Pop Culture Mondays/1.31.22
The “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG” Edition
HAPPY Monday my darling pop culture junkies and welcome to a PCM where we try to bring joy and smiles vs rage and disappointment…I know this is an unusual thing considering everyone seems to be craving rage and disappointment these days. Going against the grain here! Also, yes I am aware this week’s image is of a 2021 calendar but YOU try finding a Baby Yoda holding a calendar image at 6AM…and if you don't know why a calendar is pop culture news then JUST YOU WAIT. JUST when you thought there was nothing left to divide a country…we have CALENDARS. More on that later.
In the meantime, I have found myself living in a city that is not ONLY hosting the Super Bowl but is actually IN the Super Bowl which is wild and at least for me…unexpected. THIS IS A THIRSTY ATTEMPT TO BE INVITED to a great SB party and this is how I define a GREAT Super Bowl party:
- Wings (preferably with FRANKS RED HOT)
- REAL BLUE CHEESE DRESSING
I am a simple girl. But my friends can attest I have LEFT fun SB parties because they have not had wings so let’s be clear I am VERY serious here.
Also, I leave it to TikTok to tell me why I should be watching more football (sorry, look, what can I say…I am a cliché 🤷🏼♀️):
Look…she has made a valid point and I shall do whatever I can moving forward to make time for this clearly IMPRESSIVE sport. And one more on this topic before I move on…this is incorporating a trend we will get to later on but again, TikTok has made a VALID point here:
Ok, my darlings. If you haven’t already, grab your headphones. Perhaps a cup of hot chocolate or a cocktail, no judgment. And also a big welcome to my new subscribers. AND…I have recently learned that Stephanie Ruhle the NEW host of “11th Hour” on MSNBC hates EXCLAMATION POINTS which she says should only be reserved for a crisis basically. So, while I cannot COMMIT to avoiding my beloved !!!…I shall use them with INTENTION. Which is all we can do really! (WITH INTENTION)
A DOWN & DIRTY EXPLAINER:
OK SO….first of all, let’s make this clear. I am NOT a journalist. I am not an analyst. A pundit. A thought leader. An influencer. Nor am I an artist, an agent, a manager. I am just a girl who works in communications and strategy and writes a silly newsletter every week to keep me accountable. I have been wondering how I was going to address this as it is very much a story in the pop culture zeitgeist regardless of what side you take. What I can say is I absolutely am NOT unbiased here as I love and adore some of the people behind Spotify. So this is not going to be a post about what is right or wrong but simply some observations and a few memes to give many of my readers an understanding of what IS happening as I have received a lot of questions.
WHO IS JOE ROGAN?
I know I know this is an absurd thing but let’s just understand for a minute not everyone knows the same information as you. Everyone has their own experience of pop culture so just to keep us all on the same page here is a quick CLIFF NOTE VERSION.
So some GEN Xers…you might remember him as a cast member on the ’90s show “NEWSRADIO” which was ICONIC. He was part of an incredible cast including the incomparable Phil Hartman RIP. So, yes he was a comedian/actor if you will. THEN he ended up being an interviewer and commentator for the UFC which is like boxing on steroids (I mean it’s likely steroids are in both sports…BUT I digress).
UFC is to boxing as pickleball is to tennis…ok maybe that’s a stretch but it takes boxing up a few notches in a manic, crazed extreme athlete kind of way. And people LOVE it. Joe then went on to be the host of “Fear Factor” which is the UFC of reality shows as you watch people have to make poor life choices like eating insects and so forth in order to win. LIKE Donald Trump (sorry, we are TRUMP-free but we need this reference), Joe Rogan has been in people’s homes for a long time. On the TV and in a way that makes people feel like he is one of them and a friend. He is relatable and funny.
We have had podcasts for a long time before they took off to be the juggernaut they are today. Whether it was the success of “SERIAL” that got people who had never heard of podcasts into the format or a series of big moments…but here we are.
