Hypebeasts without the hype

Read to the end for Mr. Lagoon

You can find audio versions of Garbage Day on every major podcasting app. If it’s not there, here’s an RSS feed.

The Influencer King Of Our Dark New Internet

Back in April, Garbage Day was invited to Adam22’s 4/20 popup in New York. Though, it was technically an event for the LA streetwear brand That’s A Awful Lot Of Cough Syrup. Also, full disclosure: I couldn’t go, but Garbage Day Researcher Adam Bumas was brave enough to attend.

Like every other SoHo streetwear pop-up these days, it was full of faux graffiti, exposed brick, hypebeasts without the hype, a DJ loud enough to generate noise complaints and a visit from the cops, and complimentary pre-rolls. Though, this one also had Caroline Calloway was the guest of honor.

If you’ve never heard of Adam22, real name Adam Grandmaison, he’s the type of internet personality that doesn’t have a “Controversies” section on his Wikipedia page. It just is one. If you are aware of him, maybe it’s as the host of the controversial No Jumper podcast, which was platforming far-right commentators like Richard Spencer and Nick Fuentes as recently as last year. Or perhaps you know him from the porn videos he makes with his wife Lena The Plug. Though, they also have a podcast, Plug Talk, which is also porn. Maybe you know him from the 2018 memorial he organized for equally-controversial rapper XXXTentacion that turned into a riot. Or maybe you heard about the reality show he hosted last year to pick a man to sleep with his wife, the aforementioned Lena The Plug. Most recently, he went viral for accusing Adin Ross of “stealing his reaction to Drake’s dick”, ruefully saying “we could have reacted to his cock together” (he later apologized to Ross).

Grandmaison also has a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct that continue to follow him. In 2018, he was accused of sexual assault by two anonymous women. He denied the allegations. And last June, Rolling Stone interviewed former staff who accused him of exploitation and sexual coercion. He denied those, as well.

In spite of all of this — or perhaps because of it — Grandmaison has emerged as a powerful subcultural figure, as evidenced by the throngs of (exclusively) 20-something men that were crowding around him at the event. An influencer king for our dark new internet.

“People are just trying to get attention by any means,” Grandmaison told Garbage Day. “That's really what's going to be the thing that decides if you're successful or not. And it's kind of all about if you really want to play that game or not.”

The “game” Grandmaison was referring to is the newly lucrative online gutter culture that he’s found himself at the center of. A flattening of digital media, internet drama, and sex work, where all of it just ends up as more content on our timelines. The same one that’s responsible for Hailey Welch, better known as the “Hawk Tuah” girl, going viral this month thanks to a sexually-explicit TikTok interview and then parlaying that into a deal with one of the largest talent agencies in the country.

And this is all happening at a fascinating moment, where self-censorious behavior online has led to TikTok-filter-friendly slang like “seggs” and “unalive” to spread far beyond the platform. The algorithms keep telling us that what we make and share must be brand safe, but we are clearly interested in the nastier stuff. (See also, the viral frenzy around Girthmasterr back in April.)

You can place a lot of the blame here on OnlyFans, for both breaking down the boundaries between Porn World and Not Porn World and, also, for thoroughly frightening mainstream platforms — and credit card companies — with its powerful and now ubiquitous paywall. Chris Stokel-Walker had a great piece in Fast Company last week arguing that X’s decision to officially allow porn, even if the site had always sort of allowed porn, only makes sense when you view it as competing with OnlyFans. (It also explains the name change.)

And this isn’t all bad, per se. There’s nothing wrong with online sex work, if done safely and with consent. But at the same time, no one wants to admit what it is that OnlyFans is selling. Not even OnlyFans, which tried and failed to ban adult content in 2021. Its executives constantly attempt to distance the platform’s image from what got it off the ground, so much so that last year, it even launched a cooking show.

And it’s in this new gray area that more insidious kinds of digital media operations are flourishing. Where the already exploitative dynamics of the creator economy are all the more exploitative. Where the Adam22’s of world excel. “No Jumper made a shitload of money off interviewing OnlyFans girls when that was sort of like the new craze, early pandemic,” Grandmaison said.

Last year, an account called The Fan Bus kept going viral largely by enraging conservatives with a monetization loop they had stumbled across, where they take obscure TikTok celebrities, film sex scenes with them, and then make fake podcast clips to promote those scenes. Though, this dynamic works both ways. Are the mechanics of Garbage Day as a business all that different? We’re both competing on public platforms with the hopes of pulling new users behind a paywall. Existing in two worlds, hoping users navigate their contours for us. And so we’re left in a place where all content feels like porn and also nothing does.

And not even Grandmaison can control which end of the funnel he’s on at a given moment. Outside the pop-up, on the streets of Manhattan, while he spoke to Garbage Day, he kept getting recognized because he was wearing a Plug Talk hat.

