The Trend Report™: We Are Closed
A look at how workers' rights has evolved and why John Mulaney is a metaphor for mediocrity.
"Israeli apartheid regime bombing Palestinians"
The murder and bombing of Palestinians by Israelis is the story of the week. Truly a tragedy, coalescing decades – If not centuries! – of conflict. Here’s a good roundup of how to help.
"[Rihanna] choosing to be neutra"
"amazing victory for passive voice"
“Reminder this was on Biden's campaign site"
From Rihanna to Gal Gadot to Biden himself, this situation has brought up a have-it-both-ways attitude by so many. Nope. Sorry! There is no both sides. It’s pro-Palestine – or pro-genicide. You can’t “All Lies Matter” this.
Andrew Yang Pro-Israel Tweet
The most egregious example of this is Andrew Yang, who served up something worse than his queer town hall performance.
"American Jews don’t think much about Israel"
"my home country is the United States"
There is a prevailing right-leaning talking point about how Jewish persons in America must inherently support Israel, that they are almost indebted to their “homeland” in a way. This is strange in that it’s both American and Israeli nationalist. As they say: that’s racism, baby. (Someone smarter and more savvy than me can probably untangle the conservative and GOP obsession with getting Jewish people to say they love Israel. I don’t get it. Does it have to do with being “Jesus’ home” or something? Idgi.)
"thread of whats happening in philippines rn"
Jailed peasant leader dies of COVID-19
While the murders of Palestinians was huge, the death of Joseph Canlas – a leader fighting to empower farmers in the Philippines – was also of note as it brought up a bit of an uproar.
A Nasty Pipeline Showdown Is Brewing
It’s Michigan versus Canada, in a battle for the environment and gas.
The Fight to Define What ‘Clean’ Energy Means
I feel like we will never figure out how to care for the planet.
NZ Farmers Shear 25,000 Sheep In 10 Days
This is one of the most fascinating business stories I’ve encountered, as it traces how Trump’s China tariffs fucked New Zealand farmers and why you should stop buying rugs and couches and clothes – And anything! – with synthetic wools.
TikTok Video Evidence in Kidnapping Case
A two decades old kidnapping case, at that! It’s one of the more interesting stories about the platform, as a TikTok where a woman admits she was kidnapped offered a hot tip to this old case.
Liz Cheney Meets Her Fate
I have not been following this but I regret to inform you that the GOP is at it again.
Trump family ‘inappropriate’ with Secret Service
Love that reality show presidency.
We’re at an interesting moment in American work culture. Two storm clouds are coalescing, both related to workers rights and respect for not-CEOs. Both get an “eat the rich” sentiment.
First, the pro-office corporate circus. A few big stories about offices circulated this week that directly positioned CEOs as fusty and antiquated and power-hungry morons. “WeWork CEO Says Least Engaged Employees Enjoy Working From Home” and “CEO dismissed working from home. Her employees went on strike.” and “The CEO Of Goldman Sachs Called Remote Work An Aberration—Here’s Why His Employees May Disagree” all made the rounds, all receiving criticism. The main thing is: these CEOs are trying to uphold false narratives of the office as a sacred space of work and growth and mentoring, that to be at an office signifies working harder. Anyone who has worked at an office knows all of this is a lie, that more than half the people there are performing work instead of doing work. There is an Foucauldian infrastructure to offices, all to keep workers held by the shackles of the boss’ gaze, to make work not-fun, to strip your autonomy, to reward you with the carrot of growth and promotion and better office views even though such things do not exist. Go above and beyond! Get those extra credit points! Plan those happy hours and make those work friends! Stay late! And for what? The hope that a CEO will look down and bless you. Working from home, you can’t do that. Working from home? You have a life, you have space, you have you – and that’s what these stories get at: CEOs – and corporate ideology – is about stripping you of yourself. It is about disrespect.
Secondly – and more popularly – is the ongoing saga of “We Are Closed,” of signs on predominantly fast food restaurants saying that no one wants to work or that entire staffs have quit. From Chipotle to McDonald’s to [Insert Any Minimum Wage Place], from restaurants offering $50 to college tuition just to get someone to interview, you see how American industry has failed us. America went from “Frontline workers are heroes!” to “No higher wages for you! (But pay me, your leader, more.)” in months. This moment of “We Are Closed” isn’t about socialism or laziness but the absolute fucking nonsense of working in America. As a TikTok pointed out, something as simple as one’s tips being the sole income for a person is ludicrous and represents another form of corporate greed. If Olive Garden, a corporate food chain that makes billions, cannot pay its workers fairly, then who will? As businesses throw away food and fire people on the spot, workers are tired of being disrespected, invalidated, dehumanized. This is a fight for rights and respect in a society that values the rich for doing nothing while the poor are stripped of their lives – their time, their families, their health – just to add grease to the machine. It’s wrong. And, when unemployment is a better job than minimum wage, society has failed.