An interesting timeline I found is HERE though NO mention of “Serial” so what do I know? ANYWAY, Joe Rogan found his niche..more than 10 years ago btw. And he was a mix of everything he was doing at UFC and “Fear Factor” from bits to interviews to commentary. I am sure he looked to greats like Howard Stern for inspo. And he is very good. And podcasts skirt the rules that applied to other things like RADIO…meaning as far as I know, the FCC does not regulate podcasts. SO…whereas if Howard Stern was telling you something outrageous when you were listening to him when you were in school, his radio bosses were pulling their hair out as fines were racking up (though deregulation has changed a lot of this)…THIS does not apply to pods (though again deregulation means anything goes…except nipples! (OY). And Rogan and others benefit greatly. ANYTHING goes. And Rogan is brilliant at it and grew his pod to be one of the biggest podcasts ever.
THIS is where things get tricky. Spotify is a tech company. It was born as a platform for streaming music and then podcasts. We don't need to get into the history and impact here, but just to clarify it was born a tech company and sees the world through that lens. Now, think of when old school media companies try to be thought of as tech companies…we ALL for the most part roll our eyes right?
I mean this image needs no context if you watch “Succession”.
LOGAN ROY= OLD MEDIA.
LUKAS MATSSON (also a Swede FYI) = HOT SEXY TECH COMPANY.
So, what happens when HOT SEXY TECH COMPANY tries to become a media company? It is NOT ALL FUN now, is it? That’s what is happening here. Spotify, once just the platform, meaning the place that neither makes nor produces content but just allows you to ACCESS content via its tech… is now MAKING AND PRODUCING AND OWNING content making it a MEDIA company.
And they effectively buy Joe Rogan and give him a ton of money to make his podcast exclusive on Spotify, meaning you cannot access it on any other service, meaning more eyeballs and subscribers for Spotify. OK…this is where I am done in explaining the background.
Rogan is accused of spreading misinformation and disinformation. It goes beyond him being a silly idiot — how he describes himself. He borders on Alex Jones-like conspiracy dialogue. He appears to be anti-vax. He is definitely critical of the COVID response and has had many guests on to debunk things the CDC and other medical experts have said whether about the vaccine or the treatments or masks. And on and on. And OBVIOUSLY, we are in a time where either you're on ONE side or ANOTHER side and the virus is no longer the enemy it’s how you view the virus and we are the enemy of one another.
FULL DISCLOSURE. A year ago I was angry at Spotify for their backing of Rogan and I had the rage and the knee-jerk reaction to quit and I told my friends there. I knew this would not impact it, but I sensed there was a divide happening. But I changed my thinking ultimately. Because I don’t believe in censorship. And while I DEFINITELY don't agree with the spreading of “mis” or disinformation, I believe there is space for Joe Rogans of the world. And if we limit that, then we create even more problems. I chose not to listen. And ALSO he is problematic for more reasons than COVID. From misogyny to issues on race, but to no surprise the outrage is over COVID, not the other issues. BUT this doesn’t solve the issue that millions of people DO listen and really and truly rely on Joe Rogan as a truth-teller and believe everything he says and does. And another BUT…there is way way worse on FOX NEWS. WAY WAY WAY worse.
So you have Neil Young announce he is pulling his music from Spotify in protest of their relationship with Rogan. And while losing Neil Young may not impact the bottom line AT all for Spotify, it set off a chain of events that DID affect the bottom line. Another very popular podcaster, Brené Brown announced she is stopping making her podcasts in solidarity with this movement. To Joni Mitchell and others following suit. AND the bigger problem for Spotify is this signals to artists that they SHOULD have control over where their music is and in a world where labels have less and less power, I wonder if this will lead to a shift? Like what Taylor Swift did when her music was sold by re-making her music…this will lead to artists demanding more control.
The #DELETESPOTIFY movement took off in a meaningful way. (At the same time, Joe Rogan’s base grew even more vocal so the divide widens…)
I will say some funny things came from this:
Honestly, this is TOO real like I think Spotify would have to respond to this threat. 👀
But both sides got in on it:
OK…so a lot of people I love and respect went on Twitter tears telling Spotify to fuck off. But I understand the dilemma here and frankly after my OWN soul searching, I just don't think this is the right approach to get to where they want to go. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek, issued a rare statement and put into effect a new policy that they probably should have put into effect some time ago tbh BUT again, they see themselves as a platform NOT as publisher/media company and that’s hard to change your thinking around. What Spotify is doing is similar to how Facebook has had to handle it.
