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The Trend Report™: The End of Sports
Attempting to understand why sports are continually losing the game.*
Welcome to The Trend Report™ where you get a capturing of what happened this week.
This week we’re talking about the end of sports, the origin of neo-internet satire, the birth of a new-old meme, an Indian man who died idolizing the American president, and a gorgeous party-ready abuelita.
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The World Series is this week. The NBA Finals were about two weeks ago. The French Open happened at the beginning of the month.
There have been a lot of sports going on – but no one seems to be watching them. The amount of people watching sports, across the board, are down with reasons ranging from political to gender divides, with Covid being the assumed culprit. As Deadspin’s Jane McManus wrote, the decline largely relates to sports and normalcy, to time and luxury time.
What if sports just aren’t a priority for people in the same way? What if we just don’t have the bandwidth for all of this? It might just be a time where people have less room for a celebratory distraction in their lives. You can’t even go to many of the games if you wanted, and you have to question the risks of gathering for any event, even one outdoors.
Sports – like live music – rely on people gathering, spending money, and having luxurious free time. Those things are increasingly unavailable or unwise to engage with in 2020. Other theories about this “death of sports” range from The Washington Post’s belief that it could be an oversupply problem, with too big of a rebound happening at the same time, while The New York Times posits scheduling conflicts and less television in general. My theory? A sort of “#SaveTheChildren”-lite abandoning of sports, that has been tracked for weeks and months and years before Covid. Sports are out, for whatever reason.
Another major factor: boreout, the feeling of being underworked but overwhelmed and exhausted. This feeling has become a pervasive 2020 trend as days and weeks and months have become blurry. Boreout makes time weird, frustrating, and uncontrollable and, like sports, a way to fix this is (ironically) using goals to incentivize and break up time. Sports, like so many other things now, seem aimless, non-specific, tied to nothing. Giving sports a form, giving them a point, is maybe what’s needed. People are maybe not watching because there are so many questions to be had: Why are sports here now? For money? For community? Who do sports serve without community? Why do I have to stress about a team when everything is so stressful? Which sport do I watch when all sports are happening at irregular, nonsensical times? Why should I get to care when they all live in bubbles?
These questions underline the issue, as an aimless return to sports adds to our collective ennui. The joy-to-loss ratio seems to be so askew that the fun, the truly speculative, is boring. Plus, we do everything on screens now, vicariously, via simulation. Why do we want to add sports to the mix when there’s no opportunity for us to benefit from the physicality or community that comes with it?
No wonder gaming has skyrocketed during the pandemic, yet another theory why sports are down: gaming allows the spectator to be the player, in a way, offering more intellectual stimulation and a safe, egalitarian way to play in your home. Moreover, with places like Twitch and YouTube, sports are happening all the time. Can sports ever rival that? Never. And they will lose this battle.
Technology at the intersection of life in 2020.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Streams On Twitch, Draws Over 430,000 Viewers
Piggybacking off the the end of sports, this is the biggest story of the week. Why?Because a politician popped onto arguably the biggest, most young-skewing game of the moment to play and talk and be unfiltered. This is how politics – And conversation. – works in the future. This is genius and is a trend that will continue indefinitely.
How Mark Zuckerberg Learned Politics
This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated
Facebook has been caught minimizing more left-leaning publications, in favor of the right. This is bad on so many fronts and, again, shows just how bad Facebook is. Delete their apps, y’all! It’s literally the least you can do to be politically active!! (And, as someone who works in social media, you can get by without “being on Facebook.”)
14-year-old girl won a $25K prize for a discovery that could cure Covid-19
Who am I to judge but $25K seems like nothing when American pharmaceuticals could get billions off of discoveries like this.
ClickHole Started as a Meat Joke. Can It Avoid Being Offal?
ClickHole is one of the best silly sites online. While they have gotten a bit stale, this profile on the satirical publication – and the people who run it – is a great glimpse into the past decade online.
A Profanity Filter Banned the Word 'Bone' at a Paleontology Conference
When good tech goes bad. Also, why is our technology so puritanical?
The case for shaming influencers for not social distancing
Anyone who is acting out, not being safe, as we enter the third wave of Covid in America, should be shamed. This case is easy to make.
"new yorker cartoon caption with "Jeffrey Toobin took his dick out""
If you didn’t hear, Zoom and flashing penises had a big week.
Disney Adds Warnings for Racist Stereotypes to Some Older Films
An interesting move that attempts to right the wrongs on the past, while still transmitting them.
