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The Trend Report™: It's All Sponcon
Everything is exhausting because everything is an ad.
Millions Displaced, Dozens Dead in Flooding
'Torturous' heat is breaking records and livelihoods
Climate chaos is really taking to India, and surrounding countries. Very awful stuff! The planet will survive – but we will not, if we do not get our shit together. You all know this but it’s my job to reiterate this shit!
Hot weather could be getting in the way of good sleep
Related. This is definitely something I’ve experienced already and, with air conditioners helping to drive up toxic gasses while straining power systems, we can expect many a sleepless, hot night in the future.
New Billionaire Created Every 30 Hours During Pandemic
How the fuck is there so much wealth and so little help? Does greed and myopia really bar you from seeing the world? Maybe we should all burn?
Airbnb to close in China amid repeated Covid lockdowns
This is interesting! It also makes sense, given that business wasn’t working there – and the lockdowns get so severe that it doesn’t work. (Related: Airbnb’s execs have been the opposite of Apple, speaking out about the importance of remote working.)
9 Republicans Voted Against Access to Baby Formula
So you know these dumbasses names!
Democrats Quietly Search for Alternative to Biden
Who knows? Maybe Pete Buttigieg? I want Elizabeth Warren but, you know, the Democrats make bad choices so that will never happen.
"“princess of prison reform” endorsed mass incarceration advocate"
Kim Kardashian, a reality star turned billionaire aspiring lawyer, has endorsed Rick Caruso, a mall owner billionaire aspiring politician, for Los Angeles mayor. What’s the worst that could happen? (Note that Caruso has no climate plan and loves the cops. Please vote for Karen Bass!!)
I was going to just leave links at the top but we’re yet again at a fever pitch of fucking mass shooting news. I am sure you have seen all of it but, if for whatever reason you missed the news or are interested in more takes (I’m exhausted by the takes! On everything!!), peruse a roundup of the things I found most meaningful, smart, and of value in this conversation.
The Texas Elementary School Shooting Victims: A collective eulogy of sorts.
Texas Elementary School Shooting: Donate to the families here.
Gunman bought two rifles: How the shooter accessed weapons.
What We Know About the Police Response: A big part of the narrative is about how the police were trained, had a disproportionate amount of money, had a SWAT team, had weapons, yet still did not act. They have also released a very slippery narrative, that keeps changing. Here’s a look at what’s happening here.
"are police actually sworn to 'serve and protect'?": Jamelle Bouie explains why and what happened with the cops, as he makes a very good lunch. One of the best explainers of this complex-and-not issue!
“copaganda goes unquestioned”: A thread on how to understand pro-cop propaganda, and a look at how pervasive it is.
“cops dealing with”: I have seen this meme several times.
"Omaha Benson High School students walkout" & "John Marshall High School in Los Feliz walked out" & Oxford High School students walkout: Happening nationwide, students walked out in protest of gun violence.
"we just keep living like this": The (brilliant) Quinta Brunson became a breakout voice on the issue this week, particularly in that people were demanding there be an Abbot Elementary episode on gun violence – to which she rebuked so intelligently. If you know her and the show, the show is not about that. This speaks to the awful, extremely American fantasy that magical resources – a television show, Ellen Degeneres, the lottery – will save us. Sponsored content will save us! It won’t. Real, hard work has to be done, as a group and in our own individual lives, to make change. Change takes work. Unfortunately, most in the nation are too lazy.
“except when it’s kids in Afghanistan”: On the other end, you have this example of stfu celeb.
"Beto O’Rourke interrupts Governor Greg Abbott": This is more embarrassing than anything else, in my opinion. This is heroic, if views and retweets were actual bills passed.
"Ted Cruz felt comfortable enough to dine in public": As Ashley Feinberg says in this Tweet, if he feels comfortable enough to eat in public then it’s time to “do 👏 the 👏 work 👏” because this ghoul should be hiding himself. No shame, these people!
Republican Ghouls Send Identical Tweets: A look at all the variations of “thoughts and prayers.”
The Pro-Gun, Anti-Door Party: Republicans are blaming doors.
The NRA Is Banning Guns for Trump's Appearance: No comment.
"Everyone had a trigger point in this video"
"thinking I look mysterious and hot"
“i’ve never read it”
In an interesting development, we’re reaching a breaking point on hot culture. I love hot-and-dumb-is-valid culture but also: it’s ridiculous. I would write an essay about this but, you know: see above.
Someone Stole Seth Green's Bored Ape
The jokes? They write themselves.
'Stranger Things' filmed in prison where Nazis jailed Jews
Continuing Netflix’s flop era, people have pointed out that one use of $30M per episode was…to film in a prison where Jews were jailed before being taken to the Nazis. Very bizarre choice!! (Note: I haven’t seen this verified beyond niche religious publications though!)
'The Paris Review' New Editor, a New Staff, a New Vibe
I love The Paris Review, even if I have read almost nothing from it because there are literally too many words. I like their new attitude though!!
The death of 'mandatory fun' in the office
Thank god. But also? I have attended many a video call “fun time” which, you know, aren’t as bad. I can drink water at a happy hour without question, go off camera and tend to other things if I want, and blame the internet if I need to leave early.
'Old Gays' Have Millions of Followers
The Old Gays finally got the Times profile treatment!
Love Island partners with eBay
I have never seen this show but I know that they push fast fashion every season, collabing with different brands. In an interesting, sustainability-focused twist, the stars are being styled in clothes from eBay that are vintage, pre-loved, etc. This reminds me that I keep thinking we probably shouldn’t make anymore new clothes.
There are enough in the world!
