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The Trend Report™: Secret Babies
Why you – Yes, you! – should have a baby and not tell anyone.
Welcome to The Trend Report™, a capturing of what happened this week.
Get ready for secret babies, exploring LinkedIn’s Black culture, a win for an underdog chef, a surprise regarding Eddie Van Halen, a penis in Minecraft, and an Among Us explainer.
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What have you been doing during quarantine? Staring at screens, wishing for normal times, or being sexually active and not telling anyone until a baby is ready to roll out of you?
For many people, the latter has been a viable way to pass the time as 2020 has become the year of the secret baby. The secret baby has been popularized by celebrities, who have gotten their secret freak on before making an announcement – from Amanda Seyfried to Donald Glover, Billie Lourd to Bow Wow, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel to Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix – playing into a long history of celebrities having babies while no one is looking. The surprise about these surprises is that, like so many of us, our lives in 2020 are indoors and out of sight – and so is our personal news. The donning of a baby bump or shopping for nursery decor are unavailable options for public consumption. This makes celebrities so much like us, while also highlighting how people are just popping out kids because there’s nothing else to do.
This trend speaks to this specific moment because working from home, being on video chats, the lack of human togetherness has created the perfect environment for having a baby in secret. The Cut observed this recently, offering a pathology for this 2020 secret: “I wouldn’t tell anyone and would just emerge back into the world in a year with a baby.” Being pregnant is a very public thing and, in quarantine, this private experience is actually private. Inside the home, gone are the gropes and the ogles: you get to experience of pregnancy – and share your experience – on your own terms. In this way, you have become a celebrity too.
This highlights the now-iconic quarantine read from the New York Times, where someone wrote in about having a secret baby that colleagues didn’t know about because they telecommuted. The question they had was if they should never reveal the baby or to fess up, admitting that a cat isn’t wailing off-screen but that a new human is instead. The consensus here was to gaslight people, pretending that you’ve always had a baby and were always pregnant. How could they forget?
There’s a nice symmetry here to something else secretive and baby-like in quarantine: the quarantine album. From FKA Twigs to Fleet Foxes, Taylor Swift to Bad Bunny, Donald Glover to Carly Rae Jepsen, Laura Jane Grace to Ariana Grande, this has been a fruitful time for baby-having and non-baby-having artists alike to share such news. Like a baby, an album is something to work on and grow over time and, when not-in-public, you can pop the news that said baby has arrived without anyone batting an eye. (Unless, that is, you’re the ever indulgent CharliXCX.)
None of this is new though, as Beyoncé seemed to have made the playbook for both the secret baby and secret album. What is new is that you no longer have to be Beyoncé to reveal such secrets because, in quarantine, everyone and no one is a celebrity.
Dispatches from workers this week.
I Cannot in Good Faith Recommend This Japanese Desk Tent
Looking for a way to revamp your home-working space? Then do not try this “desk tent,” that’s for sure.
Companies invest in virtual retreats
Let me tell you this: no one wants to go on a virtual retreat. Don’t try to force more Zoom onto people already on Zoom. Just give them time off and respect that they are people who need more time to themselves, especially in such an oppressive time like 2020.
Black LinkedIn Is Thriving. Does LinkedIn Have a Problem With That?
On LinkedIn, Black anti-racist campaigners worry they’re being censored
Two interesting stories about how LinkedIn has become a space for the Black community to speak candidly – but some are being censored for speaking out and sharing anti-racist views. What this represents is growing pains and the need to adapt for the professional’s social network.
Twitch staff call the company out on sexual assault, racism, more
Surprising and not: the platform dedicated to streaming – largely game streaming – seems to have a problem with sexual assault and racism. Sounds like……..the company has accurately parroted the gaming industry’s issues.
The Marc Jacobs Whisperer
One of the most interesting profiles of the week, a look at Marc Jacobs’ assistant – and how his job has evolved into being both an art director and caretaker in 2020.
Creativity with a bit of politics.
Megan Thee Stallion: Why I Speak Up for Black Women
Perhaps the biggest celebrity story of the week, the rapper Megan Thee Stallion shared an incredible opinion piece with the New York Times about the importance of protecting Black women – and why that shouldn’t be controversial. The story is so uplifting and also so, so sad.
