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The “King’s Hand”
Want to thank Garbage Day reader Patrick for sending me this. I hate it.
I absolutely loathe Greek salad (it’s basically just the bottom of a trash bag served on a plate as food) and I love M&M cookies so this is particularly upsetting for me. If you click through there is an entire thread about how the King’s Hand was made. TL;DR he used a silicon mold he bought off the internet to make the hand.
Three Very Good Newsletter Issues To Read
If you had told me that in 2020 I’d “get really into newsletters” I would have told you that you’re completely nuts, but here we are. I read three really good pieces over the weekend that I wanted to highlight.
First, “Mods! Mods!” from Hussein Kesvani’s Everything Is Posting. Hussein’s a good friend of mine and I’m a big fan of everything he does. He wrote about Garbage Day in one of his most recent newsletters and, in doing so, really nailed something that has been nagging at me for years — the balancing act between a web culture reporter and a moderator:
I also think that as we discuss what a moderator ‘is’ or ‘should be’, its important to step away from who we usually think of as moderators on forums, or the human, increasingly traumatised moderators who attempt to keep a digital community together (as per the axiom of platform logic) while also presenting without agency. As we’ve broadly accepted that digital culture is ‘authentic’ culture at the very least, the moderator is much more likely to be an active agent. It’s one possible explanation to the growing hostility to fact-checkers/ ‘disinformation reporters’ or even “digital culture reporters” more broadly — embedded in the job is the position of the content cop, whose incentive is the reproduce and project the micro-surveillance to the macro one. Having ‘impact’ as a digital culture reporter often means displaying good policing for the benefit of one side against another, and it makes sense that the response to this will be more content policing, and subsequently, content policing of content policing. Which is to say that no matter how sophisticated any future platform architecture can or will be, so long as the Platform Logic is one that rewards and incentivises policing, we’ll see a lot more content collapses over the next decade, happen a lot faster.
Second, “Twitter's Fleeting Product Roadmap” from Can Duruk and Ranjan Roy’s The Margins. If you aren’t reading The Margins, I definitely recommend it! It’s an always insightful look at the tech industry that I really look forward to in my inbox. Over the weekend, Duruk wrote about Twitter’s new not-Instagram-stories feature fleets. Duruk is rightfully brutal about both fleets and Twitter’s last five years or so of product iteration:
What companies like Facebook and YouTube long discovered is that the way to make money off of social media is not to focus so much on advertisers but instead build compelling products that get people addicted to using them and only then sliding in a few ads here and there. You need the users, with their fidgeting eyeballs and gyrating thumbs, before you can get the ads. Twitter simply seems to have built what an advertiser sees on Instagram, not what a consumer uses.
And third, “What to expect from Disney's biggest day of 2020” from Julia Alexander’s Musings On Mouse. Julia is another close friend of mine and I consider her the leading expert in all things streaming. Her newsletter is a great look at what’s going on over at Disney. This morning, Julia outlined several predictions for the company’s investor day on Thursday. Here’s one that is very much in line with something I’ve been wondering about lately, which is, what in the actual fuck is Hulu? Well, Julia may have an answer:
Here’s my prediction: the Disney+ 18+ “ad” that went around Twitter a couple of weeks ago? This is part of Disney’s bigger strategy to roll Hulu content into Disney+. To be blunt, I don’t understand Hulu’s place within Disney now (I thought I did a year ago), but I do understand the importance of Disney+. I also understand that Disney+ has a content issue for people who aren’t as interested in the main pillars (Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars), but are fans of other Disney properties (ABC shows like Modern Family and Blackish). Having that type of programming available to Disney+ subscribers also brings in more comfort TV — the thing that keeps people subscribed as they revisit favorites and find things to fall asleep to at night.
Some Very Very Very Good Mashups
This account has been all over my timeline lately and his mashups are just really great. By the way, if you didn’t know the term for what he’s doing here, these are commonly called a/b mashups — where you take a vocal track of one song and mix it with another song. Anyways, check out his whole account. It’s fantastic!
Tumblr’s Year In Review Is Out
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know that I’m a big Tumblr advocate. I think the website still functions as cultural core of the internet. Most things I see on Twitter seem to be, at least in some way, connected to a conversation that’s already happening on Tumblr.
Because of the platform’s role as silent arbiter of the English-speaking internet’s memes, Tumblr’s year end stuff is usually really interesting. This year is no exception. You can check out the full thing here. Here are some interesting tidbits:
The top 5 tags of the year were Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Steven Universe, Belgian teen drama wtFOCK, BTS, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The top memes of the year included Out Of Touch Thursday, the plague doctor fandom, “ok boomer,” and superputinelection — which, in Tumblr parlance, refers to t#Destiel becoming canon on Supernatural and a tabloid rumor about Putin stepping down both happening on the night of the US presidential election.
