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Millennials are actually adulting now 😭
Reflecting on Millennial adulthood via the arts of our time, and exploring the unwinnable world of identity.
Kevin McCarthy’s Historic Humiliation
The story of the week. Mind you, this dumbass suffered the embarrassment of 15 votes earlier this year to become House Speaker, which plays into the very 2023 humiliation fetish. This highlights the many problems of American politics, which the Times did a good job of summarizing. None of this is aided by Biden resuming Trump’s border wall whilst slashing environmental laws.
Trump Revealed Nuclear Submarine Secrets
This story didn’t seem “that wild” until I was watching a David Parkman TikTok live, where someone working in Navy ships called in to lament just how bad the secrets were. Woof.
Vatican Synod Puts Catholic Issues on the Table
Catholic culture is about to become real hot and interesting, given that the Pope is talking about being nicer to LGBTQ+ persons and considering the environment. This also reminds me that I did a deep dive on Catholic apocalypse theories this week. Fun!
September's Record-Shattering Heat
The chart is…quite concerning. Absolutely wild uptick!
Bedbug fears grip Paris
It’s not just Paris: the world is worried. As someone who has had bed bugs, it’s not that big of a deal – but you can avoid it by not putting clothing or bags on your bed or couches!!
Long Covid test shows differences in immune system
Apparently long Covid might be related to something biological. Very interesting! Related: long colds.
Who are the 2023 fellows?
New MacArthur Fellows just dropped and, no, I was not one of them. What’s most remarkable is how many of them deal with elements like air and water. Don’t ask me why, but this always makes me so proud!! Meanwhile, Nobel Prizes have been awarded too, although I find those less interesting (but, yes, the work is impressive too).
A friend of mine is tiptoeing into the literary world, readying a story to submit. I gave them an overview of literary journals and how to pitch publications. They asked an interesting question, one that speaks to the objective oddity of this progressive world: a lot of these publications ask for your identity. Why?
I explained that, you know, publishing is so white – and they’re aggressively trying to course correct, to be more inclusive by soliciting diversity. Many are actively courting (Begging, really.) by discounting submission fees for Black or BIPOC writers, as seen from The Common to Southeast Review to Passages North. I encouraged them to mention their identities in their bio, which we both agreed feels gross – but it can help in getting noticed. While affirmative action may have ended, in liberal spaces like the literary diversity is still prioritized.
In my own bio (example), words like “queer” and “Latinx” check those identity boxes. Are they me? Yes. But are they cringe, weird, and pick-me? Absolutely. Specifically “Latinx,” which I think about all the time: the X is exciting, queer, and clunky, something that “does happen” in Spanish but ignites debates about grammar similar to the singular they. I’ve mused on the word before, and have debated my mother on the subject, as she feels the word isn’t real (Wrong.), isn’t used by people (Right.), and is erasing aspects of Spanish (Eh.). I’ve considered the switch to “Latine” but am exhausted by what can feel like trendy, shifting semantics that further confuse the unfamiliar. Meanwhile, the simple “hispanic” lingers in the wings despite its Republican, racist history. This word is hotly debated every Hispanic Heritage Month, where I’m reminded how unwinnable these identities can be. Ask video game company Bungie, who shared a cute post in Latinx solidarity this week, only to become a trending topic due to reader context: “‘LatinX’ and ‘LatinE’ are suggestions by people who don't understand latin languages or foreign culture.” While the community’s lack-of-use is true, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or that people can share queerphobic, misogynist, racist, anti-woke takes.
Situations like this capture an ongoing mania of identity: how people share and express who they are has undone us, leaving the right sore and the left pining to be as correct as possible, which triggers the other side which then triggers the other side. Identity is both so common and not-deep yet so dead serious that something like the Supreme Court has to weigh in on it, trickling down to the military and your office. Identities are trivial and cultural, which is how jokes about white hikers and white ethnicity get made and then confused for hate. Everything is so serious when your life is packaged for consumption. Ask Tyler Cherry, the current Communications Director for the Secretary of Interior whose visible queerness was a target of Libs of TikTok and The Blaze, which was transformed into jokes and jokes and jokes and jokes in Cherry’s support, to undo hate directed at someone who displays their difference. It’s not just ethnic or sexual identity either but also binary gender, as we have girl math and boy math, girl dinner and boy dinner: asmused in GQ, such trends play with our fantasies of identity. The fuel of our culture machine is the love and hate of difference.
