The 777 Tour touched down in New York this morning, mercifully completing its last leg. While many of us aren't quite home yet (still lots of international press and people from LA), tonight's Webster Hall performance will be the last of the eponymous seven. Hashtag-blessed, you guys.
It's a big day, too, because Unapologetic dropped today to HUGE fanfare and is expected hit number one. (To mark the occasion, we here at Popdust ranked every single one of her 125 songs—and are inviting you submit your own rankings.) But, as predicted, the media attention surrounding the tour has become less about Music than Drama. The Rihanna Show, everyone.
The Berlin-London mutiny had the bizarre effect of boosting morale. Maybe that's because it's been (admittedly) fun to hear Tim the Aussie Streaker (below) on the phone with his mother, who "saw his bum" on the news over breakfast. On Twitter, observers alternately sympathized and raged at us, which we read on the 3:30 AM bus to the airport over the various techno dance remixes that would be well-suited to wrest classified information from suspects on Homeland.
But! Most of the Rihann-Argo 150 thought that London was her best show. And later that night, at the airport, an eerie calm had descended even though we were once again hanging in limbo at 4, 5, then six AM. Some of us slept in Boschian human piles on the floor, while red-rimmed die-hards munched shortbread and tried to top one another's sleep debt.
Oh, and Rihanna made another appearance to sorta apologize. (More on that in a second.)
There's a lot to report, so let me recap the events of the last 24 hours in classic Good, Bad, and Ugly fashion.
Hysteria is Kind of Fun
Some of us estimate that we've had as little as ten hours of sleep in seven days. That does things to the human body, but fortunately, some of it is hilarious. Like, for instance, when a writer from GQ passed out in the middle of working on his article. Normally this would mean that one would stop typing, but not on the Rihannaplane, where we're all possessed by the demon Media. He kept tapping away, despite being FULLY ASLEEP, head nodding back and forth and eyes fully closed. At some point, someone started timing him while dozens of us stood around, suppressing giggles and taking pictures. Finally, a flight attendant who couldn't resist added a couple of keystrokes of her own before laughing maniacally and dashing off.
We Already Miss Each Other
As we learned from Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in Speed, traumatic high-velocity travel really brings people together. We hadn't even cleared baggage claim before the Rihannaplane 150 began tweeting and emailing about separation anxiety.
Did I mention we're off the plane?
As soon as the landing gear hit the tarmac, cheers and shouts of "USA!" went up. In Newark Ariport, some of us threw our hands in the air and gulped invisible rain in a modified Shawshank Redemption homage. Photographer Alex literally got on the ground and kissed it. I reminded him that we were technically in New Jersey, and he ran off to boil his mouth.
Missing: Pop Star, Answers to the Name of NaNa
I think there's a misconception that we're angry because we wanted Rihanna to hang out with us.
That's not the case; I never thought Rihanna and I were going to become best friends by the end of the tour or that I'd even get a minute to interview her. I think most of the frustration comes from the fact that her shows and flights were all behind schedule, meaning the fans and the other passengers were stuck in limbo. On the London to New York flight, one of the journalists handed out a "lost puppy"-style flier that read "MISSING: Robyn 'Rihanna' Fenty" with the date we last saw her. We were too tired to be amused and mostly just wondered when this guy had time to hit a Kinko's. Funnily enough, though…
Damage Control: Too Little…
This was some true too-little, too-late action. At the beginning of the flight, former Extreme member Nuno Betancourt stuck his head out of First Class and told us not to go to sleep because we were in for a treat. In a time that seems too far away to remember, we might have expected an appearance from Rihanna.
But those days were long gone. We, uh, all went to sleep. With about an hour left to go til New York, Nuno and Rihanna's touring band (minus Rihanna) came out with a guitar and a tambourine and launched into a Lenny Kravitz tune. "Uh, thanks?" —the whole plane, pretty much. A guy from Fuse requested Extreme's most popular tune, "More Than Words." Nuno shook his head tersely.
Finally, when we were TEN MINUTES from landing and were all supposed to be seated, Rihanna emerged in a green parka and sunglasses amid her usual scrum of videographers and camera phone flashes. She gingerly took a seat at the front of the plane, where I'm told (I could not even ATTEMPT to get close) that she sorta-apologized for being too sleepy to hang out with us all tour (mmmhmmm). I believed her, but only because my close personal friends Diddy, Pharrell, Akon and Omarion said she'd looked a little tired wile partying with them in Paris until 4 AM. She also apparently referenced Tim the Naked Aussie. The moment I did catch was the closest thing to anything resembling press access to her during the show. Someone shouted, "What do you think about a number one album?" She answered, "I try not to think about those things." Okie doke. That's about when an exhausted-sounding flight attendant begged everyone to take their seats lest we be forced to circle the airport. "SIT DOWN!" someone screamed. She adjourned, they sat, we landed.
