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The Trend Report™: Kid Scares
Trying to figure out why kids love scary shit and making the case for moving on.
Queen Elizabeth II has died
"King Charles III has announced that William will follow in his footsteps"
In case you literally turned off your brain this week, this was the biggest news story. (Related to this, a realization I had that may existentially damage you: there is almost definitely not going to be another Queen of England in our lifetime, unless Prince William’s first grandchild is a girl – and even then we won’t be here to see her be queen. Enjoy that info!!) (Also: one of the most fascinating aspects to this that I, an American, had no idea about is that all the money with the Queen’s likeness has to be replaced with King Charles. Now we know!) (Also he treats people poorly!)
What will new British PM Liz Truss do on LGBTQ+ issues?
"Liz Truss tells ITV News the idea of the monarchy is 'disgraceful'."
"Screaming at this Liz Truss sculpture"
Also: Liz Truss is the new Prime Minister! The latter two items are funny things related to this appointment.
"California claims another long-standing all-time heat record."
This week in climate disasters. It got so hot that a man baked bread in his car!
“This alert really did it”
"The story tomorrow should be, "what happened at 6:00 to save our asses?""
But!! One thing about this California situation is that people rose to the occasion, averting a power disaster. Well done!
Tropical Storm Kay 'keeps punching' as it hits SoCal
"One of the most striking satellite images of California & the West"
That said, this was all complicated by a fucking hurricane on the West coast? What the hell is going on??
State legislatures see record number of first-generation immigrants
This is exciting and is clearly a growing group in the electorate.
The middle school boys tracked how he treated the girls.
This is an incredible tech and education story, about how a group of middle school kids helped catch a pedophile teacher by making a Discord to track his lewd comments. Now…to get these kids to do this with literally every institution of power!
Bed Bath & Beyond CFO identified as man who fell to his death
If you haven’t heard about the wild dramatics around Bed Bath & Beyond, read this story.
Meta Fined $400 Million for Treatment of Children’s Data on Instagram
Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Pitch Is Falling Flat
This week in bad news for Mark Zuckerberg! Bring it all down!!
Just a Few People Crowned Some of YouTube’s Earliest Hits
The book that this is excerpted from has been getting a lot of attention and this is an interesting look at the early days of the video platform.
China's life expectancy is now higher than that of the US
"china passes united states in life expectancy"
This seems to say a lot about the world. Or a lot about something! I’m not smart enough to understand but I know this means something (likely Covid related). (Speaking of: 65 million people are going back into lockdown in China.)
Studies: Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Cancer and Early Death
I think we all knew this but sharing it!!
The Rise of Mobile Gambling Is Leaving People Ruined and Unable to Quit
This is concerning, as it obviously lies at the intersection of gambling addictions and phone addictions.
Have you noticed a rise in children carrying around gangly plush toys with big, bulging eyes and giant gri of sharp teeth? These are Huggy Wuggys and, as Amazon and Etsy show, they are all the rage right now. I have colloquial proof of this too as this past summer, in cities like Barcelona and Paris, I’ve noticed these toys everywhere, dragged around by pre-teens and sold in every storefront imaginable, declaring this plushie an international sensation.
For the unfamiliar, Huggy Wuggy isn’t a random cute-and-creepy toy but a villain from the game Poppy Playtime. The game places you in an abandoned toy factory to explore and figure out what happened as evil toys try to attack you. There is a robust mythology to the game that has grown beyond the Steam-powered vehicle but the biggest breakout is Huggy Wuggy, the main antagonist known for eating players via jump scares. A casual look on YouTube or TikTok will show you how this character and game has transcended from scary-game-older-people-play to cartoon adjacent kid culture. It’s likely the product of older siblings participating in something that their younger siblings wanted in on.
But here’s the thing: Huggy Wuggy isn’t unique, but seemingly a peak in the rise of kid-adjacent horror that has crossed over into kid content. We had this with Five Nights At Freddy, a similar horror game that riffed on Chuck E. Cheese, along with Bendy and the Ink Machine, which applies the same logic but to a 1940s kids animation studio. These have inspired satanic panic-style reactions from parents and authorities – Mums divided over Huggy Wuggy ‘serial killer’ toys, Parents horrified by popular ‘serial killer’ Huggy Wuggy toy, Why Police Are Warning Parents About Poppy Playtime – because the content is maybe too violent or too scary or too something for the delicate minds of kids. This trend is less about the parents-don’t-understand-ness of it all but rather that adult creators are co-opting the visuals and cultures of their childhood which subsequently are appealing to children, who are unwittingly (Or not!) brought into this world via appealing imagery.
