it's time to talk about pop crave 🙄
Examining the rise of pop culture accounts and thinking about ~life~
Death toll from blast in Pakistan mosque rises
There feels to be lots of security crises right now, the latest being in Pakistan where a bombing of a mosque killed over a hundred people.
IMF Upgrades Economic Outlook as Inflation Eases
Maybe there won’t be a recession? Stay tuned, for the next episode of This Economy Now.
Pentagon tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon
Second spy balloon spotted over Latin America
Over this storyline already.
Democrat counters Republican attacks on drag queens
"amendment to a drag show bill that bans religious camps"
Baller move, although the right are going to have a field day with this.
16 Hours With George Santos
“George Santos had an account on Smule”
This is so chaotic. The Pokémon evolution of the Demon Twink.
Democratic National Committee Votes To Shake Up Primary
This shall be interesting!
"Nokia's successful layoff"
So, yes, you can ethically lay people off. Just look to Nokia!
'De-Extinction' Company Will Try to Bring Back the Dodo
Sure? Why not. The world is screwed up enough already, might as well add weird animals.
Free Covid Care Will Be Gone Soon
COVID pandemic caused cardiovascular deaths to rise sharply
Record number of deaths in US from cardiovascular disease
Big thoughts about Covid are coming back, as some are trying to declare it “over.” Meanwhile, heart attacks are up for people 25 to 44, both related and not to Covid. That’s bad-bad!
Human composting is now legal in New York and five states
Comparing green funeral options
This green burial startup wants to turn people into trees
I have been seeing so many stories on green burials and composting bodies lately. Which reminds me that I put this in my will and want to reiterate this here: y’all better compost my damn body. I want to become a fucking tree and come back and give someone allergies!!
Every so often I think about @BreakingNews, the seemingly singular first-gen Twitter account that did exactly what it said to do: break news. It was a simple effort, made by a Dutch teenager, which helped the world get the news without fuss or filter before other outlets were able to share. There are still echoes of @BreakingNews today, which has transformed into more person-driven accounts like Philip Lewis, Kyle Griffin, and Seung Min Kim. The account eventually died in 2016, as is the case with most modern things: it wasn’t a sustainable, ad-friendly business. If interested, the account is still a functioning husk, as it was revived by NBC (the people who killed the account, ironically) in 2018 and continues to Tweet, albeit from a brand-focused perspective.
Today’s Twitter is very different for obvious reasons, given the rise and fall and re-rise of totalitarian billionaires aspiring to be entertainers and the saturation of silly accounts that go hard. But @BreakingNews still has its echoes, the great-great-great grandparent of a Twitter 5.0 (Or whatever number we’re on!) genre that says a lot about this moment, for better and worse: the subjective Hollywood “news outlet.”
These accounts have taken over, from the popular @PopCrave to @PopBase, @ChartData to @FilmUpdates, “@BuzzingPop” to “@ThePopTingz.” These accounts share in-the-moment news and soft-commentary that confuse news sourcing with opinion, sharing updates – “Doja Cat says the comments comparing her shaved head to Britney Spears” and “Doja Cat tells @Variety why people comparing her shaved head to Britney Spears,” “The venue’s capacity is only 65K” and “The venue’s capacity is 45k.” – to slightly unhinged, fan-adjacent, copy-and-paste posts, a la “Doja Cat looks gorgeous” and “Doja Cat stuns in new look” and “Doja Cat looks gorgeous” (and also “Doja Cat looks stunning”). The effect of that is of a smooth-brained E!, all the same information but zoomed in with doe-eyed adoration underlined by a touch of gay boy sass.
Unlike Twitter 1.0 accounts that shared in an unfiltered manner to keep you informed, the rise of these accounts signal the importance of both infotainment and tribal fandoms, which creates hollow copy+pasted accounts like this that continue to spread and spread. Neither news sources nor stan accounts – but not not either – these accounts all feel and look the same as they confuse “unbiased” fanning of certain celebrities with “breaking news.” It’s easy to see this as an entertainment problem but, when you compare these accounts to that of @MeidasTouch and @OccupyDemocrats and @PatriotTakes, you notice similarities as far as expressing fervent feelings to a hungry hive mind. This way of communicating is becoming (or has become) the internet now. These accounts aren’t necessarily the cause but the symptom, the manifestation of our increasing myopia. Scroll through the comments on any of these accounts and you’ll find a cascade of monocultural expression, as seen in mirrored gestures (“not saying mother” and “oh mother” and “a mother to many” versus “his @gop cohorts” and “the GOP’s motto” and “hypocritical GQP member”).
