Eliza Levinson tells us what is going on in streaming and the metaverse.
I can’t believe I’m about to write this next sentence. (takes deep breath) A fan account for the dog and cat belonging to President Joe Biden was the subject of ire this week after tweeting about the very real human crises facing people in Ukraine but using, as Input put it, “doggo-speak.” “I am furry pupset,” the tweet began.
After news broke that the critically-acclaimed Broadway revival of for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf would end its intended run months earlier than expected due to low ticket sales, theater critic Ayanna Prescod has led an impressive crowdfunding effort. In the last few days, individuals, organizations, and ticket distributors have come together to raise some $15,000 in ticket sales for the show. Producers have expressed that they would consider extending the show’s run again if sales spike in the next few weeks.
In Deutschland, the youth are abuzz after a talk show hosted by Jan Böhmermann (think John Oliver, but with some investigative journalism) uncovered the fraud perpetrated by an idealistic local influencer. Fynn Kliemann billed himself as something of a jack-of-all-trades: he was a musician, a hype beast, and a conventionally hot 30-something, but he was also beautifully altruistic. All of his projects tied, in some way, back to spectacularly generous missions: a version of Airbnb where financially comfortable customers could pay a “soli”-price – meaning a slightly higher rate – in order to subsidize vacations for low-income travelers (“the democratization of vacation,” as his company described it). When the pandemic hit, Kliemann’s clothing brand shifted to producing only masks, which they claimed were being made by fairly-paid workers in Portugal. In the spring of 2020, 100,000 of those masks were donated to refugees.
As Böhmermann’s show revealed this week, Kliemann’s rosy feed was misleading. No one ever received the 10,000-some euros donated toward the vacation of others (BRB: pouring one out for the Germans, who so deeply value vacation that they would donate tens of thousands of euros toward the cause), and the masks weren’t being made in Portugal, but in sweatshops in Bangladesh and Vietnam. Worst of all, the masks donated to refugees were demonstrably defective, which was why they wouldn’t be selling them. “Krise kann auch geil sein” (“Crisis can also be awesome”), Kliemann texted a friend. The influencer has since issued a number of public statements, but – as evidenced by his latest post, asking for some space – the people remain mega sauer (super pissed).
The story reminded me of this extremely dishy two-part feature in Vanity Fair (“Scene Stealer: The True Lies of Elisabeth Finch”), which uncovers the shockingly elaborate lies one staff writer on Grey’s Anatomy told her friends and colleagues for years. It also reminded me of the new season of Selling Sunset, in which co-stars Chrishell Stause and Jason Oppenheim poorly pretend to be in love. In the world of entertainment, between a social media influencer, a soap opera staff writer, and reality TV stars, to what extent is the truth valuable, or even necessary? Is it inaccurate to say that, ultimately, an influencer’s main role is not to elevate us, but to entertain us, or even to pacify us?
No environment is better suited for discussion of truth, lies, and pretending to be someone else than the cryptosphere, ever the site of wanton scams. This week, the US government announced that it would be sanctioning Blender.io, which has been allegedly employed by North Korea “to support its malicious cyber activities and money-laundering of stolen virtual currency” (according to a US Treasury press release). As summarized in VICE, Blender is a cryptocurrency mixer, meaning that it effectively jumbles different tokens together in order to conceal where the funds are coming from – TL;DR: Blockchain money laundering. In April, the US government accused North Korea of being behind a massive hack of the popular crypto game Axie Infinity, in which $625 million was stolen “from the Ronin network.”
~Catch up on Dirt~
— Daisy Alioto interviews Sasha Stiles about AI poetry, mortality, ancestry and her new book, Technelegy
— in Thursday’s roundup, my hot takes on the best and worst of the Met Gala + Justin Bieber’s haunting new release (“I Feel Funny”)
— in a cold open starring host Benedict Cumberbatch, Saturday Night Live responds to the contentious Supreme Court draft threatening the future of Roe v. Wade — fashion historians are shocked that Kim Kardashian was allowed to wear an authentic dress worn by Marilyn Monroe to the Met Gala, with one offering an extensive thread (pun intended) about the lineage of wearing historic fashion and the particular offenses of Kardashian’s seam-ripping red carpet appearance — T-Pain is opening a restaurant — this year’s Tony Award nominees were announced on Monday. The ceremony will stream on June 12 — Ncuti Gatwa will star as Doctor Who beginning in 2023. He is the first Black actor to fill the role and the series’ fourteenth Doctor — at Input, a dive into “the colossal failure of VENN, the ‘MTV of video games’” — Instagram celebrity gossip account @DeuxMoi is writing a novel (Anon Pls) that is being adapted into a series by HBO — Kendrick Lamar released a new song (“The Heart Part 5”) and music video, which includes a sequence of his face “morphing into the likes of O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith and Nipsey Hustle.” His new album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, will be released on May 13 — Bono and The Edge played an acoustic set in a bomb shelter in Kyiv, at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — Future’s latest video (featuring Drake and Tems) has Game of Thrones vibes
Dispatches from the Metaverse
— Cameo laid off nearly 90 employees this week, which was announced in a tweet by the company co-founder (who, one tech writer noted, has a Bored Ape NFT in his Twitter avatar) — after weeks of teasing, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Instagram will be testing NFT integrations this week. This would mean that users can display their virtual tokens on their profiles — Google, Microsoft, and Apple are working together to eliminate user-created passwords, swapping them out for sign-ins like face and fingerprint scans — Tesla is suing an ex-employee for “allegedly stealing ‘confidential and tightly guarded’ information” — in California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that would regulate cryptocurrency, though no specific regulatory measures have been elucidated — the SEC placed a $5.5 million fine on Nvidia for failing to disclose to investors that a spike in revenue was driven by customers buying its GPUs for cryptocurrency mining — hackers stole $20,000 from crypto investors via OpenSea’s Discord, where, posing as the marketplace, they posted a link to a website spoofing YouTube and accessed users’ crypto wallet addresses — Elon Musk has raised $7 billion from just 18 investors as part of his bid to make Twitter private. Investors include a Saudi Prince and the web3 maxis at a16z…
— EJ Dickson interviews the ladies behind @theVIPlist on TikTok for Rolling Stone –– trippy VFX art by @justjoshing on IG — a compilation of Sonja Morgan laughing on TikTok — voyeuristic thrills abound in this review of LaQuan Smith’s Met Gala afterparty at The Cut — @MikesMic on YouTube does extremely thorough, funny, and wholly unhinged recaps and ratings — The Vow (I know I’m late to this one) on HBO — at The Cut, Devon Sherer asks, “Why is TikTok telling me to sell feet pics?”
— Eliza Levinson