I’ve been watching/seeing things lately that have prompted thoughts but not enough for them to be a full, over-wrought think-piece so I wanted to just dedicate a paragraph to each one or they’ll just simmer around in my head forever. Enjoy!
The Shit-Town Trend
There is a disturbing online trend for poverty tourism of late. I don’t want to give any of these nasty little channels any free publicity but I have seen numerous YouTube channels, TikTok accounts and Instagrammers take great delight in listing the ‘Top Worst Towns in the UK’ or ‘Poorest Towns in America’. If they were in any way trying to bring an awareness to the plight of these places I might support their efforts but they don’t. It’s mainly interviews with locals who point out how shit it is where they are, or walking around boarded up buildings and derelict streets ‘ooing’ and ‘aaahing’ over the gross decline, or listing crime statistics and just calling the place a “skag-head’s paradise”. Tellingly one of these channels began a video by commenting on one of these ‘shit towns’ being the second poorest places in nothern Europe, followed by “not to bring politics into anything, that’s just a fact”, ignoring the inherent contradiction of the statement. The lack of awareness that politics plays a part in this urban decline — and their grift — is a damning indictment on cultural literacy today. The very reason poverty exists is due to political choices and an area being labelled a ‘turd’ or a ‘dump’ has systemic causes for it that all of these pathetic, sneering, snobbish grifters aren’t interested in and use the destitution that people are barely surviving under as click bait. Shame on you.
Amelie: Instagram’s Patient Zero
I rewatched Amelie for the first time in twenty years and was amazed by how contemporary it has remained. Despite being very clearly a period piece (and a very specific period at that), its aesthetic has been adopted wholesale by social media influencers today. While the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ archetype has long been derided and Amelie does a lot to distance itself from the formula (while also indulging it), Instagram and TikTok in particular has unironically adopted a great…