Skateboarding, drinking cranberry juice, and listening to Fleetwood Mac
Read to the end for an interesting cinematic dissection of "The Witcher"
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First, Let’s Talk About Bella Poarch
According to Social Tracker, Bella Poarch is one of the top 20 most-followed people on TikTok. She recently surpassed JoJo Siwa and has almost 30 million followers on the app. Her videos mostly all use the same face zoom lens. She pouts and shuffles, with the camera tracking her face in a really weird and unnatural way. Her whole schtick could be easily summed up as a safe for work Belle Delphine.
I had not heard of Poarch until earlier this month, which I didn’t find particularly unusual. I’m 30 years old. I have become comfortable with my increasing cultural irrelevance, doomed to spend the remainder of my years walking this rotten Earth as a living corpse, completely oblivious to what is cool and interesting. Although, in this particular instance, it might not be my fault that I’ve never heard of Bella Poarch. It looks as though she was basically invented wholesale by a digital marketing firm earlier this year.
Poarch’s big break on TikTok happened in August when she lip synched to the “M to the B” audio, which comes from the 2016 grime song “Millie B (Sophie Aspin Send)” by Millie B. The video actually rips tbh. Mille B and Sophie Aspin were two aspiring teenage grime rappers from the UK who spent a few months making diss tracks at each other — or sends — while being signed to the same dodgy marketing/talent agency. The Channel 4 documentary about the whole thing is extremely grim.
It’s an interesting song choice for Poarch to blow up with because it seems as if she’s part of her own bizarre viral marketing scheme. This was first noticed by YouTuber Def Noodles, who has a great video on this.
Def Noodles noticed a few things. First, all of Poarch’s social accounts seemingly appeared overnight in April of this year. Second, her listed age on various fan sites is 19, which doesn’t line up with her time serving in the US Navy — she should be closer to 23 years old. And third, and most interestingly of all, her accounts are all connected to a company called BAS.media.
BAS.media’s website is extremely weird. It has the phrase “bring a shovel” written at the top of it — which I assume is what BAS stands for, an email for a person named Danny at the bottom, and in the middle, this extremely fashy looking photo of an eagle grabbing a snake.
So, I’m fairly certain it isn’t a reference to Mexico’s coat of arms, but I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what it is a reference to. The image appears to be a popular tattoo design and shows up in a bunch of different mythology. The “Danny” the email at the bottom of the page directs to appears to be Danny Kang. Def Noodles, in a follow-up Twitter thread, found this Rolling Stone piece that focused on Kang coming to London in 2019 to try and buy the Instagram Egg. I was still living in London when the egg cracked open or whatever and let me tell you, when everyone found out it was some guy in British advertising, people were pissed.
Kang and his partner Daniel Awad did not get the egg in the end, according to Rolling Stone, but they ended up signing the Walmart yodeling kid, Mason Ramsey, and memE-DM artist Oliver Tree to their viral management company Good Luck Have Fun Media. It’s unclear if Kang is still involved with Good Luck Have Fun. Oliver Tree’s Facebook page lists an email for a Dan at goodluckhavefun.media as its contact info — which could be Danny Kang or Daniel Awad. Though Good Luck Have Fun has a similarly sparse website to BAS.media’s.
A paywalled Business Insider article from August lists Danny Kang as the founder of BAS.media, calling it a TikTok “power player” and listing to two more accounts: rapidsongs and goalsounds. Def Noodles, in his video, said he thinks these accounts are sock puppets for BAS.media, but from what I can tell, they seem like they just make TikTok-friendly remixes for audio trends. Which makes sense. Of course accounts like that would exist and it also makes sense that they would be signed to a management company that signs viral celebrities. And it makes even more sense that their audio would be appearing in Poarch’s videos.
None of this is particularly nefarious. And Poarch’s meteoric rise, I don’t think, can really be credited to a viral marketing firm — she’s gaining hundreds of thousands of followers an hour. And it also seems to be the least the problematic thing for Poarch, a possibly 23-year-old pretending to be a teenager, who was recently called out for both an old Facebook post referring to her Black friend as Harambe and getting an anti-Korean Japanese nationalist tattoo earlier this year. But all of this does raise some extremely interesting questions about what TikTok is. I’ve written before about how TikTok’s algorithm tends to value aesthetics over content. Poarch might be the perfect example of this.
People are drawn to her, but they don’t know why. She has no history, no age, no context. It’s just videos of a girl in a barely-furnished McMansion pouting and shuffling along for likes and followers. She was no where and then suddenly everywhere. But there’s no substance to it. Behind her cutesy videos, the machinery of a music rights management firm grinds along, using her video lens-enhanced face to vertically integrate their virally-optimized remixes, designed to get stuck in your ear long enough to inspire the inevitable “here’s the song everyone’s dancing to on TikTok this week” articles, which then boost their Spotify steaming revenue. And while none of it is hurting anyone, I think it should maybe make us stop and think about what all of this is and where it’s going.