(Unsurprisingly, as with most social causes, “We Are Closed” has turned into a twist-ending copypasta meme conjuring MIA, eat hot chip, Sheryl Crow, Godzilla, and, undoubtedly, more.)
These stories say a lot of things but what they really get at is that the fable of working in America. Whether you are blue collar or white collar, climbing a corporate ladder or “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps,” these collapse of success stories have to do with workers realizing they can have a full, healthy, loving lives and that their life should not be work. Money is fake and society isn’t real. We are animals and God is a construct. We are dust in a pool of the unknown. Why do I want to literally work for a clown who sells french fries as the planet dies, especially when I am being given nothing in exchange? CEOs are clinging to their power as they are revealed to be frauds who do a lot less than one thinks. Yes, you can add inflatable walls and video conferencing and increase wages. But is that what will entice me and others to put on shackles anew? Fuck no. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: “back to normal” means to suffer in a state of industry. Many are bucking at this prospect. People know how the world works and that those in power take us for fools. Now we fight for change.
As a wise person on Twitter said, summing up so much about autonomy and the failure of America, “If I had to choose between OnlyFans and the Army, I’m choosing OnlyFans.” Love the new Marx.
Makeup Is for Everyone
We Are All Models Now
There’s an interesting symmetry in these stories, about how makeup and modeling are being “disrupted” by a push for equality, to have everyone involved in these worlds. Beautiful!
"Yo Someone @wingstop is about to get fired"
Remember two weeks ago when I talked about brands wanting to share a dick pic? We are flying closer and closer to that sun.
How Paul Pescador uses cartoons for intimacy
My friend Paul in the paper! Their show is incredible and I highly recommend it if you’re in LA. The work explores the construction of the self through objects, exploring how the ubiquitous can become personal.
How to Make a Hibiscus Margarita
I have been on a hibiscus cocktail journey and, while this video is great, I tried making a version of this and it was too sweet. I’m on the hunt for a floral and tart hibiscus cocktail, akin to this thing Rick Martinez made. One day I will find it.
The Editor Is King
25 Edits That Define the Modern Internet Video
Video Creators on Their Hardest Edit Ever
Vulture’s stories about editing and the internet is another must read for the week.
Artist installs 49 dead trees in a Manhattan park
This is :( but I also love this even if...I know it won’t change shit and probably had quite a footprint to produce.
NBC will not air the next Golden Globes
The Golden Globes are basically dead and this meme sums up the mess.
I sent a friend a story about John Mulaney, a comedian I only know about because many pockets of my internet love him and tell me to love him. “Who Should John Mulaney Be Now?” was the story, published to Vulture. She was not a fan of the story, noting that it was frustrating to see yet another comedian – or public figure, particularly white and male – get lauded for being messy in public. This wouldn’t be praised if this were a woman or a non-white person, she suggested.
The story isn’t about John Mulaney being messy in public, no. That’s the subtext, as the story wanders around what stand-up is and why stand-up is so special – and that the new John Mulaney is not making stand-up. “Stand-up is weird, as artforms go, because you have to write in front of people,” the writer Jesse David Fox explains. “Stand-ups need the audience to know what’s funny, what’s interesting, what they think. In exchange for their vulnerability, they get connection.”
How this relates to John Mulaney is that, after some time in rehab and a recent divorce, he is emerging and his comedy is different. It’s not what an audience expected. As David Fox notes, “Some audience members didn’t know exactly what to make of a lot of this.” Why is that? I have a theory: John Mulaney is a metaphor, beloved for his brand of dry Millennial anti-comedy and for being alt-but-not. Mulaney serves as a vessel for a certain I-grew-up-in-the-1990s-and-wanted-to-study-at-UCB-and-be-on-SNL person. We all know this person. I went to high school with, I went to college with, and I am even related to this person. They are not a unique person.
