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can Mr. Beast pay our student loans??
A look at the creator culture of giveaways and critiquing the (re-)rise of ballroom.
Jury indicts Daniel Penny in death of Jordan Neely
While world leaders may see no justice for their actions, Jordan Neely’s murderer may.
Landmark Youth Climate Trial Begins in Montana
Who knows what this will yield, but these sort of measures afford some hope, that people are fighting corporate fire with fire. Stay tuned! (Also: Greta Thunberg graduated from school, meaning her school strikes are over. Time flies! What do we have to show for it?)
Nazi and DeSantis 2024 flags outside Disney
Ron DeSantis' Approval Rating Has Collapsed
Ron DeSantis : Favorability Polls
Shot, chasers. (And, not for nothing, Broadway star Denée Benton called him a grand wizard at the Tonys. What a delightful, accurate burn!)
Baptists to Purge Churches With Female Pastors
Another example of wild, self-inflicting harm evangelicals are doing for themselves.
How air conditioners will have to change
As I live in a very sticky climate, I’ve learned the value of dehumidifying over cranking air conditioning lower. Things to think about, as the world (sadly) changes.
How US treats Puerto Ricans as ‘second-class citizens’
I’ve seen this firsthand with the way people (in the South) have treated my mother and our family. America is very ignorant about our relationship to Puerto Rico, and by extension Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
9-year-old's gender questioned in track incident
We’ve talked about this before, but the current queer hullaballoo is causing a lot of gender trouble. What a nightmare!
Strike at Insider — longest ever in digital media — is over
"editor-in-chief caught tearing down pro-union posters"
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER (Also this dickhead editor-in-chief is the same guy who said months ago that AI will be “a tsunami” which will be “really fun to ride.” What a moron.)
Mom Recounts 'Terrorizing' Deepfake Kidnapping
This was a big story a few weeks back, and the testimony is quite gripping. Maybe this will bring about regulations?
In college, I transferred schools – and it was a big deal in my family. Not because of the transfer itself but because there was this mid-aughts dread about student loans, an anticipation of the debt that was going to pile up for a generation. I was leaving a full scholarship at an okay school to a partial scholarship at a very good school. Like most people, my parents could not and would not pay and the matter of finances came down to me at 19 figuring it all out. What does one do? Write Ellen DeGeneres.
Finding a “Share your story!” portal on her website, I shared my circumstances – I’m pursuing higher education! At my dream school! But I have a big family! And we have no money! – and hoped that this kindly, smiley, famous chaste lesbian would read my letter and dance down the street with a check to get me through school. It didn’t work. I never heard back. But the decision to pursue a better education came down to an extreme financial decision that would alter my life. I didn’t “get it” then and, in my stupid, young, in-the-closet 19 year-old way, saw taking out such big loans to cover what scholarships wouldn’t was like getting designer clothes half-off. It was a lot of money, but it was an investment that I would be making. I had to take the risk and the financial burden, even if Ellen DeGeneres was unavailable to save me. Despite repaying it for nearly twenty years, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
I share this as the majority of us and our families have had an Ellen moment and this culture of savior seeking is a not-new, very American phenomena that has had a grip on a certain part of the internet, what I call “You Get A Car” culture: what started with Oprah’s iconic moment in 2004 has been multiplied by Survivor style competitions for sums of money, all to fill in where and how society fails us. It’s very Black Mirror but, if you squint, that’s what the lottery has always been: a way to get people in need to spend money on the promise of salvation (unsurprisingly, the people with the least spend the most on the game). And, in an economy where people are less religious, aware that prayer is a fantasy, betting on a one-in-292 million chance for a billion aren’t bad odds given that someone will win. Prayers don’t have those odds.
I think about this a lot, especially as creators like Mr. Beast have turned the crimes of economics and circumstance into a spectacle. (And, if you’re unfamiliar with this culture and the “drama” around it, you have to read’s recent, fantastic deep dive on the creator.) From “1,000 Deaf People Hear For The First Time” to “1,000 Blind People See For The First Time,” Mr. Beast’s videos do what Oprah and Jeff Probst have done for a different generation: promise salvation in exchange for entertainment. The results are somewhere between “Fifteen Million Merits” and Squid Game (which Mr. Beast made his own version of), making apparent an endless casting pool of people willing to perform desperate acts like staying in a glass box the longest or keeping a hand on a really expensive car or staying within a circle or going to prison for the chance of a financial break.
