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Coasting on the evaporating fumes of relevance

Read to the end for the undisputed best piece of “Planet Of The Bass” fan art

Garbage Day Live Is Coming…

Introducing Garbage Day Live! On October 18th, I’ll be hosting a night of music, comedy, and, uh, other stuff lol at Elsewhere in Brooklyn with special guest DJ Cummerbund (more guests to be announced). What is Garbage Day Live? Well, imagine this newsletter, but on a stage, I suppose. It’s a big version of the show I did in the UK last month. You check out this vlog I made to get a taste of what to expect. Also, huge shout out to Guizo Conteudo for the kick ass poster design.

Presale launches today and I set aside some discounted tickets for readers. Use the code TOUCHGRASS and pick one up before they run out. Click here to get tickets. Excited to see you all there!

“Planet Of The Bass” And The Viral One Hit Wonder Conundrum

I’m going to assume you’ve all heard “Planet Of The Bass” at this point. It’s the closest thing we have to a Song Of The Summer and, yeah, it’s extremely very good. It was created by Kyle Gordon, a New York-based comedian who has been playing some version of a character called DJ Crazy Times for a while now. I first discovered him because DJ Crazy Times went viral on Tumblr a couple months ago.

When Gordon dropped “Planet Of The Bass” on Twitter last week, the song took on another life. The song is, of course, good, but my hunch as to why it has done so well on Twitter and, subsequently, earned a bunch of write ups from digital media publications still coasting on the evaporating fumes of Twitter’s relevance is because the app is a lot smaller than it once was. It has effectively lost all of its breaking news content and its highest-value users and, on top of that, the most viral posts on the app are now usually just different versions of the same video or meme. I can’t even really link to specific big tweets that shared “Planet Of The Bass” because when a meme takes off on Twitter now it just fills up the whole network. (Continue reading for how this impacted the Alabama Riverfront Brawl.)

But the success of “Planet Of The Bass” on Twitter has completely eclipsed its initial post on TikTok. As my friend Katie Notopoulos tweeted recently, “I just noticed the europop parody only has like six million views on TikTok, where it was first posted, which isn’t much at all, compared to how it’s completely dominated a week of twitter convo. A rare pattern!”

I want to respectfully disagree with Katie on that last point, however. This is not a rare pattern. There is effectively an entire world of “TikTok” that is only popular with the older users on Twitter and, more specifically, with Twitter’s remaining office worker cohort. These users see videos in random tweets and Slack messages and think, “this must be what the kids like,” simply because the video is vertical and 90-seconds long. And what’s been really interesting about “Planet Of The Bass” is how Gordon’s content strategy, which makes perfect sense on TikTok, has pissed off Twitter users and effectively undone all of the good will around the song.

Gordon, on top of releasing a full version of “Planet Of The Bass,” also released different versions of the music video, filmed in different locations, with different women lip-syncing the “Biljana Electronica” part. Gizmodo did a ranking of the all the different Biljana’s. The most recent woman to play Biljana is Sabrina Brier, which is fitting in a way. Breir has around 500,000 followers on TikTok, where her videos do fine for the app, but she is effectively the face of TikToks-That-Twitter-People-Share. There’s an argument to be made that she’s the most popular comedian on Twitter right now. To be clear, I’m not ragging on her. Her videos make my skin crawl in a good way because of how specific they are about the psychic agony of trying to interact with other humans beings in New York City. And that very New York-specificity is probably why she dominates Twitter in a way that she does not dominate TikTok.

And so, Twitter users have completely revolted against Gordon because of the multiple Biljana Electronica castings. It got to the point where The Washington Post tracked down the original actress. But on TikTok, where an all-consuming algorithm is constantly rearranging the content in your feed, Gordon’s multiple versions of the same video strategy is exactly right. It’s something a lot of creators do as a way to stay at the top of a For You Page. If you go to the comment section on the new version featuring Breir, half of the users are talking about how excited they are that she’s in the video and the other half are reacting to the video as if it’s the first time they’ve ever seen it — which is entirely possible.

In this way, “Planet Of The Bass” feels like an interesting benchmark of how vast the cultural gulf between Twitter, and the remaining digital media publications that aren’t run on ChatGPT, and TikTok has grown. The song was more popular on Twitter, likely because of how laser-focused it was on young millennial nostalgia for Eurodance tracks, but the release strategy was much more effective on TikTok.

I, honestly, think Gordon made the smarter move here. Instead of becoming a Twitter main character, nabbing a New York Times profile six weeks later, and vanishing into the algorithm, he’s putting more energy into staying at the top of feeds that actual people are looking at. I have to imagine Twitter in 2023 is sort of like what Google Reader was when I was first interning in 2010. It’s the thing you downloaded for work so you could understand what your boss is talking about. Though, I’m not even sure how long that will last.

