I had a whole regular post ready re: the digital economy for you below, but first of course we SIMPLY MUST address the new very dishy and controversial Ben Smith column, in case you missed it this week: Why The New Yorker’s Stars Didn’t Join Its Union.
If you’ve been tiring of your usual media prestige drama (i.e. NYT internal politics), allow yourself to dive deep into the Eustace Tilleyverse of covert West Village meetings, shocking health insurance revelations, and apparently, some…..daddy issues? I recommend 5-10 minutes to linger on the detail where someone called a Magnum photographer to do the group pic honors, in some kind of weird Irascibles cosplay I guess. WILD. (If you have access to this photo PLEASE SEND).
As entertaining as it is to control + F to see how your faves come out looking (not great for a few) and to keep up with all the @ing and subtweeting around the column, it’s clear that the labor issues a’brewing at The New Yorker are emblematic of a huge shift in traditional media. The reigning system built around special little relationships and special little exceptions is no longer acceptable to the mostly younger class who demand salary floors, *not batshit* healthcare cost increases, and generally the act of posting the rules where everyone can read. For some of the magazine’s star writers to come out blustering about the merit system and l’horreur ultime, mediocrity……you’d think the mag world’s creme de la creme would be a tad more tonally aware.
Anyway……..a good if also depressing read: Kaitlyn Tiffany’s Every Thought Is Now for Sale is a perfect summation of the internet’s uneasy creep toward becoming a Nonstop Content Mall, thanks to the latest wave of NFTs and digital tip jars and subscriptions galore:
“When most of our interactions happen in this handful of highly commodified spaces, who could be blamed for feeling like everything they do is—or at least feels like—commerce?” Tiffany writes, and after addressing the institutional fault lines that this monetization gold rush adheres to (peep that Deez Links shoutout and link in there!), concludes rather glumly, “It’s difficult to advocate for fairness without perpetuating the logic that all human expression can and should be for sale.” Yep, and also: yikes.
It’s hard to finish this piece without being a little nostalgic for back when the internet was “free” — I’d love to read something in depth about both the technological advances and cultural mores that made this 180-degree turn possible — but at the end of the day we’re reckoning with the question of: is having *some* creators (ugh sorry but there is no other word for it at this point) compensated for their work better than *no one* ever making a dece living off the internet? (And by “some,” of course, we usually mean palatable, well-connected, white; see: Kat Tenbarge’s Sorry, Bella Poarch, this IS ‘Build a B*tch’). Or at least, giving more people a chance to make it to Magnum Photographer Group Pic status!
For further reading/viewing, I also highly recommend Terry Nguyen’s essay on commodifying one’s digital personhood, as well as Bo Burnham’s “Welcome to the Internet” song from his new Netflix musical/comedy special, Inside. (If you don’t like sing-songy stuff, this special may not be for you, but there are some real zingers about the Content Machine and the nature of performance worth your time).
Big Ass Note:
After this week, Deez Links will be going on hiatus. I’ve got some life changes in the works and can start sharing some news tomorrow! In the meantime, thanks for sticking with me all this time. More soon. xoxo
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