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The Trend Report™: Feet Behind
Why do brand accounts get horny on main? And why are before/after memes so big right now?
India sets coronavirus case record
Global envy over U.S. vaccine abundance
Poorer countries may not get vax until 2023
Rich countries make the pandemic last longer
The Covid story of the week: India is suffering majorly and the United States’ vaccine situation is being scrutinized. As the Washington Post TikTok put it, *stares angrily into the camera*
Everything to Know About Restaurants Now
While this is New York-specific, I thought this was an illuminating walk through how to be a restaurant patron right now. Be chill, don’t ask about worker’s vaccinations, and stay masked.
The MacKenzie Scott Scam Artists
I didn’t realize MacKenzie Scott’s big donations were done very under the table, just her directly giving the money without linking to a foundation or website or anything similar. That’s great! But the issue is: scammers have caught on and, given the direct way MacKenzie gives, people are pretending to be her and stealing from organizations in need.
Is Recycling Worth It Anymore?
This was an informative doc that, yes, is a total bummer. Our poor planet. Our poor us!
Are our pets gobbling up the planet?
A very well done comic that explains the relationship between pets and the impact on the planet. Something to think about: putting dog waste in toilets and making your pet vegan. (And, no idea how this started, but our dogs actually eat vegan dog food. I think we bought the wrong bag a while ago and didn’t realize until years later.)
Why Epicurious Left Beef Behind
The leading recipe website will stop publishing meat (beef) recipes in the hopes of being more planetary mindful. Delicious!
French vineyards devastated
By premature warmth followed by late frost. :(
40 days without daylight or clocks
A French science experiment put people in a cave, in darkness, to see how they understood time. The results are fascinating as many participants thought they were underground for less time than they actually were and enjoyed being so encumbered by time. This is one of the coolest science stories I’ve read in a while. Should we all move to a lightless cave??
High-Tech Nonstick Toothpaste Tubes
This is both cool and very visually unsettling.
Remember the Office?
I feel like we’re going to be seeing a lot more stories about what the office was and what the office will and won’t be.
Here was a blink-and-you-missed-it digital brand moment: the curious and questionable @7eleven Tweeted about feet pics, only to delete said Tweets. Their followers have receipts – here and here – and a casual search of the brand’s handle and the word “feet” yields a very strange stunt unfolding.
There really isn’t much to say about this because, when brands become “funny people” who use memes to reach teens, you’ve put clown paint on capitalism and tried to get the monster to tell you a joke before it eats you. And, when brands speak in the first person, the audience is left to ask questions about their specific personhood. What do they like to eat? Who do they hate? When do they go to the bathroom? What is their sexuality? Naturally, this has led to brands being sexually active and inspiring others to do the same.
Yes, this move toward casualness is shorthand for “the social media manager behind the account.” But why are we drawn to this or, more importantly, why are the managers drawn to this? Is it so that I can imagine a specific face when I think about how you are under-paying employees or having an active role in the devastation of the planet? Is it to imagine an unnamed someone who I can attribute dank brand “jokes” to? Who is the intended winner here when there is no face to the name besides corporate logos? It all feels very of an era – All the stories about brands acting casual in the last paragraph were from 2019. – and falls squarely into the Millennial cringe space, a la loving Harry Potter and being obsessed with coffee. Giving your brand a human identity is now a little bit embarrassing.
Which lands us at 7-Eleven. The brand is grasping for relevance by evolving all of this first-personhood to show that a brand’s account now has to be so terribly, awfully specific. They can’t just be “a social media manager.” No, they have to now be a very thirsty and non-daytime online person who dabbles in foot fetishism on main while speaking in a specific, post-lolcat texty way while liking rock of a certain era. This is beautiful, in a way, but also: too much information. I don’t go to 7-Eleven and, when I do, I don’t want to think that I’m supporting a corporate Only Fans who gives feet pics in exchange for my buying a sub-par hot dog. (And, no, the “lauded” brand Twitter Steak-umm getting in on the convo doesn’t validate any of this. The hole is being dug deeper, until a brand eventually shares a dick pic on purpose.)
"post-pandemic New Yorker magazine cover"
A professor at art school SVA asked illustration students to make New Yorker covers and they’re quite lovely.
Stacey Abrams on Her New Book
WHAT CAN’T STACEY DO
Don't Give Interviews, St. Vincent
I remember reading about the concept of this album, about St. Vincent’s father being incarcerated and this album being a “statement,” and thinking, “Wow...she’s going to have to go there in order to land this incarceration connection – but she won’t.” And, hey, here’s proof she won’t go there.