The top 2 ships, as in fan romantic pairings, of 2020 were Reylo, which is Rey & Kylo Ren from Star Wars, and Catradora, Catra & Adora from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
And two standout Tumblr fandoms this year were “the Twilight Renaissance” and the cottagecore movement.
France Gets Its Very Own Sarah Cooper Sorta
This was sent over to me from a Garbage Day reader named Bastien. An account called La Tréma has become immensely popular in France doing basically a reverse Sarah Cooper. Where Cooper lip-syncs Trump clips, La Tréma does ASMR dubs of viral political clips. His dubs use the same dialogue, but re-recorded in hush tones. The French Vanity Fair recently wrote about the account.
I think there are two interesting things happening here — both when it comes to Sarah Cooper’s success in the states and the La Tréma account in France.
One, sound is viral now. This might sound like a no-brainer, but for a long time, the consensus was that a piece of viral content that required sound could never be as viral as an image. Think about that two-year period where everyone thought the future of video were silent autoplaying slideshows on Facebook. The exception to this was songs, which had the benefit of a secondary viral engine via the radio and music videos.
Apps like TikTok have shifted this immensely over the last few years, as have consumer trends around things like podcasts, Discord, and just general changes in how and where we consume online video content. But I also think the fact that most of the earth’s population is not going outside at the moment has really allowed less-online internet users to experience audio-based content.
Secondly, I think these political remix videos are a sign of a cultural shift. One weird side effect of the 2016 populism wave was that suddenly political Twitter was no longer regulated to its own corner of the internet. People were interested in politics! Which meant the users whose whole identity is being Very Important On Twitter had to quickly pivot into becoming serious political commentators. I suspect that, at least in the US, the Biden administration will bring about a neoliberal centrist boringness that will allow a lot of the Twitter power users who have been LARPing as antifascist political science experts for the last four years to revert back to doing whatever it was they were doing before Trump. Livetweeting SNL, I guess.
“Secret’s Out, Chicken Man”
On December 13, Lifetime is releasing A Recipe For Seduction, which is a “Lifetime original mini-movie” sponsored by KFC. Great. Adweek has the scoop on this thing. Here’s what KFC U.S. CMO Andrea Zahumensky said:
“We’re no strangers to heating things up for the holidays, just like our famous fried chicken-scented fire log,” she said “But let’s face it, we could all use a little distraction this holiday season, so why not fill some of your time at home with a suspenseful drama and the comfort of our world-famous fried chicken?”
OK! Whatever! Nothing means anything. Excited to watch.
A Lesson About Open DMs
Republican millennial and Florida Representative Anthony Sabatini tweeted this very nuanced and thoughtful take on the current COVID-19 spike ravaging America.
Needless to say people weren’t fans of Sabatini’s tone. Garbage Day reader Josh alerted me to this tweet embedded below, which pointed out that Sabatini’s Twitter account had open DMs.
Well, if you click through, you’ll see a thread of screenshots of what people have been DMing Sabatini. I’m not going to embed them all here because a lot of them push the limits of what I can include in this newsletter. But some highlights include:
Piggy poop balls
Muscular Sonic the Hedgehog
Pictures of dogs vomiting
Pictures of the cars from Cars having sex
Anime drawings of Abby Shapiro
Sexy Pickle Rick
I was looking for any kind of outward sign that his inbox has been flooded with nonsense, but it seems like it was business as usual this weekend for Sabatini.
Politics sure is weird now!
The Height Guesser Has Logged On
Before I launch into this, I’m going to apologize I can’t use embeds to tell this story, but Substack does not currently support TikTok. So I’ll do my best with screenshots and links out.
There is a TikTok user named @kentai.haven (lol) who has been going virally lately due to his incredible ability to guess people’s heights. He currently has 1.8 million followers. He also does cool anime poses with tape measurers.
@kentai.haven was recently challenged by another user, @marsmakesmovies, to guess his height. The video of @kentai.haven coming up with a height estimate is absolutely unreal. You can watch it here. And for Garbage Day readers who regularly email me for TikTok mirrors because the app is blocked in their country, here’s a Reddit version of @kentai.haven’s video.
@kentai.haven uses a Dunkin Donuts cup that @marsmakesmovies is holding in one of his videos, googles the specs of several of the appliances in his dorm room, does a bunch of math, and comes up with an estimate of 5’4”.
In a subsequent video, @marsmakesvideos reveals his height listed on his license. And what is it? 5’4”, of course! Simply incredible.
And Finally, A Good Meme
P.S. here’s the most reblogged Tumblr post of 2020.
***Any typos in this newsletter are on purpose actually***
I subscribed because you wrote the first accurate description of Greek salad.