Digimon vs wokeness
Read to the end for an interesting tweet about Elon Musk and Grimes
Tomorrow, I have an Extra Garbage Day dropping for all readers. It’s an interview with Substack CEO Chris Best and it’s kicking off weekly Extra Garbage Days for paying subscribers. And, next week, I have an interview with Glass Beach, one of my favorite bands at the moment. Also, for subscribers, I have a discount code for an upcoming live event I’m part of in New York City! It’s at Caveat on August 17, at 7:00 PM ET. It’s the first live event I’ve attended in like 18 months so I apologize if I’m completely weird irl.
The Culture War Has Finally Come For Digimon
Alright, this story is a doozy, but also one that I can honestly say I am uniquely equipped to tell. It might be the most Garbage Day Garbage Day story ever, maybe even topping the Lola Bunny hentai thing a few months ago?
Next month is the 20th anniversary of Digimon Tamers premiering in the US. Tamers, the franchise’s third season, was the first Digimon season to break from the main continuity of the initial first two seasons. And, at first, it sort of seemed like a weird Yu-Gi-Oh! rip-off, incorporating new card game elements, but it eventually found its own pretty big fanbase, with some fans calling it the best season of Digimon. It was written by acclaimed anime writer Chiaki J. Konaka, who wrote Serial Experiments Lain, and Tamers explores similar themes about identity, loneliness, and dissociation due to technology, while still being, you know, a show about fighting digital monsters.
Along with an announcement about a new Digmon movie and a new Digimon mainline series, the Tamers anniversary was a big part of this year’s Digifest, a big Digimon festival held in Japan every summer. In fact, Konaka had the original Tamers voice cast do read a new stage play he wrote where Digimon fought against a new villain called… Political Correctness, which uses a special attack called “Cancel Culture”. You can watch a clip of it here:
Users also suspect that the visual behind the cast might also be a dog whistle for QAnon, which has had quite a life in Japan recently. Though, also, maybe not.
Bounding Into Comics has a summary of what Konaka’s stage play was about:
…Lee Jianliang proceeds to ask the Hypnos leader, “What is this new threat you mentioned? I didn’t see anything on NYX’s monitors”, to which Yamaki replies, “You don’t know?! Are you telling me that you’re overlooking the worst possible disaster that has struck the Internet and media?”
“You don’t see it?” Yamaki continues. “The dark shadows that have fallen upon the Internet! The terrifyingly increasing pressure to conform to a single value system, where anyone who objects is removed!”
“Censorship on the internet is rampant and real news covered up by fake news!,” he adds. “People with a different opinion have their online accounts terminated! Even alternative perspectives are set out to be crushed by fact checkers so only uniform answers can exist! At this point, people’s daily lives are controlled by information on the Internet!”
Ah, yes, exactly the themes that one associates with a show about friendly dinosaurs that turn into big robots thanks to the power of friendship.
Clips from the stage play started trending on Twitter after a fansubber (a user who translated the performance into English) put a disclaimer on the video, warning the audience that it promotes conspiracy theories and far-right politics. I’ll be honest, in all my time covering the bizarre and uncomfortable intersections between anime fandom and fascist radicalization, I’m not sure I could have ever prepared for this image:
After the Tamers clips started trending on Twitter, the r/Digimon subreddit started going nuts. I’ve actually followed the sub for a while now. I’m currently playing Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth for Switch based off the community’s recommendation lol. Look, I’m a Digimon fan. Leave me alone.
Anyways, the Digimon fandom in 2021 doesn’t get a lot of action compared to something like Pokémon, so this has been a big deal for them. Most fans seem more confused than anything. My favorite reaction was from a user that wrote, “I cant believe Adventure fans can get 30 reboots, but Terriermon fans have to deal with this 😭” Which, if you get it, is pretty funny.
I will say, as much of as this is a weird out-of-left-field shock, it’s also interesting that Konaka, who wrote Serial Experiments Lain, one of the most important pieces of art about our current technological landscape, is now pushing right-wing conspiracy theories about wokeness. If you’ve never seen it, it’s about an extremely lonely girl named Lain who is pulled further and further into cyberspace as she is engulfed by depression and isolation. As she goes deeper into the digital world, her sense of self begins to blur, turning her into a being of pure content.
It’s a frightening, but also a somewhat hopeful depiction of how identity functions in a primarily online world. And, based off what Konaka is currently writing, it seems like it might contain some lessons that maybe he needs to revisit.
The NSFW Fleetpocalypse
It’s been an incredible nine months for Twitter’s weird Instagram Story knock-off, Fleets. Based on my own timeline, it seems like they were exclusively used by very rich people in Silicon Valley and very lonely people working in TV in LA.
I, personally, hated them because I’m a big avatar clicker. I always forget who I follow on Twitter and so I’m always clicking on avatars to remember who it is that’s popping up in my feed. I would constantly click on the stupid Fleet thing. I also absolutely loathe any feature that shows someone that I’ve viewed their content. Let me lurk in peace dammit!
Anyways, after Twitter announced that it was retiring Fleets because no one was using them, users started using them to post nudes and other NSFW content.
