Hi friends. Today is November 12, 2021.
As of this week, Netflix.com is 24 years old — a good reminder that you sometimes have to put in lots of work before achieving hegemonic cultural domination.
But how dominant is Netflix really, you ask? Dominant enough, it would appear, to drive a global shortage of TV translators. Dominant enough to attract more lawsuits than any major news outlet — the latest from maybe-murderess Carol Baskin, of all people.
Netflix is so powerful, in fact, that it has arguably displaced Hallmark from the phrase “Hallmark Christmas film”: Refer to a Netflix Christmas movie instead, and I understand we’re still discussing a cheesy, nominally festive rom-com in which the lead quits her soul-sucking big-city job and everyone’s parents are, for some reason, dead. Anyway: Newsweek has just compiled a list of Netflix Christmas movie “cheat codes,” which is both vaguely useful and, for Newsweek, very sad. Let’s go read some articles and reflect on all the ways media changed since 1997.
If you read anything this weekend
“Porch Cameras and Facebook Groups Are Turning Streets into Surveillance States,” by Navneet Alang in The Walrus. I joined a bunch of neighborhood groups about a year ago, on the occasion of buying my first house, and holy shit can I confirm: People are *obsessed* with observing and tracking the “transgressors” caught on their Ring cameras. This is a great piece on what that does to the fabric of a community, if it allows for community at all: “There is an obvious logic to it. If you cannot put up literal gates, put up virtual ones.”
“It’s Time for Some Game Theory,” by Caroline Wazer in Lapham’s Quarterly. Video games inform the way millions of people experience and understand history — which, depending on the franchise, might mark a pretty great/profound development. Some games are more historically accurate than just about anything else in pop culture. And they immerse players in a bygone world in a way books or even movies don’t.
“The 10,000 Faces That Launched an NFT Revolution,” by Sandra Upson in Wired. This newsletter is a no-to-low NFT zone, but this gave me a fleeting moment of appreciation — not for NFTs themselves, which are still clearly a scam, but for some of the weird online communities they’ve created.
“For the Modern Man, A New Friend Is Just a Podcast Away,” by Luke Winkie in Mel. On the very sad state of straight male friendships, mediated communication … and a phenomenon that, now that I think about it, is bizarrely common!
“Thinking Hard About Their Hair,” by Danya Issawi in the New York Times. A history of “TikTok hair” from Alexander the Great to Roman Emperor Augustus to Gen Z influencers. There is truly nothing new under the sun anymore!
This edition of Links is powered by the Goo Goo Dolls, Smitten Kitchen’s applesauce cake (far superior to the NYT version; sorry, but not) … and the following very wonderful sponsors:
The Sample — An effortless way to discover new things. Tell us what subjects you’re interested in, and we’ll forward you a fascinating, brand-new newsletter once a day or week.
Tales.com — "This is one of the best gifts I have ever received." Tales.com has professional interviewers who speak with your loved one, record their stories, and deliver a studio-quality podcast episode that you'll cherish forever.
Friends of Aunt Colleen — If you’d like to kick off your holiday season with a big karmic boost, please consider supporting this really wonderful fundraiser for my mom’s best friend, Colleen, who just finished chemo for multiple myeloma. She’s a hilarious, big-hearted, well-loved lady who once (for instance) got me wasted at TGI Fridays on pinot grigio. 🙏
📣📣 You too can get your product, newsletter or cause in front of 12,000+ subscribers, ALL while supporting the free edition of this newsletter. Fill out this form to book; ads are $35.
Digital clothes. Drop shipping, explained. Art selfie … but for PETS. This week, in guess who’s baaaack: the WeWork dude and MoviePass. How Pinterest ruined photo search. Why Neopets lifers are still hanging on. Betcha can’t guess what raw fish, “sex magic” and American malls … apparently have in common! 🍣
The 12-foot skeleton’s shorter, Christmas-y brother. The myth of the “woke college grad.” (See also: the myth of the ~snowflake academy~ and the brave forces fighting back.) Bumble BFF has an MLM problem. Cozy season: a cry for help. Last but not least, a very funny review of TikTok’s viral sex chocolates, which … maybe work? But not as marketed.
That’s it for this week! Until the next one. Warmest virtual regards.