Unlike the original @BreakingNews, which wasn’t beholden to sales or “a business model,” these accounts aren’t services or informational outlets: they’re sales forces who tell captive audiences what they want to hear. The results are sales tactics instead of conversations, homogeneity instead of plurality.
"Black Deaf History Month: Andrew Foster"
“there are four figures in this painting”
Lauren O’Neill-Butler on “Benjamin Wigfall & Communications Village”
"Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown said it best in 1994"
Some Black art and culture history to explore for Black History Month!!
The Last of Us Is Right: Climate Is Making Fungi Dangerous
Legal Use of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Begins in Oregon
What do mushrooms sound like?
I took mushrooms to help come to terms with my bisexuality
Mushrooms are having such a moment.
"the West is disintegrating at an accelerated rate"
"TV shows went from being about families and friends"
This week in the decline of Western culture, from a subject matter standpoint (via the loss of religion and family and “gaining” of work).
Instagram Co-Founders Introduce Text-Based App
Intrigued, even if it won’t “be a thing.” Welcome to the post-Twitter internet!
Sam Smith - I'm Not Here To Make Friends
Sam Smith Hits Back at Haters
So the new Sam Smith video apparently caused a controversy? Because people didn’t want to see their body and or gender expression? And thought it was too queer? Or something?? I don’t know but, yes, it is very sexy (Arguably the sexiest video to come out since “WAP”!!) but it’s also no more scandalous than every other music video made in the past 23 years.
"I’ll use my money to help people"
“he is not complaining about Mr. Beast”
"Hasan explained why he’s filled with rage"
“solidifying why people were so uncomfortable”
Why Are People So Mad About MrBeast's Blindness Video?
The Mr. Beast mass-unblinding thing made people realize that, yes, our healthcare systems are bad and creators can use “helping people” to drive views. Another step closer to Mr. Beast becoming Mr. Musk!
Jeffree Star reveals photos of his 'NFL boo'
“been at it all night”
“seeing a lot of talk”
“no one’s safe”
Another controversy, the biggest mystery of the week, is who the NFL-playing “boyfriend” of Jeffrey Star is. Probably a nobody but the girls (Me.) are dying to know. (Also shoutout to Jack Mac for his service.)
Two mascara controversies rattled TikTok last week
"look at this from an FTC compliance standpoint"
"mention elephants in the next video"
And, of course, the other other other controversy of the past week, both involving TikTok and mascara.
“Netflix seems to misunderstand the nature of their customers”
How HBO Max Led to Rise in Un-Renewals, Cancellations
Paramount+ Removes 9 Shows Ahead of Showtime Merger
"about to learn what a torrent is"
Another big thing this week is realizing that the streamers are clueless and that they are all going to collapse because they don’t know what their audiences want, like, etc.
How to Get Bella Hadid’s Face: Fillers & Buccal Fat Removal?
Did I not call this in the 2023 predictions? Related theory is that all this talk of “inflation” has people wanting their clothes – but not their bodies – being inflated.
"BDG has decided it is done with Gawker 2.0”
I, for one, liked Gawker 2.0. I loved their newsletter especially! Sad.
We’re waiting at a crosswalk, for the light to change. Bobby looks around me, picking at the back of my hair. “Oh, that’s not from the dogs,” he says. He places a hand on my shoulder and smiles. “I think that’s your first gray hair.” I nod, noticing traffic has stopped. We cross the street.
On BeReal, a friend has laundry hanging in the back of their picture, a long red sheet that bisects part of their backyard, as if a small recreation of The Valley Curtain. I put my phone down and look up pictures of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They wrapped trees, they wrapped a coast, they seemed to remove so many common things to highlight their importance. They were framers, more than artists, pointing out life by selectively “removing” it. I watch a montage of their works. Escape as spectacle. Hiding the institution. Life, modernity, death. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen their work in person, at least while they were alive.