The other big celebrity story of the week comes from the former B.A. Test Kitchen star who has since gone solo – and brought down the Kitchen. This story does not hold back and assures that, yes, Sohla is a star. Naturally, this plays against the backdrop of the tepid return of the B.A. Test Kitchen this week.
Simone Leigh Is First Black Woman to Represent U.S. at Venice Biennale
The sculptor Simone Leigh will represent the US at the next art Olympics of sorts, coming after Martin Puryear and Mark Bradford. Her works reflect on Black womanhood and the body, often through supersized busts and vessels.
Life imitates art, and so a fly landed on Mike Pence’s head
Yes, everyone talked about that stupid fucking fly. But this take examines the fly from the vantage point of art history, of how flies in still lives to represent death and decay – and how they can represent nuisances.
The 25 Most Influential Works of American Protest Art Since World War II
This week’s essential art read explores works that question society – and push society – through art. The commentary from artist-critics is spectacular.
Welcome To Homecoming!
While we’re in homecoming times in a time when one can’t quite come home, explore the importance of HBCU’s homecoming traditions.
"The Swiss Cheese Respiratory Virus Pandemic Defense"
If you need another excuse for another precaution against Covid, this visual of the “Swiss Cheese” defense is quite effective.
"The Outsiders is the first book many people read"
The author S.E. Hinton – who I thought was dead – recently caused a stir by speaking about how The Outsiders would never be a graphic novel. The debate around this is interesting, as you can see in the comments. Should more books be graphic novels? Yes, because it extends the story to people who may not otherwise read. But also? No, because the book is the book. Perhaps we’ll deep dive on this at a later date.
Here’s a list of the 10 greatest works of journalism of the past 10 years.
What is essential journalism these days? The Washington Post attempts to point out the biggest, best stories of the last decade – and are curious if you disagree.
Huge Moments In Fashion History That Were Inspired By Black Culture
Stylist and fashion archivist Rashida Renée is an essential fashion follow and this examination of fashion history via Black culture is a must-read.
Make way for Slayer Pete.
Pete Buttigieg has been a sleeper success for Biden because he, in so many words, is a high-brow clapback queen.
Your Local Bookstore Wants You to Know That It’s Struggling
As I’ve been seeing lots of local bookstores express this, which is to remind: buy something from your local bookstore – or they may not survive the year.
Stories that aren’t quite what they seem.
Eddie Van Halen endured a 'horrifying racist environment'
The death of Van Halen has brought about many interesting reflections on his life, one major revelation being the racism that he faced a lot of racism. Why? He’s Indonesian, which I didn’t realize until this story popped up. This posthumous realization shines a different light on his work.
9 (Kinda) Hilarious Lessons From My 99 Days on a COVID Ventilator
This is a must-read, about how a woman’s three month coma from Covid revealed so much to her – for better and worse. Ping someone you haven’t spoken to in a while: that’s one of my big takeaways.
What's Wrong With "Emily In Paris" According To An Actual French Person
Do I want to watch this show? Not really. Does it’s almost anti-French presenting of France make it appealing? Absolutely.
Dogs Surprisingly Don't Care About 1 Part Of The Body
Spoiler: it’s your face. The upside here is that, regardless of your face, dogs love you no matter what. Dogs, man. Dogs.
Coronavirus Safety Runs Into a Stubborn Barrier: Masculinity
Fellas...is it gay to be alive?
Viral Fame In Guatemala
I love the Garbage Day newsletter and this story about a viral star in Guatemala whose already sad story turned into a sadder story captures this moment in time: the reward for going viral is to push you back into society. The reality show continues.
McDonald’s has somehow infiltrated Sneakerhead culture, creating buzz by doing stupid shit like making an “artist meal” with musicians like J.Balvin and Travis Scott. The Travis Scott item is particularly of note given how much silly swag has comes with his Golden Arch tenure.
But, unlike an actual sneaker, there is so little to be “remixed” with McDonald’s, nor is McDonald’s all that exclusive. Unlike, say, Moncler’s collaborations or Moschino’s crossovers, working with McDonald’s offers little. The musicians aren’t going to bless your burger shits with beats or something. Instead, this represents the end of the rainbow for collaboration culture, via the singularity of brands becoming people and vice versa via their being a curator. The results are this. The results are gross.