This coincides with horror’s rise in culture as more parents are sharing the horror movies of their youth with their children. Beyond the nostalgia of Stranger Things, there are so many horror movies for kids now! Some older movies are even being rebranded as kid-friendly like Poltergeist, which is rated PG but…show the peeling-your-face-off or the killer clown scene to a kid and see how well they sleep at night. This also has created a culture where stories of kids loving creepy dolls trend and trend and trend and trend as parents welcome this behavior. We also love scaring the shit out of children, be it via scary toys or scary sounds or scary filters. We’ve all had our moments of getting scared as kids! It’s funny! But what does it say about us that we love to frighten and indulge the horrific in our day to day?
But of course: this is beyond just us. Kids love these things too, with items like Sirenhead in 2021 and YouTube videos that combine horror imagery with humor helping to rebrand horror as kids content. The aforementioned examples aren’t isolated or new, as Scary Teacher and Miss T’s Baby and Squid Game Girl and Chucky and MeatCanyon and Momo and The Backrooms and [insert any main horror villain + Huggy Wuggy] have all gone through an animation filter that appeals to kids.
This is less about the “scary” and more about the language of horror colliding with the language of kids, via Millennial and Gen Z adults using the their childhoods to create new scary worlds that are sewn into the fabric of modern childhood. We’re likely to see Huggy Wuggy continue to define the childhood of a generation with his googly eyes and vicious smile – at least until the Dora The Explorer-style horror game Amanda The Adventurer takes over, which we can almost certainly expect given the rise in these visuals entering the aforementioned animated YouTube videos.
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Human, the Ibizan hound of Pierre Huyghe’s work, has died
When Pierre Huyghe had his show in Los Angeles, at LACMA, Human the dog lived in our neighborhood and I would see it around town. What a beautiful baby, surely one of the best dogs in art history.
The Queer Artist of Color Exploding Those Very Labels
I love the work of Christina Quarles (And she’s really exploded in the past four years!) and this interview with her is quite good.
"“Yodeling Kid” sends a supportive video message to Tariq"
This is sweet and speaks to a (bittersweet) growth moment in viral culture, where viral forefathers are now trying to warn and help younger viral stars of the dangers of the limelight.
"there's been so much debate on whether dating docs are a good idea"
This is going to sound wild but I have been thinking about for months how Google Docs are going to redefine the internet again, in the sense that they allow us to make interactive websites all “hosted” for free in a doc. I’ve been wanting to relaunch my website in that way too, which…coming soon, I guess!
Signs You Are Being 'Quiet Fired' From Your Job
The Professional Try-Hard Is Dead
"it's called quiet flexing."
I shan't write much on this but: the word “quiet” (“quiet quitting,” “quiet firing”) is being thrown around now as if a novel concept, when it’s always been around. It’s funny how office culture bastardizes our language, turning into corporate cultural garbage speak to make concepts “marketable.” The last one speaks to the absurdity of this idea.
"The don’t worry darling press cycle feels very 1950s/60s hollywood"
"Last time I followed a news event in real time this closely"
“variety is always at the scene”
“Say what you will about this website”
“you can almost see the screams”
"him being a little dumb makes him hotter"
“let her interview the don’t worry darling cast”
“we’re having fun!”
"Omg Harry threw a goat on Chris."
I said this two weeks ago but the Don’t Worry Darling “drama” is certainly a PR stunt. Based in truth, yes, but the conversations about the movies shenanigans are being leaned into for profit because the movie is bad and Hollywood is dying. What we’re seeing is a new tactic by Hollywood to build a three dimensional buzz cycle, which we saw earlier this year with Greta Gerwig’s staged Barbie leaks. We can expect this to continue, given the recent IMAX selling out of the movie. (Unrelated but related: this thread on the fall of Hollywood is quite good. I’m going to write something very soon about how we are experiencing the dying gasps of the empire of entertainment!!) (Also: all I’ll say about The Whale is what Caleb Hearon said. Can’t fat characters have joy too?)
Timothée Chalamet Shares It's ‘Tough To Be Alive Now’
Maude Apatow Got Real About "Nepotism Baby"
“celebrities who grew up rich”
“celebs who AREN’T nepo babies”
All this said: I don’t want to hear shit from these rich people whining about their lives being hard. Thankfully, we’re experiencing a rise in anti-rich kid, anti-nepo baby content and dialogues. It’s time to eat the rich, as they attempt to prepper their way out of the apocalypse. (Related: I love the theory that Nick Kroll orchestrated the Don’t Worry Darling mess because he is an extreme secret rich kid born of a billionaire.)
