The Trend Report™: Mazed & Confused
Trying to map the maze of current Covid stuff and understanding why legacy projects are flopping in Hollywood.
Facebook Executive Pushes to Open ‘Black Boxes’
Kill billionaires challenge, 2022.
America’s anti-democratic Senate, in one number
Man, America is so dumb.
How Bad Are Plastics for the Environment, Really?
An impossible-to-give-a-number-to dollar question.
Snowstorm Traps People Overnight on I-95
I can’t tell you I entirely understand why the highway shutdown – Terrible weather? Infrastructure woes? Too many cars in general? – but I will tell you this has to be a version of hell. Maybe, I don’t know, we divest from demanding people commute and from cars in general?
Life Inside America's Biggest Environmental Cleanup
This is a fascinating mini-doc that is also a nightmare. Just imagine this toxic lake overflowing from some awful climate chaos related flood!
French Car Ads Required to Tell You Not to Drive
What to Know About California's New Composting Law
I’ve been composting for years (through green waste containers) and can tell you that this is all very exciting and overdue.
Shoplifting Scares Retailers. Wall Street Should Worry.
Shoplifting is up! It’s a sign of unhappiness and, while shoplifting rocketed during the start of the pandemic before diving down, myriad economic issues are causing the problem to spike again. What’s interesting – and sad – is how high up common things are, like laundry detergent as the second-most stolen item and allergy medicine as the fourth-most. Tell me your country’s failing without telling me your country is failing.
"This wasn't even that long ago."
“They found the Tweet, Joe.”
What a mess, the (queer) Biden-Harrises are. More on this new comms director here!
"what Puerto Rico being a US colonial tax haven attracts"
"We spoke to some people who are in deep denial."
The only January 6 thing I watched.
We’re beyond the late December moment of “Everyone I know has Covid!” Now, we’re wading through confusion and frustration, as America seems to have bungled everything in the past few weeks of handling a health crisis that is waddling into its third year. As Tiffany C. Li, a tech law scholar, observed on Twitter, this moment is best summed up as, “Stay indoors. But also return in person. Wear a mask. Not that one. The expensive one, that you can’t find. Take rapid tests. Which you also can’t find. But if you find them, don’t buy them. Rapid tests don’t work. You need PCR. There are zero appointments in your area.”
It’s very annoying, mostly because those of us who are playing it safe and taking in all updates (Like myself!) are finding following the directions difficult. How, then, can we expect our parents and our friends and strangers and those who aren’t seeking out updates to follow what’s happening? We simply cannot, because the information isn’t getting through, placing everyone in a cycle of change / yell / get sick / wait. A situation that comes to my mind as emblematic of this is home testing, which we got into a pattern of after flying too close to the sun in December only for Bobby to catch Covid. I then masked, he isolated, and we ended up in a situation where I (somehow) dodged the bullet by being very careful and stretching out PCR and home tests in a way that made sense. Meanwhile, my niece and nephew travelled for the holidays, hitting multiple states, only to come back home on a Thursday to get tested at school on Monday. And what happened? They were positive. Now, my parents and brother all have Covid, all because airlines had to push back open, a lack of home testing, and a general confusion of how to “live through this.”
(Granted, if that were my situation, them kids wouldn’t have been let in the house without a test or we would have been masked until we knew our status. That said, this is a luxury because I can afford to take these tests in a timely manner, not to mention being a prepper who stocked up on tests since mid-November. But I digress.) (Related, there’s still a “Really? You’re being that safe?” back-and-forth with people about, say, not wanting to be inside or asking someone to rapid test. We’re beyond the pandemic peer pressure phase and well into the phase where people assume you are “back to normal,” mostly because they’re bored of being cautious or believe their vaccine is a silver bullet, etc.)
Shit seems bad and, somehow, keeps getting badder on a logistical level. The CDC is bungling everything, with truncated guidances leading to large outbreaks while statements on comorbidities attempt to normalize death while dismissing concerns by disability communities. Masks, a once confident and understood way to practice safety, have become increasingly confused as double masking are favored and cloth masks are out. I also keep seeing this one Wall Street Journal graphic, which is helpful but doesn’t explain where filters in cloth masks or knock-off KN95s fit in. Then there’s the schools. The schools! What a mess, as teachers from New York to Chicago are bristling at unsafe mandatory returns to class, while blue checks are glossing over the issue, leading to what feels like another large rift in safety and understanding. And then we have long Covid and deltacron and flurona and all of us are supposed to be working and happy (which none of us are) as once “essential” and “unskilled” workers are tossed into the hazard zone. What a mess! A mess.
There’s not really any upper or silver lining to be found here, as any direction or guidance has been shoddy at best. Yet this is life now. I’ve never been under an assumption that we’ll wake up one day, remove our masks, go to a concert, and forget this happened: that’s wishful thinking, an indulgence of unreality. Instead, we adapt, living live as intelligently and cautiously as we can.
Anyway, here is the smartest thing I read about “all this” in the past two weeks.
Best of Music
Best of Movies & TV
The first two of my annual best-of lists! Next week I should have best digital items and best writing (pending ~time~).
