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The Trend Report™: Meme Wars
Exploring the relationship between jokes online and wars, and why we all talk about TV.
14 Independent Voters on Biden's First Year
This is a must read. Truly! Yes, it’s a sampling of fourteen independents but it seems to capture so much of the American frustrations and fears shared last week. Is it really all on Joe Baden’s shoulders? I don’t think so. Either way: the talk is madness.
Ketanji Brown Jackson Could Be Biden's Supreme Court Nom
The DC judge would be the first Black woman on the court too. Now…we just need some of them olds to retire…which is actually happening!!
Lesbian Sues Army Over Demand She Wear Makeup
And grow her hair out. You know what? Fuck the military. But also? LucilleBluthGoodForHer.gif. Get that cash!! Rob them!!!
Art Spiegelman sees ban of ‘Maus’ as a ‘red alert’
School District to remove 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
These both seem the same, at first, but are different: one is from the right and the other is from the left. Both are silly and bad.
"red have a smaller military budget than the NYPD"
Love the police state we live in!
For Disabled People, Ever-Present COVID
This pops up every now and again but there really needs to be more attention – and care – when considering life with Covid, within and just outside of a pandemic, as it relates to the disabled persons. Even something as small as taking a rapid test isn’t possible if you can’t see the results.
Old Light Bulbs at Dollar Stores
This is not-good but it is interesting as something as little as lightbulbs can have such an impact on the world.
How Bad Are Plastics for the Environment?
Bad, duh. This line really captures the problem so well and so eloquently: “plastic is climate change, just in its solid state.”
"This photo kills me."
Well, if you thought plastics were bad: let this picture of a seahorse depress you.
Mars, Nestlé, Hershey child slavery lawsuit
This is about a year old but, as the M&M desexualization item arose, this was a story I kept seeing: how the mascots distract us from quite nefarious corporate activities.
Slain Mexican reporter described vulnerability
"This photo breaks my heart."
Reporting colleagues' murders changes how you work
In case you haven’t heard about the murder of journalist Lourdes Maldonado, here’s all you should know about it – and how Mexican journalists are being targeted, ostensibly by the government.
Every week, or even every few days, queer internet fixates on something and create a micro-culture that says something larger about the world. For the past week, an object of affection is a Russian TikTokker named Danya.XXXL.
Danya is a very pretty boy with 4.8 million followers. His videos are typical TikTok fare – lipsync reveals, trending formats, generally cute boy content – that offer a peek into an everyday kid with a charmed digital life. What’s interesting (and what queer internet has become obsessed with) is that Danya is actually in the Russian military, as he recently posted extremely cute (now deleted) TikToks of himself in uniform making his style of content. People have lost their minds, making jokes about how this hunk is getting them to support the war-hungry country. (Related / unrelated, most of Danya’s social media has been scrubbed of his military involvement but you can find traces of it in some uploads.)
The runoff of this has been a series of videos of (queer) people charming Putin to save the world, yassifying the Soviet Union, and saving yourself from war by being skinny, all funny videos that confront geopolitical turmoil happening in real time (enacted by governments that don’t support queer people). It’s funny and frightening and points to something larger: meme wars, content made in and around war, soft power extensions taking place in digital spaces. It’s not new, no, but it’s coming into its own. We’re experiencing a sort of influencer era of geopolitical online culture.
The international version of meme politics, this is what happens when tongue-in-cheek observers collide with governments who themselves are very online and speaking the same language. For example: in early December, the official Ukraine Twitter account made waves with a meme about having a headache from living next to Russia, which is part of a larger meme strategy. A similar thing happened in May of last year when the state of Israel tweeted a (tacky) thread of emoji rockets to show that they were under attack (as they bombed Palestine). Then, of course, you have the US Army Tweeting about Lana Del Rey and getting the TikTok island boys to recruit for them, all set to a backdrop of the military’s Twitch recruitment.
This is a micro-moment in a bigger picture of international issues taking place online. Danya’s moment is small, yes, but there will soon be a government Danya every month, for every region, to extend a form of national desire with adorable smiles and cutesy dances. That’s the world now! It’s neither good nor bad, but is instead a currency, a form of power, that is being exchanged.
A great, interactive story that explores the expansiveness of gender as it relates to the language we use. This story is so great because it gets so in depth, working across languages and identities in a wonderfully robust way. This is exciting, in ways, particularly for those on the gender spectrum like ~moi~ who think and wonder about the future of language, which will be coming increasingly ungendered. (Somehow, for better or worse, “Latinx” doesn’t get dragged through the mud or lauded for existing. Probably for the best!)
Amy Schneider Celebrates Her Jeopardy Win
I didn’t catch any of the Jeopardy!s but this story on Amy Schneider is great!
Did eating meat make us human?
