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The Trend Report™: Slay Agenda
Exploring the yassification of history, in yet another rambling Report™.
Inside the fast-food workers' rebellion
An excellent story that puts faces and stories to all the talk of The Great Recession. Related: the resistance comes to Salt Bae’s restaurant after a job posting revealed gross underpayment.
Americans Flush With Cash, Jobs, Think Economy Is Awful.
Don’t try this, y’all. Not the same week that Elon Musk fucking gloated about not taking a salary, which is why he pays zero taxes – all via a Twitter poll.
Inflation Is Roaring
What about that economy being not-awful?
Protesters swarm Glasgow streets at COP26
As COP26 continued this week, the biggest stories were about how the people showed up, illustrating that the people whose lives are affected most (women, the young, for example) are often on the outside of these conversations.
Tuvalu Official Delivers Hell of a Climate Speech
World-First Plan to End Fossil Fuels Unveiled
These are………...amazing. The Tuvalu video? Talk about twist endings, even if you “knew” it was coming and it was delivered in a very rudimentary way. That said: it plays upon visual expectations in an excellent way, to amp up very depressing truths. We already live in a world of climate refugees – and related issues are only going to get bigger. Related: Costa Rica and Denmark are taking charge here. Hell yeah! Little countries showing the big countries how to get shit done.
What's in the Infrastructure Bill?
In case you were wondering what all will come of the recently passed infrastructure bill. Lots of green stuff but...not enough green stuff!
French couple wins fight over wind ‘turbine syndrome’
Not to give dumbass, wind turbine hating Trump any ammo, but this is fascinating as living near turbines can create a sort of mania. I’m not surprised by this! I would assume the proximity would feel like being inside a giant hypnotic fixation device combined with torture through pure noise. Fascinating.
Astroworld continued despite pleas
We’ll get into Astroworld more thoroughly in a bit but this Washington Post story traving the event through on-the-ground video is so well done. I know it’s Bezos’ bootlicking to like the Washington Post but they have the best (non-tech, non-rich people) reportage, as proven by their Visual Forensics stories.
Truck Explodes in Sierra Leone, Killing 98
This story seemingly got buried in the Astroworld tragedy. It’s awful! The reason why it was so bad was because multiple people went to the crashed truck, trying to collect fuel.
Teen rescued after showing hand signal
This was a big story this week! A domestic violence hand signal popularized on TikTok, but displayed in real life, helped save a teen in trouble.
I think we’ve lost track of time. Somewhere between having the ability to learn everything about anything fast and having your days swallowed by the monotony of productivity, time seems to be taking on a new meaning culturally, perhaps becoming objective. This makes history malleable.
For example: historical fan fiction embraces the past and present while rewriting both. This feeling has been with me for a while but started turning more direct at the start of November, as JFK’s sex appeal became a plot in revisionist history. From eerie attractive images to wearing tightie whities to gay iconography to bisexual revelations, the images may or may not be real but they gather people together to gawk at an alternate history or timeline where John F. Kennedy had movie star looks. This ties to a few things – QAnon believing JFK Jr. was coming back to save them, the zombification of public figures – but let’s spend some time with the edit button, where people have been fucking with images to beautify the past.
You see, the thing about JFK and Jackie O is that they monopolize the image in many’s mind of being the idealized American – and this extends to looks. The reality is that JFK was not hot, that Jackie O. was a “natural beauty,” who got attention because she was countercultural. Naturally, images of these two are rubbed against fellow manipulated figure, Marilyn Monroe, who is the frequent target of revised beauty shots and extreme modification, resulting in images of Meghan McCain being turned into Marilyn. This participates in an entire subgenre of viral content imagining and imagining and imagining and imagining ways to beautify politicians by contemporary beauty standards.
