TV

Fox Media's "OK Boomer" Trademark Is Peak Boomer Energy

All critiques of the system will inevitably be subsumed by the system

On November 11th the Fox Media company filed for an exclusive trademark of the phrase "OK Boomer" as the name of a comedy, reality, or game show, which is the most boomer move in history.

They were not the first to file for a trademark, as the phrase burst into the public consciousness earlier this fall. A New Yorker named Kevin Yen applied on October 31st to use the phrase for a brand of clothing. Seeing as we've never heard his name before, we'll put that down to hustle and give him a pass. If he wants to try to cash in on some branded t-shirts and sweatpants, good for him. But the idea of a massive media corporation converting the anti-authoritarian sentiment of such a simple phrase into another tentacle of their monstrous, profit-seeking, status quo-defending chimera is equal parts disgusting and hilarious.

capitalism monster Pictured: Capitalism

It's like the plot of a dystopian satire set in the 2020s. Imagine the studio audience, prompted by a bland game show host with bleached teeth, chanting all together "Oh! Kay! Boomer!" Imagine the thunderous applause synced with a flashing sign, and the thin veneer of performative wokeness concealing wretched prostration at the altar of wealth and consolidated power—with some dabbing and flossing thrown in for fun. Imagine the absolute reduction of a generational struggle for a livable future, until it's nothing but a set of empty cultural signifiers set to canned laughter.

spade boomer Does this count as appropriation?

It's maybe the most ridiculous trademark application since Kim Kardashian decided she could own Kimono. It's the same sort of misguided, out-of-touch studio thinking that turns board games into blockbuster action movies, and twitter accounts into sitcoms, but this time it's latching onto a concept that is so fundamentally critical of this very mindset. "You're going to make a show based on the phrase 'OK boomer?' OK, Boomer…" The capitalist impulse can't be turned off. The unfeeling system subsumes all criticism into the body of the beast, like a virus that mimics the immune system, rendering the natural defenses useless.

Is it weird to be hopeful that this show will actually get made? Because there is no version of it that is not horrifying, and there's a sick sort of pleasure in seeing the excess and absurdity of our culture displayed at 10X magnification. Of course it's just as likely that Fox is seeking the trademark just to block anyone else from making an "OK Boomer" show, because some boomer executive finds the phrase so personally offensive that he's trying to erase it from society.

ok boomer gif

Whatever the case, count on the cultural conversation to have thoroughly moved on before anything comes of this. And maybe jump on the trademark now for an "Eat the Rich" show on the travel channel, featuring exotic delicacies prepared with the fresh meat of local plutocrats.

CULTURE

How Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump Profit Off Your Outrage

They both have 61 million followers on Twitter, but the parallels don't end there.

The Kardashians want you to be reading this article. So does Donald Trump.

If you're already struggling to breathe while wearing Kim's shapewear and/or have fallen so unconditionally in love with Trump that nothing he does could change your opinion of him, they're happy you're here. But they're especially happy if you're prickling with rage, or if you're preparing to share this on your news feed, along with an angry comment about racism or cultural appropriation.

They're happy you're here because they've both figured out something about the modern media landscape and its purportedly elusive algorithm: Trump and Kim Kardashian know that they can profit off your indignation. They make money, they dominate headlines, and they win elections off the knowledge that any and all coverage, no matter how scathing, will benefit their careers.

This week's Kardashian publicity ploy: Kim has released a new lingerie line called Kimono. This has sparked instant rage from Japan, as well as anyone who has remotely paid attention to a single headline or news report or tweet about the problems with cultural appropriation.



A kimono, of course, is a gown tied with a sash that has been worn by people in Japan for centuries. To appropriate a kimono when you don't belong to its culture of origins is bad enough, but to package it and sell it for profit is an even more despicable act. Kim and her team's actions are, far and away, much worse than those of the white girl who received widespread backlash for wearing a traditional Chinese cheongsam to her prom.

That act, though not excusable, was one 18-year-old's poorly thought-out decision. In contrast, Kim's brand had to be conceptualized, vetted, marketed, and handled by hundreds if not thousands of people. Many of these people are extremely intelligent and well-versed in the ways of media and the social world, including Mrs. Kardashian West herself. They knew what they were doing and went ahead and did it anyway, applying for trademarks for the name "Kimono" in the United States, as well as "Kimono Body," "Kimono Intimates," and "Kimono World."

It's insidious—and brilliant. If Kim had simply released an underwear line, maybe it would've sold well among its target demographic; perhaps it would've provoked a few tweets from Jameela Jamil about the body-shaming nature of shapewear clothing. But now, because of this controversy, everyone with an Internet connection knows that Kim has released a new product. Everyone's sharing it, reading it, spreading it around like it's the plague in 14th century England (or its 21st century equivalent: the meme)—and so now it will reach people who might otherwise not have cared but who will now roll their eyes and say something about special snowflakes. Ideally, they'll buy the Kimono line out of spite and wear it as a kind of twisted testament to their all-American brand of kommodified, kolonialist, kapitalist freedom.

This marketing strategy is actually quite similar to the tactics used by the Trump campaign in 2016, tactics that the president will continue to use as he launches his campaign for 2020. It goes without saying that Trump's brand runs on a steady diet of outrage. It works: Studies have shown that negative press coverage helped elect Trump and has helped normalize him throughout his reign. In addition, the media's obsession with his personal controversies has distracted people's attention from natural and political disasters, as well as, god forbid, actual policy reform.

