The Trend Report™: New Success
Examining the appeal of Bella Poarch while seeking to forecast how Dada will inform larger cullture.
All Those White Allies Were Lying
Watching White People
As it’s been a year since George Floyd was murder, a big thread in stories this week was the flaws of white people, that white people didn’t do enough. For example: all the billions of dollars pledged to help support equity efforts last June? They ended up amounting to only a quarter of a billion. Unsurprising and sad.
Skepticism Of Science Fueled The AIDS Crisis
This is very interesting, considering we’re at a point where things could be completely squished – or skepticism could mean Covid always, via a gay doctor whose story is one of the more interesting. (He was good friends with Vito Russo!!)
The lingering threat of fall Covid-19 outbreaks
This thought popped up a few times this week, colloquially. We’re not done yet, people!
Long Slide Looms for World Population
The U.S. birthrate is falling.
China demographic crisis looms
A lot of talk about how America and China’s birth rates are falling and what that will mean for the world and for the construction of nations. I guess we’ll hear more and more about this, as we continue to spiral toward gerontocracy.
How Michel Foucault Lost the Left
This is an interesting opinion, that gets at what happens when powers shift. I love you, Michel!
Florida Will Fine Media Companies That Bar Candidates
Biden's YouTube Covid Town Hall
This is great but also hilarious. And I thought Hollywood was clueless about how to interact with digital stars!
Biden’s offshore wind plan for California
This could be great! And in keeping with the state’s breezy energy.
Password-Protect Your Google Search History
Informative, for anyone who uses a shared computer.
Actor says TikTok used her voice
Without permission. And this is likely why the strange and young sounding new text-to-speech voice has been introduced.
For the unfamiliar, Bella is a TikTok star who rose to fame from a video that zoomed in on her head and saw her lipsynching. It’s cute! It’s fine. While Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae are known for full body dancing, Bella is known for her facial expressionism. All of these things are vague skills, at best.
But these people are wildly successful. This is what is to be discussed, as chatter about Bella and similar stars’ boring, mundane, dull personalities are a dime a dozen and a dozen a dime. Last week, when Bella’s song dropped, it totally demolished a new Nicki Minaj song and Olivia Rodrigo song and a Dixie D’Amelio (Ugh.) song. Is “Build A Bitch” any good? It’s OK! People have theories about why and how it exists – but people will always have theories. The song is unexpected and, somehow, is the best of the worst, to be sure. But Bella’s pop star rise is most fascinating as an exercise in how digital stars can leap over “the establishment” to find huge success.
This is what I have been thinking in the Bella cycle, and am not alone in this thinking: we’re realizing in this moment that algorithms are replacing entertainment executives while someone like Bella can make a splash 13 months ago and end up a top name seemingly overnight. This TikTok success model is not new, as it was carved to great effect by the incredibly boring D’Amelio family. Clout isn’t about charisma anymore but more about being able to smile in step with a song. This isn’t a critique: it just is. People like a pretty face and placid energy and TikTok has boiled this desiredown to its most primitive.
(Ironically, Hollywood has become the same too: enter the Friends reunion, which many heralded as boring and fine. This speaks to how the actors and creatives have moved on, living their lives, but the boring audience who have reached the end of their queues want more of the same, while executives want another thing to cash in on that requires less investment or setup dollars to “make work.” Friends is far from a flop but is more a symptom of online and offline audiences having more power than they realize – but also a lack of intelligence when it comes to coalescing their desires. Imagine if this energy had been put to, say, pressure top entertainment products – Like Friends. – to be more diverse.)
What Bella’s success shows is that we must rethink success and what it means to be a celebrity, as there are too many different consumption ecosystems and sizable audiences in the world to pit these worlds against each other. The internet and Hollywood are not the same, yet entertainment likes to think they can snatch up an internet star and see success. On the other end of the spectrum, digital stars and influencers use their platforms as a way to get into Hollywood, to be on television and in movies – even if their grasp of an audience online is a power greater than any channel or show could give them. These two places will never be the same and yet here are both parties competing for each other’s dollars and attention. They’re different audiences with different tastes, hence how Olivia can end up on SNL singing to Boomers while Bella can have the top song of the week while no one has ever heard of her. It’s time we stop assuming these things are one and the same and that there are multiple Hollywoods now. To live and make online is to acknowledge that parallel universes exist in our own.
Kindergartners’ divert hijacked bus
This is an incredible story, based in the power of annoyance: someone attempted to hijack a school bus, to escape to another town – but the bus was full of kids who asked him so many questions that he had to stop the bus. He was eventually caught. What a story.
Instagram’s New Pronoun Feature
My friend Rachel wrote a great essay about using their pronouns and Instagram’s new pronoun feature!
Mariah Carey’s Secret ’90s Alt-Rock Album
There was a moment in Mariah’s book where she mentions this alleged alt-rock album that she worked on – but you don’t really get the full story. Now we do!
'Charlie Bit My Finger' NFT sells for $760,999
I think it is very creepy that someone paid almost a million dollars for someone else’s baby video.
