Sigma Males, the rarest male type

Read to the end for a good thread about internet history

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The Gross Food Women Of Facebook

Over the last few months, I’ve been tracking viral disgusting food videos. Last month, after a video went viral of a woman eating ice cream out of a toilet, I realized that many of the women in this videos all know each other. And, thanks to the fine folks at Eater, I was able to dig even deeper into this very odd content network. It turns out many of these videos are made by women working for one Vegas magician named Rick Lax. I interviewed Lax and two of his collaborators and you can read the full story here!

What I learned is that these videos are specifically made to be entertaining. They come with disclaimers. Many of the people making them are performers who can no longer work on a stage due to COVID-19. And, most importantly of all, they really don’t like the fact that people keep ripping them and posting them to Twitter.

On Monday, another video from Lax’s network went viral. It was actually a video I had come across during my reporting. It’s been taken down from Twitter after someone involved with Lax’s network copyright striked it. But here it is on Facebook. If you don’t want to click through, and I don’t blame you, it’s three minutes of a woman making spaghetti and meatballs directly onto a countertop. This video, unlike the other ones that went viral — the counter nachos, the spaghetti burgers, the toilet ice cream — wasn’t tweeted by a random TweetDecker, but, instead, was shared by Jarvis Johnson, a verified YouTuber with over a million subscribers.

After sharing my Eater story on Monday, I was put in a Twitter Moment. If you’re unfamiliar with what that means, basically, my tweets about the Lax food videos were put into a central widget on the app and promoted as a trending topic. The plus-side of this is that my tweets got more attention, the downside was that I was bombarded by hundreds, if not thousands, of deeply unhinged Twitter power users, who filled my mentions with unbelievable vitriol against the women in Lax’s network. Some of it, I’d argue, is maybe slightly understandable. There is an undeniable middle-class suburban conservative whiteness to the videos and, at a moment where things feel so precarious to so many I get why white women in huge fancy kitchens wasting food for views would piss you off. But what I think is interesting is that nobody seems particularly mad at the users, like Jarvis, who have increasingly figured out that sharing videos from the Lax content network, ripped of any context, is an easy way to drive engagement on their own accounts. As I noted with the toilet ice cream video, most of the users who rip these videos and put them on Twitter then use them to sell dildos, weight-loss powders, and projector lights.

Which begs the question: why is it easier to be angry at the women in these videos, who are making money effectively goofing off in their kitchens with their friends, than it is the grifters who take the disclaimers and punchlines off these videos and share them on Twitter? Something to consider I think!

If you’re interested in going even FURTHER down this rabbit hole, we devoted a whole episode to it on my podcast this week.

A Bunch Of Various Crypto Stuff

Last night, I spoke to Ben Lashes. He’s a meme manager, which, you might not have known was a job that even existed. Lashes has represented memes like Keyboard Cat and Grumpy Cat and is also the mastermind behind the classic meme NFT boom happening right now. You can listen to a recording of our conversation here!

I asked Lashes how he settled on blockchain-backed NFTs as a way to get OG meme creators like Disaster Girl compensated. He said he got the idea from Chris Torres, the creator of Nyan Cat, who sold the animated cat GIF for half a million dollars worth of Ethereum. Lashes said NFTs seemed like a good way to give meme creators a sense of digital ownership that was never really an option before.

“It was kind of like — all these different meme people from really all over the world who had kind of been used to like, ‘well, there's this thing that I made or a picture of me that I have no control over, it flows all over the world. And, you know, most people don't even know that I'm the one that started it, or I'm behind it, or that it's my photo or anything.’ So I think it’s an exciting time for people to come out and say like, ‘hey, yeah, this is mine,’” Lashes said. “I've always thought of memes as like the modern day pop art and that for being silly things, there's a lot of importance to that the same time.”

And here’s some more crypto odds and ends:

  • Elon Musk decided he was done manipulating the crypto market and now Tesla will no longer accept Bitcoin as payment.

  • The value of Bitcoin dropped 10% following Musk’s announcement and the whole market is still not doing great.

  • The co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, donated $1 billion worth of novelty meme coins to the India Covid-Crypto Relief Fund on Wednesday. The donation consisted of 50 trillion Shiba Inu coins, which he had been given by the coin’s creators, as way to add legitimacy to their extremely dumb project.

  • Buterin’s donation caused the value of the Shiba Inu to drop about 30%.

