This week the internet was all crazy things happening in pop culture and crazy things happening in politics. I mean, an egg broke the internet, men might stop shaving because Gillette told them not to act like dicks, AOC is scaring the shit out of people, maybe there will be a State of the Union (maybe???), a non-Native teen wearing a MAGA hat taunted a Native American elder, and WTF is going on with Brexit?
Highlights: Sometimes we should protect our own privacy, Fyre Festival continues to be controversial, Cardi B is over this shutdown, Soulja Boy taught Drake everything he knows, Lana Del Rey is more than melancholy wearing a flower crown, Mary Oliver was “absurdly generous,” sometimes it is hard being friends with other artists, maybe we don’t owe our parents grandchildren, and the Women’s March may never be a movement.
1. WIRED: Facebook’s ‘10 Year Challenge’ is just a harmless meme—right?
As much as I follow social media and memes, I don’t usually partake in them. This week, the 10 Year Challenge has taken over social media with people posting portraits of themselves 10 years apart, most from 2009 and 2019 (except Mariah Carey).
Most people joined in the challenge because, why not? But in a flippant tweet, Kate O’Neill was more critical. “Me 10 years ago: probably would have played along with the profile picture aging meme going around on Facebook and Instagram,” O’Neill wrote before continuing “Me now: ponders how all this data could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition.”
Facebook has denied being behind the meme, but that doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from it.
2. The New Republic: The Real Villain of Fyre Festival
So I love that this article sounds like it was written by the hip parent of a millennial instead of a millennial themself. If you don’t know about Fyre Festival, it was supposed to be a music festival that supported the launch of the “celebrities-for-rent app” Fyre. Well, it was a HOT MESS, and “high-paying customers were met with sodden mattresses in FEMA tents, rather than the opulent villas they were promised” in addition to there being no entertainment.
This week, two documentaries were released about Fyre, and “Hulu dropped its documentary about the ill-fated festival on Monday, gazumping a Netflix documentary on the same subject slated for release on January 18.” #PETTY.
I haven’t watched either, but in this article, Josephine Livingstone makes a convincing argument for watching Hulu’s as it has interviews with Billy McFarland, who oversaw the festival, and “also does a better job pointing out the secret villain of this story all along: the subtle menace of social media marketing.”
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Everyone is so over this government shutdown. Cardi B took to Instagram to express her feelings on how “Trump is now ordering — as in summoning — federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid,” and the country being “in a hellhole right now.” As with most things that Cardi says, the video quickly made the rounds and had Senators debating whether they should share the video. LMAO. Unfortunately, they did not because Cardi’s language isn’t “senatorial.”
WOOOWWWWW. Okay, I do not follow hip-hop at all, so I’m not the best person to recap all of Soulja Boy’s beefs over the years because I don’t know them, but this was one of the most interesting history lessons ever. According to Soulja Boy in this interview, he gets blamed with a lot of stuff, from killing hip-hop to doing cocaine, that is just not true. At one point Charlamagne tha God says “You like a godfather of hip-hop” with Soulja Boy affirming “Oh god I am! I am! It’s facts!” A highlight of this video, and the multitude of memes it has inspired, is at 49:08 when Soulja Boy sets the record straight on Drake, claiming he taught him everything he knows. Tbh, Soulja Boy’s argument seems strong.
5. Pitchfork: Lana Del Rey’s Recent “Fan Tracks” Reflect Some of Her Strongest Songwriting Yet
One of my best friends from high school is a VERY particular person. Back then, whenever she was anywhere, she was always the only person that could play music, and was often—if not always—the major influence in which movie or TV show we watched. And while her demands were annoying, she was almost always right, the girl has impeccable taste—I mean she grew up in LA with parents in the industry. She was also OBSESSED with Lana Del Rey back then (and probably still is), and I spent a lot of time listening to the songstress before I knew who she was. Over the years I have listened to Del Rey on and off, but I’ve never closely followed her. I don’t talk with my friend from high school much anymore and subsequently lost touch with Del Rey’s music.
Del Rey has always had a way with romanticizing sadness and melancholy. In advance of her still dateless fifth album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, Del Rey has released three “fan tracks.” The group of songs “represents the purest synthesis of Lana’s artistry yet. While her fourth wall has always been more cardboard than concrete, her growth is especially remarkable because of its thematic consistency. She continues to tease the tropes that have so often been used to pigeonhole her, including femme-fatale melodrama, sadness as a form of rebellion, kitschy sexuality, and her beloved Americana imagery, all prim debutantes in pastels.”
I didn’t start listening to Del Rey again until I made a new friend this summer that is also OBSESSED with her. I sent my new friend this article and she responded, “Venice Bitch is like home right now. I listen to it over and over and it’s the strangest feeling… like peaceful and resigned and freeing. Like floating kind of” before informing me that she has “heard every sound [Del Rey’s] ever made pretty much.”