FDA warns avocado in water hack
Remember that viral “Put your avocados in water! They’ll keep longer!” TikTok hack? Turns out, it’s a great way to breed bacteria like salmonella. Quite the milkshake duck!
What Should the Children Know?
A fascinating story about DNA tests, parents who use alternative means to have kids, and the secrets they tell the children who were born from such processes…who later find out their life isn’t what they seem.
"a new adventure begins"
I do not care for no new Star Wars anything, or old Star Wars anything for that matter. What I do care about is new Willow. This is gonna be a CGI disaster but you can bet I will be watching!
Oxtail and Butter Beans
I love chef Millie Peartree. She’s funny, she’s got personality, and her food is good. I’ve made some of her recipes! Anyway, it’s been a bad week so make oxtail and butter beans with her.
When I happened upon a “story” on Warped Kart Racers in the App Store, when I saw the Tweet about musicians groveling for TikTok hits, when I saw the Juneteenth ice cream, one thing popped into my head: it’s all sponcon. This then led me to the realization of something that is so obvious that it has to be said: sponcon is the lingua franca of our times. Everything is sponcon now.
Sponcon – short for “sponsored content,” pieces of media that are subtly or explicitly trying to sell you something – was formerly something that popped up on influencer feeds, a post with a subtle (or hidden) tag that the post was a #ad. The idea is not new, as it’s just a commercial wrapped up in lifestyle content: the message is a sale but the medium is a conversation, in talking, in trying to connect with you through culture, by donning the drag of normalcy if only to court you into putting your money down. It’s what Hollywood has done for years, slipping products into things that made you laugh.
Sponcon is now everything: as one study found, this mode of expression is not only how we seek information but how we entertain and express ourselves. Our brains are now marketing factories, damned by sales and buying language. I Tweet to share my writing: that’s sponcon. Friends post affiliate links to their Instagram: that’s sponcon. Someone asks you to donate to a GoFundMe: that’s sponcon. An artist does a TikTok dance to their song: that’s sponcon. You are reading this post: this is sponcon. Everything is demanding something of you. Everything is sponcon.
This form of “selling online” is now just “talking online,” which is an unfortunate evolution of the very 2010s “Everyone’s a brand!” style of presenting yourself. This is probably why we’re all feeling so exhausted with everyone always having “a take” when they post: in post-Trump America and Internet, no post is without an agenda – and every agenda is sponcon. This is all so deeply American and, as one writer wrote of fatigue of the American, “America invades us all.” Everything is hyperbolic, which means everything is exhausting. This dovetails horribly into “Everything is a trend!” and “Everyone is burned out!” cultures.
Shopping isn’t fun. It’s an act of giving and taking, which we have been so trained to do by post-war economic support in the mid-century through 1980s and 1990s mall cultures. What was once flip and fun is now eating us and the planet alive, leaving us smiling as we push play again, refill our drinks again, wash and rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat. It has been co-opted into a spiritual, political act when it is just a means of ripping yourself apart, of having no boundaries, of saying you enjoy temptation and that you think self-control is overrated, that you want to give your money and time to literally anyone else but yourself. Why else are people still on Facebook? Why else are people on Amazon? Why else do people drive? These are stupid acts of micro- and macro-sales that we have been inculcated into thinking are “traditions” or “normal” behaviors when they are just deeply foolish. Barbara Kruger’s sage critique of this in 1987, that “I shop therefore I am.,” wasn’t supposed to be aspirational: it was condemnation, not recommendation. Instead, we have Supreme.
For better or worse, the general public is becoming more and more aware that this is the case: we’re annoyed by faux-twee “edgy” nursery rhymes and understand that a Kardashian wedding is a sales event. We understand that Ellen existed to create an influencer factory and that the groveling artists are millionaires whining. Yes, Juneteenth ice cream is bad – but how is that different from Pride Skittles? It’s not. Even though the boot pressing down on your face is painted to be a rainbow, it is still a boot and you are still being pressed into a curb. It’s all sponcon. It’s all bad.
The extremely-specific-party-theme trend continues for, um, the third year and this Everyone Wear Bangs party is one of the best yet.
"didn't realize it took pics of u"
"an app that takes photos like a disposable"
Be Real and Dispo are storming the world now because they distance us from social, offering socialization without the “always on-ness” of social. (Also! Dispo is good because David Dobrik left.)
I want a purse vase 🥺
“this is self care”
After a tough week, this is the only answer.
"i got robbed"
Obsessed with this image and this robber. Also obsessed with @crim_tweets_.
“takes out her megaslime”
I guess good thing she didn’t just throw it away? But lawd that’s gonna fuck up the planet!
"looking for this 2013 talent show"
There is nothing more early 2010s than this.
Are ramen recipes creative? Sure! But would you eat a ramen apple pie?
"how Frodo (51) groomed his gardener (39)"
I love jokes about Hot Take Culture™.
"Freakin scared me! 😱"
This is the funniest fucking “scare” maybe ever?? (Not to over-intellectualize, but the “shock” very much seems to be embedded in the person looking so surprising, in that the increasingly specific and out-there ways that we “express ourselves” stylistically are making us more abstract in human form, in ways that are…dumb.)
"tryna show my smoothie bowl"
Another week, another Thomas The Tank Engine “scare.”
“been looking for new biker shorts”
I thought that this video would have been fake but, no, the butthole shorts are real. (The brand calls it “a subtle scrunch bum detail” that helps “accentuate your figure.” Okay.)
“every dream has a meaning”
I wish this was how I dreamt but I always dream about walking around university campuses or new towns I don’t want to be in.
And, finally, me popping in your inbox every week to sell my shit.