This week’s trip into the kid’s cultural cafeteria features soon-to-be-diva Chloe Bailey, a murder-mystery, and Star Wars in anime form. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, and no one will shame you for your choices.
Here’s what you need to know about pop star Chlöe, aka Chlöe Bailey. The 23 year-old singer may be on the cusp of breaking very big: She killed it at the VMA’s a couple weeks ago, and the stylish, provocative video for her banger, “Have Mercy” is blowing up on YouTube, garnering kudos for its heavily Beyoncé-influenced sound and condemnation for its no-fucks-given sexuality. All of this is the perfect launchpad for a would-be diva with a hotly anticipated first solo album coming out soon. It’s either the start of a long career, or the apex of an almost-was; birth of a diva or birth of questions like, “remember that woman who had hair like Medusa and that one killer song? What ever happened to her?”
People on TikTok are very interested in what other people eat. The hashtag #whatieatinaday has over 8.5 billion views. That’s more views than there are people on the planet. As you might expect, this vast community has many different takes on eating, from health-foodies to just-shovel-any-crap-into-your-mouthhole aficionados. As you’d also probably expect, commenters can’t stop shaming people for the food they eat, particularly overweight people, who apparently can’t eat an extra egg for breakfast without people coming down on ‘em. This combination of excessive-interest-in-minutia and bigotry is just very Internet.
The “devious licks” trend started as absurdist TikTok thievery and devolved into wholesale bathroom vandalism, people freaking out, and arrests across the country. It’s old, and I’m only writing about it because I want to tell you about the counter-trend: Angelic yields.
Angelic yields are videos of people dropping off toilet paper, soap, money, and more in bathrooms. It’s kids’ way of saying, “Hey, sorry about all the vandalism and theft. Have a pencil.” Which is nice, but I’m not ruling out the possibility that these videos are actually school administrators and janitors pulling a “how do you do, fellow kids?”
The disappearance of Instagrammer Gabby Petito—and the subsequent discovery of her corpse—has galvanized the entire world, with everyone from true crime freaks to random ghouls on TikTok obsessing over the unfolding as if her life were a murder-drama podcast. As of this posting, the main person-of-interest, Gabby’s once-boyfriend Brian Laundrie, is nowhere to be found, but everyone’s looking.
Leads and news include the (dubious) assertion that Laundrie streamed a video as recently as Monday, the less-dubious account of a TikToker who says her tip may have led police to Gabby’s body, the unconfirmable tea-leaf reading of internet crime-junkies combing through the missing man’s Pinterest page for clues, and the report of a family who say they took video of the couple’s abandoned van while traveling. Is all this online sleuthing going to lead to the missing man? Probably not, but it would be good if it did.
Star Wars fans are geeking out over Star Wars Visions, the just-released anthology of nine short films set in the Star Wars universe, made by top Japanese animation studios. In contrast to the film epics, these are smaller, more intimate stories. Like any anthology series, some entries are better than others (The Duel from production house Kamikaze Douga and director Takanobu Mizuno stands out), but all offer a unique vision of the Star Wars universe and an object lesson on how to expand a filmic universe without watering it down. You can watch ‘em if you have Disney+.
Strange TikTok alert: The creator of TikTok channel ASMR Playroom makes videos of herself playing with her child’s toys in order to provide a “really peaceful experience.” She says her channel “brings you back to that quiet place—childhood.”
Not to judge anyone’s pastimes, but this channel combines two things I absolutely do not understand: ASMR and nostalgia for childhood. I find the whole ASMR thing very strange. Repetitive videos of people whispering, eating food, combing their hair, or playing with toys are not soothing to me. I find them unsettling. And I find nostalgia for childhood inexplicable. Who’d want to go back to childhood? Children smell bad, don’t understand irony, and aren’t allowed to drink gin.
I like art that crosses generational and cultural lines, and Lil Nas X’s slow, sultry cover of Dolly Parton’s iconic 1974 hit “Jolene” obliterates both time and the cultural conformity of country music. Kids and their grandparents flipping out for a gay, Black man killing a white bread country classic about adultery brings a tear to my eye. America has its problems, but when it works, it’s a beautiful thing.