FUNKO POP BRAIN?
Read to the end for a good Linkin Park video
I have an interview with one of my favorite TikTok creators dropping tomorrow for paying subscribers. I’m talking to @skatie420, who is responsible for one of the funniest TikTok videos I’ve ever seen. If you want to check it out, it’s $5 a month or $30 a year. Hit the green button if you’re interested!
The Critical Race Theory Info War
It’s probably very likely that you’ve heard the phrase “critical race theory” in the last month or two. At its most simplistic, it is an American academic movement that examines intersections between racial and social justice. It is critical of some long-held beliefs of liberalism and it seeks to dissect how power structures throughout history have upheld racism and social inequality. It has recently become the central conservative talking point of the Biden era.
But if hearing about critical race theory is vague and confusing, that’s not an accident. As the Boston Review wrote recently:
The exact targets of CRT’s critics vary wildly, but it is obvious that most critics simply do not know what they are talking about. Instead, CRT functions for the right today primarily as an empty signifier for any talk of race and racism at all, a catch-all specter lumping together “multiculturalism,” “wokeism,” “anti-racism,” and “identity politics”—or indeed any suggestion that racial inequities in the United States are anything but fair outcomes, the result of choices made by equally positioned individuals in a free society. They are simply against any talk, discussion, mention, analysis, or intimation of race—except to say we shouldn’t talk about it.
Critical race theory is, in effect, the new right-wing catch-all for progressivism. Conservatives want it removed from schools, workplaces, and also Disney World, apparently. Even though conservatives can’t bother to even define it properly, that hasn’t stopped states like Oklahoma from banning it. Now teachers in the state cannot teach anything that makes “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.” How convenient for Oklahoma!
Interestingly, the confusing aspects to the discourse about critical race theory are actually entirely by design. Members of the Manhattan Institute have written publicly, at length, about how they are trying to poison the concept of critical race theory in the public square. Christopher F. Rufo, a senior fellow with the institute, tweeted in March that they are “driving up negative perceptions” of the phrase. I’ve written about him before in Garbage Day.
But it’s not just Rufo as a lone agent, the Manhattan Institute is obsessed with critical race theory. In December, the group held a remote forum about critical race theory, where they attacked writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones and likened analyzing structural racism to some kind of fanatical cult. The whole talk is insanely boring and everyone involved talks like supervillains, but towards the middle, guest John H McWhorter said he thought that critical race theory could cause mass shootings in the name of ending white supremacy.
“Probably male, probably under 35, probably white is going to hurt somebody in some way and hopefully just one. If it has to happen, it might be many out of an idea that he is on the side of the angels, battling white supremacy as a white person,” he said.
Misinformation and vague warnings about critical race theory are all over the internet. And conservative politicians, by drafting bills and whipping up fears about it being taught in schools, know it’s an easy way to keep the media distracted. Take a spin through Google News and check out all the explainers written about it in the last month. I mean, if you search the term on Twitter, some of the first things that pop up are these tweets from the Republican posting brigade last week:
Why is this all happening now? Well, for one thing, critical race theory is becoming more popular in academia (though it’s not nearly as widespread as Republicans think it is). But, more importantly, following the death of George Floyd last summer and cultural offerings like the New York Times’ The 1619 Project and HBO’s Watchmen, America’s history of racial inequality is dominating mainstream conversation and Republicans, post-Trump, are an ideologically hollow group of influencers. They govern via trending topics and culture jam anything that becomes popular.
The anti-critical race theory is a vamp. Republicans don’t know what the future of their party is anymore and they’re desperate for anything that seems like an actual plan. QAnon is growing as big as some religions in the US, Trump’s status without Twitter is seriously waning, and Steve Bannon’s podcast is the closest thing the party has to a coherent plan. The party is changing, but it’s still unclear how and into what. But in the meantime, they’re going to log on to Twitter every morning, look at what people are talking about, claim it’s part of a progressive conspiracy to enslave white people or whatever, and hope that buys them enough time to figure out what their party actually stands for — if anything.
