The Trend Report™: Avant Basic
A look at the new basic cultures and why art that tilts the real toward the surreal is most resonant now.
Herd Immunity Is Unlikely in the U.S.
What It Means U.S. Immunity
This is bad sounding, yes, but what’s missing is how overall Covid issues drop with high vaccinations. This is good news! Not herd immunity, no, but good, nevertheless.
Textbooks of Senators Opposing 1619 Project
“Critical race theory” has been having a viral moment as racists don’t want to learn Black history. This story covers who is fighting to mess up education in America and how our education system is already so messed up.
Starving Malagasy eats leaves for survival
This is happening because of droughts due to climate change, which is exacerbated by poverty.
People of Color Breathe More Hazardous Air.
As the second half of the title says: the proof is everywhere. It’s not just the highways but it’s the construction and the cars and the trucks and industrial shit and residential shit. It’s a lot. We need climate solutions fast.
U.S. Has Never Been Hotter
REALLY HATE THIS
Lumber mania is sweeping North America
A co-worker told me about this as it related to their building a house. The world! We hate it, clearly! Why are we building new shit when we have so many empty places and spaces?
Billions of cicadas will emerge this spring
Cicadas are trending, baby! Expect more content about this shit all summer, baby!
Pentagon Started Taking UFOs Seriously
Please know that I am reading all the UFO stories.
This facial-recognition tool is a problem
And it’s available to all. YIKES!
Billboard Is Partnering With Twitter
The dying music industry is now going to “rank” which musicians are being talked about the most. This is so stupid and will be trolled very quickly.
Mr. Beast Wants to Take Over Business
Mr. Beast Created Toxic Work Environment
A huge story this week. It’s like...influencers...are not...good people...equipped...to be...role models. Related: two stories about YouTube influencers gone awry, from literally killing their dogs to sensationalizing near-death experiences.
The Instagram ads Facebook won't show you
This is interesting – and your weekly reminder to delete your Facebook account.
People are talking about “cheugy.” Go-to internet voyeur, Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times, described the phenomena as “someone who is out of date or trying too hard,” a Millennial online person whose Live, Laugh, Lough energy Zoomers are calling out for being embarrassing. This is nothing new, as I wrote about generational culture wars back in February. What is new is the discourse is getting too didactic, specifying the exact ephemera of a “cheugy” person (chevron patterns, hand-painted script, furry boots) and even the language that this person uses in both captions and turns of phrase.
This gets at a few things. First, the difference of aesthetics. We talked about this last week but Millennials see aesthetics as a lifestyle while Zoomers see it as costume, as performance. When a Millennial wears Mickey Mouse ears, they are signaling that they love Disney and are a diehard for the brand. When a Zoomer wears Mickey Mouse ears, they acknowledge that Disney is an entertainment company and they’re enjoying this form of entertainment in the moment. It’s the difference of having a way of dressing that defines you versus understanding that clothing and aesthetics are versatile, that I can dress like a skater today but a cheerleader tomorrow. Everything is fake, Zoomers say.
Why does this matter? Because Zoomers have discovered the concept of “being basic” and are redefining it, adding more nuance and texture to what we once called “normcore.” This really doesn’t matter until it does, when brands start advertising to you through this lingo and forms of expression. A lot of this gets at how Zoomers are growing in the market and brands want to get their money, as they shift the world by further participating in it. For example: take avant basic, a Zoomer style that takes simple dressing but adds quirks to it via embellishments like checkered fabric. Think of it as...normcore via Disney Channel. Bright colors, fun patterns, nice accessories – but all somewhat understated. Unsurprisingly, Urban Outfitters has quickly jumped on this bandwagon.
Time is a very flat, very circular entity. What we’re experiencing is the sensation of history repeating itself faster and faster, with only minor deviations in texture and nuance as to not be completely the same. “Avant basic” is just “basic” with a new paint job. It’s pre-cheugy. We’re in a moment where dressing signals so much and, to point out tribes, we have all these silly and specific and spectacular names.
This in and of itself is embarrassing. Like. You have a name for wearing two different shoes with baubles in your hair while donning a raincoat and listening to indie rock from 1982? Okay, y’all. None of this is that deep and, until brands – from newspapers to fashion outlets – stop deeming these real cultures instead of digital generational inside jokes, we will continue down this ridiculous path. Until then, we will live with this and await the day of Zoomers own reckoning with how embarrassing they are.
"resellers are going to hell"
A look at how virality and trending culture can null the utility, the point, of something.
The Case Of The (Latin) X
One of my new favorite YouTube channels! And a great explainer of how and why the word “latinx” is great but flawed.
"Y’all, this bi-racial girl"
I love this TikTok. It really captures so much about being biracial and much of it resonated with <<mii>> and my experience.
She called out health care misinfo on TikTok
I don’t want to add fuel to this person’s fire by writing more words on this but: snitch culture is Millennial culture and I cannot with for Rx0rcist to go away and end this liberal bullshit callout culture. If you need a palate cleanser, know this woman is the opposite.
Janet Mock Is Sick Of Hollywood's Bullshit
LET JANET MOCK RUN HOLLYWOOD. I love her.
How to Buy an (Actually) Honest Mirror
What’s next? Should we just stop looking in mirrors?
Myspace Tom got it right
Chloé Zhao Writing Fanfiction
Love that we have an Oscar winning director who also writes fanfic.
