Welcome to The Trend Report™ where you get a capturing of what happened this week.
We’ve got plenty to chat about this week, from “sexy” AOC memes to the rise – and sustainment – of luxury air, a lot of bad Covid news and Melania Trump’s next move, one of the most damning celebrity stories of the year and a hack for defogging your car, and one of the funniest sounds I’ve ever heard as well as the weirdest way to say “microwave.”
PS. Forward to your friends and subscribe here. And, obviously, posting will be limited following next week and through the new year.
A lot of people hate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Millennial New York Representative who is ushering in extremely progressive “socialist” ideas into the mainstream. She’s doing some major things in Congress – Pushing for drastic environmental resolutions, higher minimum wage, protections for immigrants, medical care for all, corporate oversight, and more. – while living her best life when off-duty, doing everything from covering Vanity Fair to gaming on Twitch to guesting on Drag Race to baking bread and making cocktails on Instagram. She’s on top of the world, going simply by three letters: AOC.
And people hate her for this.
Why? It’s not that she’s smart and that she wants good things but it’s also that she’s pretty while doing all of this. That’s the gist of it. As noted genius Tressie McMillan Cottom has observed, AOC is sexism bait: she is good looking, she is a woman, she is not-a-man, she is not-white, she is smart, she is in a position of power, she is popular – and she shouldn’t be all of these things at once. Something has to give, which is why so many people on the right and in conservative mindsets attack her.
What’s interesting to me (And McMillan Cottom.) is that the right and her detractors have evolved common disagreement toward hyperbolic critiques into Freudian slipping desire: simply put, they hate her because they want to fuck her. They see this figure – Young! Smart! Hot! – as the political-cultural dominatrix of the people, who will own you before bending you, taking away your power for her pleasure and submission. While these memes are steeped in sexism and wade into toxic masculine rape culture, this is a group that align her power with sexuality, squarely placing it in a somewhat flirtatious zone. Notice me, AOC, they seem to say. Dominate me, too.
To get this, we have to time travel to early 2019 for the iconic (“iconic”) Ben Garrison “AOC’s Bar,” which sees the Representative pushing drinks (The Green New Deal, abortion, etc.) onto you (The rich.) while racking up a bill that someone (Taxes.) will cover, all whilst baring her midriff. These memes and attitude loop back to the premise that AOC isn’t doing these things because she believes in them: it’s that she is driven sexually toward this, taking pleasure in all of her ideologies that extend beyond common happiness and into the orgasmic. Buzzfeed deep dove into the anti-AOC memes in mid-2019, observing that the drive in her detractors is to highlight how she is “not one of us.” The logical evolution of this? She’s happy, which we are not. She enjoys pleasure, which we do not. She loves, which we do not. Thus these sexier and far more fetishist memes, a far cry from “AOC’s Bar.”
It’s an interesting time for American politics in general and, while the right’s sexy attacks on AOC are obvious and anti-woman, they’re going to get even more interesting for the left as she evolves into a more powerful figure that Democrat elders disagree with. She’s quite vocal in critiquing the establishment and is proving herself to be a salve for old-school Dems, who are just Republicans with rainbow flags and better clothes. Take her recent pinning against Obama by The New Yorker, an essential read that I’ll leave you with. Certainly looks like we may see some of these domination memes coming from the left soon enough.
The paradox of Ocasio-Cortez’s position right now is that she isn’t isolated politically because she is losing. She is isolated politically because, on more substantive matters than it is in anyone’s interest to admit, she has already won.
Dispatches from our painful present.
How Santas are handling a pandemic Christmas season
All Santa Wants for Christmas Is to Stay Out of Politics
Santa Claus is coming to town. Try not to infect him.
One of the bigger Covid stories (Biggest one comes next.) was how Santas are faring amidst everything going on. They’re adapting, yes, but they’re also taking a hit like most other industries. Thankfully, with great change comes great innovation. Santas are adapting!
"BREAKING: We lost more Americans today than in the 9-11 attacks."
"Deadliest days in American history"
"If the price we pay is 590 deaths a day then this is unacceptable."
Now that you got a cute story in your system, here is the real story: we are in truly deadly, sad times. Let these numbers sink in – and be safe.
How 700 Epidemiologists Are Living Now, and What They Think Is Next
This is interesting because it almost seems to give you a roadmap for what you can do safely and what you can’t do safely. Go grocery shopping? Not bad. Go to a concert or other similar, open-mouthed event with a large group? Very bad.
More Americans are shoplifting as aid runs out during the pandemic
Sigh. We live in hell.