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I Re-Read Every Garbage Day Issue

I have another announcement today! This is what I’ve been cooking up thanks to my reduced summer schedule this year. Introducing… Random Garbage. It is an app! It’s about 900 (and counting) links that have been in Garbage Day over the years loaded into a shuffle button. You hit the garbage can, it pulls up a new link. If the piece of content doesn’t have an embed, it generates a screenshot you can click on. It’s StumbleUpon, but for the handpicked artisanal content I’ve been collecting in this newsletter for the last three years.

I’ll keep adding to this — we’re working on adding Meta links — so let me know what you think! Have a poke around, find something cool, and go off down a rabbit hole.

I want to thank Chris Clayman for building this bad boy. He took my terrible ChatGPT-coded prototype and illegible wireframes and made something really amazing.

As I mentioned above, to get all these links I had to read the majority of Garbage Day. In order. Which was a surprisingly emotionally exhausting experience. I noticed there are jokes that I was making three years ago that I am still making now. Going to work on that. Also, sorry for all the crypto stuff from 2021-2022, I think the pandemic really broke my brain. Also, I noticed that there were several distinct eras of Garbage Day. As far as I’m concerned, this current era of Garbage Day — which may be over now because I am aware of it as an era — seems to have started with this 2021 issue about Bean Dad.

Thank You All For Sending Me All The Alabama Riverfront Brawl Content

Specifically, user KarmaBurrito, who has been sending me a ton of memes. I think this one was my favorite? If only because of how concise it is.

We’ve probably still got a day or two to bask in the golden light of a wild internet moment before reality — and a bunch more police charges — come crashing down.

As I wrote above, the current state of Twitter has made content really sticky, if only because there isn’t much to replace it. The app is noticeably slower and, thanks to the monetization features given to Twitter Blue (X Premium) subscribers, users are resharing a lot more of the same posts over and over again. That said, I think the Alabama Riverfront Brawl would have gone just as viral — if not more viral — if it had happened in 2019 or 2014 because it’s just a quintessentially viral story.

But it is worth reflecting on the future of Black Twitter. It’s been the biggest question mark for me about the slow death of the site. In many ways, I think Twitter’s role as a major online hub for black users around the world is a large part of why the app became so important. And, at least based on the memes about the Alabama fight, that is still true. This Endgame edit is unreal and this reenactment is pretty incredible too.

Black Twitter has been the cultural engine of both the internet, and, also, pop culture at large for over a decade. And I don’t think it’s conspiratorial to say that the outsized presence of black users on Twitter is a large part of why right-wing capitalists have spent the last year doing everything in their power to remake the app with themselves on top.

Pretty Sure X Premium (Twitter Blue) Is A Pyramid Scheme

Huh, so if you pay Twitter $8 a month and have 15 million impressions across three months, you get access to their ad revenue sharing. But that ad revenue sharing is determined by the amount views your content gets from other users who are also paying $8. Fascinating. I am very confident that this is all fine and exactly what Twitter is saying it is.

What Does A Million Followers Mean Now?

TIME has a great piece looking at how TikTok has quickly obliterated our sense of scale online. Before TikTok, you could sort of attach a numerical value to a level of irl fame and/or impact. Whether we’re talking about followers or shares, it worked like this:

  • 10,000 = Viral enough to get some weirdos messaging you

  • 50,000 = Viral enough to get, like, a Huff Post write up.

  • 100,000 = Probably going to get a few TV interviews

  • 500,000 = You’re in Ellen Show and brand deal territory

  • 1,000,000+ = You’re irl famous now, good luck.

But that’s not really true anymore. I think the first thing to challenge this was Facebook’s absolutely impossible video metrics between 2015-2018. I was in a video that was watched “15 million times” and, while writing this newsletter today, I may or may not have eaten a Dorito I dropped off the chair of the Amtrak train I’m currently riding on and no one noticed because I am not famous because I did not get 15 million real views.

Anyways, TikTok has really scrambled this in the opposite direction. While Facebook video views were broken, followers felt fairly real. Conversely, TikTok views feel in line with the scale of a video’s impact, but the follower accounts seem largely meaningless. My guess is it’s partly due to the app’s algorithm, which makes following accounts less of a direct subscription to a channel and more of a signal for the feed to give you similar content. But it might also just be that getting a lot of followers is less impressive than it used to be?

A Redditor Goes To A Death Grips Show

If you’re confused to why someone would go to a Death Grips show dressed like this, it’s a reference to a Reddit comment from a few weeks ago. According to the thread, this guy was able to hold on to his over-sized lollipop while moshing, which is pretty impressive! But he did reportedly lose it by the end of the show. Sad.

He also posted about what it was like getting into the show:

My favorite (least favorite?) part of this was on the line to get in, when one of the security guards up ahead held up the lollipop and said “this okay?” to the guard checking my ID. He scoffed/laughed to himself and said “with this crowd? Yeah, it’s fine.” It was a humorous moment, followed by tremendous shame at the fan base I’m a part of. Show was fucking awesome though so whatever.

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***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***

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