Vox’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Really Bad Day
Recently, alt right blogger, publisher and comic creator Theodore Beale, also known by his alias Vox Day, became the subject of mainstream news when he lost $1 million of crowd sourced funds for the conservative propaganda comic book feature film Rebel’s Run. He had placed the funds in escrow with Ohana Capital Financial, a Utah-based firm that claimed to offer “banking [to] the unbankable”.
That money quickly vanished. Founder of Ohana and self-described “cryptocurrency billionaire,” James Wolfgramm, was alleged to have summarily taken the money and used it to buy PPE from a Chinese manufacturer. This was purportedly done to cover part of the $4 million given to him by a third company that requested the PPE purchase, money which Wolfgramm allegedly stole and used to pay unrelated business interests.
NOTE: the views and opinions expressed herein reflect those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Scifi.Radio or Krypton Media Group.
Now, while Wolfgramm faces indictment on seven counts of wire fraud for the Rebel’s Run theft and other fraudulent business activities and the FBI has been brought in to investigate — by way of Beale and his cohorts no less. Beale had to make a statement to his supporters and investors who backed the fundraising efforts for this film and explain where all their money went.
His response? He made unfounded allegations that this was a targeted attack against the right.
In a video statement Beale gave last week to his supporters, he was quoted as saying “I strongly suspect that this whole thing was a targeted operation intended to break our community,” He provided zero evidence to support this claim.
Granted, this is not an unusual thing: seeing extreme claims of persecution by those on the right that are expected to be believed based on faith alone, or unverified rumor and innuendo. However, somewhere between the extremism of conservative viewpoints and the chaos of anger and indignation from liberal venues, there is a space that is clear and quiet: the eye of the storm.
There is a principal known as Occam’s Razor – a philosophical tool that states all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. It’s not gospel or law, but precisely that: a tool that can be used when applying reason to any given situation. It favors minimalism in the act of searching for truth, which allows for the facts to reveal answers.
An opening to the truth, sliced by Occam’s Razor.
The first cut that one can make is an easy one: generally speaking, the alt right has never had a place in the science fiction and fantasy community. As a dual genre, science fiction and fantasy has been progressive at its core by postulating the continued development and advancement of human technology, human culture, and the human condition. Whether it speculates on the exploration of new worlds, lauds the virtues of human nature through the inhuman lens of fantastic myths and legends, or casts the harsh light of reality on humankind’s worst instincts, it has always cast those who hate, enslave, and debase in a vulgar light. They are the villains of our stories, the enemies that must be overcome to ensure a better tomorrow.
That said, it’s no secret that Theodore Beale is a well known bigot. Espousing viewpoints such as a correlation between race and intelligence, as well as the belief that equal rights for women is “the primary threat to the survival of Western civilization, his stance on nearly anything sails straight through ‘controversial’ and straight into ‘hate speech.’ Quite literally, when he called African American author N. K. Jemisin an “ignorant half savage” on his own blog. Statements like these, as well as his extremely outdated and vitriolic opinions are much of the reason he was expelled from the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America), the preeminent organization of published writers in science fiction, fantasy, and other related genres.
One thing is clear: in a community of forward thinking, open minded individuals with a fundamental belief in the good of mankind and the equality of all, there is no place where a narrow minded racist misogynist can thrive. The attempted hijacking of the 2015 Hugo Awards by the voting blocs known as the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies respectively – the latter being led by Beale himself – is evidence of such a fact.
The takeover took place as a result of a coordinated effort by alt right sympathizers within the science fiction community to campaign for and ensure that voting members of the World Science Fiction Convention put a specific slate of nominees up for Hugo Awards. The end result had a large percentage of the nominees at the 2015 Hugos as those being favored by the alt right, along with some nominated simply in an attempt to destroy the reputation of the Hugo Awards, and included two nominations for Beale himself under his nome de plume.
At the end of the awards, however, only one recommendation from either the Sad Puppies or the Rabid Puppies voting block took home an award: The Guardians Of The Galaxy, a film that received critical acclaim and support from the community independent of the two entities in question. All other nominees put forth by both groups either lost the award, or received so little support that the contest resulted in a No Award result, as put forth by the WSFC Constitution which states that a “No Award” result shall take place if no nominee can garner a minimum 25% of the vote.