Here’s A Good Tweet
The Ultimate Vibe
Unlike Bella Poarch, this is something true and real and great. At least, I think/hope so. (Click in to play the video.) He goes by doggface208 on Instagram and 420doggface208 on TikTok. He has an incredible music taste. His Avril Lavigne video is my personal fave. Just skateboarding and drinking cranberry juice and listening to Fleetwood Mac. I yearn to feel vibes as pure as this.
A Baby Yoda Doll Is Fighting Wildfires
I am very emotional about this Baby Yoda doll! According to a KGW8 report from earlier this month, a 5-year-old boy from Oregon named Carver gave his local firefighters a Baby Yoda doll. “Here is a friend for you in case you get lonely,” Carver wrote in a letter.
And Baby Yoda has spent the month with different crews putting out fires. You can follow his journey on Facebook. I may have slightly teared up going through the page, completely overwhelmed by how kind and nice and silly people can still be even in the face of horrific world-ending madness. I also appreciate that the Facebook page accurately refers to Baby Yoda as his canonical name, “The Child”.
A K-Pop Idol Is Making Waves On r/Emo
K-Pop girl group BLACKPINK is currently promoting their new album The Album and recently released a Spotify playlist including some of the members’ favorite songs. The playlist is super eclectic, especially the picks from Kim Ji-soo, who included The Strokes, Catfish and the Bottleman, and most importantly for r/Emo, the band Sorority Noise.
Sorority Noise is one of those emo revival acts that blew up and disappeared as quickly as they came. They released they critically acclaimed You're Not As _____ As You Think and then dissolved amid allegations of sexual assault against the lead singer who was also suffering from a mental health crisis. Which, sadly, for Reddit’s emo community, has really only added to Sorority Noise’s status as an emo bonafide 🙄.
The top comment is currently someone suggesting Jisoo checks out the band Snowing next. Which, if you’ve had the misfortune of knowing anything about mid-00s emo revival internet drama, is pretty funny. Anyway, BLACKPINK is skramz.
Things Are Heating Up In The Vtuber World
If you don’t know what a Vtuber is consider yourself lucky. It stands for “virtual YouTuber” and they have become increasingly popular over the last nine months or so. They’re basically computer-generated anime girls built with motion capture technology. But many do voice actors behind the avatar. The most popular one is Kizuna AI.
Much like BAS.media using the avatar of a young woman to build their digital entertainment firm, there’s a Vtuber management company, as well. One of the bigger ones is Hololive, which is owned by the Japanese company Cover Corp. It’s built like a traditional idol group, with auditions and voting for favorite members. But, of course, they’re all avatars.
Well, two of Hololive’s Vtubers got in pretty big trouble this week. Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato were both suspended for three weeks by Hololive from YouTube and Chinese streaming site BiliBili. Why would two anime girl avatar streamers get suspended you ask? For acknowledging Taiwanese sovereignty, of course.
Let me know if you had “virtual anime girl YouTubers upset Chinese nationalists” on your 2020 bingo card. A Garbage Day reader sent me a link to this article that has a pretty good rundown of what happened. Basically, the two Vtubers were discussing their viewership metrics on stream and described Taiwan as an independent country. Hololive. Cover Corp in a statement said the two streamers were “making statements insensitive to certain nationalities” and then posted a another statement on BiliBili saying they supposed the One China policy.
The r/Hololive subreddit is really mad about the suspension. One redditor summed it up thusly, “I guess cute 2D anime girls aren't immune to real world politics.”
Finally, The Horrible Hamilton Reddit Relationship Post
This post is CURSED. It was deleted from Reddit, but that hasn’t slowed down the comment section. Here are a few helpful suggestions:
“Start obsessing over The Bee Movie”
“obsessing over shrek is also a good alternative option”
“Start a war and get the 1776 soundtrack. May the best Revolutionary War-era musical win.”
The OP is in the comments, as well. “I've never known her to do this over anything else. We both love Harry Potter but I wouldn't say she ever got obsessed over that even,” he wrote further down the thread. Which I feel like is a very important detail contextually.
What I love about this though is that it’s toxicity isn’t confined to Reddit. Several hours after @redditships posted a screenshot to Twitter, the owner of the account replied with:
The Twitter replies are indeed A MESS. There are a disturbing amount of people suggesting he just learn to deal with it. And like, obviously, 99.9% of the time the men in Reddit relationships posts are wrong, but I don’t think this is one of those times. I could have had a punchier final line here if I had actually seen Hamilton, but due to the near-constant stream of horror and agony that is 2020, I just simply haven’t had the emotional strength to sit through it yet!
P.S. here’s an interesting cinematic dissection of The Witcher.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***