Chuck Tingle is the name of the author of a long series of short, niche erotica featuring homosexual themes. Since much of Chuck Tingle's background in his author biography is obviously false, it could be assumed that Chuck Tingle is a pseudonym, or even the cover alias for a group of people working in unison. However, it could also be possible that Chuck Tingle is who he says he is. He lists his city of residence as Billings, Montana, where he supposedly worked in "holistic massage" until he decided to devote himself full time to his writing. There are a number of other relatives and neighbors that he alludes to in social media posts, but most of what he writes seems obviously unreal.
Chuck Tingle first burst upon the literary scene in December of 2014, with a short ebook entitled "My Billionaire Triceratops Craves Gay Ass". It was released on Amazon, where niche erotica featuring dinosaurs, monsters, and billionaires had already become an established genre, and so the idea of a gay, billionaire triceratops wasn't that new. What was different was the rate at which he released them, the seemingly silly assortment of topics he treated with erotic seriousness, and his social media persona. From an online oddity, Chuck Tingle became a cult figure, especially as his books started to deal with topical matters. Between a steady assortment of dinosaurs, cryptids and vehicles, he started to satirize current events. In 2016, or example, he released the perfectly named "Pounded by the Pound: Turned Gay by the Socioeconomic Implications of Britain Leaving the EU". He also became increasingly self-referential, with several books featuring the idea of the manifestation of the book's own idea engaging in sex with the protagonist.
Chuck Tingle's first relevance outside of his niche world happened almost by accident. A group of right-wing trolls, angered at the perceived liberal and progressive bias of the Hugo Awards, decided to nominate one of Tingle's books, "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" for a Hugo Award. Tingle quickly jumped at the chance, using his social media platform to enthusiastically accept the nomination, mocking the people who had nominated him, and suggesting that he would let Zoë Quinn, feminist video game designer, accept the award for him. Tingle's clever antics quickly made a fool of his enemies. Since that point, he has released more idiosyncratic political statements, as well as keeping up a consistent output of niche erotica, and a social media presence where he presents himself as a savant obsessed with chocolate milk, spaghetti, and the memory of his dead wife Barbara.
I could say that Tingle's absurd writing and enthusiastic social stances in favor of love are exactly what the United States needs to get through a two year period that has been, frankly, bizarre. And I have to admit that every time he posts an Instagram video, I prepare myself to laugh. But there are a few problems I have with Chuck Tingle:
Chuck Tingle makes sex ridiculous. His books involve bizarre combinations of objects and characters, and usually describe sex with juvenile words. The most common word in his titles is "pounded". When it was suggested he write a book with female characters (one satirizing Hillary Clinton, specifically), he responded "i do not write tinglers about pounding ladybucks. they are harrassed about pounding enough every day already", which is a noble sentiment, but brings up some questions for me. By Tingle's own standards, writing books where Meg Whitman or Meryl Streep were described in engaging in sex with monsters or objects in purposely ridiculous terms would be a form of harassment. But he has written books where obvious versions of Elon Musk and Bill Murray are treated the same way. In addition, in his social media, he talks about living at home with his son, who takes care of him, and there are aside comments about watching his son and his friends in "horseplay". Tingle's social media persona is often blankly asexual, but it is another case where if the genders were reversed, it would be objectionable to many: an old man living alone with a daughter and making oblique references to her sexuality. People can debate the exact impact and levels of irony in these postings, but the basic appeal of Chuck Tingle is that male sexuality, especially gay male sexuality, is humorous or absurd. Although we can appreciate the satirical and absurdist reversal of usual sexual attitudes, the basic reason that Chuck Tingle's works appeal to people is that their basic premise is that male sexuality is ridiculous and not deserving of dignity. And for this reason, although I appreciate the joke, I still worry that it is accepted so uncritically.