Howard names College after Chadwick Boseman
Their Fine Arts college, that is. How nice.
Amazon's ‘ZenBooths’ for Stressed Workers
This is truly next level corporate insanity.
Speaking of Amazon, I do not support them but it’s interesting that they now have a section of products that are famous from TikTok, Instagram, and other digital advertising zones.
Gaping hole opens up under Eiffel Tower
JR’s new site-specific art piece is very cool and very good!
The Secret Psychology of Sneaker Colors
I randomly came across this story while trying to track down if “Rubik’s Cube” was a proper noun (It is.) and thought this elucidated quite a bit about why sneakers are the colors that they are.
Pitchfork’s Reviews Section in 38 Reviews
I’ve read Pitchfork for almost twenty years and this look back on the site and music history via their reviews is quite something. I’m sad the review for Daft Club – and other concept reviews – didn’t get a callout. (But Jet did!)
Powerpuff Girls’ 'Too Campy,' Says CW CEO
Give me the camp classic, CW. GIVE ME.
The Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Die
I need to meet this punk rock nun.
Does Walking Really Count as Cardio?
This is informative! I walk a fair amount and, sometimes, will swap it in for exercise. Now I know that’s more valid than I realize, but not a replacement for high-intensity cardio!
While @afffirmations and InspiroBot capture this mania best, I think the Dada wheel is turning again, evolving in two ways. Both get at an awareness of how stupid communication is in general and how you have to break the brain in order to break through the noise.
These two different neo-neo-Dada directions are –
Insane Non-Ad Ads: These are videos that feature a simple process gone terribly awry, with items that are unnecessary in the creative process. They embrace the nothing that is the middle of the process. The start and the finish are the point of process videos: what happens in between is a point for creative mania. The work of @thatlittlepuff captures this well, which is a foodie cat creator who shows you how to make drinks by crushing sugar on your laptop and using an iPad as a cutting board. Neo-domestic creators like @thedailysprinkle and @bananalovesyoutoo do this with videos that take indulgence and multiply them with the pointless. The former might be earnest while the latter is certainly making a joke – but both of them are participating in a domestic absurdity that shows you how to do something while doing it in a filthy, terrible way. They get attention because they are doing things all wrong. This is why something like Josh and Lisa’s ULTIMATE SPAGHETTI TRICK, a disgusting countertop spaghetti “hack,” has become trendy. This all coalesces with creators like @lpse9301 and @markchen7735, spam-type accounts that do ridiculous things – fucking up clothing to show how a cleaning product works, going through strange obstacles to put shoes on – to get you to a product. Not all of these things are literally selling something but I would say that this space is one to watch because absurdity is now becoming a buying language, of acknowledging that the product is as dumb as you are and that you will buy it if you opt in on your own stupidity.
Self-Aware Micro-Cinema: A very much emerging trend that builds from insane non-ad ads are videos by creators that feature twist endings and a sort of wondering what it all means. They are deeply existential while questioning why we make videos to begin with. They acknowledge that to make a video is to be aware that a video is being made, that making videos is to participate in insanity, to broadcast any part of yourself – your thoughts, your image, your literal voice – and subsequently give a part of yourself away. The act is funny, yes, but it represents a shift from the performative to the straightforwardly nihilistic. Three recent examples: @tt.tip_ch40, a woman whose videos start off dueting insane hacks but always end with her finding out she is what’s being hacked (This is the best example.); this TikTok by @omegagamma which makes a joke about frat boy stereotypes only to reveal the depths of despair that come with being a toxic male; and @gnomeboys, a clique of dudes making straightforward TikTok fair that often make you wonder who is filming and what reality they’re living in, resulting in pieces that deal with transmutation and entering the void. Questioning reality isn’t new – @kilianandmaruta is currently cornering this market, making it seem like he is living in an uninhabited world – but these previous examples show how the awareness of filming and making a film yields brain rot. These videos embrace the rot, going to show you the gory details that come with being a watcher. These films not only break the fourth wall but break the brain, revealing a new depth of despair.
All this is to say: we can expect these techniques to start being adopted into the mainstream at some point this year. By brands, by entertainers, by anyone hoping to break through. Once this has formally been normalized, we’ll be in a new world of communicating that will take “fake news” and questioning reality even further, once the less savvy fail to grasp that absurdity is about acknowledging flaws and shrugging – not taking ideas of lobsters in your shoes or surveillance hacks seriously.
"haunting my dreams for days"
Love the Minion/Build-A-Bear skin theory.
"Losing my mind over this"
Captivating. The Liza content I needed.
"she gets it"
I wish I were as naive as Snooki.
“tell me when you’re done being classist”
I would sleep on his air mattress.
"hope this queen is having a good day"
Me listening to Lil Nas X.
"An internet discussion 27 years ago:"
Sigh. Simple times!
"girl who thinks she's an influencer"
Yes, I have watched these live streams.
"i am obsessed with this"
"the way he says ‘burger’ cured my depression"
I cannot stop watching this child. (I feel like this is one of the fighting kids, who recently went viral, but I can’t track down that video shrug)
And, finally, a video of me perusing your content.