This is clickbait in its purest sense. This is revisionist history via beauty. One of my favorite posts of this year captures this, where someone restores a picture of an elderly man’s dead wife, only to make her beautiful in modern standards by giving her curls. It’s absurd and inaccurate and speaks to a beauty revisionism that skews both right wing – a classic trope, which ties to blonde politics and, again, Meghan – and left wing, via gay internet culture (which we’ll get to). There’s this feeling now that success and beauty go hand-in-hand, less in the sense of pretty privilege and more the need to construe success with sex appeal, turning intangible qualities in business and politics and rich parentage into something objective, something immediately respectable, like physical attractiveness. Whether lookism or a true correlation, in a culture of Facetune and Skims there is a direct connection between beauty and success. When people in the past who were successful aren’t beautiful enough? Their achievements become questionable and people run wild manipulating their image, updating them to match their beauty to the stories we tell about them.
Of course the queer community has rightfully made a joke of this through a meme trend process called yasification, where something is made better or hotter in the name of the “slay agenda.” The JFK manipulated images in the past two weeks very quickly were absorbed by the community, who trickled the thought from Kiera Knightly as yasification device to a boat being gay to hot Hillary Clinton. This quickly swept up a favorite queer meme icon – making Toni Collette in Hereditary hotter and hotter and hotter – before jumping to yasify the “Oy, Mista! You Me Dad?” doll and Laura Palmer and the makers of the memes themselves, via a TikTok format that transforms you into a beautiful different gender. (Now this is becoming a meme soup, mashed with Mariah is skinny and general Sophie faceshopping, creating the dream version of yourself or another.)
Time is becoming increasingly and increasingly meaningless on the internet because we’re so easily able to turn the past into a prettier version of what we want it to be. Something like yasification is a joke, which I won’t claim is good or bad: it’s just another form of digital brain rot and creative expression shared as a joke. The thing that will be interesting is, in ten years, when someone looks up photos of Hillary Clinton only to claim that the yasified images of her are real. Then the trouble begins, as manipulated images build an ideology out of nowhere. Doctored materials as political tools are already a problem, as truth and time are made fuzzier and fuzzier. As this collides with internet decay, we’ll be in an interesting future, where all historical figures are hot and we fantasize about fillers to be seen as worthy under the American gaze.
The climate for luxury
A good read from queen Robin Givhan on what luxury means today, and why this concept should shift.
If America Had 6 Parties, Which Would You Belong To?
This made it into the paper this past weekend, as a part of a pretty great section rethinking and reinventing America. I think you know what you’ll get on the quiz, if you’re anything like me. (Another standout story was one on redesigning the nation’s flag.)
Queen Latifah is officially out
Wait: did you know Queen Latifah came out over the summer, at the BET Awards? I missed this!
Dakota Johnson’s New Anal Plug "Perfect Stocking Stuffer"
I cannot get enough of this, as Dakota asserts again that she is a gay icon. What a way to bounce back from supporting Armie Hammer! I also wish this story was titled “Stock that stuffing with Dakota Johnson’s anal plug” but alas. Perfect celebrity. No complaints! Thank you, Dakota, for always thinking of ~me~
Something Awful Founder Richard Kyanka Has Died
This made me feel very old.
The Climate Talks' Fridges Have a Dirty Secret
Old Refrigerators Warm the Planet
So you know: your fridge is a monster that will kill the world. They must be destroyed! Literally. Refrigerators are almost unkillable, as are the noxious gases they contain. Bad!
Wooooo weeeeee: there is so much to talk about. Let’s dive into a bunch of not-so-mini trends that I am going to talk about in a mini way because I ain’t got time to essayify all of these!
No Home For Creators: First, the word “creator” has officially taken over as what we formerly described as YouTubers, TikTokkers, Instagram Influencers, and similar “content creators.” I say this because the blur of who “owns” who is becoming more and more apparent as big companies tap into talent to launch products, only for the audience to have questions because they non-native talent are in the ads: Twitter did this for Twitter Blue with TikTok’s Boman Martinez Reid and multi-hyphenate-via-IG comedian Megan Stalter; Facebook launched Meta with TikTok’s Khaby Lame; and YouTube is paying TikTokers to use Shorts. This ultimately ties back to larger economic stories, that the worker now has all the power: creators aren’t one-stop-shops aligned to a specific platform anymore. Brands are thirsting for Gen Z and they are muddying themselves by tapping into talent that do not make the unique. The day of single-serving success stories on a single platform are over.
