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Coachella rundown; the buzz at Buzzfeed; colorism in casting; do you have Instagram face?; voice memos = the new text
It’s the most wonderful time of the year … Coachella season. The California festival, which takes place April 14-16 and 21-23, is the place to be for each year’s biggest musical artists — and celebrities. This year’s headliners were Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Frank Ocean/Blink-182. Frank Ocean performed an abbreviated set during the first weekend, being replaced by Blink-182; learn about this switch on JUV’s latest TikTok (and check out my favorite post-concert TikTok here). In response, Gen Zers have been suggesting iconic replacements for Ocean that would be preferable to Blink-182. “Austin & Ally”-era Ross Lynch, “The Real Housewives”’ Countess LuAnn, and drag queen Loosey DaLuca were some of the suggestions. According to NetBase Quid, BLACKPINK and its four members were the five most mentioned artists on social media during 2023’s Coachella. There were too many iconic moments to detail in this blog — other than, of course, this Rosalía fan — but today we’re talking dressing down. Celebrities and well-established influencers (think: Dixie D’Amelio) abandoned the out-of-the-box fashion of past Coachella years. However, up-and-coming creators went all out on their fits. This distinction is about more than the hot weather. @saralesneski posted her analysis of the trend with the caption, “Does Kendall [Jenner] have something to prove at the Met Gala? Yes. At Coachella with a bunch of influencers? No.” Rather than being a work event, the festival is fun for household names. Many also connected it to a scene about a “ludicrously capricious Burberry bag on “Succession.” The conversation about stealth wealth has never been more present. @cocomocoe and @oldloserinbrooklyn made their own takes, but trend analysts agree that conventional Coachella style is now cheugy for Gen Z’s favorite figures.
Amidst a wave of nostalgia marketing, one thing has left us stranded. Buzzfeed, the core of all Gen Zers’ middle school memories, is shutting down its news department. The rest of the company will remain up and running. Social media users pointed out that, though the platform as a whole is pretty ridiculous, the news department has done very impactful investigative journalism. Jordan Long Tweeted, “Buzzfeed News was the first news publication not to change my narrative and cut out all of my words when I talked about student debt.” The news site also platformed Chanel Miller, freed a falsely imprisoned man, investigated R Kelly, and exposed inhumane conditions for Spanish strawberry field workers, among many others. Many Gen Z also joked that it should have been The Shade Room, an oft-problematic news site, that shut down. People also conflated the news and quiz/video departments, minimizing the impact of Buzzfeed’s former arm. For example, @neoorcus Tweeted, “now i’ll never know what Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 queen i am…” This department is around 15% of their entire staff, representing yet another casualty of the pandemic, economic strife, and tech bubble burst. Gen Zers believe their other economic gains should have made up for the loss of the news department; for example, @jpscribbledoo commented, “It’s almost like news has never been profitable and when you try to make it profitable you ruin the country.” The Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel, who worked for Buzzfeed News from 2013-2019, wrote about this end of an era. Unlike other outlets, it “report[ed] on the internet like it was a real place” and bore “witness to the joy, chaos, and horrors that would pour across our timelines every day.” Now, we’ll have to cope with news outlets that delegitimize Gen Z and our digital activities (though we can still take an “Are You A Barbie Doll or A Bratz Doll” quiz to make up for it).
2023 is bringing a continued discourse around media, race, and representation. An evolving development is the discussion of colorism within casting, specifically for the live-action movie adaptation for “Lilo & Stitch.” The actors for Nani Pelekai and David Kawena, the former of whom is Filipino and White and the latter was light-skinned, exposed the consistent issue of light-skinned privilege in Hollywood. David’s character was recast with the more-accurate Kaipo Dudoit; however, this was not because of the backlash regarding colorist casting. Some (mostly non-Gen Zers) have argued the same thing happened with “The Little Mermaid.” Unlike the underwater movie, however, race is central to the plot of “Lilo & Stitch.” While mermaids and Ariel’s story are fictional, Native Hawaiians are real and Lilo and Nani’s story is taken from common experiences on the islands, as explained by @pasteIeria and @luvvv.kio. Some other adaptations that have faced backlash have been “In The Heights” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” This discourse is similar to that regarding AI “diversity” models. The people you need are out there; you just need to search intentionally. Gen Z, the most diverse generation to date, expects more from the brands we love.
The deepest crime in period piece casting is not bad actors or nepo babies, it’s actors with Instagram Faces. Instagram Face can be many things, but some of the typical qualities are veneers (coverings placed in front of teeth that are whiter/more photogenic) and cosmetic surgery. It also emerges in “conventional” faces, versus more unique ones like Kiera Knightley and Tom Hiddleston. Whether it’s Timothée Chalamet in “The King” or literally *the entire* “Daisy Jones & The Six” cast, Gen Zers do not vibe with the they’ve-posted-on-Instagram face for their period piece characters. Even Ms. Frizzle from “The Magic School Bus” has been called out for it. On the flip side, Madelyn Cline has an “old Hollywood face,” according to @korysverse. Now, young people are surveying their friends (or followers) on whether or not they look like they’ve used Venmo before. @Opleaser2 Tweeted, “I have the opposite of a smartphone face, I look like I should be wilting by the sea milking my dairy cow dying of [dysentery] I always look slightly bewildered and afraid like a mouse caught in a live trap.” In an age of filtered perfection and tailored displays of authenticity, we’ve looked to past eras for escape. When these displays of conventional attractiveness and Instagram perfection follow us there, hands are thrown.
Let’s talk about voice notes. Specifically, Gen Z’s obsession with them. TikToker @elirallo joked about the “four kinds of girlies:” voice memo, phone call, FaceTime, and text. A United Kingdom study from Mobiles found that our generation uses them 33% of the time, compared to 5% for Boomers. Anecdotally, sending these messages is a more intimate and clear form of communication. On text, it’s easy to be misunderstood, and harder for inflections or sarcasm to be conveyed. It’s also hard to type up huge paragraphs of the latest tea. If you’re taking the time to call or FaceTime, you may as well meet in person. Plus, with school and work, we have our plates full enough that it’s hard to schedule a time to drop a life update. Voice memos are a perfect in-between, a way to hear your friends speaking on your own time. Young people are notorious for answering texts slowly but, with voice memos, it seems easier for many to send one back. 24-year-old Hope Sloop told NPR she knows “something’s going to be said that is going to be entertaining” when she gets one of these messages. “It’s a storytelling experience.” @dirty_bombs agrees; she’s “desperately waiting for the next 20 min voice memo recap.” Online, Gen Z jokes about playing them like podcasts on walks or while getting ready. This trend extends into communication for brands. We would much rather watch a video than read an extended blog post. And, of course, we admire authenticity and personality in our communications. Who knows, maybe the next viral ad is a voice memo!
✨ IYKYK ✨
✨ Your personality can be divided into three categories: Elvis Presley, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Rey. Use this TikTok sound to show the triple threat of your products!
✨ What wishing well would you be inside? This TikTok sound is perfect to show your obsession with a certain item.
✨ Are you an “okokok” or “lalala” person? A trending TikTok sound compares two vocal parts on Tyler, The Creator’s “See You Again.” Disclaimer: this will define your entire personality.
Screenshot of the Week
This year’s Coachella led to many cultural moments. One of the largest developments this year had nothing to do with music, however. With the unprecedented rise in the influencer economy this year, 2023’s festival exposed the stark divide between celebrities and up-and-coming creators. While influencers pulled out all the stops (see @scottkress_’s video for an example), most celebrities did … kind of nothing. @katiemedleyy pointed out this difference in demeanor. We’re keeping it casual for Coachella!