In Poland, an LGBTQ Migration
Poland now ranks as the most homophobic country in the European Union, so much so that queers are fleeing the country. The uptick can be tied back to Catholic conservatism, which seems to be gaining more momentum. Stay safe, Polish queers.
‘Citizen Kane’ knocked below ‘Paddington 2’
This was a huge story this week that gets at: we really need a new canon or metric in rating what a “classic” can be. The old, fairly racist, overwhelmingly white canon of “best films of all time” is so out of touch. Every “Best ______ Ever” list for entertainment needs to be nuked and remade. Burn it all down! Long live Paddington!
Make Your Picnic Even Lovelier
Picnics are in, baby!
I have a big crush on Mr. Barricade, an urban planner who uses TikTok to explain everything from waterways to bike paths. #DrainGang
"This dog 'won' a high school track meet
More dogs should race humans.
'Incest' influencers are crushing it
This is a great story about the connection between porn tropes and influencers who flirt with incest. Something that needs to be spoken about more, particularly in relationship to this story is how this phenomena happens a lot in kid’s content. Just look at stars like Brent Rivera, whose whole “kid vibe” is PG sexual tension...which extends to his relationship with his sister.
An old man has a computer on his lap. “Oh my god,” he exclaims. “Holy smokes!”
There is the image of a young woman. The image is older, a painted sepia. She stares forward. She looks down, then up. It’s less of a movement and almost like her face is being smeared.
The camera moves forward, to see that the old man is looking at this moving image on the computer.
“She’s alive,” he says.
“Yeah,” someone says off camera. “It brings the picture to life.”
“Look at this,” he says, the young woman’s face moves in a loop. “Oh god.” He starts to cry.
This is what happens in the now-viral video of a man using the Deep Nostalgia app, a deep fake adjacent technology that animates still images. The intent of the service is likely to tickle – or horrify – people like the aforementioned senior into feeling like the dead are alive. The results are curious in that they feel like your emotions are being milked. Yes, this is so sweet but also very bad. It’s like chewing on ice: there is a simultaneous pain and pleasure. Something is very off.
While I think deep fakes are the future of entertainment, a technology like Deep Nostalgia seems to do the work of memory for you, offering a secondhand for what you remember and miss by pretending to be that which you no longer have. It feels like a specific moment in the movie Her, where the main character’s job is writing personal letters of apology or grief, being the vessel that outsources feeling for another person. There’s something almost embarrassing about this. I can’t quite place what’s wrong here. Something about this situation – This old man being duped, exhuming a part of the mind that may not need to be exhumed. – is painful. I am sure there will be a moment in my life where I will crave the people I no longer have. I am sure there will be a moment when I am that for someone else! What I hope, reader, is that we will go back to their own memories and the elements of me – like my writing – instead of trying to get a third party to generate a poor copy. Listen to old voicemails I left after I die. Don’t hire someone to imitate my voice.
The reason why I think videos like this are going viral is for the same reason why before and after memes – how it started / how it’s going, the setup / the shot, “you can be a different person” – are having a viral moment every few days: they both speak to a now and then, a growth, an evolution. In a time of seed planting and reflecting, we’re now obsessed with our big finish, in looking at our befores instead of the right nows. Whether it’s looking back on our youth and crying or looking into our future and laughing, the results are the same. As a big New York Times feature on how we’ve changed in the past year pointed out, this moment is about awakenings. Watching someone wake up appeals to us right now.
This old man and these memes are two sides of this coin of awakenings. This appeals to us at a time when we’re most open to welcoming things we’ve forgotten or never admitted to ourselves. Whether it’s forced like Deep Nostalgia or natural like these before/after memes, it makes no difference: the results are the same.
"oh to be covered in ivy"
Anyone else longing to be an inanimate object?
"wolverine walks by with a goat head"
This is wild.
"photoshop job of the crawlspace"
As Bobby pointed out, it’s a very good Photoshopping.
"There is no God but God Honda"
Keep the stroke content coming.
"Jazz musician / Computer generating"
Music and passwords have more in common than you think.
Mesmerizing explosion content.
"new type of gay just dropped"
I feel like they’re somehow related to Disney gays.
"Bill loves his caterpillar cakes"
Cutest, funniest video you’ll watch this week.
"hey i'm walking here"
Is this staged? Likely. Did I lose count of how many times I watched? Yes.
"Happy earth day"
Wash down the bad Earth news with the sun screaming.
And, finally, me after exercising.