"I discovered this woman, who I call Loab, in April."
This AI “monster” went very viral this week and I have to say it: this shit is so corny. It’s not that deep, nor scary. It doesn’t have the potential to crossover to kids! Try again!
"a chimpanzee escaped from a zoo"
Come for the Ukrainian chimpanzee escapee, stay for said chimpanzee agreeing to return because they wanted to wear a raincoat (because it was raining).
Lynda Barry is a genius. Don’t believe me? Ask the MacArthur Genius Grant! She’s a cartoonist known for fostering creativity who is a thinker who takes life’s most complicated commonalities and distills them into simple drawings and simple stories that frequently center children. If you’re looking for an example of her brilliance, I highly recommend her hybrid cartoon collection and workbook What It Is along with this comic about encountering art, which makes me cry if I look and think about it for too long.
She was recently the subject of the always interesting New York Magazine Talk series, where she speaks about how technology is sucking out our brains and that children can help anyone look at a problem from another angle. The standout of the story was her speaking about over-working, specifically in the context of trying to get someone to understand where you are coming from. In the context of non-arts students in her art classes, the type who don’t give a shit about the aesthetic world and who end up in the joyless business of the ruling class, she says –
The reason they run the world is because of the way they were built. But [childlike thinking]’s not going to help that person. If you don’t have a need to do it, you don’t get anywhere. Those guys, they don’t have a need. I mean, I think they need it. You think they need it. They don’t think they need it. So there’s not a lot we can do, and that’s the hardest thing to accept. When I first started teaching, maybe I’d have 32 students in two classes. There would always be three or four who were dragging their tailpipes. I spent so much time on those students. I don’t anymore. I don’t crawl toward them with a glass of water like, Please, take this! It took me a long time to say I’m not going to be able to change somebody who doesn’t want to try or doesn’t need this. I’ve had fantasies of kidnapping one of these people. But what if I heard them saying that about me? That’d be the worst. “I want to kidnap that creativity chick and show her what being a Lutheran is all about.”
This is such a great way at looking at…a lot of things! The relative with questionable views, the lazy friend who can do more in life but doesn’t, the co-worker who thinks so literally that it’s detrimental to the company: it’s easy to be seduced by the idea of trying to convert them into a believer, to see the value in joy and play. This is something I struggle with, trying to hold someone’s hand to get them to believe what I believe, to look at the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. You can only do so much! And, if we don’t realize that we sometimes need to limit our empathy, the more likely you are to harm yourself by staying stuck in the mud with them. Learn how to move on.
It’s easy to forget this! I talk a lot about being there for each other and the power of the awe full, items that are crucial for our continuing on in this world. But we also need to know when to move forward, when to realize that you’re giving too much of yourself. It’s a hard think to realize that! But, as she tends to do, Lynda Barry reminds us of the little things in life – and how we need to take care of ourselves in order to be our best selves.
“queen elizabeth leaving earth”
“my favorite memes”
“IVE BEEN LAUGHING FOR FAR TOO LONG”
"my congolese mum's reaction"
“how do u unlock lilibet”
”5 of these exact kind of documentaries”
“JK Rowling furious”
”Saw this on Facebook”
“pov: you’re Henry Kissinger”
A roundup of some of the best The Queen Is Dead content. (I will also say: this was maybe one of the best weeks on the internet in a long time. We had Don’t Worry Darling then the Queen died and today is September 11? Wow.)
“this exchange on a TikTok video”
Related to the Queen’s death memes, this interaction kills me. I don’t know if I’ve written about it before but a new language based on stan culture and Pop Crave’s Twitter is emerging with micro-clapbacks that are done with maybe two words, max. This is a good example, even if it’s deployed in the wrong place and time. (But that, my dears, is why it’s so great.)
Bringing it back to stan and queer-speak: this sort of clapback behavior we see more and more of and it’s as fucked up as it is delicious.
“when i become a teacher”
“what i would wear as a teacher”
“what i’d wear if I were a Teacher”
“could you actually wear this as a teacher?”
This week in Gen Z Cringe Trends™. The last TikTok is a series that is great, offering some reality to this silly trend.
“the only way we pronounce glass”
I really would like a parrot!
“smelting salts vs mom”
It’s the arched back in the final seconds for me.
“Dead ass, what’s the deal”
I need New Yorkers to stop.
A great hack for going to the club!
"creepiest cooking vid i’ve ever seen"
I saw this on TikTok first and it is very distressing.
I cannot tell you how many times I have watched this.
And, finally, me talking about my inspirations.