How to Handle Peer Pressure in a Pandemic
I wrote this story a few months ago and forgot to share it because I didn’t know it was out. The point? To help you figure out how to kindly say no when people try to pressure you to get together and be unsafe, to do things that you don’t want to do right now.
Together Alone at the Zoom Funeral
A beautiful animated reflection on losing someone this year – and how grief isn’t even normal now. When someone dies, you need other people. What happens when we don’t have that? “It’s not what death is supposed to be like,” they say.
The pandemic removed voting barriers. Will it change American elections?
This story blew my mind. 66.7% of the voting-eligible population voted. That’s more than two thirds of American adults. Two-thirds!!!!
A 90-year-old woman gets first Covid vaccine in UK
Allergy warning for vaccine after UK health workers with allergies
"it appears Martin helped found an integrated school in Swaziland"
As vaccinations roll out, some interesting things are happening. First, we’re getting a sense of what the vaccine does, from helping the elderly to having some side effects. Second, the people who are getting vaccinated are really interesting. I assume such stories will continue as select people get treatment first.
Lockdown Gardening in Britain Leads to Archaeological Discoveries
A silver lining for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
'Mystery Illness' Kills 1 and Sickens Hundreds in Eluru, India
This story is wild. It’s not Covid related, no, but it definitely speaks to how wild viruses can be. (The “giddiness” as a symptom is making my head spin.)
Outside of the arts, here’s a high level look at the world.
The Social Life of Forests
This is the best thing I read this week: a long read about how forests are organisms, how fungi help trees thrive, and why we know so little about nature. If you read The Overstory, parts of this will be familiar.
"My take on Obama's drone legacy and his refusal to be honest about it."
As Obama does his press tour for his new book – which is getting to be as exhausting as Cazzie David’s – it’s forcing many to see his history in a very honest way: he did some really, really bad shit. This segment from Mehdi Hasan’s show (which I know nothing about but seems pretty great) skewers Obama’s lax use of drones to kill people, especially civilians – and his skirting responsibility despite recent opportunities to make ammends. Drone bomb me, I guess.
Shift to a Not-So-Frozen North Is Well Underway, Scientists Warn
A dog was missing for weeks. Then it found its owner working at Walmart.
But! Cheer yourself up with this! Dogs, man. Dogs!!!!!!!!
My Pandemic Cat Had a Secret
The best essay of the week.
What an iPhone's 'Water Resistance' Actually Means
This is great because, as you’ll see, iPhones really can’t repel anything wet unless in very specific and unrealistic circumstances.
Oh This Is Rich, Christopher Nolan
Denis Villeneuve blasts AT&T & Warner Bros. for ‘hijacking’ films
Disney plans to stream a galaxy of Star Wars, Marvel series
The ego of these directors! As they scream into mirrors with the Hollywood sign in the background, Disney decided to make big moves to pivot toward home video. Bless.
Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise Age Question Among Senate Democrats
I want more Millennial and Gen Z representatives like AOC and, while many senior representatives are sharp, some are not – and it’s extremely alarming. This story is proof. (And, if you want to stare further into the aging abyss of our elected officials, here’s a story about a pharmacist giving Representatives their Alzheimer's medication.)
Tillis Pushes Prison Time for Streamers
This is fucking stupid. Can you imagine going to jail for using a song that you didn’t have permission to use in a video? Tillis is an old moron.
What Is Deadnaming, and How to Avoid It
A smart, straightforward guide on how to be more sensitive and respectful of transpersons, particularly in how you speak about them.
Here’s a pitch I sent to a few places in October. It didn’t go anywhere but I feel like it sums up a big something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year.
Get An AQI Monitor, Breathe Differently
Living in Los Angeles, there are many times when it feels like the air is quite literally suffocating. Before the pandemic, I would occasionally don a mask to prevent breathing in such bad air, especially when biking places or working out outside. And, in 2020, as the state seems to currently be in a state of burning, I've started dabbling in the luxury air market. I bought a fancy air purifier to clean multiple rooms at a time, which seems to do a nebulous job at best. Is there a way to quantify air quality in a more specific way, something better than Apple or IQAir's more neighborhood leaning measures? Yes, actually: an AQI monitor, a small clock-like device that tells you how good the air you breathe actually is. After purchasing one and staring at it for days, trying to decode the numbers and get its red lights to turn off, I figured out ways to clear my air – and what bad air I was breathing. Candles? Not so great for indoor air. The gas range I cook with? Bad. Using a cast iron skillet on said gas range? Even worse. Windows open at night? Good idea. Windows open during the day? Iffy. Windows closed while cooking? Quite hazardous. Yes, this device is decidedly dystopian but it helps to visualize and articulate the problem of air pollution and, paired with proper ventilation, serves as a sort of air cleaning advisor. As America gazes into an uncertain future of climate, now's the time to understand your air – and maybe invest in an AQI monitor. I'd love to offer a "luxury air" intro and speak with an expert or two about best practices for bad air, while trying to get a forecast for the future of air pollution via the AQI monitor.
