.