Meme Stocks Are Pumping Again
As I write this, stock for the movie theater chain AMC is currently worth more than Zoom and is almost worth as much as Deutsche Bank. This round of pumping seems to be off the back of AMC CEO Adam Aron actively courting Redditors to support the company. This is probably not going to end well. According to CNBC, the stock is up 1,400% from where it was this time last year. Very cool. Very normal.
Anyways, here’s a video:
A Video Gets Stuck In The YouTube Algorithm
The video is from a verified YouTube channel called JCS - Criminal Psychology and it currently has 27 million views. Honestly, there’s nothing particularly gamey or manipulated about the video. I started playing it just to write about it and I’ll admit it’s engrossing. It primarily focuses on Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz’s attempt at an insanity defense.
The channel the video was posted on is pretty big, but also very new. It has a little over 3 million subscribers, but the views on its videos are regularly three or four times that amount. The “pretending to be crazy” video is now the biggest one it’s ever posted, but all of the channel’s 18 videos have over a million views. I suppose the main takeaway here is just how absolutely huge true crime YouTube is. Craziest of all though, watch a bit of the video, and then go check out what the narrator looks like IRL.
The Bear Video
This video is everywhere and for good reason. It’s wild. The girl in the video is 17-year-old Hailey Morinico. You can check out an interview with her here. It was posted by TikTok user @bakedlikepie, who is Morinico’s cousin. If you want to follow the actual bear-pusher herself, her TikTok is here and it’s pretty good.
The Great Funko Pop Brain Conspiracy
I did not know about this until these videos got dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by user charlesv.
From what I can tell, a Funko Pop collector on TikTok named @funko_freddie, who now appears to have wiped his account, created an organized conspiracy to convince people that Funko Pops have brains inside of them. The whole plot was exposed by another Funko Pop TikToker named @cortpophunter. There are a bunch of videos that show how this was all orchestrated.
You might be wondering why. I guess it was meant to convince people to cut open their Funko Pops and try and find the brain, thus ruining them. Very weird stuff! My thoughts are with the Funko Pop community during this turbulent and confusing time. 🙏🏻
Simping For The Samsung Anime Girl
It was only a matter of time before a brand tried to launch a VTuber-style anime mascot. It seems like Samsung decided to be the ones to break ground here. Sort of.
A firm called Lightfarm Studios created a mock up of “Sam,” the personification of Samsung’s virtual assistant. The images made their way over to Twitter and things got very horny very fast. I was seeing really really graphic tweets about “Sam” without any context and it was very confusing! I’m not going to link to it, but it’s quickly become a main staple of Reddit’s r/Rule34.
Thankfully, “Sam” is not official. According to Polygon, the design never made it to launch.
Look, I try to not directly predict things in Garbage Day. I like to write about the future and look at trends and try and make educated roadmaps of how culture and technology might move. But I’m going to be very clear here: This sort of thing will happen again and it will only get much much worse.
Speaking of which…
Vocaloid Creators Can Become YouTube Partners Now
This is interesting! Crypton Future Media, the company behind the open source Vocaloid software that powers virtual pop stars like Hatsune Miku (think VTuber, but a completely synthesized singing voice) will now allow creators who make music with Crypton software to become YouTube partners. The company is launching their own program to onboard creators.
tbh this actually answers a question I’ve had for a while now: Why did Hatsune Miku essentially vanish from popular online culture right as streaming avatars and virtual mascots were exploding in popularity. It seems it was copyright! Curious to see if this can help bring Hatsune Miku back into the cultural conversation.
Some stray links:
Sometimes I come across some stuff that doesn’t feel like an individual Garbage Day item, but still worth sharing. Thinking about sticking them at the bottom here when I have them. Feels very newslettery? Let me know if you like it/hate it!
P.S. here’s a good Linkin Park video.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***