But, from a MASTER CLASS in comms and I really mean this, and I don't say this lightly as I am not a Joe Rogan fan…Joe Rogan himself. He posted on Instagram last night and frankly, it was genius. Now, do I think the real problem is the guests that Joe has on? No. I think it's the statements Joe himself makes that capture his audience and they hold on to. It’s the quips he makes throughout the show that shows his cynicism in what the CDC and others say.
But, his response last night IS genius. His commitment to providing a more balanced take is PROGRESS. And I wholeheartedly appreciate his response. I think it's possible that Joe doesn’t actually understand his impact and influence. I know that sounds crazy but I really think he thinks he is just a dude with a podcast being an idiot at times. I am not saying that’s right, I am just saying I think it’s hard to personally comprehend how massive your impact is which comes across in this:
I urge you to watch the whole thing. It is graceful and human.
And with that, I end with my own Neil Young story. MANY moons ago, I found myself at his home in Half Moon Bay where he was having a party for the artists involved with his BRIDGE SCHOOL BENEFIT, an amazing benefit for the school specializing in helping kids with physical disabilities. Neil has two sons with Cerebral Palsey which my sister has so it is a particularly special cause for me. ANYWAY…I found myself at Neil’s where there were teepees all around the property. OBVIOUSLY.
And, OBVIOUSLY, I went into one and there were pipes LOADED with NEIL YOUNG’S weed and people smoking and I smoked some of Neil Young’s weed and LET ME TELL YOU I have never been more stoned in my entire life and I actually went up to TRACY CHAPMAN and sang THE ENTIRETY of “FAST CAR” to her thinking she would be so inspired and want to bring me on tour with her because she would be so moved by my passion.
That didn’t happen.
I cannot carry a tune for the life of me. I apologize to you Tracy Chapman all these years later. I am SO sorry.
Let’s leave it with her and may we all take a breath…
THE REAL ENEMY:
Bet you didn’t have on your bingo card the villains at the beginning of 2022 would include Joe Rogan (ok maybe you did) AND a calendar app…but here is where we are kids. This is VERY TECH PCM THIS WEEK but don’t worry, hang on until we get to the TikTok trends after this…
So for those of you unaware of what Calendly is (click here), basically it is an app that lets you show YOUR schedule and let someone book time with you via the service. So, instead of saying to your boss, “What time works for you?” when they ask you for a meeting, instead you say, “Sure, here’s my Calendly for YOU to book some time with me.”
First, I should state I HATE THE WORD “SURE” and anyone knows who has worked with me it is the worst word you could ever say to me.
“Want to grab dinner later?”
“Would you read this for me and let me know your thoughts?”
“Will you send this to the client with edits?”
Honestly, just kill me. It’s kinder.
BUT I DIGRESS.
To be honest, I find I do roll my eyes when I get sent Calendly links EVEN THOUGH I know it is actually WAY MORE convenient vs the back and forth of scheduling and figuring out time zones. I think it just incites a TEENY amount of rage. But it apparently invokes more than a teeny amount of rage in former tech exec and current investor Sam Lessin who posted this to Twitter:
MAN is that a hot take. And while this is VERY NICHE POP CULTURE…it actually hit on this theme of THE BIG DIVIDE as this launched a million takes. People in defense of their love for Calendly, those in agreement with Sam’s take, and the hottest take of all:
HOW DARE SAM USE THIS METHOD FOR TWITTER!!!! (Sorry Stephanie Ruhle but these !!! are necessary here). The screenshot of Notes app statement or whatever he used is realllllllly a choice here. But it is SO funny how much this took off….I feel bad for Calendly but I also agree with the premise of Sam’s take…it’s a psychological reaction that it sets off. And I love this guy’s take:
But I was MORE here for the responses and reactions to this CRAZY DRAMA:
The MOST “INSIDE SILICON VALLEY” TWEET there ever was:
And honestly, some amazing PR as a result of the drama:
OK…let’s get to some more fun stuff, shall we?