This isn’t new! Just watch They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (or read the book) for an idea of the lasting legacy of Americans doing wild, desperate things for money. What’s most interesting to me – and what goes severely overlooked regarding Mr. Beast – is that he is a symptom, not the cause: “You Get A Car” culture is a style of making, pairing maximalist philanthropic gestures the yield creations like “Giving laptops to people using public computers” and “I Bought 100 Pairs Of Jordans, Then Gave Them ALL Away..” and “Ordering Chinese Takeout Then Tipping $5,000 to Struggling Restaurants,” not to mention Mr. Beast’s competitors like Brianna (whose videos are less appealing and more play-based), Airrack (who’s more focused on stunts, with job and food giveaways as a byline), and ZHC (whose philanthropy is mediocre art, like customizing a hospital). Even Mr. Beast has an entire philanthropic arm! The trickle down (and up) are TikTok’s “double it and give to the next person,” Juixxe’s hooking-up-street-vendors schtick, Jimmy Darts’ crowdsourced kindness, not to mention JuicyBodyGoddess’ philanthropic body positivity sales tactics. These are less about the feel-goodness of watching, as was the case with Ellen, but the vicariousness of someone coming to save you. We’re all playing the lottery, and some creator can set us free.
This doesn’t mean much, outside of increasingly dramatic “stunts” as such. What will be interesting is that, as brands try to participate similarly, they won’t put up as much money or enter with as much grace as a Mr. Beast: they will be more about the sale than the kindness. That’s why these people succeed: they too are coming from “You Get A Car!” working class circumstances. In ways, they’re operating outside of capitalism through capitalism: they get it. We know freedom isn’t free and, with finances, you have to sign a release.
Catching Up With Miriam
Meet The Stars Of British Vogue's Pride Portfolio
Deeply in love with the British Vogue Pride covers and coverage. Anna could never. The Miriam Margolyes pictures are SO GOOD too.
Can biennials really be sustainable?
The Helsinki Biennial is not the first show or biennial to wonder this, but it’s very of-the-moment considering biennials, music festivals, conventions, and many other trade shows (and the adjacent) are constructed around waste and excess. There’s no way to solve this without dissolving them!
The Instant Pot Failed Because It Was Good
The rare story of how an appliance did “too good of a job” and died. That’s not a bad thing though! More things, from movie series to corporations, should serve up good quality and disappear.
‘Dr Deep Sea’ emerges after 100 days underwater
Should we all be living underwater? Sure, you’ll shrink – but this man did see some wild health benefits.
Great Big Story Finds New Home in U.K.
I completely missed this but recently saw it on YouTube: Great Big Story has resurrected!! CNN axed the brilliant mini-doc outlet in 2020, only for the UK’s why now to pick it up. Love!
Heat mascot Burnie punched by Conor McGregor
At first glance, I thought Conor had “beef” with a mascot. Instead, he just punched that thang right out, like a dumb baby who doesn’t know the strength of his own lil fists. Thoughts and prayers for Burnie and the workers comp they’re about to receive.
Dream Says He's Going Back to Wearing a Mask
Sorry to this YouTube Minecraft man, but this is funny.
New Rubik's Cube World Record: Three Seconds
I don’t even think I can solve a Rubik’s cube in my entire lifetime. Congrats to him, though!
"Just thinkin’ bout palms"
Palm trees only live for a century, meaning cities like LA are gonna have some interesting times soon.
The most remarkable thing about seeing The Blessed Madonna (née, Marea Stamper) at this weekend’s Sonar wasn’t the DJ set itself: it was that it was a ball. Standing at in front of mixers, reaching for various dials and buttons, people stood on opposite ends of Stamper’s metallic DJ setup, dancing – specifically voguing – as songs swirled from Azealia Banks’ “New Bottega” to deconstructed rock, which may or may not have been Metallica. The words “WE STILL BELIEVE” glowed in white, a small thesis to the happening. But this ball was less a representative of what happens in ballrooms and more a facsimile, a copy of a copy of a copy in another continent and country from the artform’s origin, placed literally center stage at one of the world’s biggest electronic music festivals. It was and wasn’t out of place, given that it’s June, the openness of the audience, and Stamper’s own queerness.
