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The Trend Report™: Kind Others
On the new trend of self-othering for views and why really bad art is thriving online.
Japan’s cherry blossoms peak early
How early? The earliest in 1200 years. And why is this happening? Um. Climate change.
Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise
Because people think the world is normal. This is not great! Not-progress!
More Alabamians died from Covid than flu in a decade
To get an idea of how bad Covid has been, more people in Alabama died in the past year from Covid than from the past decade of the flu.
These Chimps Are All of Us
A zoo gave chimps access to Zoom-style video. The results are cuter than you would think! And says a lot about a primate’s attention than we might think.
A voice game boom gives a break from screen time
Surprised there hasn't been more of a rise in, say, games by Alexa and podcast style games in “these times.” We really went, like “Y’all look at screens.” and thought that was that on that.
Google Maps Is Adding Indoor Live View
Yes, this sounds creepy but hear me out: if you could tell that a place was busy before you hopped on your bike to go to said place, wouldn’t you be happy have been saved a trip? Nevermind the security concerns! We live on Zoom anyway!
Where is the line between exploitation and information?
I’ve been wondering this a lot as there’s a new generation of influencer whose content is explicitly about their difference and how they live in the world. While this is rooted in sharing information, it edges on showing your wounds, turning to the camera to let an audience in on the secrets they always wanted to know about people like you. They allow you to stare in private because they know that’s all you want to do when you encounter someone of different experience.
For example: Anthony S. Ferraro. His TikToks are very straightforward, starting with him looking to camera, yell-talking “I’m blind,” followed by his explaining what he’s going to show you. “I’m blind. Here’s how I workout.”“I’m blind. This is how I cook.”“I’m blind. This is how I do my laundry.” No matter what he’s doing, he’s blind and he shows you how it’s done. These videos are fun! I always feel like I' learn something. Also? He’s a hunk. Watching him is interesting – but it also feels like maybe I shouldn’t be getting this vulnerable with a stranger. I don’t know Anthony! But, here we are, watching him and his great bod take a shower.
Anthony is hardly alone. STEVOLUDDY shares life with a rare bone disease that has his legs and arms of different lengths. Damion Gross has a following for sharing life with cerebral palsy. Rocki Flat Outlund celebrates life as someone with a double mastectomy. Nicksface1 makes videos about living with Neurofibromatosis, a disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves. Herik Cox is all about life as an amputee who uses a bionic arm.
What these influencers are doing is a video style that is in the shadow of Millennial websites like ATTN: and Mic and Great Big Story, video-based platforms that sought to share the experience of someone who is “othered” in the hopes of getting you to learn, be more empathetic, and watch because you’re curious. Since the mid-2010s heyday of sites like these, people have realized that they can produce content in this style themselves.
Where will this go? To a place that sees cancel culture in a catch 22, where PC police and overly aggressive liberals won’t know what to do when a minority person treats themselves problematically. A great preview of this is the current landscape of thick water. If you aren’t familiar, thick water is thickened water for persons who have trouble swallowing liquids. Last year, MEL published a story where someone drank thick water all day. Fast forward, and you have dogs drinking thick water for a challenge of sorts. Cut to now, where TikTokers are calling out TikTokers for being curious about the interesting item that is thick water. Objectively, thick water is weird. Does it have a technical use? Yes. Does that mean we must be reverent around this item or that calling it weird is to also call the people who use it weird? Not necessarily.
This is the catch 22 we’re about to see play out with people: some things are non-normative – and that makes them interesting. Is it then wrong then to stare, to want to know more? Who knows, because your means of introduction was someone grabbing a camera and training it on themselves before someone else could. This style of influencer is great, because it illustrates control of one’s narrative and a taking up space in a society that wants to silence you. But, like the buzzy book Detransition, Baby, one gets the feeling that too much information is being shared. Showing one’s wounds helps to normalize an experience – but does this act then invite people to stare at those who don’t want the same attention? Yes. And that’s where self-othering might pose a problem.
Nike Wants to Clarify It Doesn’t Endorse Lil Nas X
There was so much Lil Nas X content. I talk about him, like, every other week but this story is the funniest to me. The troll meme superstar lord ruled this week, riling up conservatives and Christians alike over shoes. But the biggest entity offended? Capitalism.
MUGLER Spring Summer 2021
The new Mugler show is the first fashion show in a long time to offer nonstop excitement. Plus, it’s the first post-Demna Balenciaga show that is in conversation with that brand’s style of futurism. It’s sexy, it’s cool, and I can’t get enough for it. And Dominque Jackson? Yes, please.
The Louvre just put its entire art collection online
Bored? Have another year to just look at things? Explore the Louvre! The entire collection is online now! Explore it here.