Have you been seeing fake screengrabs with the title of a movie awkwardly embedded in the captions? That’s a new meme.
This trend started blowing up early in the week and, while I feel like it’s indie internet moment has passed, it might still pop-up and crossover into the mainstream again. The rise seems to be tied to comedians sharing a single-serving Twitter, @TitlesInMedia, that shares bogus captions with embedded titles, some of which are ridiculous, others of which are ostensibly real.
The appeal of this meme is the indulgence of “alternate facts” and different dimensions via poor scriptwriting, where people would literally say the title of the movie within a movie. That’s stupid, yes, but saying the title of the movie you’re in while you’re in it is actually a thing, which also went viral a few years back.
But saying “I’m Drive.” in Drive? Ridiculous. But also amazing.
Politics at risk.
In Michigan, a terminally ill man’s mission to cast a ballot
An inspiring – if not tragic – representation of America’s democracy.
Why These Voters Rejected Hillary Clinton but Are Backing Joe Biden
Spoiler alert: a bit of sexism.
A Nation Plagued by Misinformation
A Time reporter travelled across the states to discover that, yes, misinformation is a huge problem. How can we suck the poison – and ignorance – out of the minds of so many Americans? Again: social media is a great place to start.
As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place
"let's walk through one bizarre example of how this scheme works."
A huge story this week was about how pay-to-publish faux-newspapers are replacing local news. This story has been circulating for years, in different forms (a la, a la, a la), but this week’s story was different as it drew a clear line from fake press to government advantages. This is bad and is a great representation of the misinformation that plagues and plays so many citizens, especially as more stories of small newspapers dying out emerge.
Out of Work in America
A deep, deep dive into the reality of being unemployed in 2020. One person has applied for over five hundred jobs. Five hundred.
“I Can’t Vote For Someone Who I Blame For The Death Of My Husband”
This is a little old but feels very, extremely relevant.
"tiffany trump headlining republican pride... chaos."
Tiffany Trump Awkwardly Courts LGBTQ Voters
Big yikes. (But she really does sound like Miley.)
He Built a Trump Statue and Worshiped It. Then He Collapsed.
This story is one of the wildest political somethings this week – or maybe even this year. A man in India became obsessed with Trump, literally idolizing him after the figure appeared as a vision in dreams, and eventually died as an erstwhile disciple. (Also: the statue the man made looks more like Pence.)
“An absolute masterclass in interviewing a politician”
This went super viral last weekend but is important to point out how one (Journalists, people, etc.) can speak truth to political power, holding them accountable while still giving them time.
Chris Pratt Isn’t Going To Assemble With The Rest Of The Avengers
Chris Pratt follows a bunch of right wing extremists
Not to toot my own horn but I have been saying this for years: Chris Pratt is a trojan horse. He sucks.
As we enter the final days of election season, when the prospect of having a female leader in the White House becomes more real despite women’s rights being further stripped away, this is a big time for girl power. Entering this conversation, to continue the statement made by the Fearless Girl statue, comes a statue of Medusa installed across the street from the Manhattan Supreme Court, to align with #MeToo and the fall of Harvey Weinstein.
She stands naked, holding a decapitated head and a sword, looking forward, gaze slightly downward but still high. She is stone-faced, like reflecting how she can turn gazes solid. She is powerful if not a bit contemplative. The snakes of her hair are side-swept and calm, reflecting her overall mood. She carries her weight in her right hip, adding a modern flair that casts her as a bit self-aware. The work was created by Luciano Garbati in 2008 and has been recast for it’s New York City debut.
Luciano is also a man. Many are confused and frustrated by this.
This may be obvious but let’s lookin into the why via the state of Medusa in 2020. The mythical figure has long been maligned as a villain, as a callous, evil woman who turns people (Men.) to stone. In the mid-2010s – and well before – a conversation about Medusa being a feminist icon became popular online before she became seen as an enraged victim of rape. She became a symbol for the “nasty women” of 2016, which harkened back to the questioning of the canon as a part of second-wave feminism.
Mythology has also been critiqued in modern literature, as many of these male-centric stories are being reframed and reexamined via the women who were seen as secondary, Madeline Miller’s Circe being a notable example. A figure like Medusa is a perfect example of needing to be recast, to be understood for her humanity instead of being a foil for a man’s successes. To make this all the more present, the Metropolitan Museum of Art dug deep on the figure and dedicated a show to her in 2018.