If I sound a little low-energy, it's because 1) duh and 2) I'm not really feeling great. After days of ominous sounding coughs echoing throughout the cabin, several of us woke up with sore throats and no voices. One writer boarded the plane with pneumonia and another with bronchitis, and I believe at some point their germs combined and forged a super virus in the rich microbial stew of the plane. I can barely swallow, I'm freezing and am pretty sure I'm running a fever (sadly, not of the dance variety). I'm debating calling it Barbadian Flu, Hepatitis R, and Rihannapox.
The Curse of Time
Rihanna's supposed to go on at 9 tonight, but word is it'll be more like 10:30. We'll sleep tomorrow, I guess.
Give us your best meme of Kamala destroying Pence at the debates: GO!
After months of deliberation, Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Harris became nationally recognized after she surged to prominence in the 2020 Democratic primary season. Notoriously, she called Biden out about racial issues during the first Democratic debate. "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she bused to school every day," she said in a speech that has now become famous. "And that little girl was me."
55-year-old Harris is currently the only Black woman in the Senate. She served as California's Attorney General prior to being elected in 2016.
Harris was born in Oakland, California; her father is from Jamaica and her mother from India. She studied at Howard University and then at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She worked as a prosecutor in Alameda County and San Francisco before running for district attorney and then attorney general.
As a Senator, Harris was on the Intelligence Committee which interrogated Trump about Russia, and she also made waves through her interrogations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney General William Barr and Brett Kavanaugh.
This is how Kamala Harris handled Barr. Now imagine how she’ll handle Pence. #BidenHarris2020 https://t.co/UbRcW4vzpy— Rantt Media (@Rantt Media)1597179179.0
Since her 2020 presidential campaign concluded, Harris has focused on the Senate's response to the coronavirus crisis, as well as their response to systemic police brutality and racist violence. In the past, Harris worked closely with Joe Biden's late son, Beau, on challenging big banks in the wake of the housing crisis.
Biden announced the decision via email and text messages to his supporters. "You make a lot of important decisions as president. But the first one is who you select to be your Vice President," he wrote Tuesday afternoon. "I've decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021. These aren't normal times. I need someone working alongside me who is smart, tough, and ready to lead. Kamala is that person."
If elected, Harris would be the first vice president to be female or a person of color. "I think that she will help bring a strong voice on issues of immigration and racial justice," said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Fremont Democrat who backed Harris' opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries. "Given her life story, to see someone like her selected ... it will be encouraging to so many young people of different backgrounds."
Harris's mixed record as a prosecutor and her vacillation on progressive policies like Medicare for All has come under fire from many progressives' but in this scenario, even the most radical progressives seem to agree that Biden must be elected in order to oust Trump.
Immediate reactions to the Biden-Harris ticket on social media indicated how much supporters were looking forward to seeing Harris face off with Pence during the debates: The match-up seems to be made in meme-heaven.
I will take EXTREME pleasure watching Kamala Harris eat Mike Pence alive in a debate. JUST SAYING.— Adam Rippon (@Adam Rippon)1597180224.0
Kamala Harris waving goodbye to Mike Pence’s wig after the first VP debate https://t.co/ZYplRfTG4E— Joey Nolfi (@Joey Nolfi)1597178245.0
mike pence on his way to the first debate against kamala harris https://t.co/A1PBV94fiI— chase (@chase)1597177622.0
Perhaps meme culture is the best response to the Biden-Harris ticket, as Democrats must support Biden as the only way to oust Trump–though Biden is far from ideal. "Biden is very problematic in many ways, not only in terms of his past and the role that he played in pushing toward mass incarceration, but he has indicated that he is opposed to disbanding the police, and this is definitely what we need," said civil rights activist Angela Davis.
Davis continued, "The election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don't think there's a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold."
We ranked the worst parts of Internet fandom in no particular order—since they're all terrible.
As harmless hobbies, most fandoms are predicated on the universal ideal that most media is entertainment, liking things feels good, and you don't get to be an asshole if all don't appreciate your favorite thing.
But at the heart of every Internet dumpster fire, there's an ardent fanbase trolling forums and picking fights about their terrible opinions. While it's one thing to be overly-invested in the love lives of the Kardashians or easily excitable over Lady Gaga's burgeoning film career, some people's dedication to their fandoms can shape their identities.
An obnoxious fandom may simply take every opportunity to flood the Internet with memes, but toxic fandoms can turn into bullying communities, with some circulating intolerant, even harmful, rhetoric. From misogyny and racism to calls for violence and public doxxing, these out-of-control fan bases are some of the worst one's active today. Thanks to the return of Rick & Morty season 4 last night, we're reminded of these insufferable fanbases now more than ever.