A great story on how – and why – big network shows like Falcon and the Winter Soldier don’t fully explore race and America with any sort of weight.
For much of the pandemic, I’ve carved out time to visit galleries, to see art in safe ways that help me feel like I still have one routine continuing from the before-times. Now, as museums open, we’re able to see even more art, to see how the world is processing this time in history.
Bobby and I’s first foray was seeing Made in L.A. 2020, Los Angeles’ art biennial celebrating the top local(-ish) artists of note. The show was literally delayed for a year and is typically a great way to survey a moment through a place. The work is typically varied and good enough, a mixture of different forms and practices, from dance to painting to sculpture to conceptual efforts.
I had no expectations of the show, save for getting to go to a museum. But what was striking was how jarring it was to see life on display. Shows of this scale aspire to capture a specific moment in living art history and often eschew classic forms of art for the more experimental and abstract – and these moves tend to isolate. Incredible and deep, yes, but isolating nevertheless, making you feel like the majority of viewers are outsiders or too stupid to comprehend the statement that is being made. This is a pervading critique of the art establishment and Made in L.A. is a bit notorious for this.
2020 had it’s fair share of conceptual missed connections, things that felt misaligned with this moment of time. Aria Dean and Jacqueline Kiyomi Gork’s structures invited viewers to literally live in them but the inability for these physical spaces to be activated as intended performance venues made them feel literally empty. They felt like sentences without words, statements waiting to be made. Performance-based artists like Ser Serpas and Ligia Lewis faced bigger problems as their works centered on their own bodies bringing pieces to life. If Dean and Gork were statements waiting to be made, mouths starting to open, Serpas and Lewis were effectively muted as the pandemic and museum halls barred them from fully doing what they do. It was alien to look at a conceptual gesture and try to imagine the life behind it. We’ve spent a year imagining life. The last thing one wants to do as a viewer is look at a foam mat on a floor and try to force meaning onto it. I’m tired of imagining.
Interestingly, more traditional works seemed to more effectively catch the eye, both literally and figuratively. Buck Ellison’s staged WASP photos showed examples of American life that left a sour taste in your mouth despite the cloying beauty they depicted. Reynaldo Rivera’s capturing of Los Angeles trans, drag, and queer performers over the decades felt hot with life, as if you could smell the breath of the persons presented. Even the unreal – Jeffrey Stucker’s hyper-realistic 3D butterfly films, Monica Majoli’s watercolor woodcuts of porn – felt present. Coincidentally or not, all of these works were about confronting the past to look into the future.
The images and the artworks that were most striking were the real that were just slightly off. Paintings that toyed with surrealism, sculptures that dipped into abstraction: these artworks were most successful, pieces that offered to hold your hand as an experience was explained. The estate of Nicola L. presented a series of “paintings” with arm and leg holes, inviting viewers to wear a painting and feel what it’s like to be watched, to be objectified as a woman. Christina Forrer challenged the audience through tapestry, asking them to wonder about their traumas, to understand how our families pass down problems, our minds broken by the broken minds that bring us into the world. Patrick Jackson offered the feeling of out-of-place sculpture that hid worlds, the performance of a self and the real self, all through a boulder that obscured the artist’s childhood dining table. Both Brandon D. Landers and Mario Ayala mesmerized with unique painting techniques – Landers carves paint with a palette knife, Ayala uses airbrushing akin to car painting – to depict real and not scenes of life, of people in places they have always been or never will be. The effect of these two painters was to show people and experiences that often go unpainted. The results were spectacular, captivating, beautiful. All of these felt so unreal that they were real. They manifested abstraction in life in an abstract time.
But it was the work of Fulton Leroy Washington, AKA Mr. Wash that was the most powerful. The paintings by Mr. Wash were largely created during his years of incarceration and depict his desires and the desires of his peers in almost photorealistic detail, through visual metaphors like tears with the images of that which the subject dreams about of caught in the light. There is the feeling that Mr. Wash’s paintings have been waiting to be seen, that these were all messages painted out but placed in the dark until they could be seen, heard, felt. Once he was commuted of his life sentence, his paintings and practice was given a life. The realism despite abstraction makes Mr. Wash’s paintings feel so suited for this moment, that he like us has been waiting and wanting to give to others. Through his art, he did that. He caught this moment, our desires, our sadness, our dreams, so simply in painting.
So why is this art review in The Trend Report™? The art that hits us most heavily now seems to reflect our reality from an angle. No, I don’t want to watch a movie where the pandemic is reflected to me via actors performing Zoom meetings. But a movie about a writer trying to find beauty in their day to day? Yes, I am all eyes and ears, body and soul. What we want from the arts and entertainment right now is that which connects us in the abstract. This is why digital dada is thriving right now: it all gets at processing the absurdity of living. We don’t want one-to-ones or that which is too distant from our lives. We want spiritual siblings, parallels, circles crossing over but not exact fits.
"I really hate this accuracy"
Me thinking about recycling. I love this anti-waste propaganda!
"This dad press conference is excellent"
Good dad content.
"My mom and dad got in a fight"
Even better dad content.
"we should close it again"
Disney adults need to be stopped.
"if the pandemic happened in 2009 "
REALLY hate this.
"Why did you shit"
Push notification Inception.
"what do i do"
This sparkling water content went a lil viral this week — and it made me cry. CRY. I had to stop watching it to save the power that this TikTok has.
And, finally, me talking about this newsletter.