Ask A Question: I think we know this but a lot of the brand girlies are asking questions on their accounts. A new variety of calls to action, brands like Twitter and TikTok and Twitch and YouTube are using questions and statements without content attached as a means to connect with their audience. They’re going back to basics, trying to be human – singular even – finding success in talking about something and nothing at the same time. Hey: I’ll take it! At least they aren’t talking about sex (until they are).
Tragedy Fuel: The entire Astroworld situation was a lot. Fucking depressing and dark, bringing together everything from ignored signs to celebrity glorification to celebrity negligence to satanic speculation. What happens is bad but, as The Washington Post wisely observes, this is not new and will keep happening as “calls for tighter safety standards go largely ignored.” Moments like this expose, yet again, the negligence and stupid-power of entertainment, creating an awful symmetry with the entire Rust shooting and the ongoing issue of fatalities in production. This isn’t a trend but it’s not not a trend. It reminds of the equally as grim Love Parade disaster which, if you’re not familiar or know about stampede logic and circumstances, do a deep dive on the Wiki. It’s quite horrific.
Third World You: There is a budding conversation across platforms that Americans are realizing they are living in squalor, that they are the ones who need help and that their world is absolutely terrible. Two big ways this anti-exceptional thought is hitting the world is via a viral Tweet about the US being the Florida of the world and a viral TikTok about a German PSA to help feed hungry Americans (which is real, even if the origins were in the United States). Happening in tandem is a renewed obsession with images of Breezewood, Pennsylvania, a place littered with every big name franchise imaginable. People are dragging their boyfriends there and speaking to the ubiquity of the experience. All this to say: it’s one thing to understand you live in mud – it’s another thing to do something about it.
TBT Covid: As stories of “I think the pandemic is over??” emerge as if Groundhog Day, another movement of people sharing “Remember the early pandemic?” is happening again. I think this is the result of people comparing last year’s holidays to this years holidays, along with the continuing pressure of “junior year of Covid” coming at us fast.
Contained Mania: I keep seeing videos of stressful organization and over-regimented beauty and complicated products that do simple things which suggest that the idea of “A place for everything and everything in its place.” is actually a form of brain rot that limits creativity and produces waste. I feel like this is going to be a bigger talking point as it seems like a gross, over-clean future in the service of toxic conformity. Talk about yasification!
New Appétit: This has been building for a while, as many have wondered who was going to steal Bon Appétit’s crown, but I feel like we have the answer: New York Times Cooking. I’ve felt this for months as they’ve tapped Sohla, Priya, and Claire for a few months – but now they’ve turned even more direct, taking on Gourmet Bakes with a more actionable format and coming up with high-trash concepts that upgrade bad food. They’re also more diverse and more talented. They’re not trying too hard, they have the credibility of the Times, and it’s just fun. I’ve been a fan for months and I’m officially calling it.
Pop Redemption: A niche item, but cringe music is making a comeback in underground and counter-cultural dance music. From Tim Sweeney mixing a Coldplay edit to Dee Diggs conjuring Whitney Houston to Malibu covering that Imogen Heap song from The OC to Doss kicking off a set with a Madonna edit to everyone from Arca to Planningtorock remixing Lady Gaga, pop music is being taken seriously, showing that mainstream music is worthy of attention, an act of un-gatekeeping dance music and quieting 2000s Pitchfork era snobbery. This isn’t new at all – Four Tet’s been obsessed with Nelly Furtado, Schacke's "Kisloty People” sampled Russian pop like t.A.T.u, Gavilán Rayna Russom once remixed Britney Spears, Slow Hands covered Sade – but seems to have become more clear, as Berghain style elitism has become passé.
“oh my god”
This is a gloriously filthy something from an influencer. Sexy in derelict places!
“me in my room in 2007”
"such a wild video 😩😩"
Honey Boo Boo, as an adult.
"the fact that this exists in the real world"
Losing my mind over this gay-straight ad.
“double penetration abortion?”
This made me cry.
"me trying the cinnamon challenge"
I think the only way to describe this is “savage.”
And, finally, me dropping myself into the weekend.