What was realized in the viewing was that this was something caught in between “Vogue” expressions of the nineties and the mid-aughts reignition of the Paris Is Burning debates about the film and the controversy of Jameela Jamil doing a ballroom show (which actually was quite good): ball is a historically Black, American, queer expression of born of a geographically, racially, and economically specific marginalized people, who created community, created space, and created family however they could. Not that these items, from Stamper on Friday to Madonna thirty years ago, don’t capture a bit of those qualities but they certainly do profit from “the underground,” using them more as accessories and decoration than anything else. Whether it’s right or wrong, whether it was appropriation or not, whether persons from the community were included or dismissed isn’t what I’m concerned about, as I am neither judge nor jury: I’m tracing a cycle that seems to be recycling moments.
Given the landscape of this year’s confusing Pride, it’s a bit awkward – and at the very least interesting – to see ball being pushed so heavily this year: Cats is being revived as “drag ball-inspired production”; the House of Jacobs is seemingly sponsored by Marc Jacobs; the ballroom term “mother” was used in a Meghan Trainor song, happening as a debate about the term raged; Lady Gaga’s own” ball” is getting a concert film; a Eurovision performer staged a ball from Belgium; Google not only launched a ballroom history project but also made icon Willi Ninja the subject of a Google Doodle; Beyoncé’s Renaissance and current tour are a tribute to ballroom and Black queerness; the production company behind Queer Eye and Beyoncé’s Lemonade are making a docu-show about a ballroom house; Drag Race’s ongoing use of ball has been criticized as drag about drag.
These aren’t bad things, but they aren’t really good. Stamper’s Sonar set is another small-and-big representation of the butterfly effect Madonna started: capturing underground cool and wearing them to the bank. While, yes, ballroom is mainstream, one cannot escape the both real and unreal reality of being queer (especially being queer and of color) in public today: worldwide news of hate bubbles up every day – Michigan banning Pride flags on public property, a Pride flag was burned at a school in Los Angeles, a study find anti-queer crime in America up 70% from 2020 to 2021 as Europe hits a decade-high in anti-queer violence, not to mention specific and horrific instances of hate seen in murders of DeAndrew Matthews and Akira Ross – as these efforts in entertainment and advertising happen. It’s not that these collaborations and inspirations shouldn’t happen, but that it’s particularly strange to pluck from this specific community, whose story has long been about the tension of the underground and mainstream set against violence. We all know who wins: not-the-community.
While corporate Pride is corporate Pride, lest we forget artists and our own community can betray each other. There are limits to the lengths specific people will go, representing culture’s knack for disposability and trend-forwardness, which means both the planet and specific peoples suffer when they are “no longer cool.” Maybe this is the moment of ball’s bubble bursting, where they truly have gone mainstream. Or maybe next year ball will be out and queer furries will be in. We’ll find out in a matter of months!
"conspiracy theory that's somehow more insane."
This made the round last week but some people think there are wars happening underground.
“the hair theory is real”
"do it to some others"
A big debate happening on TikTok about how hair is what makes you look younger. I agree! And these make-unders of stars with old lady hair is…so fucking funny.
"employee who is back"
The best ad for working in offices.
"RUN FERGIE RUN!"
I don’t know why but this fucking small ass dog running an agility course set to the Forrest Gump theme song made me cry because it got me thinking about life y’all. WHY!! I NEED THERAPY!!
"asks about Padam Padam"
She’s so me.
"Terri Joe – Generative Fill"
This is the best use of the new Photoshop feature.
"breaking up in a public park"
Are you even queer if you don’t have a breakup in a park?
“Chilis for lunch”
This is my Multiverse of Madness: Fortune Feimster did a lunch order with Dakota “For To Drink” Wright.
"literally THE worst timing"
A very good, poorly timed news blooper.
Super Mario Bros Condom Trumpet
Just a video of a person playing the Super Mario theme on a trumpet covered with a condom. Thought you’d enjoy this v 2010 energy.
“love this guy. michael romance”
Love this guy. Michael Romance.
And, finally, one of many reviews regarding my new mustache.