Hades Makes History with Hugo Award
This seems like old news on so many fronts, since it’s way overdue to recognize video games as (the best) storytelling devices and the game Hades came out in 2020.
McDonald's blocked from Baths of Caracalla
I know this a McDonald’s in ancient ruins is bad, yes, but also there’s something so cool about something so grossly contemporary juxtaposed with something so extremely old. I love that shit, like when modern art is staged in very old places. The differences in texture bring both to life! Not that I want fast food in my history but you know what I mean.
Talents of Madonna's son divide critics
This is interesting in the sense of it’s both extreme nepotism and anti-nepotism when it comes to Madonna’s son’s visual arts career. The paintings are fine though. Paula Rego they are not!
Scientists Taught Goldfish to Drive
I think this is cool!
"the dark fly experiment"
Flies reared in the dark for 60 years
I had never heard of this but this flies-in-the-dark ongoing examination of fly evolution is fucking fascainating.
What the 'Don't Look Up' Action Campaign Gets So Wrong
A great look at how uncreative and non-imaginative people get when they think of environmental solutions, via Don’t Look Up.
Why Is Kate McKinnon Walking Like This
Does Kate McKinnon have scoliosis?
A very good breakdown of the new performative online trend: acting “casual.”
Tech Firms Like Zillow Eat Up Starter Homes
I hate this “iBuyer” trend of tech company scooping up houses, becoming a new genre of landlord. This sci-fi future sucks!
Did you hear about how badly West Side Story flopped? The $100+ million movie only brought back $10+ million despite great reviews. The movie – a musical remake of a 1961 film about New Yorkers and Puerto Ricans adapted from William Shakespeare made by Stephen Spielberg – seemed to disconnect with everyone, which is both surprising and not. But, when you look at West Side Story objectively, what is there to love? Everything about the movie is literally old news, from Spielberg to it being a remake to New Yorkers to the Romeo & Juliet tie to the Sondheim: these are all things we, as an audience, are “told to like” and are very old news. This seems to be a film made in an alternate reality where younger people weren’t born and imagination didn’t move forward. The box office seemed to confirm this.
It also highlights something alarming, as this mind-bending TikTok points out: legacy movie-watching customers that this movie was ostensibly for – Older women. – are on a down-trend when it comes to seeing movies. Women over 35 (and older audiences in general) are not showing up to see movies, speaking to how movies made now are no longer vital viewing, during a pandemic or not, at a movie theater or not. A trickle down is starting as movies are being switched around as far as calendaring and release style, with the shift of Jennifer Lopez’s new musical romantic comedy to hybrid release being the clearest indication of this. But that’s not all, as the newest Pixar movie is going direct to Disney+ along with the Marvel “horror” movie Morbius getting its date pushed. Things aren’t looking good in La La Land.
Another case in this is Being The Ricardos, which – while smaller on scale – seemed to bring in tiny numbers. On the women-audience side, these two movies along with House of Gucci and The Tragedy of Macbeth are slated to have been hits with the demo but, again, the missing thing here is beyond who is watching but what is being watched: old shit. A movie about 1950s Hollywood, a movie about 1980s Italian fashion people, a movie about 11th century Scotland, which most people were forced to read in high school: none of these are the makings of a forward thinking piece of entertainment. Instead of offer escapism, they lock us in the past and in the things we have been told to love. These are films steeped in yesterday with audience who doesn’t care about these things. They speak to legacies that Hollywood loves but than an increasingly jaded audience no longer wants to hear about. It relates to Hollywood self-importance, which we clearly see going out of favor as disenchanted audiences are over awards shows.
(Another item of interest! Reboots and remake culture has been discussed here before, both measures that put profit over product. You see this in the 20 top-grossing films of 2021, as only two are originals and the rest are a remake, reboot, or part of a franchise. Think about that.)
What does this mean? I can’t tell for sure, just that movies and entertainment will continue to feel like bloated TV shows franchised in perpetuity. What is knowable is that audiences are smarter, more frugal, and don’t need new movies when we have so many services with new and old and international entertainment products that can be consumed without paying anything. You also have a heightened state of economic inequality and an audience becoming increasingly aware that Hollywood and celebrities are just rich kids who got richer: Hollywood is in the midst of a PR nightmare that they won’t be able to get out of. Talk about the loss of legacies.
“Try eating ass!”
I will not write more about brands being horny but I must log Pabst Blue Ribbon’s snafu this week.
"jesus is NOT coming back"
The only Elmo culture item I will be sharing.
"the way she was called insane"
Amanda Bynes really was the blueprint.
"the fact kfc spain official account posted this"
Get me a ticket to Spain STAT.
"satc fans when che diaz appears"
God, the new SATC just sucks.
"is jojo a trumpie?"
The Jojo Siwa reckoning is coming.
The more I see about that Katy Perry Vegas show, the more I want to see it.
"why this family is so fucking weird"
The Kardashians are so weird indeed.
"my dog trying to help my mental health"
Love when my dog does this.
"my depression coming back"
Speaking of, this is me on this upcoming Monday.
"how the news was a year ago"
Okay, actually, the only other thing I’ll share about January 6.
"Never change, Twitter."
There was no funnier thing on Twitter this week than this.
And, finally, my new bathroom.
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