Are you tired? I am. The art of public personal marketing is to wander into the territory of the rat girl: you have to perform yourself. Some will applaud, others will throw tomatoes – but neither side will really see you as a person. We’re all pieces of a puzzle, to support agendas of diversity and inclusion or to be pinned as part of the problem.
Apogee Issue 18 Is Here
Some ~me~ news: a fiction story of mine is out in the latest Apogee!! It’s a ~spooky~ story perfect for October, which also is very on-trend because it’s a backhanded take on Airbnb culture. Take a peep! And let me know what you think 👻
Airbnb Is Broken, Its CEO Says.
Airbnb boss lays foundation for longer rentals
One of the cultural dramas I am most invested in this year is the fall of Airbnb. I think it captures this moment well – consumer culture, real estate, power (to the people), gentrification, pursuits of leisure, Web 2 tech – and will continue to reflect these times. Sadly for them, long-term rentals do not seem like the solution. Just ask Dr. Sascha Jovanovic!
690 New Words to the Dictionary
Note that these words aren’t all new items like “edgelord” and “nerf”: they include “logline” and “rotoscope,” which speak to how common Hollywood and tech industry terms have bleed into the mainstream. What was once specific to insiders or those doing business now belongs to everyone. Says a lot about the influence (and or the dissolution of power…) in certain industries!
Fortnite’s Holocaust museum
Big Oil's Using Fortnite
Two very different stories about advertising ideas in new mediums, largely Fortnite. I don’t think either will be successful, but one is obviously more laudable than the other.
Molly Baz on Her New Cookbook
I was a Molly Baz fanatic like two years ago and this feature shows the charm of the Millennial chef, who I think is probably the closest thing this generation has to Ina Garten.
Reacts to Sexyy Red’s Support for Trump
Sexyy Red Heartbroken’ After Explicit Leak
Rapper Sexyy Red had a wild week, from endorsing Donald Trump (because he gave out stimulus checks) to a leaked sex tape (which was initially believed to be done intentionally).
Cathy Horyn on Her Balenciaga Moment
While I maintain that current shows are exhausting and boring, something interesting happened: critic Cathy Horyn walked for Balenciaga! Obsessed, although Robin Givhan should have been included too.
"dedicating his album to his partner"
Queer tearjerker of the week: Sufjan Stevens dedicated his new album to his late partner. Absolutely gut wrenching way to come out!
Beyoncé Announces Renaissance Movie
In case you missed this Beyoncé news. I just don’t get…why this couldn’t have come sooner? I feel like these stars are torturing their fans on purpose?? Queen of edging!
Swift, Kelce, & NFL a match in capitalist heaven
The NFL Belongs To Taylor Swift
"Taylor Swift arriving"
“fully adopted her ex boyfriend’s ex wife"
So many takes on the NFL (Taylor’s Version) this week!! Which plays into the larger NFL rebrand (a la Disney and Nickelodeon), but also speaks to theories about Taylor: it’s been thought that these antics are to sweep away SEO-based press about private jet usage and her time with Matty Healy, while vacuuming up the Joe Jonas mess. My theory? She’s getting into the hearts of NFL fans, only to push them further left. After all, she did just drive a voting surge.
“doesn’t match the aesthetic”
"Downtowns are dead"
Two unrelated TikToks that speak to the blandification of cities and architecture. File this in previous Report™ subjects: adult dorms and the loss of color.
Bothand Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) released new albums. Both are quiet, both are introverted, both are meditations on Millennial adulthood.
