This week's guests (in order of appearance) are:
Ikran Dahir, reporter for BuzzFeed News
Abby Ohlheiser, Internet Culture reporter for the MIT Technology Review
First, A Tweet
Here’s a 10-year retrospective on Sleigh Bells’ Treats if you’re looking to disintegrate into dust — or understand what your hipster parents were so amped up about. I honestly don’t know how old Garbage Day readers are.
Someone Has Started A Big Dogs Instagram And It’s Perfect
I suspect this isn’t official, but at the same time, it links to the official Big Dogs website and it’s 2020 and psychotic things happen pretty much every day. If you don’t believe me, go check out the writing on information warfare the Steak-Umms Twitter account has been doing. These would have been unthinkable sentences five years ago, and yet, here we are. Anyways, the Big Dogs Instagram is very very good.
Look, if these aren’t real, let’s make them real. Forget the Snyder Cut. I want all of these on shirts.
Good YouTube Interaction
Been A While Since We Talked About Feet, I Guess
On GIFs And Giphy And The Internet And Late-Stage Capitalism
My buddy Brian Feldman wrote a really good piece for Business Insider about Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy, the GIF search engine. In the piece, Brian argues that Giphy has effectively made the internet worse by homogenizing GIFs as a form of digital expression:
Whether by design or intent, Giphy's search tools led to a noticeable monotony in GIF culture. The same principles that apply to Google also seem to apply to Giphy: if you're not in the top three results, you might as well not exist. Reaction GIFs became flattened and less diverse.
I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong, but I also remember the days of the GIF folder. I don’t really wish them back. When I first started at BuzzFeed in 2012, I had a Dropbox folder full of GIFs (to sync between my work and home computers lol). It was fun and exciting to find funny new ones, but it was also a tremendous pain in the ass and eventually took up way too much space on my computer. Also, most of the content from that era is cultural gibberish in 2020.
But if you’re curious about what a modern peer-to-peer GIF culture would look like, it still exists, just not in America. In China, meme culture, or “biaoqing" (表情), or facial expressions, travels via WeChat stickers. Many of these are GIFs that one user uploads, which then spread out organically. When I was in Beijing in December, a few folks there were showing me what the popular GIFs in China are at the moment. I was told this one of a dancing bear is pretty hot on WeChat at the moment:
In Brazil, users still regularly trade GIFs via WhatsApp forwards. I’m sure there are other countries where homegrown GIFs survived, but these two are ones that I’m the most familiar with. Here’s a good Brazilian GIF:
With American internet, we don’t have the same culture of letting things stay the way they are if they aren’t broken. Our web culture is constantly being redefined from the top down by companies pushing innovation, whether it’s needed or not. It’s always about something lost versus something gained — or in the context of late-stage capitalism, something cool purchased and killed versus something new created outside of the control of massive corporations. You could argue that Giphy vacuuming up every popular animated GIF, making them something your grandparents can easily use on Facebook messenger, and thus killing the art form(?) led directly to the rise of more complex video memes and more jarring, unintelligible, and interesting still-image dank and refried memes. Not totally sure if that’s a good thing, mind you, but that’s where we’re at now.
While it’s unclear where the GIF is headed in terms of online expression, silent looping images are still popular. But most places that support them typically re-encode them as video files, so you could argue the pure GIF format is already dead in the US. Technically dead or not, the basic idea of reactions GIFs is now part of Facebook. The most popular remnants of an American social media culture that no longer exists will live on in some bizarre, family-friendly form. Gentrified internet.
Fun fact: I’ll be there, trapped inside GIFs currently walled off behind Giphy, now part of Facebook. Right now, if you search “juggalo” on Giphy, I’m all over the first page of results:
You’re welcome, Mark Zuckerberg.
The Doug Dimmadome TikTok Kid Is Still Going
OK, so, if you haven’t been following this, there’s a TikTok user named @impulselifestyles who has been building a bigger and bigger Doug Dimmadome hat. I wish TikTok embeds were supported on Substack because then I could just embed all of them here in their complete glory, but alas, I cannot. Also, Doug Dimmadome is a character from Fairly Odd Parents and he’s a meme. Here’s an example.
With the help of his friends, @impulselifestyle has been slowly making his Dimmadome hat bigger and bigger. TikTok doesn’t have timestamps, but he’s been at this since at least February.
It’s getting really big! I even found a GoFundMe to support them. I’m not sure if there IS a Guinness World Record for largest Doug Dimmadome hat, but I’m gonna guess this kid has it locked down.
The question that was on everyone’s lips, though, was whether the Doug Dimmadome hat kid could continue his quest for a bigger and bigger hat in the age of the coronavirus. I am happy to report, he has figured out some safe ways to keep going. Some screenshots:
Good use of a facemask. If you look closely, they’ve sewed a mustache on it. Good attention to detail. And as far as filming? Well, they’ve figured out how to do that too.
Doug DimmaDRONE baby!
A Good Letterboxd Review Of Parasite
Some Very Deadly Jokes About Figs
This tweet reminds me of a really classic Tumblr post describing a pretty similar incident — and fairly similar joke, actually.
I’m not 100% sure what it is about people from the past finding fig humor absolutely incredible, but apparently it was a thing. Although, I’m also going to guess it’s also probably not a coincidence that these two were incredibly drunk when they laughed to death.
OK, One More Good Tweet
P.S. here’s a cool fish tube.
***All typos in this email are on purpose actually***