“I feel like I have to switch over into porn mode,” he quipped at one point. “It doesn't feel like it's the same dude doing both businesses even though it certainly is.”

Adam Bumas contributed reporting and research to this story (obviously).

Garbage Day’s first-ever West Coast event is finally happening! It’s at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco on July 12th. I, also, fixed the typo that was in the previous version of this poster which was definitely on purpose. The show will also feature some very exciting guests, including visual artist Danielle Baskin, Platformer's Casey Newton, V-Tuber Shindigs, and The Onion's Stan Kelly.

Think About Supporting Garbage Day!

It’s $5 a month or $45 a year and you get Discord access, the coveted weekend issue, and monthly trend reports. What a bargain! Hit the button below to find out more.

There’s also a new referral program, which is a great way to get Garbage Day for free in exchange for sharing it with your friends. Click here to check it out.

A Good Bluesky Post

Dr Disrespect Dropped

Guy Beahm, the streamer known as Dr Disrespect, was dropped by Midnight Society, the game studio he helped co-found, after a former Twitch employee alleged, without naming Beahm, that he was kicked of Twitch in 2020 for “sexting a minor in the then existing Twitch whispers product.” Beahm responded to the post, seemingly revealing that it was about him. Bloomberg then confirmed it.

Beahm has denied any wrongdoing and, at one point, posted that he was messaging an “individual minor” in a way that “leaned too much in the direction of being inappropriate.”

Beahm’s departure from Twitch was something of a gaming journalism mystery for years, though rumors, of course, circulated. Aftermath wrote a good piece about why those rumors never materialized into anything. Explaining how the journalism process works around something as complex as allegations of sexual misconduct is especially important in the world of gaming and esports because diehard gamers both fundamentally don’t understand how journalism works and also have been waging a decade-long culture war against journalism.

Aftermath also published another piece, titled, “He’s (Probably Not) Cooked,” about how Beahm’s fans will probably not abandon him, even though every other working relationship in his life seemingly has. And it’s a safe bet, but I do have to point out that Beahm’s subreddit does appear to be at least trying to reckon with what’s come to light this week. Though, as one user wrote, “This thread is filled with enough cope that it could fill the Hindenburg.”

The Sabrina Carpenter Conspiracy

My big prediction is that this is going to be the summer of “Is this song popular or is it just Spotify?” Case in point: there is a lot of chatter online about whether or not Sabrina Carpenter is being boosted by Spotify.

Now, this is not dissimilar from the conspiracy that Chappell Roan is an industry plant, but there are a few interesting differences. The first complicating factor here is that Carpenter did just announce a pre-sale ticket deal with the streaming platform. The other thing worth considering here is that, unlike Roan, Carpenter is not attached to a pre-existing scene, whether irl or online. Her big breakthrough was opening for Taylor Swift during The Eras Tour and she’s gotten big thanks to a couple fairly harmless viral tricks plus the fact her singles are good and people do seem to like them. Probably doesn’t hurt that she’s also dating Barry Keoghan.

But the real takeaway here is that music fans are becoming paranoid of how powerful Spotify is and also, at least the younger ones, don’t seem to remember a time before it. It’s like their cultural radar is broken. Is a pop star an industry plant or, in this case, an algorithmic plant? Who cares. What are we even talking about here? She’s a pop star making pop music.

Toys “R” Us Released An AI-Generated Ad

Toys “R” Us made some nightmare content slop using OpenAI’s new video generator, Sora. It’s bad, but, like all of these things, better than it should be. It’s promoting some new studio project the company has.

The best take on this, though, comes from TV writer Brenden Gallagher, who wrote, “Toys ‘R’ Us isn't even really a company anymore because private equity destroyed it. Commercial made by no one to advertise a company that doesn't exist featuring childhood experiences that will never happen again.”

Discourse Is Back, Baby

Today In Tabs is on hiatus right now because, like everyone from Maine, Rusty Foster has decided to wander off into the woods for a while. So I’ll give you my best impression.

The Atlantic has found a new riff on the Phones Bad beat, arguing they broke slang. The New York Times has a counterpoint which is, actually, slang good now. This would be fine, except almost none of the definitions of Gen Z slang they included are accurate. Congrats to The Times on their upcoming, first-ever Based God-related correction.

Kate Lindsay, over in GQ, however, is the big winner of this week’s discourse, after she wrote about men — well, at least one guy on TikTok — who “rawdog” flights. Look, as long as they’re not gooning them, fine. Though, I do think you should be disqualified if you watch the flight map.

The Hardest Shit I’ve Ever Seen In My Life

btw worth linking here to this good Reuters piece explaining what’s happening in Kenya right now.

Did you know Garbage Day has a merch store?

P.S. here’s Mr. Lagoon.

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


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