A NON-DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO WHAT TO WATCH/LISTEN TO:
Ok, I have been pinged on so many content-related questions and I have been recommended some amazing content and I have some content in the queue I admit I have not gotten to. So I thought I would put some things here that I have consumed and like and some I have YET to consume but hear from trusted sources it is GOOD. So this is just a down and dirty quick guide:
- “After Life”: MY lord this show is great. I think Ricky Gervais might be one of our greatest gifts and I really mean that. Trigger warning…this is a hard show to watch especially if you have lost a partner to illness or to anything really. But it is SO beautiful and while you WILL cry, you will also laugh and you will also realize just how freaking brilliant Ricky Gervais is. There are 3 seasons so far:
“The Gilded Age”: So the reviews are not great but I LOVE ME some period pieces and while some say this is like the CPW version of “Downtown Abbey” which is basically what the USA is to the UK (am I wrong though…am I??) I love it because it has historical references. Like do you KNOW the story behind the great architect Stanford White? CLICK HERE to read about his pension for underage girls that ultimately led to his death….
But I digress. It is fun and pretty and CHRISTINE BARANSKI…need I say more? We also get Miranda with NO CHE DIAZ!!
- “ENCANTO”: I don’t have kids so it was not high on my list but then let’s be clear…LIN MANUEL MIRANDA HAPPENED. And with that…it hit my radar because OBVIOUSLY his song “Let’s Talk About Bruno” it a VIRAL sensation and like top of the BILLBOARD charts and it GOT me. So I watched it. And I loved it. And I love the TikToks:
- “THE FALL OUT”: Woo boy this is a tough watch. but a beautiful one and important as it deals with the fall out of school shootings. I urge you to watch it. Amazing talent in this film.
- Abbott Elementary: I have NOT watched this yet…this is my project this week and I am SO excited because everyone loves it that I hear from.
- THAT’S MESSED UP (Podcast): We have been talking pods so here is one I am obsessed with. If you have ever watched a LAW & ORDER: SVU epi then this pod is for you. They take random episodes from all seasons and dive into it and then tell you the real-world story it is based on then interview a guest from the epi. I LOVE IT SO MUCH and shout out to Scarlett Curtis for telling me about it.
That's Messed Up - Exactly Right Podcast Network
Each week, comedians and amateur detectives Liza Treyger and Kara Klenk break down episodes of Law & Order: SVU, deep…
- Sweet Bobby (podcast): I have NO words for this pod which you will listen to in one day because you won't be able to stop. OMG.
AND JUST A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS (AND SOME DESPICABLE ONES TOO…)
A BEAST today you guys…I know. I need a nap. Let’s get to it.
- THE DROP IT CHALLENGE. If you have a TikTokker in the family maybe you have seen it. And if you watched SNL this weekend (which was genius) this sketch will make more sense. This is the DROP IT CHALLENGE:
- THAT’S NOT MY NAME trend on TikTok. This one is niche generally an opportunity for actors to showcase their characters and it is everywhere on my FYP:
AND THANK YOU AMY SCHUMER LOLS:
- And AS referenced in my football upfront…we have the “I WANT MY DADDY” trend that’s also taken off which shows children of famous people or famous characters and then images of their fathers. And then it goes from there:
- OK this baby on the phone has taken off with many people making hilarious duets:
- Guys I hate to break it to you…your Wordle addiction can now go into NEW territories:
Lewdle - A daily lewd word game
Guess the hidden word in 6 tries. A new puzzle is available every day.
- And Jonah Hill touches on his falling out with our mascot BABY YODA:
THAT IS IT my darlings.
It was a LONG one and I didn't touch on the Taylor Swift and guy from BLUR drama because he is stupid and Taylor is genius but here you go.
Stay safe and healthy my beauties. Stay kind. Stay funny AF.
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