Move over Kylie Jenner. You’ve been egged. On Instagram.
No, the social media star isn’t wearing slimy yellow protein on her face. Instead, an image of a lovely brown egg has become Instagram’s most-liked image ever. As of this writing, it has secured a whopping 46,113,472 likes (and counting) since being posted on January 4. Is it because people really, really like eggs? Actually, it may have more to do with people really, really not liking the Kardashian clan, of which Kylie is famously a part.
Wired’s Louise Matsakis did some informal polling of her friends to find out why they chose to “like” the egg pic. One told her, “I find the Kardashians’ hold on people quite frustrating and irrational. I wanted to help give the little guy that extra boost because I think a picture of an egg is worth so much more than a random Hollywood socialite and her baby.”
The egg’s ascent to Intsagram glory might seem like the essence of viral fame. Except that, according to Matsakis, it was all cleverly calculated by someone who “is clearly familiar with some of the engines of online fame.” She concludes,
The egg and other seemingly meaningless internet fads are beloved because they stand in contrast to the manicured, optimized content that often fills our social media feeds, especially from people like the Kardashians. It’s hilarious to give an uncooked omelette the same level of attention normally reserved for celebrities and politicians. But the egg is really just a mechanism of the same social media economy it feels like it’s mocking.
Another increasingly popular smartphone app these days hails from China. It’s called TikTok, and it’s a short-form video app that’s intended to “capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone.” Most of these mobile videos are 15 seconds in length, a format that’s earned comparison with the 6-second video-sharing app Vine, which closed in 2017. As of the end of 2018, the app had about 251 million users globally. Also worth noting, NBC reports, “The U.S. version of TikTok was formerly known as Musical.ly before [the Chinese company] ByteDance acquired it in 2017 and rebranded it.”
Elsewhere this week, the men’s razor company Gillette sought to tap into the cultural zeitgeist with a new “short film” commercial that addresses bullying, sexual harassment, toxic masculinity and the #MeToo movement. But the ad’s creators have kicked a proverbial hornets nest, provoking many angry responses among the company’s target audience: men.
Gillette released an ad this week which encourages men to stop raping and bullying and doing all of the other things that men will inevitably do until their shaving cream tells them not to. … But the vast majority of men are not rapists or harassers and were, prior to this past year, already staunchly opposed to both activities. There was nothing epiphanic or revolutionary about Me Too for us. To insinuate that we learned that rape and assault are bad, or that we needed to learn such a lesson, is patronizing in the extreme.
Men do not become more compassionate and responsible citizens by renouncing their masculinity and embracing feminism. The culture of obscenity, meaningless sex, and perpetual adolescence is the result of failing to develop masculinity within men. The excesses, abuses, harassment, and violence we see as a social concern are the consequences of young men lost and left to their own devices. Boys are not lost because of toxic masculinity; they are lost because their fathers have been taken away from them and they cannot figure out how to fill that void with anything but rage and shame.
On the same thematic spectrum, furor and outrage over rapper R. Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of minors continues to boil over, with the heat being turned up by Lifetime’s critical six-hour docu-series Surviving R. Kelly. Though lurid allegations have swirled for more than a decade, the eyewitness accounts documented here have seemingly galvanized many in the entertainment industry against the suddenly embattled rapper. It’s a story that mirrors Bill Cosby’s and Harvey Weinstein’s rapid falls from grace once allegations began to pile up against them. Some are asking why it took so long to take the allegations seriously.
Others, such as Britt McHenry, suggest that our culture’s lax sexual mores combined with the cult of celebrity, offer an answer to that question. She writes, “Our society’s distorted concept of fame, hesitation, and fear have allowed a man repeatedly accused of being a predator to evade serious repercussions.”
Netflix’s much-ballyhooed episode of Black Mirror, “Bandersnatch” has now generated a lawsuit. The episode allowed viewers to make choices that affected its ending, à la the popular ’80s book series franchise known as Choose Your Own Adventure. The Vermont publisher that owns the series’ copyright “alleges that Netflix deliberately exploited the brand awareness of its book series to launch the show,” according to Variety. The lawsuit seeks $25 million in damages for copyright infringement.
And speaking of Netflix, it was probably only a matter of time before someone doing the so-called Bird Box challenge (which involves wearing a blindfold for a prescribed period of time, imitating Sandra Bullock’s character in the enormously popular Netflix movie of the same name) had an accident. Well, now it’s happened. A teen in Layton, Utah, reportedly had a car accident while driving with a blindfold on. The town’s police department tweeted, “Bird Box Challenge while driving…predictable result.”
But there might be a bit of a silver lining to this story. Because of the Bird Box challenge and other similarly risky viral dares (such as the Tide Pod challenge), YouTube has announced that it’s banning what USA Today characterizes as “dangerous stunt videos” that could encourage imitators to take potentially deadly risks.