Discover more from Follow Friday
Mysterious raisins, why memes matter, and relaxing with your chihuahua
Plus: eco-mobsters, the internet is mad or something, and some very good frogs.
Welcome to Follow Friday, which now has a snazzy domain of its own: www.followfriday.email. Was this necessary? Of course not! But I’m headed to Podcast Movement Evolutions in a couple weeks and I wanted to squeeze this newsletter onto my business cards. So here we are.
The single best thing I saw online this week: This TikTok about “environmentally conscious mobsters”:
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The best podcasts I’ve heard this week
After nearly a year, one of my favorite podcasts is back for more. Underunderstood — hosted by Regina Dellea, Adrianne Jeffries, Billy Disney, and John Lagomarsino — attempts to help people with questions they can’t find the answers to online. Three episodes of the new season have dropped already, and I’ve liked all of them. If you were a fan of Reply All, though, I’d recommend starting with “Raisin Suspicion,” in which the hosts apply their investigative journalism skills and skepticism to a very low-stakes question.
OK, cards on the table, it’s been a busy week and I listened to this one in the background while I was doing some work. But I’m very excited for the new podcast Baby, This is Keke Palmer, whose eponymous host you might know from Nope, or from the all-timer meme “sorry to this man.” Keke has a great voice and an infectious personality, and I loved hearing her talk to SNL’s Kenan Thompson about his early days in show business as a cast member of two shows I watched religiously, All That and then Kenan & Kel.
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help i’m addicted to /r/LOTRMemes
With Warner Bros. announcing that it plans to make new Lord of the Rings movies, now seems like a good time to say: Not only does Peter Jackson’s original trilogy hold up, but it has an incredible internet footprint. I’m not exactly surprised that three very long and beloved movies have such a passionate fandom, but I am consistently impressed by the creative silliness on the subreddit /r/LOTRMemes.
Like all meme communities, there’s a healthy dose of annoying meta content, reposts, and all of that. But I look forward to seeing LOTR Memes every time I open Reddit. I believe memers are actually an important part of film culture, because any act of sharing or remixing a movie — no matter how ridiculous — encourages others to do the same. In a world of abundant content, it’s important to distinguish between what’s disposable (see below) and what deserves to still be picked over, 20 years later.
Also: Yeah, Return of the King is almost old enough to buy a beer. Sorry.
A lukewarm defense of Ant-Man
Let me let you in on a secret: If you want to enjoy a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, just assume it’s going to be bad. Occasionally you’ll be right, and most of the time your low exceptions will be exceeded. Like most of the MCU, Ant-Man: Quantumania is a passable C-plus/B-minus, saddled with some dubious CGI and bolstered by a promising new uber-villain trying to fill the big purple hole vacated by Thanos.
The reviews for this film have been surprisingly negative, and I’ve inferred that a LOT of people are big mad about the Small Rudd flick on social media. I must be getting older and/or am profiting from the absence of Twitter in my life, because I cannot bring myself to care. I had a pretty good time turning my brain off for 2 hours while sipping a milkshake that tastes like a Creamsicle (I ordered it without whipped cream, for my health). That’s enough for me!
Speaking of people who are mad online
My partner and I love watching Drew Gooden’s YouTube videos; he is exceptionally good at mining the worst parts of the internet (shady Instagram products, cheap Christmas movies, Ninja’s Masterclass) for humor. His latest, about angry comments on TikTok videos made by couples, is no exception — but it also made me SO glad that I’ve never felt the need to document my life this way. When I think about the ways my online life could have gone very wrong, the worst-case scenario is that I could have been absorbed into some misogynistic corner of Reddit, but craving the likes and comments of people who hate me is a close second.
It’s tempting to blame individual creators for living this way, but the video ends as it should: With a clear denunciation of the way social media platforms have been engineered to reward negativity, because that boosts the time we spend with TikTok/Instagram/Twitter/etc. I think this is why I haven’t been able to get excited about joining any of the apps trying to replace Twitter. How long will it be until they become like this?
It’s me, I’m the millennials.
The best thing I’ve read this week
Enough time has passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that we are beginning to understand its impact on schoolchildren. TL;DR for this longread in Vox: not great, Bob:
“Learning loss” may be the term experts agreed on when describing the effect of pandemic school disruptions, but for the most part, students didn’t suddenly lose what they had already achieved before the pandemic.
Rather, they lost the opportunity and the time to build on what they knew. And while that may have been a temporary hindrance for high-achieving students who had the support at home to catch up, it was nothing short of catastrophic for marginalized students of color who before the pandemic might have had the resources of their school, and little else.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Bryan Walsh concludes by explaining how a “nationwide tutoring effort” could make up for what has been lost, and then some. Here’s hoping this sort of thing can be given the priority it deserves over the next two years as we figure out how to keep the book-banning fascists out of the White House.
Palate cleanser: How to relax
Apparently this video is very old and famous, but it’s new to me. I’m one of today’s lucky 10,000. Maybe you are too?