Dirt: Talking to oneself
And making bad entertainment of it.
Eliza Levinson returns twice a week to tell us what is going on in streaming and the metaverse.
Just 2 more days ‘til the weekend, dear readers! And then, before we know it…
Despite time’s determined march toward the future, Rihanna is still pregnant, posing in an elegant new cover shoot for Vogue by the woman my grandma once described as “that woman photographer who isn’t dead” (Annie Leibovitz, though that made for a fun guessing game).
With just days to go before ladies in Los Angeles toss on their Daisy Dukes and flower crowns, The Weeknd agreed to replace Kanye West as a headliner on Coachella’s Sunday lineups (April 17 and April 24), though there was briefly some drama when the pop star demanded to be paid the same as Kanye ($8.5 million). ICYMI, Kanye West canceled his planned performances at the Coachella music festival following a spate of erratic social media posts culminating in his ouster from the 2022 Grammys.
Is there going to be a new David Lynch film, or not?? This week, Variety reported that Lynch would launch a “secret” new movie featuring Laura Dern and “some other Lynch regulars” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Characteristically, answers won’t come easily for Lynch lovers: the director himself characterized Variety’s report as “a total rumor,” going so far as to say directly, “I have no film at Cannes.”
In the realm of surrealist content, Atlanta creator, rapper, and comedian Donald Glover confused the internet last week when Interview magazine allowed him to interview … himself. Some readers, like critic Angelica Bastien (Vulture, NY Mag) felt that the piece highlighted “how the skills of profilers/critics/interviewers are so undervalued” – and I guess it’s kinda easy to see why when you read lines like these:
Are you being honest with yourself ?
I’ll come back to it. Who’s the last person you had a deep conversation with?
Are you afraid of Black women?
Why are you asking me that?
I feel like your relationship to them has played a big part in your narrative.
I feel like you’re using Black women to question my Blackness.
The article – which I, like many other readers, found cringe – made me think about what I’ll call “the politics of talking to oneself,” which seems not just a byproduct of the internet but essential to it. Ages ago I read a tweet that I can’t find now that was basically: you can tell which writers have been spending too much time on Twitter based on how much they argue with themselves over inconsequential details in preparation to be blown apart online. Which is one element of the auto-discourse-politic, like: preparation for the bad faith take (e.g., Glover’s clumsy reference to how Black women fit in his “narrative”) → chasing one’s own tail, erasing any productive meaning in navel-gazing, solipsism, and minutiae.
Another element of the auto-discourse-politic is performative isolation, which also feels like part of Glover’s experimental interview: that is to say, not just arguing with yourself, but making a show out of doing so.
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you’ll probably know that I’m a fan of Leia Jospe’s curated TikToks over at @FaveTikToks420 on IG. If you’re afraid of the cringe, I’ll spare you: @FaveTikToks420 highlights eye-watering front-facing camera content, largely earnest/painfully horny teen boys acting out anything from softcore erotica to breakups to being the new kid who is getting checked out at a party (lol).
Is the idea supposed to be that these are all fantasies we share, churning around in the deep waters of the collective unconscious? Or has someone, intentionally or not, offered up their own illusions for our enjoyment (including, tragically, one’s delusions about themselves)? Though I think Donald Glover actually is pretty brilliant sometimes, there’s something about the Interview piece that highlights his lack of self-awareness, rather than his mastery of it.
Anyway, the whole thing reminded me of a really bananas interview Glover gave to the New Yorker a few years ago, in which he describes life itself – or perhaps success? – as “the algorithm.” He even accepted an Emmy by saying, “First, I want to thank the great algorithm that put us all here.” What does he mean? Is “us all” celebrities, and “here” is the room in which the Emmys were being given out (e.g., achieving wealth/celebrity is possible via mastery of an algorithm)? Or does he mean that he believes in a Godlike Algorithm that put us all – as in, us all – here?
I personally do not believe in God-as-Algorithm but I bet Kris Jenner does: this week saw the return of the Kardashians to streaming television, and thank God. Who is watching? Apparently the show is basically the same as earlier iterations with an upped budget.
~Catch up on Dirt~
— Anna Perling chats with renowned critic Hilton Als about his elegant Instagram presence
— the Bowling GIF? Caroline Calloway? Microplastics? I explain some of the internet’s latest trending topics in Tuesday’s roundup
— Nikhil Sethi on Twitch’s “Just Chatting” feature
— the latest startlingly recent movie to get remade and make us all feel old is Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which will star Donald Glover and PEN15’s Maya Erskine. The show was originally slated with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge as costar, but the actress left the show in September 2021 citing “creative differences. Twitter gossips want to know what really happened — Glover’s keeping busy: he’s also working on an Amazon show about a “Beyoncé-type character” that’s “potentially called Hive.” Cowriters include none other than Malia Obama — Comedian Gilbert Gottfried died on Tuesday at age 67 “after a long illness” — fans and critics alike are extremely disappointed about the series finale of Killing Eve — Rachel Sennott (Shiva Baby, Instagram) and Kaia Gerber have been cast in Bottoms, a new film that’s being billed as “lesbian fight club” (Yellowjackets?) — at Variety, a deep dive into the issues plaguing Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts trilogy: what was expected to be a reliable seat-filler has been rife with cast controversies (Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller), J.K. Rowling’s increasing notoriety and box office underperformance — new music from Phoebe Bridgers (feat. in the trailer for the Conversations with Friends adaptation, no less), Built to Spill and Jamie xx
Dispatches from the Metaverse
DEVELOPING STORY: Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for $41.39 billion — Donald Glover predicts NFTs will eventually eclipse sites like StubHub — at DAZED, Serena Smith asks, “Why are people with no social media so damn hot?” — the newest iteration of Wordle is Hurdle, in which players have to successfully guess “five of the five-letter word puzzles in a row” — Sony commits $1 billion to games developer Epic Games, part of the company’s plan to support “the development of new digital fan experiences” and, of course, “the metaverse” — Twitch streamer and Fansly (think cyber OnlyFans) poster JustaMinx talks about cosplay, Just Chatting, and the time she died at MEL
— Leia Jospe talks Hype House and @FaveTikToks420 on Not Really podcast — “Wonama yo ema” by Falle Nioke & sir Was — I’ve been intrigued by Tim & Eric’s Tim Heidecker, who’s made some pretty serious forays into music — my personal podcast worlds collide in an episode of Seek Treatment this week featuring Sexy Unique Podcast’s Carey O’Donnell — “Hot & Heavy” by Lucy Dacus — “Idontknow” by Jamie xx — the creator of the #RIPjoerogan meme wrote an essay about it for MEL — “Menthol” by Henry Solomon & Allie Kelly — I watched this entire 25 minute video about Istanbul by Rick Steves and I’m only a little embarrassed to say it — behind the scenes at Rihanna’s pregnancy cover shoot for Vogue — Eliza Levinson