What Does Home Mean to Us?
Because of Covid, the home has been redefined. I love this story that really gets into the metaphysical idea of what a home is, which I feel like we’ve seen a lot of for the office – but not for the domestic.
How Did Frasier Afford His Apartment?
I love stories that poke holes in fiction via economic awareness.
Why Couldn't Wanda Have It All?
Here’s a great take. Wanda of Wandavision actually was trapped by society’s inability to see a working woman as both powerful and emotionally competent. (Best part of this story? It was written by a college freshman who I’ve been mentoring recently!)
The Art of the Mood Board
I don’t know why YouTube served me a video from stylist Kate Young’s new channel but this is such a great video, which teaches you how to use a mood board to be your own stylist. And the best part? Dakota Johnson makes many a cameo.
John Waters joins cast of ‘Mrs. Maisel’
I don’t care about this show or Amazon but I love this for John Waters!
Utica Can Die Happy
I didn’t see enough people talk about this but last week’s episode of Drag Race was the best in a very long time. It was funny, it was cringey, it was surprising, it was predictable – it had it all! Read this after you watch the episode.
Next Frontier in Trading, or a New Form of Tulip?
2017 crypto bust could spell out the future of current boom
Right on time, art people are wondering if NFTs are a fad. Y’all. I can’t.
Bad art is having a moment online – and I’m not talking about NFTs.
And, by bad art, I mean art that borders on 5 Minute Craft-style DIY or ASMR appealing processes that are less about the finished product and more about the mesmerizing process and literal pouring of resources. From YouTube to TikTok, this style of art is getting big views.
On YouTube, this takes many different forms. At the top, there’s ZHC, who is somewhere between Mr. Beast and Supreme or Off White clothing bought from a street vendor. His “art” is all about endurance and ripping off the latest fashion trend through “art.” Similarly, Vexx goes for colorful maximalism using thousands of the same item to make art collages of cartoons. Skech Art is the stereotypical spray-paint-galaxy painter, Marko paints on shoes, Jay Lee is dot-based Bob Ross, and Bob Ross is the Bob Ross of Bob Ross. While classically trained exceptions like Lena Danya exist, the trend here is the style of art that lies at the intersection of street style and extreme safety. The appeal isn’t about art that challenges but art that shows the artist literally breaking themselves in the presence of influening (ZHC, Vexx, Marko) or calming, soothing, easy-to-digest, documentary adjacent visual ASMR videos (Skech, Jay Lee, Bob Ross, Lena Danya). This style is about teaching, in technicality, but mostly about the performance of being an artist.
On TikTok, there’s a rash of simple style hackers. While there are too many to count – and I have done a bad job of tracking them – you have people like Josie Lewis who is technically skilled but mostly makes work that is about soothing rainbows, Callen Schaub who makes trippy drips that are more about the twists than the final product, Casey Van Arsdale who ties his extreme life with galaxy spray paint art, and “painters” like Jaleh and Briana Cooper, who specialize in making messes. These final two are most onto something, a part of a bigger trend that I have lost count of creators making in this style: their art involves pooling paint and smearing it around. The results are “cool” but they...have no meaning. They are only valued in their mesmerizing process, offering the feeling that you are palming sugar into your mouth instead of thinking hard. I can guarantee you that they have little depth or joy on the wall – but the process? The pooling of paint on paint on paint? This is what it’s about.
None of these artists are for me, and none of these artists are going to be storming Frieze or Scope. And that’s fine! They’re aggressively mainstream, in distant conversation with mass produced reproductions of Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh and Banksy, the most Googled artists in the world. Will they get attention at Art Basel, via a brand like TikTok hosting them? Likely. Is it ultimately good that art has born a hypebeast influencer genre as a means to sidestep an elitist industry? Yes. What these artists get at is comfort and approximate aspiration, works that tempt you to make but likely don’t actually get you making. You can make art – but will you? Eh, no. Instead, sit back, relax, and watch someone else make a mess.
"I take it all back the Internet is perfect"
Yes, you need Maya Angelou turning “No Scrubs” into a poem.
"Living Single vs Friends"
"language vs. 'academic language'"
If you didn’t hear about the Addison Rae Tik Tok appropriation thing, read about it here. (And, for the record, most of these top white teens like Addison are ill advised. The D’Amelios are worse though.)
"really don't have golden retreivers"
Yes, Goldens are very white pets.
Sam Neil as James Bond
My friend Justin sent this to me recently and it is so disorienting but so great.
Gonge, babe. Gonge.
"the entire field of sociology"
This is real. Would love to meet the ally who thought this was a good idea!
"He said ‘straight girls be like’"
Remember bachelorette parties?????
"Apple's suggested password"
Thinking about this.
And, finally, the two genders.