Donald Trump has built an empire by being more of a cultural icon than a politician, providing more personal drama and generating more rabid media coverage than arguably any Hollywood movie star ever has. His ammunition is controversy: His end goal is the spotlight, at any cost.

He shares this with the Kardashians, who have been open about their addiction to any kind of media attention. In 2015, Kim told Rolling Stone, "We'd go anywhere and everywhere just to be seen. We knew exactly where to go, where to be seen, how to have something written about you."

Image via E! News

For journalists and people against bigotry, hate, and abuse of power in general, this presents an infinite loop. To remain silent would be to ignore atrocity, yet providing more negative coverage fuels the fire. In short, we are running in circles.

So here's another article about the Kardashians and Trump, to be sent out into the labyrinth of the Internet, where it will join the ranks of millions of thinkpieces that burned brightly for a moment, perhaps sparked a flicker of contempt or conversation, and fizzled out to rest in the graves where all thinkpieces older than one week go to die. They'll be covered up by more outrage, more controversy. Fresh cuts will open elsewhere, distracting everyone from the wounds at hands. In the end, we'll all be left with the scars.

Change, if it's possible, will only occur when we open our eyes and see that we are building the walls of our own cage. Perhaps if we realize that we are being played by the same game, we could begin to dismantle this relentless carousel by forgoing brief flares of outrage for critical inquiry and ongoing protests against systemic issues.

CULTURE

Kim Kardashian Earns Japanese Wrath for Trying to Trademark "Kimono"

It's like when Gwen Stefani culturally appropriated all of "harajuku" sub-culture, only worse.

Infamous culture vulture Kim Kardashian West clearly isn't planning on becoming a copyright lawyer after she takes the California bar exam in 2022.

Kardashian disregarded about a thousand years of Japanese history when she applied to trademark the word "kimono." That's the name of the 38-year-old reality TV star's new line of shapewear—apparently, the fact that her name appears in the first three letters of the word makes her feel entitled to re-brand the traditional Japanese garment as her flesh-colored knock-off Spanx. Kardashian recently tweeted, "Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year. I've been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work."


kim kardashian kimono Kimono

Called "tasteless," "awful," and "baffling," the new line shares no commonality with the Japanese formal wear it's named after, and the website offers no acknowledgment of the culture it's appropriating. Regardless, on June 19 Kardashian filed to trademark "kimono" for her personal brand. Multiple applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office cite her new business venture as "Kimono Intimates" and request trademarks for names like "Kimono Body" and "Kimono World" to cover a full line of body-hugging lingerie and bodysuits. A Tokyo Fashion account shared the document on Twitter, posting, "Kim Kardashian filed for a bunch of trademarks on the word 'kimono' (even for actual kimono), which, if granted, would allow her to ban Japanese companies from using the word 'kimono' in America. Somebody call Cool Japan ASAP. 😱😱"


To clarify, unlike its bastardized American counterpart worn as robes and beach cover-ups, an actual Japanese kimono is a free-flowing, ankle-length gown, cinched at the waist with a sash called an obi. Made from fabric with ornate designs, the traditional dress is often passed down through generations and symbolizes health, prosperity, and familial respect. In short, people wear kimonos to weddings, funerals, and celebrations—not as underwear.

While Kardashian's disrespect is far from surprising, considering her long history of mistaking cultural staples as fashion statements (she's defended wearing an Indian headpiece and African Fulani braids as "cultural inspiration" rather than appropriation), Japanese people were pissed. Soon after the story broke, "kimono" became a trending Twitter topic in Japan. Japanese news editor Yuko Kato immediately criticized, "@KimKardashian Nice underwear, but as a Japanese woman who loves to wear our traditional dress,👘 kimono, I find the naming of your products baffling (since it has no resemblance to kimono), if not outright culturally offensive, especially if it's merely a word play on your name. Pls reconsider."

Japanese artist Emi Kusano posted, "Me wearing A #KIMONO with hakama for my graduation👘🎓🌸 Very sad to hear @kimkardashian has trademarked 'Kimono' for her new underwear line😭 #KimOhNo."

Another Japanese user wrote, "We welcome foreigners who respect, try, arrange and enjoy our culture. However, the name for our traditional clothes 'Kimono' does not mean underwear nor your tool for making money. I suggest you reconsider about it."

Altogether, Kim's had a hard week. Days before Twitter called out her latest cultural appropriation with the mocking hashtag #KimOhNo, she incurred the wrath of Jameela Jamil for her new line of body makeup under KKW Beauty. The actress replied "hard pass" and encouraged women not to feel pressure to cover up their stretch marks and scars; rather, "save money and time and give yourself a damn break."

When Kardashian revealed her Kimono line on Twitter, she tried to keep it light, adding, "Fun Kimono Fact- Kanye drew the Kimono logo." Luckily, one Japanese account immediately enlightened her, "Fun Fact: Kimono were traditionally made to hide curves, not accentuate them."

Fashion fact: The entire beauty industry is meant for self-expression, confidence, and creativity, not to treat symbolic cultural artifacts as accessories for Instagram.