Legends of Corporate Cringe

What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us

After a month of controversy and millions of pages of leaked Facebook documents that everyone agrees are bad but no one has managed to exactly care about (let alone read) yesterday Katie Notopoulos found the smoking gun that might bring an end to Mark Zuckerberg’s rancid Grampy hole at last.

Content Warning: potentially fatal levels of corporate cringe.

According to Davey Alba, the performers in this abomination are members of Facebook’s company a capella group, “The Vocal Network.” And look, I know it’s easy to make fun of a capella, so let’s do that. Here they are performing “Uptown Funk” in 2017. More recently, in December 2020, they commiserated about how:

This has been a challenging year for people in all walks of life. Many have suffered loss of loved ones or battled various hardships more alone than they ought to have been.

…before inviting us to endure a Zoom-themed “mashup between Something Just Like This (originally performed by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay) and All Time Low (originally performed by Jon Bellion),” as if to remind us that things could always be worse.

The Open Enrollment video was so bad it forced Joshua Topolsky to blog about his sister-in-law’s post himself, for Input. Topolsky co-founded The Verge (which somehow celebrated its tenth year last Friday according to Kaitlyn Tiffany’s party report) before joining Bloomberg and then suddenly leaving Bloomberg when the original B-Unit himself, Michael Bloomberg, returned to his eponymous media startup from (not actually living in) Gracie Mansion and started asking pointed questions about Topolsky’s work, like “who is this guy?” and “what is a website?” These days Topolsky is Chief Content Officer, Culture & Innovation at Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital Group, a move that seems decidedly lateral but gives him access to the Input CMS and ample opportunity to one day write Gawker’s first good post, if he chooses.

Facebook’s “Open Enrollment” takes its place in a pantheon of ill-conceived cringe media stretching from the Fusion launch video to TRONC’s “The Future of Journalism,” Insys Pharmaceuticals’s bribery-marketing rap video about its addictive fentanyl spray (which has the distinction of being evidence in the founder’s 2019 trial), the Smith College library rap, Scott Galloway’s Bloomberg show promo, and reaching all the way back to the Everything2 era‘s KPMG anthem “A Team of Power and Energy.” To be clear: clicking almost any link in this paragraph will harm you. This place is not a place of honor. Nothing valued is here.

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian wonders what the import duty situation will be like for Jeff Bezos’s space mall. Wal-Mart sold an aromatherapy room spray tainted with the rare and wildly fatal Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria, listed on the label as “healing gemstones.” Don’t worry, Google made plenty of money in Q3. Aliens not found. Adobe Photoshop is coming to the web, and adding an “Export to NFT” button. Figma balls, amirite? NY Magazine’s new book critic is Andrea Long Chu. And Alex Pareene imagined what James Bennet’s Rolling Stone could have looked like for Racket Teen:

Today in Hauntings: Luke Winkie wondered “Can a haunted house even scare us in 2021?

Maybe I would’ve reacted differently before a prolonged period of isolation. In 2021, it’s just kinda nice to be around people again, even if they’re serving the forces of Hell.

And in Catapult, Sandra Newman wrote an absolutely beautiful essay about how “Every House Is a Haunted House,” because “We leave memories in everything we touch. If I pick up a pebble, I put it down haunted.” Real lost earring feels in this one.

Today’s Song: Recording as The Cotton Modules, Robin Sloan and Jesse Solomon Clark used cassette tapes and an AI to create an album of songs that sound like if Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross teamed up with Bon Iver to score an unusually contemplative Christopher Nolan movie. Here’s “Dead Will Rise” but the whole album is a half hour of Big Mood.

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And yet, I fish. Thanks Ryan.