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The cognitohazard of Harry Styles’ painted nails!!!

Read to the end for a truly incredible TikTok

The Harry Styles Conundrum

Harry Styles, global pop megastar and also actor, has recently embarked on the promotional tour for his new film My Policeman — which, as I literally just learned, is a different movie than the Olivia Wilde-directed Don’t Worry Darling which also a 1950s period piece starring Styles (Wilde’s boyfriend) and is also premiering this fall. [Ed. note: I just learned that, as well.] I don’t think he’s gay in that one, though? Or maybe he is?????? He’s definitely gay in My Policeman, though, which is the font of the recent backlash against comments he made on the film’s press tour.

In an interview with Indiewire, he claimed that “So much of gay sex in film is two guys going at it, and it kind of removes the tenderness from it.” Now, that reads slightly less stupid in context, but is still pretty damn stupid regardless, and it’s no wonder why it sparked off a ratio of epic proportions. 

There’s a lot to be said here about context collapse and outrage amplification, the usual digital culprits behind these kinds of celeb microscandals. But I also figure it’s more than a bit a product of the media training industrial complex, which in coaching celebrities on how to perfectly answer any question that might possibly be proposed to them, has them spurting mealy, meaningless, beige sentences like the above which end up being far more offensive than any genuine opinion, however out of pocket. This kind of manufactured controversy is such a reach. Make Celebs Interesting Again! 

Anyway, when Ryan asked for my opinion on the whole kerfuffle, I found it could be summed up by a passing remark my friend made, along the lines of “if I had been at the center of a global homoerotic conspiracy involving me and my best friend for years I would also get kind of squirmy about gay sex.” I mean, yeah — the specter of Larry Stylinson haunts pretty much everything Styles does and says. It was traumatizing for him to be the center of so much sustained nonconsensual erotic imagination… but clearly not traumatizing enough for him to shy completely away from an ongoing public aesthetic oriented around queerness, which probably means that — oh god, now I’m tinhatting. Curses! Foiled again by the cognitohazard of Harry Styles’ painted nails!!!!!!

But honestly, it’s all just kind of boring and predictable. Styles has been walking this aesthetic tightrope for years, stumbling frequently along the way, and will probably keep on for as long as it makes him feel cool and earn heaps of cash along the way. Now, what’s way more interesting and fun and hot is how Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance wore a custom-tailored vintage cheerleading dress onstage at their concert in Nashville this week. And, given that this column is quite short because I am still in Edinburgh and was out until 4AM last night, I better plug a handful of the amazing queer comedians here: check out Reuben Kaye, Leo Reich, Jordan Gray, Zach Zucker, Emily Wilson! Boom done! 

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Stop obsessing over the missing second cookbook. Stop checking for new comics past Christmas 2016. Stop re-reading the blogs, the zines, and your personal rip of the old Assetbar comments section. Listen to Brain Tape, and finally finish Achewood once and for all. Remember: there is no false power in the universe.

Live show this weekend!!!! I’m back with the Digital Void crew at Caveat in New York on Saturday and we have some incredible guests including YouTube creator Carlos Maza, Check My Ads’ Nandini Jammi, and NBC News’ Manny Fidel. You can pick up tickets here. Also, I’ll be talking Tumblr at Mark Vigeant’s Internet Explorers show which is directly after our show. I’ll see you there!

A Good Tweet

Mark Zuckerberg’s Ugly Future

Earlier this week, tech analyst Matt Navarra (who is an essential follow for industry updates) shared a screenshot from a LinkedIn post written by Dylan Dunbar, who identifies himself as a “3D Character Artist” at Meta.

Dunbar wrote that he “created the Mark Zuckerberg avatar from scratch- sculpted, modeled, lit, textured, and rendered in real time in a little under 4 weeks” and that they “went through probably 40 iterations” before ending up with this…

Dunbar’s LinkedIn profile looks legit and Navarra is also a solid source for this kind of stuff, but neither Dunbar or Meta have commented about the post, which is no longer up. And, a reminder, the avatar Dunbar allegedly made was supposed to be the better version of the avatar that was absolutely roasted earlier this month.

First, let’s get this out of the way. These avatars that Zuckerberg is commissioning are not impressive and also as ugly as they are boring. He didn’t even make himself a cat boy.