In Kiernan Setiya’s 2022 book Life Is Hard, the philosopher considers the value in the atelic. The telic, which he speaks about by building on Aristolian thought, are activities that can be finished, items like getting married or having a child. There is a set destination – and you arrive there. The atelic is not quite the opposite, but are focused on being destinationless. Spending time with friends, parenting, listening to music: these are atelic activities, he says. They have no set outcome. They have no “specific” point. “Atelic activities are not exhaustible,” he writes. “Your engagement with them does not annihilate them...Atelic activities are realized in the present as much as they can ever be realized. If you value thinking and you are doing just that, you have what you value right now. Nothing you have done, or will do, can imperil this.”
Yesterday I hit 801 days of unbroken streak on Duolingo, all to learn Spanish. I do this now as a chore, a small, green-feathered cross that I drag along because I feel like I have to. It’s specifically useless as I am taking Spanish classes and, whenever I return to the app, I feel like I’m eating poorly seasoned food, or even just the raw ingredients. The idea is there, but it never tastes right. For a few months in 2020 and 2021, I dropped into a few meetings with a local Buddhist chapter. I think about this whenever I use Headspace: the “idea” is there, but the feeling is not.
“You can’t become attached to the outcome,” the author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says in a TikTok. He talks about how he used to work for the science fiction author Isaac Asimov, who published 400 books. At one point, Seth asked him how he does it, to which he replied: “I wake up in the morning and I walk over to this typewriter and I type from 6:30 to noon every day – and it doesn't matter if it's good. I just have to type.”
I read about documentaries that explore memory and grief. I read Tweets on TikToks that talk about our unprocessed trauma. These ideas are trending, that we are always double-fisting tragedy, ready to vomit it all up at any moment. It all makes me think of Amour and the scene with the pigeon. “You can interpret it any way you want,” the director Michael Haneke says. “There are lots of pigeons in Paris.”
For whatever reason, I have been re-listening to Tiga’s albums, from Sexor to No Fantasy Required. They are not, technically, good but they have their high points: the cover of “Down In It,” “Burning Down,” “Shoes,” “Gentle Giant,” the Kane West remix of “Let’s Go Dancing,” the extended mix of “Blondes Have More Fun.” In my mind, Tiga is always around 30 years old. I am always 19. I look him up, to see what he has been up to. Turbo, his label, is celebrating 25 years. Tiga is now 48 and posted a picture a few months ago with Jake Shears, Peaches, and the Chemical Brothers. Did you know Peaches is 56 years old? I look and I look and I look at the picture.
I watch a TikTok of a boy doing a grwm before school. His routine is impressive, largely that he is moisturizing at all. “I like my skin feeling hydrated,” he says, before confessing that he never cleanses. “Is that bad?” He points out a pimple, inspecting it. He tints his moisturizer himself, to look tan because he’s not. “You can’t tell from the angle my phone is at,” he says. “But I actually look a lot better.” The video has 1.2M views.
"oh my god"
Tweet long enough so that a celebrity scolds you about your username on-camera.
"I guess I did date this man"
Wild story, wilder comments. Love stories that end in “CONSULT A PHYSICIAN.”
"not safe to play Miley Cyrus"
"White Choral Bells and Kookaburra"
You gotta watch this harp grandpa on TikTok. I love this “style” of internet creation, which we’ll be seeing more of as more boomers retire to become creators.
"pizza has held its grasp"
"home girl shows up in louboutins"
Another day, another group of people pointing out ridiculous things Bella Hadid says.
“you can feel it in my ass”
Do I need to be watching Survivor again?
“I’ll mix it into a song”
Anyway, stream “Yes Daddy” on Spotify.
"RIP Andy Warhol"
One of the best takes on AI.
“slay bestie in chinese”
A little bit of language learning for you this week!
“what kinda baby is that?”
This went very viral, and rightly so. That baby haunted!
"gotta put they kids first"
And, after you watch the haunted baby, you’ll look at babies like this.
"biggest fear in life is dating someone who hasn’t seen this video"
This video healed something in me. It may be the best ad for living in New York that I have ever seen. She’s so me.
And, finally, a good documentary about Millennials.
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