6. The Paris Review: Passing Mary Oliver at Dawn
This week Mary Oliver died at 83. Since her death, her poems have been all over the internet—I haven’t logged onto a social media platform without seeing a fragment of her work at the very least. There have been countless obituaries written, old articles republished, and even a meme. Oliver was a “fundamentally American poet. There was a view in her poems and in her person of an America that was both beautiful and profoundly lonely” and her work means so much to so many people.
Written by her former student, Summer Brennan, this article captures the impact of Oliver as an “absurdly generous” person, as much as the influence of her work. “The secret to all of it,” Oliver said about her work, “was not just the ideas or the images, of course, but the music—the rhythm and flavor of the words, their alliteration and the rat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat of them. This was the secret code you could knock onto the door of the heart to gain entry.” Oliver studied percussion for a summer at the National Music Camp (now known as Interlochen Arts Camp). When I learned about her musical past, nothing made more sense.
7. The Walrus: The Uneasy Friendship of Poets
Every week there is one article that is the hardest for me to write about. Sometimes it is because I’m not the most interested in it, or it relates to too many cherished memories and I don’t know which one to use as an anecdote, or I love it so much I don’t know what to say. This falls in the latter two categories.
I went to art school for six years, and have studied it longer. Most of my close friends have formally studied some art form—visual art, music, writing, etc—and I have many relationships like the one chronicled here: “We build our conversations—and our friendship, which can be hard to distinguish from our conversations—on what we read and write, on the things we try to make well and make understood.” Sometimes the friendships ebb and flow based on our interests at any given time. But I have one or two that are always unwaveringly constant, and they are my most prized relationships.
8. London Review of Book: Diary by Nico Muhly
Not gonna lie, I’m a Nico Muhly skeptic. In classical music, he is lauded as the young hotshot of our time. Muhly is constantly getting commissions from some of the most notable orchestras, opera companies, and performers in the world. When composing, Muhly’s goal “is to create a piece of art that is better than the same amount of silence,” a noble endeavor considering how rare a moment of silence is today. “I would prefer to sit silently thinking for ten minutes than to listen to certain pieces of music, and therefore feel that it is my duty as a composer to occupy the time of the listener and the musicians with something challenging, engaging and emotionally alluring.” It is a simple, romanticizing notion, making something better—more beautiful—than its absence.
Muhly is literally everywhere, and at times commissioning Muhly functions as an act of validation. At other times, it feels like Muhly is supported at the expense of other composers, and is used to program a young composer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting the composers of our time, and mixing up the cannon. But Muhly is still a white dude, which usually doesn’t provide all that much diversity outside of the fact that he isn’t dead. And personally, I think there are other people, especially some women and POCs, that are doing a lot more interesting things musically.
9. BuzzFeed: I’m My Parents’ Last Chance For Grandkids. Do I Owe Them?
My friend and I were just talking about this! The author of this article is a trans man, which adds more variable and obstacles in conceiving a child, but he also generally isn’t interested in having kids. He has a niece (his cousin’s daughter) who he dearly loves, but that doesn’t mean he wants kids of his own, although he does not exactly know why.
“Most of the straight people my age that I know are not parents, on purpose. My generation has been accused of being vain, self-centered, and immature. It does seem like we are resistant to ‘growing up’ in certain ways. Or maybe we are just redefining it. It’s cool that we are prioritizing our friends, art, partying, youth, our freedom of time, over just making more humans to inherit a broken world! Or is it selfish and narcissistic? Like most things, I think it is a combination.”
It is a conversation that comes up rather frequently in my life, especially amongst friends that are not particularly inclined to have kids, and having sibilings that aren’t either.
10. The Nation: Turning the Women’s March Into a Mass Movement Was Never Going to Be Simple
The Women’s March is a very interesting thing. A lot of my friends that work in organizing or lobbying for political non-profits have always been skeptical of the Women’s March. Apart from The March being rather centrists for their liking, “from its earliest, explosive expression, it’s been unclear what would become of the Women’s March.”
I’ve been to The March each year in DC, and every time I go there seems to be less and less energy around it, and more confusion around its message and platform. The biggest questions facing The March have always been “how to transform the massive mobilizations of 2017 and 2018 into a social movement that could connect local activists to one another while melding them into national networks that could respond to the attacks flowing from the Trump White House? And how also to move beyond declarations of resistance to map a shared path forward—and to do so in a way that is both inclusive and democratic?” The farther we get from 2017, the more The March seems to splinter, and the farther we get from answers.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”
This story has been updated to report a non-Native teen taunting a Native American elder.