Eliza Levinson recaps the streaming industry for Dirt on Fridays. If you like the feature or have feedback, lmk: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reality is streaming
[*Alaska Thunderfuck voice*] Hiiii! This week I watched so much RuPaul’s Drag Race that I watched the controversial season 12 by choice. It’s lockdown in Berlin, where I live — has been since November, actually, and they’ll soon be implementing a new rule where we can’t leave the house between 9 AM and 5 PM. If quarantine accelerated streaming in the United States, here, it’s turbocharged.
In the last six months, which included several where the sun was out for about ten minutes a day, RuPaul’s Drag Race and its affiliate productions, like Trixie Mattel and Katya Zomoldochikova’s YouTube series UNHhhh, or their podcast, The Bald and the Beautiful, have been my primary source of dopamine. Theoretically, watching beautiful queer people dance their hearts out while in the same room should make me even more full of frustrated yearning, but it’s somehow the opposite –– the very best qualities of reality TV: a close enough approximation of the real thing to scratch the itch, for the time being.
Because that’s the thing with reality TV, right? It’s kind of like reality itself in drag: jazzed up to emphasize its best, most salacious parts, both kitschy and attractive at the same time. That gap between image and reality is probably also why the Kardashian empire has been working so hardto scrub all traces of an undoctored photo of Kourtney off of the internet, since any member of the family is, at this point, using so many filters that they look like the robot influencer @lilmiquela.
Are you familiar with Lil Miquela? She’s an entirely fictional, computer-rendered influencer who is now selling her own NFTs. As with reality television, at any given moment, I can’t tell if her account makes me feel existential fear and dread or if it’s actually a brilliant Conceptual Statement. Lil Miquela strikes me as something of this moment’s perfect, and perhaps only logical, influencer. Since there’s basically no organic way for trends to be cropping up IRL, and we are bored, broke, and hopelessly online, the trends of the moment (Clubhouse, NFTs, the literal stock market) are stubbornly virtual and, in some cases, startlingly expensive.
That’s why I wasn’t that surprised when I found out that MSCHF, the creative agency that Lil Nas X worked with to make his viral “Satan Shoes”, is now selling … email addresses? For $250 each? As MSCHF explained, backing up the bold hypothesis I just rattled off, “Your email address is your fashion statement. Your fashion statement is who you are,” which feels like the best encapsulation of 2021 technocapitalist realism I could imagine.
~Catch up on Dirt~
— Did “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” get pulled from international streaming services, or is Lil Nas X trolling us all? — Lady Gaga fans are doing some viral hype campaign to get her 2013 album Artpop to the top of the iTunes charts in the hopes of a sequel album — Netflix is making a Kanye West doc — Next-gen Apple TVs may include a FaceTime camera — Scientists managed to make music out of spider webs (?!!) and it sounds like Sarah Davachi — A man in Texas tried to blow up the internet — Los Angeles’s Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters are closing for good — Trailer drops for Ziwe’s new self-titled Showtime show — a new video game called The Tenants about “landlord jobs that shouldn’t exist” — Vanessa Carlton hated the song “A Thousand Miles” “for years”
— Charlie Warzel on “adventures in context collapse” — “The Tarot Is A Chameleon” by Rhian Sasseen for The Paris Review — excerpt of a very rock ‘n roll Werner Herzog interview — this TikTok of Elizabeth Taylor answering if she would ever get married again — a good episode of UNHhhh — this song by Bad Bunny — drag queens Trixie Mattel and Monique Heart give comedian Nicole Byer a drag makeover — a compilation of iconic “lip sync for your life” moments on RuPaul’s Drag Race — By Eliza Levinson