I’ve also seen a lot of users on Twitter asking “who is Horizon Worlds for?” And it’s a good question. I have an Oculus. Meta’s core metaverse platform, the thing that ostensively will be replacing Facebook soon as Meta’s main online portal, the central OS for the company’s VR world, is too boring for children, too complicated for old people, too time-consuming for anyone raising a family, and, though, it might eventually be good enough to function as some kind of inescapable cyberhell for white collar workers to have endless meetings inside of, at the moment it's hard to imagine a real use case for it. Except for one. I’ve come to conclusion that Meta’s metaversal aspirations are just a cold and cynical bet on a future where we just can’t go outside anymore. Meta’s big plan is to spend the next few years cobbling together something with enough baseline functionality that we can all migrate to it during the next pandemic. That’s the only explanation for the absolutely deranged amount of misplaced optimism Meta has about this stuff. This is a company who has decided they can make a lot of money off a catastrophic future by forcing us into their genital-free off-brand-Pixar panopticon and mining us for data while we Farmville ourselves to death.

Also, related: a reader named 9to5dolly sent me this. I have no other context for it, but if I had to see it, so do you. If click the link, you’ll see that the website… moves.. a lot…

Has Dark Brandon Finally Arrived?

I was admittedly pretty vicious when the first Dark Brandon memes became A Thing among Twitter wonks earlier this month. I stand by the fact that it’s not a real meme, but also acknowledge that there’s probably no such thing as a real meme and I need to get better at letting these things go. My main gripe is that I am vehemently against anyone in the Democratic establishment having any sort of fun until we are safely on the other side of our current constitutional crisis. I basically don’t want a single Democrat politician or activist to even type the acronym “lol” for at least the next decade. Is that so much to ask?

Anyways, in a moment that I assume is similar to watching a newborn walk for the first time, the White House’s Twitter account yesterday finally realized it’s not 2004 anymore and started quote-tweeting Republican politicians moaning about Biden’s student loan forgiveness and shared how much they had forgiven in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. You can check out the whole thread here. It’s, in a word, delicious.

More On How The Twitter Whistleblower Will Impact Affect The Musk Lawsuit

On Wednesday, I wrote about the allegations that have come to light thanks to a fairly damning report about Twitter’s security processes that was released by Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, well-known hacker and Twitter’s former head of security. I put together a short list of things that stood out to me, writing that “Twitter appears to have been lying to Elon Musk about bots quite extensively.” Well, a few readers pointed me in the direction of this excellent Techdirt piece that looks at the whistleblower report with a good dose of skepticism. And it’s likely that I was wrong.

“[The report] is framed as though it supports Musk’s claims that Twitter is lying about spam. But, the details actually show the opposite,” the Techdirt piece reads. “The media is, unfortunately, falling for the spin. The media is covering it as if the claims about spam and bots help Musk.” It seems I was, regrettably, part of The Media in this case.

And, as for the latest in the Twitter v. Musk lawsuit, even with the whistleblower report out in the world now, it’s still just as messy as it’s been all summer.

Tony The Tiger Is A VTuber Now

Kellogg’s built a Tony the Tiger streaming rig — which looks a lot better tbh than Zuckerberg’s avatar. The Tony VTuber is now streaming on Twitch. I really cannot overstate how much of a bad idea this is. Why you may ask? Well, allow me to let Tumblr user floofe-trans-doggie sum it up:

Kellogg’s is making a Twitch channel for Tony the Tiger as a VTuber. It is the moral duty of everyone who can spare the time to do so to spam the most vile, repulsive, unabashedly horny nonsense in the chat, such that this cannot be maintained. Hold the line against the continual corporate takeover of our media. Become unprofitable.

Tony the Tiger has not had an easy time on social media over the last decade. If you don’t remember, furries, in particular, spent years inundating the Tony the Tiger Twitter account with outrageously sexual messages. Though it wasn’t just exclusive to Tony, either. Furries eventually did the same thing to the Chester Cheetah account.

I think the main takeaway here is that if you’re a brand and you have a corporate mascot that was designed before the internet was invented, it is probably worth not immediately jumping on every digitally-native trend that comes along. I’m going to say that your cereal mascot probably doesn’t need to be a streamer.

Another Good Tweet

Some Stray Links

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

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