Three Things This Week
1. Perez Hilton's Cry for Help
What it is: Celebrity gossip maven Perez Hilton was banned from TikTok for life (paywall) this week after multiple claims that he violated TikTok’s Community Guidelines. In response to the ban, Hilton posted a tearful video, claiming he was “begging for help” from people with influence at TikTok.
Why it’s the next step for stan culture: There was a time when Perez Hilton was the most influential gossip columnist on the internet. But Gen Z isn’t as appreciative of his mean-spirited brand of celebrity commentary, which has recently included critique of people like Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio. Fans of these influencers mobilized to mass report Hilton’s videos and comments, which is why his account was ultimately blocked for good. Whether Hilton deserved to be blocked from the app didn’t seem to have bearing on TikTok’s decision. TikTokers weren’t here for Hilton’s tears, either, as his plea to get back on the app was widely lampooned in TikTok duets and Twitter memes. It looks like, thanks to their fan armies, some teen influencers are becoming more powerful than even the more established media personalities.
2. Instagram Makes the Naughty List
What it is: Forget Santa or the Elf on the Shelf, a new lawsuit (paywall) claims that Instagram sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. The app has been accused of using users’ cameras to collect their data even when they’re not logged in.
Why it could be the beginning of the end for Instagram: Facebook, which owns Instagram, denied (paywall) that it was purposely spying on Instagram users without their consent and blamed a “glitch” that “has been fixed.” But just the suggestion that Instagram would watch users when they weren’t on their phones (and the fact that it’s easy to believe that they would do it), could be toxic for the app’s brand. We’ve accepted a lot of dystopian technocracy in the last decade, but watching us in our sleep is still a big do not want for the majority of users. The outcome of this lawsuit could determine if younger users grow more disenchanted with all things Facebook, including Instagram.
3. Cyberpunk 2077 Rollout Is a Bust
What it is: Cyberpunk 2077, a new game from the same studio that made the smash hit The Witcher 3 was made available on December 6. Unfortunately, Cyberpunk 2077 is so riddled with glitches that buyers are being offered refunds.
Why it’s disappointing, but not surprising: In the plot of Cyberpunk 2077, gamers roleplay as cyborgs set in a futuristic city on a quest to obtain a chip that bestows eternal life. In the reality of Cyberpunk 2077, the jaw-dropping graphics and seemingly limitless open world are difficult to appreciate because the game doesn’t run smoothly on PS4 and XBox One. It turns out the developers released a game that works best on next-gen consoles (like PS5, XBox Series X, and computer gaming platforms like Stadia), and acted like it would still play smoothly for the majority of users who have older consoles. In all fairness, open world RPGs always have glitches when they are released (Skyrim and The Witcher included), so after a few patches and mea culpas from the company, this game will probably do just fine.
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Last week, Taylor Swift released her second surprise album of the year, evermore. The album was written and recorded across the same stretch of time as folklore, and continues the folksy, cabin-in-the-woods vibe that that album started. As of Thursday, Dec 17, every song on evermore was in the top 50 on Spotify, with most songs being in the top 20.
There are numerous parallels between the two albums. Song 13 of folklore was “epiphany,” which was part tribute to her grandfather’s military service and part tribute to the doctors and nurses taking care of patients during COVID. Song 13 of evermore, “marjorie,” is a tribute to her grandmother—specifically about wishing she had been more intentional to cultivate a relationship with her before she passed away. Swift writes, “I should’ve asked you questions / I should’ve asked you how to be / Asked you to write it down for me / Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt / ‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me.” The song’s tone is ultimately hopeful, but it also could provide a unique opportunity to talk with your teens about making the most of family relationships while they’re available—or even modeling it by sharing about relationships you wish you had prioritized more.
“marjorie” is a topical outlier on the album, though. Like most of Swift’s music, most of the songs are about the perils and pleasures of romance, including an “‘unhappily ever after’ anthology of marriages gone bad that includes infidelity, ambivalent toleration, and even murder.” Some parents may feel concerned about the way songs like “ivy” seem to normalize infidelity—but that brings up the question of why we listen to music, and how music shapes listeners. Rarely are lyrics actually taken as prescriptive—and yet, our expectations of what’s normal are formed by what we repeatedly expose ourselves to.
There are plenty of reviews about what’s good and what isn’t about evermore (including another one on our blog). But instead of only reading those, if your teen is a Taylor Swift fan, just ask them what they think about the album, and if they could recommend a song for you. Take the time to listen, and appreciate what’s good first, and then ask whatever questions you may have.