For Halo – whose first proper LP was 2012’s woozy, intoxicating, drowning Quarantine – her return was with the contemplative and orchestral Atlas. Music that was once jittery and pawing a decade ago has been smoothed out, into what she calls “sensual ambient jazz collages.” It’s a sound she’s been wandering toward for years, as her music has gotten less and less solid, straying toward the fluid, the gooey, that which cannot be contained. Experimental in a pure sense. In the time of her career, from early twenties to late thirties, she’s moved from New York to Berlin to Los Angeles. She’s scored a film, curated festivals, and created so many mixes. Surprisingly and not, she’s now a professor at CalArts. She continues to make music and share writing.
In contrast, you have 0PN. He emerged in the late aughts with releases like Betrayed In The Octagon, which felt like unmade soundtracks in the canon of 1980s films like Tron and Blade Runner. This year he returned with Again, a somewhat somber wander between his hallmarks of crying synths and literal orchestral orchestrations. Described as “a meditation on his musical identity during young adulthood from the perspective of middle age,” Again feels like an apology to the self that listeners – particularly listeners who have followed his trajectory – are invited into: Lopatin started as an avant-electronic star, creating the foundation for artists like Huerco S., Tim Hecker, and Napolian to break through with similarly deconstructive sounds – but he took a decided sharp right turn for the stars, to score A24 darlings like Good Time, Uncut Gems, and the upcoming The Curse. Then there’s The Weeknd, who 0PN has collaborated with for years, helping craft After Hours and Dawn FM, not to mention a Super Bowl halftime show. “Don’t look behind the curtain,” Again seems to mumble with every synthetic harpsichord pluck.
These artists – both around the forty range, both American – offer a look into the mind of the Class of 2010, an idea that I’ve been chewing on that we’re finally, firmly, entering: true Millennial adulthood, specifically an adulthood outside of nepotized “voices of a generation” (Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, The 1975). Both self-made artists, Halo and 0PN represent the reality of what it means to have “success” as an adult, both and neither of which appeal: while these two have the power to create their own universes, they still have their “day jobs,” be it in academia or working for pop stars. Like a law of thermodynamics, energies transfer and, while their forms are different, the results are remarkably similar. You get the same sensation when reviewing Made In L.A. 2023 or the list of MacArthur fellows or the most interesting politicians today: Millennials are finally of-age, finally adults, and they’re working through their past, present, and future. Just ask indie director Greta Gerwig, therapist Ed Droste, non-digital superstars Issa Rae and Quinta Brunson, and memoirist Jennette McCurdy: we’re finally finding ourselves.
To be an adult is to reflect, to unpack, to look in the mirror and see all your selves. Yes, you are an “adult” in your late teens – but it’s not until your mid-to-late thirties when you finally are an adult. Both Halo and 0PN’s albums capture these feelings to differing degrees, one more assured despite the waves as the other feels unsure of (or even haunted by) their path. At this age – and I would assume from her on – you have to stand in place and look back at your footprints. What have you done? Who have you affected? What are you proud of? Such is the age of Millennial mid-life contemplation.
“Afro sticking out”
“that one barista”
"wrapping her albino child"
“AI fucking yall up”
"not SAG actors doing the AI yearbook”
Celebrity AI art went wild this week, my favorite one based on an iconic Azealia Banks Tweet. Also the last one is a great take on the silly AI yearbook trend that Charli XCX, Keke Palmer, Bretman Rock, Pokimane, and more got into. Y’all should know better! Tom Hanks does!! (PS. Watch as Photoshop AI “removes glasses” from this person.)
“meet Wally the alligator”
Look at this emotional support freak.
New Saw looks wild! As someone said in the comments…where are the subtitles?
“The Duality of Trans”
The best TikTok non-essay essay of the week.
“Turn dat gay shit up”
I beg you to watch this Hank Hill impression.
I feel like I could write a very long essay about this TikTok short film. It seems to represent America and Boomers and our relationship to the planet and…I could go on and on!! (If you want more horse content, this one tickled me too.)
And, finally, a taste of the soup of my mind.
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