I just saw Lady Gaga win a Grammy. Not any Grammy, a Grammy that she knew she was going to win for her score to Bradley Cooper’s snuff film [SPOILER ALERT]. This came after her admission to press that she cried before the awards so it wouldn’t ruin her make up. She can put this on her mantle with the other 87 awards she has won and continue chugging on her path as one of the most decorated pop stars in recent herstory.
I don’t have a problem with her winning awards or people showing emotion. But I’ve got a problem with vulgar displays of fraudulent emotion and the inevitable YAAAS-ification of a completely unremarkable moment. Some things don’t warrant a production. In fact, most things need to be unremarkable. That’s what allows us to assign meaning to extraordinary occurrences when they deviate from the norm.
This whole thing, the Grammys and The Ashford, speaks to how terribly superficial our culture is.
We like to think of ourselves as woke and cultured, but at the end of the day we’re just shallow children who enjoy pretty things. If you’re unsure of what I’m talking about, you need look no further than the recent spike in Ted Bundy related content.
40 years ago people allowed Ted Bundy to become a national phenomenon simply because he was a good looking (debatable) person who did bad things. Then, 40 years later we further memorialize him with movies and documentaries because we’re still so fucking baffled that this nice looking guy could do not nice things. I believe there is at least some consensus on Teddy’s looks because Zac fucking Effron played this dude in the movies who is, according people and People, incredibly good looking. And even though the crimes of this confessed serial killer/rapist/necrophiliac have made their way again to millions of people’s eyeballs, the main take away from a lot of people is that they want to fuck him.
We are racing towards peak superficiality and the biggest accelerator is Instagram, which is essentially crack for narcissists. Inside IG lives normal people who just document memories or cool things they experience and exceptional content is sometimes created by these genuine moments that get perfectly captured. There are also people who curate the excessive imagery of their experiences into a nice little package for everyone to see in order to trick you into assigning them higher value.
In that uber-narcissistic cohort live people who only take pictures of food. That’s it. Their whole thing is that they take pictures of food, just food, and post it on IG. They bring their own lighting to get a good picture, then apply filters to change the very essence of the image they captured into something more visually appealing than it actually is.
To quote warrior-poet Ja Rule: “That’s not fraud. I mean….maybe false advertising, but not fraud”. That’s what these people do every day.
I found myself looking at this one picture from some JC food IG, of which there are too many, and it was a burger from The Ashford. It was posted by a food IG, and liked by other food IGs, and all the comments were food IGs talking about their food IGs, and the only thing I wanted to know was WHERE ARE THE REAL FUCKING PEOPLE?!?!?! Who is asking for this content??? Do they just post this shit for other food IGs? This is like when two bots on Twitter started a conversation with one another, except way sadder.
Can we go back to a time in the not too distant past when people didn’t go out to dinner with industrial stage lighting? None of the 1000 words a picture can tell are “it needs more salt”. Food IG is the most unoriginal, disingenuous, self-serving form of expression one can participate in. You’re not creating anything. You’re either tricking small businesses into subsidizing your meals or your collecting Pokemon cards. At least be honest about what you are.
Is this is what we’ve devolved to? Has food become so unremarkable that you can thoughtlessly consume it all without ever taking a bite? We’ve eliminated the service, the ambiance, and a thousand of the little things that make going out to eat a pleasurable experience and have assigned value entirely on some filtered image.
The only thing sadder is being the mark who gets so worked up about this terrible cottage industry that they devote a whole blog post to it.
I found myself on Instagram, not euphemistically, I literally found a picture of me in the suggested section of my Nice Things account. It was just a stupid picture of my stupid face in another person’s photo, but there it was, as something suggested for me to discover. This lead me to examine my own content consumption as I’m likely more part of this problem than of the solution.
So here’s a list of some of my most shameful follows that I will be culling in Kondoesque fashion.
Meme accounts. Not apologizing, but the sheer volume of meme accounts I follow compared to living people doing real things is shameful.
Myselfs. I follow everything I do or anything I’ve ever been a part of just so I don’t miss any praise – no matter how small.
Lynn. I cant quit u. PS – Thailand looks nice.
@NutShots. Videos of young men almost castrating themselves.
People eating crabs. There is a whole section of IG devoted to watching people eat shellfish.
The entire 52 man roster of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Because this year is the year.
@meat_with. Meat. Its just pictures of raw or cooked meat.
At least 6 accounts of half naked women drinking craft beer. Most notable one woman named @hoppy_floppy
At least 7 half naked women playing golf. This is not helping with my swing.
@powerboatnation. I have no interest in powerboats and I don’t know how this got here.
@KingsleyandSailor. Two dogs who are friends and take pictures together.
A random 12 year old child in Florida. This kid posts himself doing football drills all goddamn day. I want to be in on the ground floor when he plays ball for Miami, gets drafted in the 3rd round by the Raiders, and the inevitable domestic assault tape leaked to TMZ.
In this age of seemingly unlimited content the most meaningful currency is attention. In a way it’s the most egalitarian construct because we each only get 24 hours of it a day. You have a choice on how and where you spend it. Does looking at pictures of melted cheese really make you happy? Do you trust people who lie to you? Do you want to support a business that doesn’t care about you and yours? Your call.