1. "The Real Ricks" - Rick & Morty
In 2013, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon's adult animation about an anti-hero mad scientist and his meek grandson began as an innocuous half-hour comedy. Soon, its niche appeal to speculative fiction geeks with irreverent senses of humor garnered a cult following. But a small fraction of the fanbase latched onto Rick's nihilistic and hyper-intelligent misanthropy and basically took it way too seriously. On Facebook, a private group of like-minded "Real Ricks" identified with the character so much that they focused the fandom on defending Rick's narcissism and lack of compassion. Their serious devotion is mocked by the highly circulated "copypasta" post: "To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humor is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head."
"Real Ricks" radicalize Rick's tongue-in-cheek quips ("I don't do adventures with chicks") into actual misogyny (including harassing the show's female writers). They elevate Rick's worldview as a guiding pseudo-philosophy that recognizes and even pities "superior" men for their lonely existences as the smartest and most capable humans alive. Although it's a small fraction of the fanbase, it's among the loudest online, which is enough to sour the show's actual merits of unique comedic timing and sharp commentary.
Despite the Internet "canceling" Dan Harmon every few years, it seems that Rick & Morty and its fans will never die.
2. "BTS Army" - BTS
Twitter User: JooniesBoop
Aside from the fact that BTS is not a unique pop group and have no appeal if you're not a fan of K-pop, the fan base's zealotry is annoying, at best, and alarming, at worst. People's most common interactions with the "BTS Army" involve their obsessive gate-keeping of how the Internet talks about its members. The value of its boys (if we dare to speak their names), Namjoon, Hoseok, Jimin, Yoongi, Jungkook, Jin and Taehyung, knows no bounds. But that over-protective doting on the band results in vicious bullying of anyone who expresses a dissenting opinion, from name-calling to racially charged abuse.
Many black BTS fans have shared their experiences with racism from the BTS community. Some fans have received comments on their user pictures that black people aren't "worthy" to be fans of BTS, while another shared, "I've been called ni**** and also told to go pick cotton and it's always anonymous. But they always let me know that they're Armys because they always end the message [with] 'we don't claim you in Army.'" While the Internet always hosts hateful posts, toxic fandoms can unite bullies under a common cause and attempt to justify the harassment of others with their love for their idols.
3. Elon Musk
The cult of personality surrounding Elon Musk is a mix of celebrity worship, self-righteousness, and buying into the man's own savior complex. His core fanbase clings to the notion that Musk's tech-savvy can save humanity. While the group's moral superiority and defensiveness make them insufferable, their willful ignorance of his companies' environmental downsides and disregard for worker safety makes them stubbornly blind. To justify (if not outright deny) Musk's unsound, erratic behavior, many claim that journalists are actively sabotaging his vision of the future. Again, not every supporter of Elon Musk is a devout fan, bordering on worshipper, but those who elevate the problematic billionaire to icon status just muddy the waters of progressive change.
Musk's acolytes were even named the "Worst Dedicated Fan Base" in a March-Madness-style tournament, cynically hosted by The Onion's Michelle Spies. "Elon Musk is their masculine technologic messiah, sent to bring them into a new era," she explained. "They will defend their billionaire Lord to the death."
4. Jordan Peterson
As a clinical psychology professor-turned-YouTuber philosopher, Jordan Peterson appeals to mostly male, disaffected twenty-something-year-olds who cling to his paternalistic self-help advice in place of real guidance. His best-selling nonfiction book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos matches the interests of his 1.9 million YouTube subscribers.
Namely, Peterson offers rudimentary tips for self-improvement and a sympathetic attitude that claims progressivism and Leftist politics have made it harder for young men to reach their full potential. His insular fanbase clings to Peterson's theories that "the masculine spirit is under assault" and feminists have "an unconscious wish for brutal male domination." The mix of personal insecurities and finding scapegoats for one's dissatisfaction with life leads a faction of fans to circulate misogynist and transphobic ideas couched in conservative politics.
5. "Bro Army" - PewDiePie
Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) tops the YouTube playground with 106 million subscribers to his gaming vlog, but his controversial satire of Nazi salutes, racial slurs, and alt-right beliefs attracts a loyal fan base that has no clear understanding of irony. With a majority of his followers skewing younger than 24-years-old (11% being younger than 17), PewDiePie's fanbase is active in the meme-culture of recycled imagery that blurs whether the intention is satirical or genuine. When the shooter of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand quoted a popular meme about the YouTuber before opening fire, Kjellberg publicly clarified that he was "absolutely sickened having [his] name uttered by this person" and in no way condoned the action. Still, PewDiePie's blunt, unsophisticated riffing on anti-Semitic and alt-right sentiments risks "normalizing hatred" rather than mocking it.
In August 2020, PewDiePie's playlist was leaked, and his fans began leaving transphobic and homophobic comments en masse on some of the artists' pages. Some music artists have even openly asked, "Pewdiepie please don’t listen to my music" because his fans are so toxic.
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