Alt*Hero and the Vanity Press
Beale and his ideals have been exiled from professional organizations in his field. Works and authors supported by the alt right have gained so little support at prominent awards contests that the end result was that no one won.
Two major strikes against the cultivation of fandom media that favors extreme conservative values and viewpoints have been levied over the course of Beale’s career, yet he continues to pursue funding and production of such material.
One such project was Alt*Hero, a comic book mini-series aimed at the far right contingent whose “superheroes” spent her time running around subjugating liberals in the streets wherever she found them.
While the project did get its funding and the comics did get published, the funding came from only a couple thousand individuals, with most of the funding coming from a small subset of them. Distribution of the comic went to a very small audience, and the books never found distribution outside the fundraiser.
Despite this, it was the comic book that gave Beale the leverage to get funding from Ohana Capital Financial for his movie.
The platform used, by the way, was Freestartr, a crowdfunding platform that allowed controversial or questionable material and campaigns that no other platform would touch. That service went offline entirely sometime in 2019. Beale (Vox Day) was one of only a dozen creators that ever used it, and his project was the only one that really did well. These facts seem odd, as though the service had been founded specifically for use by Beale and then abandoned once the project was funded.
Ohana Capital Financial
Rather than a legitimate financial institution, Ohana Capital Financial turned out to be little more than a crypto bro running running a ponzi scheme funding various personal projects, and the money went to satisfy an earlier victim. The multiple expensive cars that James Wolfgramm claimed to own, the ones he posted pictures of on social media, turned out all to be owned by other people. The seven felony charges for Wolfgramm’s alleged role in several financial fraud schemes include a cryptocurrency mining scam that bilked two customers out of $1.7 million, in addition to the $1 million scam he ran on Beale, and presumably other fraud schemes.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) says Wolfgramm, 43, of Spanish Fork, Utah, wooed his victims by portraying himself on social media as “a multimillionaire who made his fortune in cryptocurrency.” Indeed, Wolfgramm’s Twitter account, which has 10 followers, declares him to be “one of the most well-known entrepreneurs on the planet” and a “financial advisor that helps more than 10,000 clients each year.”
Wolfgramm is accused by the Justice Department of using images of crypto wallets holding millions of dollars worth of digital assets, a suitcase full of cash and expensive sports cars to lure victims with his supposed investing acumen.
Through one of Wolfgramm’s companies, Bitex, authorities say he convinced two investors to give him $1.7 million by “purporting to sell a high-powered cryptocurrency mining machine – the ‘Bitex Blockbuster’ – that did not actually exist.” Instead, according to the DOJ statement, Wolfgramm used a fake machine in Bitex’s Utah office, which was connected to a monitor that “displayed a pre-recorded loop that simply gave the appearance of mining activity.”
Arguably, Beale should have seen this coming. When you’re doing a million dollar deal with a financial institution of any sort, one of the first things you do is check to make sure they actually have any assets. If Beale had done this, he might have avoided catastrophe. As it is, he and his well fleeced supporters have nothing to show for their efforts. It’s odd that somebody with so much to lose besides money if this thing went sideways didn’t check to see whether or not his business partner was a crook.
A Fiscal Epitaph
Apart from the fact that neither Beale’s contributors nor any financial institution is likely ever to want to do business with Theodore Beale again, what’s the takeaway?
Was there a reason, perhaps, that he did not, or possibly could not have the funds for his project held in escrow somewhere else? This is pure speculation, but it is speculation that has precedent. In trying to get a loan to produce a film whose main character wears a costume based on the Confederate flag, a symbol of the fight for slavery by the South during the Civil War, is it possible that Beale could not find an organization willing to manage his collateral funds in order to secure a loan for the movie’s budget?
No one can say for certain. We can only look to that eye of the hurricane where alt right cries of persecution and past history meet the long standing values and viewpoints of the community that Theodore Beale has tried, and failed, to find a place in.
A field clear of debris, where facts are most visible, and history is most clearly seen so that we may learn from it. The field cleared by Occam’s Razor: where all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.
And the simple explanation for what happened to Beale is that he got scammed by working entirely too hard to create a hateful work of art that no one wanted to see.
It’s not pretty, and it’s not kind, but Occam’s Razor is no different from any other in at least one important respect: when the blade cuts, it’s always going to hurt.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.