I had a few readers message me to ask if this was the NSFW content bomb I predicted a few weeks ago. I think this is related to that, but I do still think we’re due for something even bigger and much worse. Excited to see what new fresh horrors the internet has in store for us next!
Facebook Suspends Research Accounts
Facebook suspended accounts being used by researchers working with the NYU Ad Observatory, which is a project run by NYU that was analyzing how political advertising works on the platform. Per a Twitter thread by researcher Laura Edelson, she and other members of her team no longer have access to the platform or CrowdTangle, a social analytics dashboard used by many academics and journalists to track how content spreads on Facebook.
Facebook’s crackdown on the Ad Observatory is yet another move the company has taken to make its own analytics less transparent. Earlier this month, the New York Times revealed that Facebook was effectively dismantling CrowdTangle, reassigning staff and taking steps to hobble the platform.
I probably don’t have to explain why this is all bad news. Facebook is already a massive walled garden of content. Removing the ability to understand how things are traveling around the platform could create untold social chaos. We were only able to fully understand the recent critical race theory backlash in the US thanks to CrowdTangle data. Without it, things could get very confusing and very dangerous very fast.
New Chocolatier Dropped
On Monday, I wrote about Amaury Guichon, a chocolatier that Tumblr is obsessed with. Well, this week, my dashboard filled up with videos from another incredibly impressive chocolate artist.
Her name is Polina Filimonova and she goes by @pauline_cake on Instagram. She’s from Russia and her chocolate wizardry is only slightly less mesmerizing than Guichon’s. Though, I think some of her videos are more aesthetically beautiful.
Wow, look at me, talking about which chocolatier is better like I’m not a person who recently got stomach ache after eating an entire bag of Fuego Takis in one sitting like a big piece of shit.
Will Robinhood Be Meme Stocked?
Robinhood users are reporting that they are being restricted from trading the app’s stock, $HOOD, due to volatility. Robinhood, which was one of the main vectors for the GameStop pump in January, which it then tried to pull back the reins on unsuccessfully, is now being pumped in a similar way. This was obviously inevitable. The app’s stock rose 65% today.
Look, I’m not a financial expert, I mainly started writing about this stuff because I think the memes are interesting. But I am very surprised that it’s legal for a consumer trading app to restrict its users from trading its own stock!
But all of this is also a really good example of the Facebook-like effect that Robinhood is having on the world’s financial systems. It’s given internet users incredible access to the stock market and now those internet users are doing what internet users love to do: troll. Excited to find out what the economic equivalent of Facebook populism is.
Reddit’s Men Going Their Own Way Subreddit Was Finally Banned
Reddit’s r/MGTOW subreddit, a community for member’s of the men’s rights-adjacent Men Going Their Own Way movement, was finally banned this week. According to a Daily Dot article regarding the ban, a Reddit spokesperson said, “Reddit’s site-wide policies explicitly prohibit content that incites violence or promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability…The subreddit in question was banned in accordance with these policies.”
MGTOW was, make no mistake about it, hateful, but it also always felt like the more depressed and middle-aged men’s rights community. Instead of the violent and active despair of the incel community, MGTOW had an unmistakable sadness to it. It was also much older than other red pilled corners of the internet. The r/MGTOW subreddit has been around for decade and the movement itself was largely based on a 2001 blog post titled, “MGTOW Manifesto,” published in 2001 on a blog called No Ma’am.
MGTOW members believed that by limiting government, via libertarian politics, they could make women more reliant on men. It’s your classic “men on the internet fantasizing about going off to die alone in the woods” kind of thing.
Anyways, good riddance. Guess those guys are going to have to find somewhere else to complain about the new He-Man show now or whatever.
A Nice Good Old Fashioned Cat Video
Look at this little idiot. I love him.
Let’s Talk About The Silly Bandz Guy’s Wife’s TikTok Account
This was sent to me by a reader named Erika and let me just say that it’s been quite an education. Here’s what I’ve learned:
The guy who owns the firm that created Silly Bandz, those plastic bracelet thingies, is named Robert Croak. He’s a millionaire in his late 50s.
In 2019, Croak clicked on to an Instagram page belonging to a then-27-year-old influencer named Sophia Spallino.
Croak told the New York Post that he thought Spallino was his friend’s niece at first.
Croak then married Spallino, as one does when you mistake someone for your friend’s niece.
She, of course, maintains that he’s not a sugar daddy.
Spallino has been documenting her marriage to Croak on TikTok, where she has 200,000 followers.
Spallino and Croak’s marriage is open and she makes a bunch of videos about it.
Here’s a Twitter thread with a bunch of Spallino’s videos for people in non-TikTok countries. This is all A Lot, but, also, honestly, when you think about it, isn’t making TikToks from bed about your open marriage to the Silly Bandz guy kind of the millennial dream?
New Sport Dropped
I want to watch hours of this.
Some Stray Links
Limp Bizkit, irony, mall emo, music criticism, and enjoying things
P.S. here’s an interesting tweet about Elon Musk and Grimes.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
Digimon content AND an annoyed kitty video!