A fascinating look at how meat may have made the modern human, on an evolutionary level. Take that, vegans!
Older Athletes Are Thriving In Wheelchair Tennis
Interesting. I…had no idea this was a “trend.”
The 16 New Sweethearts Phrases
Not the new conversation hearts phrases!!
The Artists & Designers Making Tarot Decks for Today
My friend Isa’s tarot deck got featured in T! They’re sold out though, in case you wanted a deck!! But she has lots more fun stuff at her store, like tarot prints!!
Is Old Music Killing New Music?
An interesting theory, in a world where time is increasingly becoming flat when it comes to cultural consumption. Read more about this phenomena as it relates to pastiche in a previous Trend Report™! But! This TikTok posits the problem could relate to the lack of social music events because of the pandemic.
Neil Young Asks Spotify to Remove Music
Joni Mitchell Plans to Follow Neil Young Off Spotify
Big stories this week! Kind of silly but also: Spotify sucks. Join me in Apple Music, everyone.
Your Brain On 'Euphoria' & 'Yellowjackets'
My theory is that these shows tickle a nostalgia button that we haven’t had in a while. But, as this article posits, it could also be our gluttony for the bad despite life being bad.
"a reclaiming of the beauty of dark skin"
There was some backlash to a new British Vogue cover featuring all Black models. I can see the critiques but also, as genius Robin Givhan noted, there’s a larger reclaiming and creative gesture at work that people are missing.
“What have you been watching?”
That seems to be the question that has threaded through most of my conversations in the past few years, be they conversations with close friends or my family members or coworkers: the conversation always comes back to what we watched when we weren’t together. In Los Angeles, this doesn’t seem that weird, mostly because the industry of the town revolves around the screen and myself and others have big ties to what happens on the television, in movies, and streaming. Talking about what you watch is your life when your work is on the TV!
But, over the years, this question has become less about cultural consciousness and more the dying breath of an interaction, a reach for something to tie people together when you’ve realized you have nothing to talk about “What have you been watching?” someone might ask, halfway through a dinner, when the main course of personal updates have already been covered. “What have you been watching?” someone might ask, before wrapping up a phone call, when the participants maybe should have gone about their days. “What have you been watching?” someone may text, trying to keep a volley of chatter continuing back and forth. This isn’t just me or you or us all either: it’s an international trend, both small talk being more painful and television being bigger in conversation than the weather.
This question suggests so much. On the macro, it shows how tied we are to watching others, to the pleasure of indulging in another’s life. This question suggests the grasp with which the screen has invaded our lives, related to when people share memes or TikToks at the end of a dinner to offer something to laugh at when one’s ability to be funny needs to be outsourced. There’s an intoxicating sensation to watching too, that we accomplished something by doing nothing. Together, we work through someone’s life so we can pick them apart together. Yes, we have done this with books and plays and other media items forever and ever and ever. But when did personal interactions become so dictated by our watching the lives of others, no matter if the watched was fictional or not?
This isn’t bad, but I think about this when the alternative could have been playing a game or talking about the things that bring us joy or pain or wonder. Do I want to look back, at the end of a day or week or month or year or lifetime, and take pleasure in all the things I watched, the lives that I was not involved with but gave so much time? Not really. I’d rather think about the things that were done, the fun that was had. “What have you been watching?” feels like passivity made manifest, the slippage into viewers instead of actors ourselves. Is there a solution? Perhaps not being in a pandemic, for one, but maybe there’s something else we can do.
"SEX WEASELS in Renaissance art"
Old but interesting thread of how weasels were used in art to express sexuality.
Non-evolution hive go off.
"Reject modernity, embrace tradition."
This reminds me: Bobby and I randomly found a Paul Frank monkey on the street a few days ago.
"This NOWstalgia trend ain’t playin"
Speaking of the early 2000s!
"British TV was wiiild back in the day"
TV was wild in the nineties.
“IM NOT LAUGHING”
Need all these earrings.
"But why does this fit so well"
I know this is not funny because Covid but it’s very funny, when edited as such.
"locked me and my Mom inside a Blue Bottle”
My favorite (FAKE) story of the week. Justice for Dakota.
“welcome to Busty Town”
I would move there.
"subgenre of Ben Garrison's comics?!"
Excuse the filthiness of these edits but I saw a few this week and they made me laugh a lot. I guess it’s a thing! I thought they were real but, alas, they are not.
"The way Salma didn’t even play it off"
Another day in the Don’t Give Gaga An Oscar challenge.
"Cool LA dad picking up his kid from preschool"
Best performance by an actor. Hands down.
“the short answer to this question”
Say it with me: I make da poopie, I make da pee. I’m listening to this like MichelleObamaFingerDance.gif
And, finally, me every morning.