  • Coinbase, one of the largest crypto trading platforms in America and newly-publicly traded company, announced that it will no longer allow salary negotiations. This may sound like a great idea, but…

  • Read this excellent piece about it from Ed Zitron’s excellent newsletter. He writes, “It’s another way in which modern management culture is seeking to remove any chance you can possibly have at disagreeing with the management.”

A Very Good TikTok Series

Kahlil Greene has a TikTok channel with about 300,000 followers. A lot of his videos are concise social justice-informed history lessons. But he’s recently started a great series titled, “How Everything On This App Originated With Black People”. He’s done two installments breaking down how much of what we think of as “Gen Z” slang is basically just stuff that was already popular within Black culture and was then hoovered up into TikTok’s trending algorithm and iterated a thousand times by white hype house kids. His first video in the series explains how the pointing at the arm pose that’s popular on the app was popularized originally by NBA player D’Angelo Russell. And his second video is about how the “fuckboi face” used to be called the “lightskin face”.

It’s great stuff and you should check it out. Especially if you, I don’t know, write for Saturday Night Live.

Welcome To Bedroom Fishing YouTube

I came across a couple of these videos on Tumblr recently. Best as I can tell, this was a meme popular a few years ago on TikTok’s Chinese sister app, Douyin. There are so many of these videos uploaded to YouTube. If anyone has any more context for these let me know!

A Good Tweet

Have You Heard The Bird Song Yet?

Wow, seems like they really like watching birds!

Men Are Not OK, Installment #10050

This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by Mitch. I thought I had written about “Sigma Males” in Garbage Day before, but it turns out it’s just something I tweet about a lot. Here’s the deal: Mashed potato-brained Mens Rights Activists believe that men fit into a “socio-sexual hierarchies” and “Sigma” is part of this hierarchy, sort of. Here’s a good video about why Alpha Males aren’t real because I don’t feeling like explaining why.

It can be hard to remember this, but the early-00s pickup artist industry, popularized by Neil Strauss’s The Game, VH1’s The Pickup Artist, and website’s like Roosh V’s Return Of Kings are what led to incels and, more broadly, the modern Mens Rights movement. Men would buy these books, go to seduction classes, and watch these shows and still fail to meet women. They started congregating on message boards like the now-defunct PUA Hate to gripe about being ripped off and radicalized each other. Even though the manosphere is largely a reactionary movement to pick up culture, the language and psuedoscience of pick up artistry is still very much cooked into the way MRAs, Incels, and Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) communicate and see the world. If you’re interested in tracking this sort of thing more closely, I highly recommend David Futrelle’s We Hunted The Mammoth.

So, because of this PUA heritage, weird internet men are still extremely obsessed with classifying themselves like Pokémon. Here’s a pretty common version of the “male hierarchy” these guys obsess over:

The Sigma addition is newer and, best as I can tell, is just an academic-sounding way to say they want to be Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z.

As for the video above, I’ve honestly been surprised that MRA stuff hasn’t become more popular on TikTok. There are definitely big pockets of the manosphere that use the app — if you’re looking for an exceptionally grim time look up “divorce TikTok” — but, for the most part, it hasn’t spread there as quickly as I expected. But these “male types” actually make the most sense for a TikTok trend, they’re essentially just masculinity zodiacs or lame men Hogwarts houses and TikTok’s algorithm LOVES that kind of thing.

Katy Perry Made A Music Video With Pikachu

It’s part of the Pokémon 25th anniversary soundtrack. The song’s nice and the music video is cute. I would also like to hang out with Pikachu in a lighthouse.

Let’s Talk About This Terry Crews Tweet

Right, so, OK, there’s a lot happening here. I spent, well, more time than I should have, pulling apart all the different elements of this:

  • This is NOT an official Old Spice video. It was created by Spice Collab, who appear to just be huge Terry Crews fans?

  • But it WAS tweeted by Crews’ official Twitter account.

  • The song itself is a remix of Renai Circulation, the opening theme of season 4 of the anime Bakemonogatari.

  • But it also includes references to Nichismoke, a viral YouTube remix of the opening theme to the anime Nichijou.

  • This video is part of a longer 16-minute video you can watch here. Apparently, this was all part of a “10th anniversary collaboration” and the full video involved over 60 creators.

Alright 🤷🏼‍♂️

A Truly Incredible YouTube Channel

My podcast co-host Luke showed me this channel yesterday. I am truly in awe of this lad. The channel is super great. Because of lockdown laws in the UK right now, you can’t eat inside. So what does this guy do? Well, he brings a folding table and a chair and eats outside, of course. Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch this.

Another Good Tweet

P.S. here’s a good thread about internet history.

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