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The Trend Report™: Under The Influence
Examining the evolution of the influencer.
Welcome to The Trend Report™ where you get a capturing of what happened this week.
For this Report™, I attempt to streamline things to make it shorter and with stories that are a bit off the beaten path. So! Get ready for double masking and the appeal of nothingness, an examination of the contemporary (and bygone) influencer, anal Covid tests and the launch of a queer streaming service.
PS. Forward to your friends and subscribe here.
The slow trickle of politics.
Biden’s 100-Day To-Do List
Inside Joe Biden’s Agenda for His First 100 Days
Joe has a lot of work to do in his first 100 days – and all eyes are on him. Enter these items: an ironic, far-left Twitter holding him accountable by listing what he hasn’t done; a snide and very Boomer “funny” piece by the New York Times; and an actual look at the so-called agenda from Time.
How A Beagle Helped Usher In a Democratic Senate
An interesting story about Senator Raphael Warnock and his beagle, specifically in regards to how the pet helped break down racial barriers that are have beset Black Senators for over a century.
How Feasible Is a MAGA Third Party?
There is a rash of stories about a rising third party led by Trump. It’s interesting and will be debated until their inevitable, loud, dangerous cries are made. In short, they’re the gross evolution of the TEA Party but, on the other hand, people like Madison Cawthorn are already living this by deploying Trump-style tactics that prioritize personality over policy.
"A white supremacist group setting up office on Clematis"
Guess who the aforementioned third party may be made of? Racists who are setting up shop down the street from Mar-a-Lago. Full story by a local Florida paper. This is very bad. And, as savory as the “People are canceling their Mar-a-Lago memberships!” and “Trump hotels are deserted!” stories are, don’t let them distract you from what’s actually happening.
Kellyanne Conway Accused of Posting Topless Daughter
This family is a mess and they all need to log off. Kellyanne is reportedly under investigation by the cops too.
In Los Angeles, Virus Ravages Overcrowded Homes
A local story that is fucking sad. Seek solace from Carolina Miranda’s memo to Biden about helping the city (And similar cities!) with housing problems. Anyway, stay home California??
Updates from tech and science.
GameStop short-sellers lost $1.6 billion in a day
Redditors Trolling Wall Street Tycoons
"the wallstreetbets discord needs to be heard"
‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop
Robinhood Stops Users From Trading GameStop
This was the story of the week and, while I don’t care about it, I must log it here for anyone who wants more of it. A few great takes like: it’s probably not a good sign that the American economy can be gamed by normal people; what would Karl Marx say?; and, as AOC put it, this is a great example of why we need to tax the rich. Meanwhile, I don’t understand any of this and, at this point, I’m too afraid to ask (despite so many trying to explain it to me).
Time to Start Double-Masking
Are Two Masks Really Better Than One?
Time to double or upgrade masks, experts say
Fauci Says Double-Masking Likely 'More Effective’
Double masking is trending like woah and I am seeing it everywhere, both online and off. Does it work? Short answer: yes because…why not? It’s extra protection! Something to consider, for anyone who is headed indoors and as we face sharper strains.
The Coronavirus Baby Bust
I don’t believe this! Maybe it’s my thirties but I know so many people who had babies since March!!!!!!!!
Did an Alien Drive-By of Our Solar System in 2017?
There’s a new book about an apparent extraterrestrial vessel that flew through our solar system in 2017. It’s a wild story! Can’t wait to read this book.
What on Earth Is in Subway’s Tuna?
Spoiler alert: apparently anything but tuna, as a lawsuit reveals.
China Uses Anal Swabs for Covid-19 Testing
Good morning!!!!!!! We swabbing ass now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A decade ago, YouTube and the landscape of “YouTubers” created a mold.
Rebecca Black’s aspirational but ridiculous “Friday” was the most-viewed video, with influencers like Shane Dawson and Smosh, Jenna Marbles and Michelle Phan, the Fine Brothers and NigaHiga running the roost. This was an innocent moment where people were being dumb on camera, talking earnestly to viewers, before the overly performed and produced content of now that are the result of the post-Vine hybrid style of over-produced videos popularized by second generation influencers like Brent Rivera. The sincerity of a Tyler Oakley speaking to peers evolved into play-acting yourself for the Likes and Subscribes of children.
So where does that leave the first generation YouTuber, influencers whose job was to “vlog”? They’re experiencing an existential crisis years in the making. Many are stepping back from online life for mental health reasons and to pursue other opportunities – Tyler Oakley, Alex Wassabi, Phil DeFranco, The Dolan Twins – while others are being forced out due to myriad unsavory behavors, a la Shane Dawson, The Fine Brothers, and Jenna Marbles. Others are pivoting, trying to evolve their career in different ways like former Smosh co-founder Anthony Padilla’s podcast and documentary pursuits and Logan Paul’s similar podcast (and boxing) turn. The fact is: these people are bored and tired of being pigeonholed. Like all of us, they’re sick of making the donuts. Paired with aging in public for a decade, they’re sick of being at the whims of following whoever says you’re hot right now. Just look at tween digital star Annie LeBlanc’s random name-change to “Jules”: these people need help and, as they experience existential crises, the hands that feed are treating them like foie gras. Case in point is Lohanthony’s un-gaying himself, a cry for help I spotted years ago.
