Welcome To The Summer Of Morbius
Read to the end for a beautiful comic about inspiration
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What If Paul Blart Was A Vampire?
A lot of movies produce memes. In the late-00s, an entire online visual language was created out of stills from movies like The Dark Knight, Inception, and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. And it seems kind of clear why that happened. A lot of young men on websites like Reddit really liked those movies and a bunch of them had access to Photoshop. Thus, memes. But it’s harder to nail down why a movie becomes a meme.
Let’s quickly cover the big ones. Shrek is essentially the model for this kind of thing. But Bee Movie also fits here, as well. In many ways, they’re the Pepe the Frog and Doge of the meme movie. Shrek came first, spawning an endless parade of Photoshops and remixes, and then, when internet users got bored of Shrek, they moved on to Bee Movie, using it to make even more absurd and surreal content. The fact that, in both cases, the first one was green and the subsequent response meme was yellow feels like it must mean something, but I can’t figure out what.
Anyways, there have been a few movies like this. Where they didn’t just produce memes, but became them. Paul Blart is a good example of what I’m talking about, so is Despicable Me and its minions. I would also argue the original Spider-Man 3 fits into this category.
Now, you might look at this random collection of films and say the common denominator is nostalgia. We meme the media we grew up with. But, as I argued in a Ringer piece last year about the 20th anniversary of Shrek, I think there’s something else happening here. Allow me to quote myself lol: “This, I think, is largely a reaction to the over-commercialization of the franchise when it first came out. Shrek was branded on everything. This ties together to the DreamWorks smirk and other sort of late-stage capitalist parodies that become memes. Mountain Dew comes to mind here.” And I think that meme reaction to the hilarious grotesqueries of late-stage capitalism is exactly what’s happening around the movie Morbius.
When the embargoes first lifted on Morbius reviews, a bunch of jokes start popping up about the movie. It currently has 17% on Rotten Tomatoes and, because it was created out of a need for Sony to keep using its Spider-Man intellectual property, lest it fall back into Marvel’s hands, there isn’t even a real fanbase for the character. Morbius is a D-tier Spider-Man villain at best. Also, Jared Leto just really never recovered after playing the Joker, so there aren’t even like genuine Leto stans to support the movie (well, ones that don’t live on his weird island with him).
But the Morbius memes really kicked into high-gear over the weekend when it became clear that Morbius was actually doing really well at the box office. It’s made $84 million so far! And that has led the #MorbiusSweep hashtag to start trending which is honestly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life. If you don’t feel like clicking in, there’s basically not one genuine tweet in the entire thing. The hashtag also led to a fake quote going viral from Martin Scorsese praising the film, which one of film’s stars, Tyrese Gibson, fell for.
And this cognitive dissonance — an awful movie that has no actual fanbase making a huge amount of money — continues to produce bizarre and hilarious moments. Like this clip my buddy Hussein sent me of Leto being interviewed by a VTuber. One of the replies underneath this tweet wrote, “I've heard ‘cult’ leaders are often uncertain of how they should react in the presence of each other.” Which may explain horrible psychic energy emanating off of this video.
And, so, I think, like the vibe shift, like goblin mode, the summer of Morbius is just another useful way of thinking about our current moment: a fake fan campaign for a movie no one wanted or gives a shit about that somehow made a bunch of money, probably just because people are desperate to do something, anything outside their homes. But beyond this illusion of success and momentum is just, well, nothing.
I mean, this whole thing is ridiculous. Jared Leto’s method-acting meant his pee breaks on set became so long they started to delay the production. None of this makes any sense! But because Morbius did so well, there will obviously be more of these movies and they’ll all be bad and everyone will hate them and Sony will make a bunch of money and no one will learn anything. But with the state of the world right now, does that even matter? I’m not sure. Instead, it feels like we’ve all collectively thrown our hands up and said, “whatever! It’s time for Morbius.” So, who will you be after the summer of Morbius?
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Elon Musk Bought A Stake Of Twitter
According to Bloomberg, Elon Musk bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter, becoming the company’s largest shareholder. Uh-oh! This move seemingly came after Musk ran a Twitter poll asking his followers if they thought Twitter supported free speech. Bloomberg also pointed out that Twitter doesn’t have special voting control like other platforms, which means Musk could put some serious pressure on the company.
Garbage Day readers know that I’m not a fan of Twitter, but more than that, I’m not a fan of Twitter’s importance in culture. The fact that it essentially runs American pop culture has become more and more of a problem over the years and I’m, honestly, surprised it’s taken a billionaire this long to try and buy it. If Elon Musk wants to turn it into his personal subreddit, I wouldn’t really care if there was any other place to go, but there isn’t and that worries me. The first tweet was sent 16 years ago, and while there have been definite lulls in its influence since then, the platform has only grown more powerful and impactful.
But now that Musk owns a massive stake in the central feed that determines literally everything that goes on TV in this country, we need new open and searchable social platforms and we need them now.
Hopefully, before Musk can start pushing his thumb down on Twitter, though, we’ll at least find out what actually happened with him at Berghain.
Charli XCX Is Back On Tumblr
Charli XCX announced last week that she was rejoining Tumblr. Which feels like a big win for the supposed Tumblr renaissance that’s happening right now. I tried to click on the link to her Tumblr that she tweeted out but it seems like she has some kind of weird redirect on her Tumblr URL. It just takes you to her official website. After hunting around the platform, though, I was able to actually find her blog and can confirm that she’s posting on there. She recently reblogged a picture of herself and captioned it “I am that bitch,” so I’d say she’s definitely acclimating well to the site’s culture after some time away.
New Viral Challenge Dropped
It started with some NFL players on TikTok. It’s called the water cup challenge (makes sense) and it’s absolutely hypnotic. I’m sold. Game of the summer. Can’t wait to see how people take this too far, hurt themselves, and then use it to inspire a moral panic that spreads across local news stations for several weeks. Based on the usual timeline for this sort of thing, I’d say we could see our first “Doctor Urges Teens To Stop Drowning Themselves By Accident While Doing The Water Cup Challenge” headline by June 1. Let’s gooooo.
One Last April Fools Thing
I can’t believe I missed this! The Minions Twitter account tweeted on Friday that they had created an NFT collection called the “Apathetic Gru Banana Club”. But if you clicked in on to the page it gives you instructions on how to “buy” one of these NFTs — by right-clicking them and saving them to your computer.
A Thought-Provoking Tweet
Another reminder! There’s a Garbage Day meetup in Brooklyn this month! It’s on April 21st, at a bar called Logan’s Run. There’s an Eventbrite page for it. It’ll be super chill. Hope to see you there!
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a beautiful comic about inspiration.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***