In a year where millions died from a respiratory virus, in a year of reckoning with law enforcement forcing breath out of Black and minority persons, in a year of breathless anxieties and panic attacks, breathing has been on the mind – because it’s getting literally harder to breathe. In California alone, news came out this week that we had some of the worst air in decades, largely as a result of a terrible fire season (which is echoed by Australia's similar problem earlier in the year). It’s doesn’t end here though: this week also saw the Trump administration disregarding efforts to curb soot, which is terrible for our lungs and disproportionately affects minority and low-income communities. While Covid saw some relief for places with terrible air, air pollution is coming back in worse ways as life creeps back to normal.
We’re living in a time when air is becoming a luxury. This is a disturbing sign of a basic human right being commodified, which we also saw this week as water is now being traded on Wall Street. Air will likely isn’t far behind. Thus, the thought of “luxury air” as a concept, as a market, as a think piece is very much going to continue. You can expect to hear more and more and more about our air, be it indoor or out, luxurious or not. And, sadly, time will likely see my pitch finding a home.
Let the arts heal you.
The Year In Pictures
If this doesn't get you all worked up, I'm not sure anything will. It’s the looking back, reviewing this archive of loss, that makes the tragedy that is 2020 more profound than one can handle. It’s a lot and definitely took me out of my forced dissociative numbness about “all this.”
A critical look at quarantine culture and memes, to understand how the end of the world yields neo-Dadaism. Of all the stories this week, this is the one I wish I wrote but didn’t.
Interabled YouTubers, ‘Cole and Charisma,’ Celebrate Wedding
This story makes my heart <<so full>>.
Amazon Developing Series From Obehi Janice
This is big news for / from one of my very dear friends!!!!!!! Get ready for a great show!!!!!!!!!
"He's Radioactive": Inside Johnny Depp's Self-Made Implosion
And this story? It is a doozy. One of the wildest celebrity (anti-)profiles of the year, if not ever.
Breakdancing Is Officially an Olympic Sport
This is cool!
Magnificent Undersea Tunnel In Denmark Cuts Hourlong Trip To Minutes
They didn’t need to make this tunnel this stunning but they did.
The Most Influential Artists of 2020
2020’s top-trending videos and creators
Year in Search 2020
The 50 Best Albums of 2020
The 100 Best Songs of 2020
We’re in the thick of countdowns and year-in-review items! Here’s what the art world is saying, what Google is saying, and what music people (Pitchfork.) are saying.
Method from a Former NASA Engineer Defogs Your Windshield
Sending this to my 16 year old self to help with my 1995 Ford Aspire.
"I really wonder if anyone has ever spoken to Olivia Jade like this before"
"Jada’s wrong period lmao listen to your MOTHER"
Fire Jada. Adrienne FOREVER. (And go away, Olivia Jade! Get a job!!!!!)
"It's a brand RU year, and these Queens are ready to rise to the runway!"
Team Kandy Muse, with a side of Olivia Lux and Symone. Send me all your takes on the new queens.
A few funny bits.
Gifts From Cyberspace
A great list of odd oddities.
"This is best horror film of 2020."
One of the best twist endings of 2020!!!!
"This better be the way they give me my vaccination"
Stick me, Doc McStuffins.
Piers Morgan: "I am not the bag lady in Home Alone 2"
This is not an Onion story.
"This new celeb challenge...alarming"
ARE WHITE CELEBRITIES OKAY
“'rihanna’s ‘kiss it better’ x luther vandross’s ‘never too much’"
I am late to this but this is great.
"ok I’m really curious - how do you write?"
Anyone who is writing like B is a psychopath. I don’t mean to be mean but I have to say it.
"if it’s a girl, dua lipa."
One of the best Tweets of the year.
"Name this shitty band"
I would call them “The Do-Nothing Losers.”
"we’re all in agreement that cats talk like disparaged victorian children"
Quite the evolution from “I can haz cheezburger.” Bless us for growing up.
"I love this kid"
Some real truth about taxes.
"How adults write 'teenagers' on HBO"
I have watched this so many times.
I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have watched this video either.
“I can’t stop watching this the SOUND"
But!!! This one I am still watching endlessly, because what is this sound!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, finally, me talking to my haters.
Next week, we’re talking about big changes and HBO taking us to the max.