Now, the influencer is dead – or at least the “influencer” as we knew it. In it’s place is a multi-platform neo-reality star, someone who already has an audience (Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith / Jada Pinkett Smith, Jason Derulo, any Kardashian/Jenner) or those who are the most-followed on a sexy platform (Charli D’Amelio on TikTok, Ninja on Twitch, Mr. Beast on YouTube) or the nebulous “digital star” who has evolved previous iterations of influencer to achieve an online supremacy that comes with a certain level of infallibility and groundhog day (Jeffree Star, David Dobrik, Ryan’s World, Rhett & Link).
We’re a pivotal point for being an online figure. While not quite defined yet, the fall (and exhaustion) of the decade’s old influencers represents the first life cycle of a celebrity. The Charl D’Amelios and James Charles of today are destined to step away from it all or float along forever, never quite becoming the superstars Hollywood claims them to be. This doesn’t mean they aren’t successful, it just means that they aren’t the movie stars and mega musicians that everyone thinks they will be. They’re normal people, a fact paired with laws being passed to protect child influencers and platforms becoming more of a utility than anything else.
And this is where the influencer is going: back to normal. Look at the success of people like Brittany Broski, the “Kombucha girl,” and Adam Martinez, TikTok’s “Rosa.” These stars are defining a niche by being themselves in a non-reality show way, turning the suburban and “uncool” experience into a style that acknowledges how everything life is high school. Broski has elevated the Girl Who Still Lives In The Suburbs But Is Very Liberal trope while Martinez is doing something very interesting with the Girl Who Walks The Mile In Gym Class In Cookie Monster Pajama Pants trope. What this gets at is a return to a return to basics, bypassing the produced Pumpkin Spice Latte influencer culture of 2015 for something more akin to instant-coffee made at home. The lesson is to stop trying as hard. Take away the filters. Cut out the fat of going through the system so you prevent breaking yourself in the process. Cut to the end, at the beginning.
Arts and culture from days behind.
I was all in. But was he all out?
An essay of mine was in the Los Angeles Times! Read it!!!!!!
How Nothingness Became Everything We Wanted
A must read from last Sunday which traces our pursuit of mind-clearing and physical escape, this constant quest to empty ourselves because the world is ending. Naturally, this lifestyle is only afforded to a certain group of people – and you are likely one of them.
"Good morning to this mother daughter duo only"
A really interesting thread on Janet Jackson’s influence on Britney Spears. I never made the connection! But, after seeing this, it makes so much sense.
"Fellowship" by serpentwithfeet
Song of the week! It’s about queer friendships and chosen family and is so, so sweet (and features a Sampha cameo). Positive trigger warning: the song will make you emotional.
Twerk video celebrating MLK faces a backlash.
A very interesting story about how Black Lives Matter shared artist Shaina Simmons’ “Twerk on Washington” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – and they faced backlash. The work interrogates what it means to be Black in America, particularly as it relates to icons and sites that represent America...and were built on the shoulders of Black bodies.
Guston, Whiteness, And Unfinished Business
One of the best art stories I’ve read in awhile, by artist Steve Locke on the controversy surrounding showing Philip Guston’s work now. What Locke does is poke throught the controversy to show how Guston was the rare white artist who interrogated his whiteness, his complicity in America’s white supremacy.
Try Not to Bust a Knee to TikTok’s #BussItChallenge
J.Lo's 'Love Don't Cost a Thing' Challenge Is Dead
This week in very good TikTok trends and very bad TikTok trends. The moral here is: don’t try to start a TikTok trend! Everyone can tell when they’re forced and over-produced. They happen naturally, olds!! To understand more about the why here, literally scroll up and read the “Under The Influence” section.
"people are calling dreams reality shifts now huh"
People on Tumblr are getting wild with what they think happens in their dreams.
Can’t wait for this Pee-wee themed horror movie.
It is an act of community service to send this new Ben Affleck meme to a lesbian you know. This too.
"Black cockatoo Euli delivered Erin a special note"
People in Australia really out here living normally, doing public engagement stunts and shit.
"my class this morning..."
A thread of kids doing TikTok stunts in class. These kids are creative and they’re going crazy at home but the content is good!! (Moments like this and “Drivers License” make me want to be a teen in the 2020s so badly.)
me me me me
"Apparently this is the world’s greatest hoodie"
Watch until the very last second because, if you are like me, you will GUFFAW. (It’s a touch long winded, yes, but great.)
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard this man say “Poot Beetigieg.”
Coming soon to your AppleTV!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, finally, me every night in bed.
Next week, we’re talking couture trends.