Eliza Levinson recaps the week in streaming.
A bad week for homophobic celebrities: DaBaby got dropped from a bunch of music festivals after making entirely unwarranted and homophobic comments about gay people and people with AIDS while Matt Damon elected to reveal, unprompted, that he stopped using the “f-slur for a homosexual” “months ago.” Following outcry, Damon went on to issue a statement to Variety, clarifying that he heard the word a lot growing up in Boston but didn’t use it in his “personal life.” The social media response was swift, with “many … unimpressed,” and “some … wonder[ing] why Mr. Damon shared the story in the first place.” Some, like Daniel Fienberg, likened Damon’s self-own to the time Liam Neeson, unprompted, disclosed the time that he walked the streets with a weapon in the hopes of assaulting a Black man.
Shot Girl Summer: White House Recruits Influencers To Fight Anti-Vax Disinformation
This week, news broke that both federal and state officials have been reaching out to influencers on TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch to encourage their followers to get vaccinated. According to Taylor Lorenz for The New York Times, the campaign is part of an effort to expand vaccination among Americans ages 12 to 18, 58% of whom have not yet received a single dose. This push comes just a short time after Olivia Rodrigo went to the White House, also part of an effort to encourage young people in the US to get their jabs. (They’re far from the first, as Lorenz pointed out: in 1956, Elvis Presley got his polio vaccine live on TheEd Sullivan Show.)
A total of 50 influencers have made deals with the White House to promote vaccination. On the state level, “micro influencers” — what Taylor Lorenz defines as “those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers” — are being offered monthly payments of $400 to $1,000 in exchange for boosting vaccination in their communities. According to Colorado public health official Jessica Bralish, the financial compensation is because “all too often, diverse communities are asked to reach out to their communities for free. And to be equitable, we know we must compensate people for their work.”
The efforts are, apparently, actually effective: Rob Perry, head of digital marketing agency XOMAD, says that “when large numbers of influencers post [about vaccines] in the same time period, vaccination rates go up.”
As Günseli Yalcinkaya points out in Dazed, this effort is a continuation of “the distinction between influencer and political organizer becom[ing] increasingly blurred,” a point articulated in a late April piece for The Guardian by Joshua Citarella. In it, Citarella cites multiple examples of Zoomers mobilizing their viewership to knock on doors for political campaigns or live-streaming court testimony on Twitch.
These “grassroots” –– in quotes only because it’s not quite traditional grassroots organizing –– efforts are, as Taylor Lorenz notes in the Times piece, possibly more effective forms of spreading information than sponsored pro-vax posts from influencers, because their motivations come from passion alone — and are thus more likely to be continuously pushed to their followers. Lorenz paraphrases Stanford Internet Observatory researcher Renee DiResta, who believes that “while influencer campaigns may be useful, they may be no match for mass, organic online movements.” “People who believe [the vaccines are] going to hurt you are out there talking about it every day,” says DiResta. “They’re driving hashtags and pushing content and doing everything they can do.”
House of Gucci: Can Americans Do Camp (On Purpose)?
This week, I was elated to see the trailer for the thoroughly campy and much-hyped House of Gucci, which must have been edited together in approximately two minutes because I remember paparazzi images from the set being leaked just last year.
So much about the trailer spoke to me: Lady Gaga! Al Pacino! Adam Driver! Jared Leto, in a truly terrifying act of makeup mastery! All speaking with some of the thickest and least convincing Italian accents I’ve heard (Adam Driver, I am talking to you)! The moment when Lady Gaga crosses herself and says “Father, Son, House of Gucci”! It was dumb and dishy and soapy and over the top and I’m eating it up with a spoon, I tell you.
The whole thing reminded me of a provocative thing I heard from a source I cannot remember (someone on some podcast that was either Sexy Unique Podcast or Las Culturistas, lol) who argued that Americans can’t “do” camp. At the time, I loosely agreed with them in the way that any American expat loosely agrees with any criticism of the US — that it’s harsh but probably true — and moved on with my life. And, recalling the 2019 Met Gala, it seemed this forgettable critic was right: no one, from Harry Styles to Katy Perry to the queen of American camp herself, Kim Kardashian, was able to intentionally perform camp, even if their celebrity was predicated on their very campiness in the first place.
With the added hindsight of a couple of extra weeks, I would like to counter-argue that Americans can definitely do camp — sometimes on purpose (as in the case of much of Lady Gaga’s early albums, as well as arthouse classics like But I’m A Cheerleader andRocky Horror Picture Show), but often, perhaps usually, not. In fact, I’d argue that most American culture since Trump’s election is camp, in the sense of something being simultaneously over the top and un-self aware, a harrowing set of aesthetic exaggerations which crash-land miles away from their intended destination: all of reality television, the era of “Instagram face”, the popularity and danger of the Brazilian butt lift, a man in a fur vest and viking helmet storming the nation’s capital, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani testifying as streaks of brown hair dye drip down his profusely sweating forehead. All exist in culture as aspirational –– paragons of beauty, wealth, power, or strength — and are instead disturbing: uncanny, flaccid, or pathetic at best; scary, violent, and life-threatening at worst. “I am strongly drawn to Camp,” wrote Susan Sontag in 1966, “and almost as strongly offended by it” — as accurate a summation as any to describe how the media seems to feel about the American right.
~Catch up on Dirt~
- Jason Diamond pays tribute to the online community for hardcore band t-shirts
- Alex Aciman on aspirationally keeping dozens of computer tabs open
- Daisy Alioto on vocal fry
— Amanda Knox, the American who was held for eight years in Italian prison after being accused of murdering her roommate, is criticizing the film Stillwaterfor pulling from her life story for inspiration. In a Twitter thread about the film, Knox invited the director, Tom McCarthy, and the film’s star, Matt Damon, on her podcast, Labyrinths. This wouldn’t be the first time Knox has sparred directly with someone who has used her story for material: last November, she featured Malcolm Gladwell on Labyrinths after he pulled from her audiobook in his most recent book, Talking To Strangers — new releases from Tierra Whack, Clairo, and Bad Bunny, with new Lizzo coming next week — a merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery is moving forward, as planned. The joint companies will be called Warner Bros. Discovery. Negotiations will be finalized in mid-2022 — Kerry Washington is producing and starring in a film adaptation of Rockaway for Netflix, based on the memoir by Diane Cardwell
— Molchat Doma’s album Этажи — New Order’s Power Corruption and Lies — this video from the TLC show Love At First Kiss — my favorite tweet about the Matt Damon f-bomb fiasco — a TikTok I love— By Eliza Levinson