This country used to be well written, but I worry that we’ve jumped the shark. The soft-authoritarian security state plotline was interesting when we started it in the early part of the millennium, but it was the characters that made it. I liked watching everyone struggle with their new identities, whether they were willing to sacrifice freedom for security, and the hating/becoming hipsters B plot was fun. Lately, though, I feel like we’ve transgressed the bounds of psychological realism. “America” is becoming another sci-fi melodrama, with the principal characters veering off into behavior that just isn’t believable. Today is Friday, and what started as national character has become caricature. Won’t you turn a critical eye with me?
Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food,” about how she likes Chinese food, has hit #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her parents paid to have the song and video produced by ARK Music Factory, the same company responsible for Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” It’s kind of gross that adolescent rich girls can get professional-quality production and songwriting for vanity projects, but it’s terrifying that ARK Music Factory can make those vanity projects into hits. They’ve done it twice now—three times if you count “It’s Thanksgiving.” Today is Friday, popular culture is an algorithm that only requires Patrice Wilson to select a day or food, and the time has come for us to embrace the dread declinism. Won’t you admit that everything is going to hell with me?
When you get right down to it, everything that happens happens because of everything else. Sure, I took the kettle off this morning because it was whistling, but I also did it because Dowager Empress Cixi’s resistance to reform slowed the pace of industrial development in China, leading to a 21st-century state where it’s still profitable for kids to make housewares. Of course, I wouldn’t have bought that kettle at Montana Target had I not gotten into grad school many years ago, caused in part by a story I wrote about a person born with his heart on the outside of his body. So thank you, Kids In the Hall, for this morning’s coffee. It’s not so much that correlation is not causation as everything is causation, and correlation is therefore not that special. Today is Friday, for some reason, and our link roundup is full of startling forces that may or may not determine the course of our future. It’s all in how you look at it. Plus some of it is in immutable truths that could easily kills us no matter what we believe, but those will only be discernible in retrospect. Won’t you look back with me?