Culture Clips: A Different Sort of Blackout

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Yesterday, the world’s social media feed was inundated with black squares instead of pictures. And no, it wasn’t because your Internet connection was taking its sweet time downloading the pictures. It was part of a movement called #BlackoutTuesday. According to Rolling Stone, the original idea was called #TheShowMustBePaused, and organizers asked the music industry to participate in a social media blackout, using June 2 as a day of reflection and the simple black squares posted by artists, labels, brands and celebrities as “an expression of silence in solidarity with protestors and people of color.”

But the movement received some backlash since the hashtags associated with the movement were confused with #BlackLivesMatter. And while many companies, such as TikTok, pledged money to various non-profits that offer aid to black communities, many in the music industry felt that the message of #TheShowMustBePaused was lost. On the protest’s Twitter account, creators Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang clarified that the purpose of #BlackoutTuesday was to “intentionally disrupt the work week” and put a “pause” on business as usual:

It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community. The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from Black art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations [and] their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.

Fans of the vintage video game company Atari will be pleased to hear that after nearly two years of production delays, those who helped fund the new VCS console through Indiegogo will finally get to play this summer. The $390 device was first unveiled in 2017, but due to scarcity of certain parts had to be put on hold multiple times while developers found alternatives.

For those trying to fill the time gap while they wait for their new consoles, a new game called “Arcana” is now available on Instagram, of all places. The Los Angeles Times reports that the game uses an alternate-reality gaming format and invites players to solve the mystery behind the real-life murder of Marion Parker in 1927. But its makers took this “true story” and rewrote it to reflect the current times. Puzzles are posted as images, sometimes hidden in the background of selfies or in the frames of Instagram Live dance party videos. But all are “meant to reflect the increasingly fragile mind of a young woman in quarantine.”

Some people feel that more electronics during quarantine isn’t the way to go. Raisa Bruner, writing for Time Magazine, has found a “strangely comforting echo” between the current circumstances and the staid lives of Jane Austen’s early 19th century heroines. Besides the obvious parallels between Austen’s characters and the lives many of us are living right now—long, solitary walks, family dinners, reading, sewing, reminiscing—Bruner has found that Austen’s novels also show strength of spirit in their characters, demonstrating a patience, generosity and feeling of content that have inspired her to cherish her life in quarantine despite the urge to return to modernity.

Bruner’s penchant for a simpler lifestyle is also being felt by the world of advertising. This time last year, companies were spending millions creating commercials for their summer sales. But according to The New York Times many companies “have cut back on the big-budget commercial productions out of necessity, with filming largely shut down.” And the shift to smaller, remote crews and online appearances by celebrities could seriously cut down on the number of commercials you see on TV.

“You might see ads that feel more like they’re talking to you, and you won’t see as many of them—not those big, expensive ads over and over again,” said Jane Clarke, CEO for  the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. “In the new mediascape, big-statement, big-budget TV commercials could become something of a rarity,” added Edward E. Timke, an advertising expert at Duke University.

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