Cut to now, as Medusa’s feminism is no longer edgy or an alternative critique: this narrative shift is mainstream, making the decision to put a man’s figure of her as the embodiment of New York’s #MeToo is weird. While the artist has seen a rise in interest in his creation with this renewed investigation of Medusa, Luciano stresses that the piece was created to ruminate on this woman being the victor instead of Perseus. In 2020, people are calling his #MeToo sculpture a tragedy because Luciano reduces the image to woman-with-sword instead of realizing the power she has within, in subverting the male gaze literally, as Karen Attiah of The Washington Post observes. “A truer reimagining of the tale should have had Medusa, perhaps with Athena’s help, confronting and defeating Poseidon with her stony gaze,” Attiah writes, which would have made her a protector instead of simply vengeful, reactive.
But, alas, here we are. Like so many efforts to do the right thing – from white companies trying to diversify, from heterosexual and cisgender places attempting queerness – those in power retain the power by addressing issues while signaling change despite never going all-the-way. In this case, we’re gonna need another Medusa to handle this Medusa.
Deep thoughts from cultural corners.
My Mustache, My Self
This is my pick for most inspiring essay of the week for myriad reasons. Did it get me to want to grow a mustache? Yes.
"All This": James Bartolacci
I interviewed an artist who not only graduated from a digital MFA this year but also got huge representation at a big gallery. What’s that like? Not as weird as it sounds. His work is also so beautiful and so queer and very much fits into my ~*~AeStHeTiC~*~.
With Black Artists’ Input, One Gallery Is ‘Starting to Look Different’
A great story about how one gallery is actively making change, creating diversity instead of signaling.
Their Bosses Asked Them to Lead Diversity Reviews. Guess Why.
This has been making me crazy all year. When I worked at a big company – and hearing from folx at other big companies – real change isn’t being done by the companies and businesses but by black and BIPOC employees within who are being handed the work of diversity, without compensation or guidance. This is yet another way whiteness – which is be akin to laziness, to privilege – manifests.
Why you should always read the acknowledgements in books
A great read on why most people – Especially writers! – should read the entire book.
The company that has a monopoly on ice cream truck music
One of the most interesting reads of the week: an inside look on what goes into making music for ice cream trucks – and how one rapper is getting involved.
Protest Art Leaves The Streets
Artists who have made works on the street this summer are trying to figure out how to reclaim their works. Can the works be saved?
One Thing About Being A MacArthur Fellow Pisses Me Off
This is so interesting! Tressie is incredible and the idea that she is only given time “now,” because she’s a “Genius,” is quite something.
An AI bot has figured out how to draw like Banksy.
Banksy is whatever but this robot-as-artist something is pretty funny.
Listeners Found Beverly Glenn-Copeland. It Was Time.
If you’re looking for a music recommendation, might I recommend Beverly’s Transformations. It’s an incredible work from one of electronic music’s quietest, gentlest, most loving voices. He’s an icon.
Watching the Outrage Over Cuties as a Survivor of Pedophilia
A great essay and examination of the stupidly “Save The Children” lambasted film. If only people had brains! If only.
"Emily In Paris" Is 22 And Millennials Everywhere Are Scratching Their Heads
"The nepotism baby version of “it’s one banana, Michael”"
That Emily keeps giving us gifts from Paris.
36 of the best memes of 2020 (so far), from toilet paper to 'Tiger King'
We’re headed into 2020-in-review territory. Look back at some memes!
Your weekly dose of LOL.
"He was trying to cool the planet and she was regrowing the forests."
Bobby and I recently rewatched this and had the exact same thought.
"Did I witness a murder"
Yes. Yes, you did.
Rare green puppy 'Pistachio' born in Italy
Pistachio!! An icon! I want to kiss that baby!
"how it started how it ended"
The only iteration of this meme that I care about.
“greatest thing I’ve seen all day”
Let these dogs give you a lesson in masking.
"A student realized my husband and I were a couple"
The future is……….I don’t know!!!!!!!!
"Trend Report: Croissant headbands."
From one trend report to another: croissant headbands.
"Can we have a moment for the tallest apple pie of ALL TIME?"
This is fucking disgusting.
"I waited on Kirstie Alley back when she was the Jenny Craig lady."
Truly an incredible story.
"ever heard of music?"
Still obsessed with the ❤️.
"it’s the way i screamed"
This is literally a video of my abuela.
And, finally, a glimpse at my Halloween costume.
Next week, we’re talking monster cars and skeletons.