But why are we surprised? We got here because the low went high a few years ago, with designers flirting ironically with a brands like McDonald’s. We’ve seen this with Vetements doing a runway show in a restaurant and Alexander Wang making food deserts chic by giving models french fries, each efforts that ironically tap consumerism to make a joke about luxury culture by stooping down to offer salt atop the wound of inequality and aspiration. Paired with stupid movements like the Rick & Morty Szechuan sauce protests or pairing wine with fast food, McDonald’s has become a sort of catch-all: food products that are entertainment that are also governing bodies with local outposts. Want to meet Travis Scott? You can! By downloading our app and eating this burger. It’s the same thing, right?
This is the terrible evolution of the bygone “logomania,” the 1990s leaning desire to wear brand names as big as possible, as if they are you and you are them. The difference is now you can eat the brand, who happen to be humans or corporate entities masquerading as the human. McDonald’s is hardly unique in this as Crocs is another gross entry – but slightly less gross, given that they aren’t shoveling fake foods onto you – into this space via celebrity collaborations with Justin Bieber and Bad Bunny. Where it gets weird is that the brand is collaborating with other brands like Nike, a move that says what all this gets at: capitalism is trying to become a person, making its evils more appetizing through more stuff.
Like all things in the hell of consumerism, evil takes a new form by becoming you. And, in the case of McDonald’s, that means ditching family friendly for the edgy and adult.
News about the kids, kids.
France passes new law to protect child influencers
This is interesting! Especially since, uh, nothing like this would ever happen in America, thus extending the entertainment neo-version of child labor violations.
"TikTok creators getting the youth vote for the Biden/Harris campaign"
There’s a TikTok movement that’s trying to get kids to vote for Biden via an exclusive club. Neat! And, if you doubt how effective this is, TikTok teen Trump influencers are turning on the president.
As Child Soldiers Grow Up, Legacy of War Lingers
This is a fascinating, sad story about child soldiers from Myanmar who, as adults, are lost.
Angry Moms And QAnon Believers Attacked Kraft's "Send Noods"
At the center of the triangle of coastal creatives, Facebook moms, and QAnon is a situation like this.
Being The Teen Saint of the Internet Sounds Like Hell
A kid is going to become a saint. Of what? The internet. The results seem quite sticky.
With Nowhere to Go, Teens Flock to Among Us
Taylor Lorenz explains the viral game Among Us for olds.
"I reported on YouTube radicalization for a year and he just...TikToked it out."
This is a great summation – and critique – of the internet’s effect on radicalizing kids.
‘Diamond Sweet 16’ Party Leaves 37 Infected and 270 in Quarantine
Last week it was the Rose Garden, before it was the wedding that killed people. This week? A sweet 16.
D’Amelio family eyes Hollywood empire
I texted friends about this, to get their temperature on this move because...I don’t think the D’Amelios are going to age well, especially given the patriarch is a wannabe GOP rep. Don’t let the smoke and mirrors of “I am an independent.” fool you. Something’s fishy here.
Where has Rosa Been? *Updated Q&A*
As for good influencers, Rosa is back and this video is delightful. Water, anyone?
Time for some laughs.
"It's dead, they've killed it"
Remember that Fleetwood Mac cranberry juice meme? The military killed it.
I hope you’re watching Deaf U because it’s great!
"i wish more men dressed like the male counselors in Sleepaway Camp"
Luckily for y’all, I’ve been dressing like this for years.
"Chef Club remains fully on their bullshit"
If you eat this, you will die.
"They chose the lesser evil"
Love America! Love how this country treats other countries as equals!
"This person didn’t even crop out his Google search."
"a kid is running the social media account of the philippine house of representatives"
Whoops!! Is this better or worse than Scully though?
Are 95% of Black People Voting for Trump?
This is quite funny.
This is a floating table... or is it ??
Melt your mind, y’all.
"Whole poem here"
Glück hive unite.
Oh No Steve
tfw you’re horny for Minecraft or something.
My 5 year old kid is obsessed with Kraftwerk. Help.
I don’t understand why this is a problem.
"I'm not gay but damn"
"good morning y’all"
Is this a comedy or a horror movie or a kids movie??
And, finally, a glimpse at how my year has been.
Next week, we’re reclaiming Medusa and doing an autopsy on sports.