This person is typically white and male and suburban. They are educated. They are funny enough. They are great at parties! Most people love them. They might have done improv or theatre at some point, sure, but they never got far. They have a lot of strange baggage that they have never addressed or worked on. They have non-polite opinions and political views that they are too unbothered to be challenged on. They spiraled off from their comedy dream, got a real job that is neither paltry nor impressive, and look to John Mulaney as an alternate version of themself, someone who is thriving in comedy, in traditional standup, in the SNL – A staid boomer comedy show that is gasping for air, struggling to adapt, grasping for straws in it’s non-progressive views. – ecosystem of entertainment. When John Mulaney rises, they rise. When John Mulaney falls, they fall. In a way, Tina Fey is the same metaphor for white and female and suburban type persons, the person who eats cake instead of challenging society’s problems and their own complicity in said problems. These are people of privilege looking for privilege to justify their inability to realize their own sadness and badness.
John Mulaney’s comeback in anti-comedy breaks the image of the John Mulaney metaphor and leaves those who invested in him as a version of themself empty, seeing a reflection that they don’t want to confront. “Mulaney’s show wasn’t a show,” David Fox says in the story. “You know how when a caterpillar is turning into a butterfly, their entire body decomposes before recomposing, so if you were to cut the chrysalis open in the middle, it would be just gross goo? Last night was like that goo.”
A lot of this has to do with therapy and the people who love comedians like John Mulaney’s inability to confront their own problems, to do the work. Now that John Mulaney has done the work – gone to rehab, interrogated his problems, is righting his wrongs – his comedy is different. He is different! Instead of constructing comedy around problems, using the stage to make jokes about poor behavior or bad takes as comedians are wont to do, he has challenged them and is living to tell the tale. The result isn’t comedy. It’s evolved. Comedy, stand-up, is about living in your problems while pretending your problems don’t exist. Comedy isn’t about helping yourself but about making fun of someone or something: it’s always a form of putting down. This is why it’s so grating when old comedians like Billy Crystal pop up to say “Comedy is a minefield now.”: this reveals that comedy is always about putting people down, to make fun, to stand on a stage of privilege and throw rocks. It’s about unchallenged power, about ego. If you’re racist, the stage allows that. If you’re homophobic, be homophobic and get applause. If you hate women, the stage is a place for your misogyny. This has taken on new forms over the years but that’s what stand-up comedy is: it is not about doing the work, it is not about introspection, it is not about seeking one’s best self. It’s about being ugly in public.
John Mulaney is now a post-therapy comedian and he no longer is making comedy. He’s making something else and that makes comedians and stand-up comedy fans, the people who see him as a metaphor, feel strange because they are realizing in an intangible way that they have work to do. This is why things like Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette and Issa Rae’s Insecure and Julio Torres’ My Favorite Shapes and Donald Glover’s Atlanta seem to miss the comedy world and are lauded as a higher form of art that verges on drama or theater: these are artists who have done the work. (By the same token, when horror diverges from mindless murder – Saw, for example. – to address actual problems – Get Out, Hereditary, The Babadook, and even The Purge – you end up with something that crosses over into drama, into an investigation of how our minds are our demons.) The same writer of the piece I shared seemed to muse about this years ago. “How Funny Does Comedy Need To Be?” he asked. Comedy is only funny when you ignore problems, when you’re ignorant of something. To acknowledge a problem is to acknowledge tragedy, the not-funny, to embrace the problem and to seek to fix it. This comedy isn’t “funny.” It’s more evolved. It is doing the work. Being caring and compassionate isn’t “funny.” Being kind to yourself and others is boring.
So when culture talks about John Mulaney and how “he’s changed” and whether or not he is still doing comedy or if he is still funny, what they’re saying is: I need to do the work but I don’t want to. All I have is my crude jokes, which are a cover for all the things I do not want to interrogate in myself. Does stand-up comedy need to go away? No, not at all. People need to consider being more caring and compassionate, to both themself and the world. Once you start to work on these changes, you can say what you’ve always been wanting to say: something of substance, something real, instead of flimsy jokes.
Obsessed with this short, strange video parodying how we use the internet.
"reviewing all white friend groups"
A great new genre of video.
"My big, gay family"
Found the gayest family ever.
"the way this man pronounced LGBTQ"
Finally, a solution for working around saying LGBTQ+ as an acronym.
"LESBIAN RATES THE FELLOWSHIP"
Your lesbian FaceApp content of the week. (You’re welcome, Rachel.)
Meet my new favorite political jokes TikTok account.
"this is one of the greatest tweets of all time"
One person’s curse is another person’s pleasure.
"the way she delivers this so dead pan"
Been thinking about this all dang week!
"Can we agree this is possibly in bad taste?"
Some great post-Mother’s Day content.
"I have a theory about why they got divorced."
Finally, the truth about Bill and Melinda.
And, finally, my idea of perfect Spanish content.