Welcome to Issue 39.3 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
Even though, like billions (?!) of people in the world, I don’t really celebrate Christmas if left to my own devices, the idea of end of year rest feels obviously, naturally, timed to me. Maybe it is just a quarter century of being on an American schedule, plus a global pandemic and a few dark months ahead that makes this feel so obvious.
Of course, under capitalism it is a privilege to rest, so this end of year rest is not an option for many who are obligated to work in the final weeks of this immeasurable year.
In the absence of rest, the brain has limited capacity to make good decisions, to weigh options, and to accurately assess risk.
I saw a couple of headlines today about things I thought should have been so apparent—it seems we are suffering from societal fatigue.
The first: apparently Maine is importing plastic waste from Ireland to turn into energy, as though the US hasn’t spent the last few years plagued by too much plastic and nowhere to send it, since China got smart and implemented their National Sword policy.
The second: Jamaal Bowman, who, don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of, enlightened American electeds in an interview where he said that ‘politicians must act as role models as part of a concerted effort to combat skepticism of the Covid-19 vaccine, particularly among some Black Americans.’
The fact that this had to be said is just another staggering example of how little those in power this last year actually know about governing. Of course you have to inspire trust to get people to believe you. This we learned in kindergarten, no?
Per my questions on Monday about the post-modernism of 2020, today I read How 2020 Shattered Shared Reality. It talks a bit about this fatigue, and attributes it to the absence of our ability to gather and experience things together. The author does not forecast a nice reassembly of the American gathering or our collective psyche, which has suffered some damage. Surely, this is true—but wasn’t much of `that old version of normal a deception all along?
Now that we have pulled back the veil on the staggering inequality and racism that tugs at all corners of our society, at least we can generate an outcry about importing additional plastic waste, or how the government has failed to generate trust. What else might we find in the reassembly of our shared reality?
Here’s an otter who got the second chance, and some rest, that we all need.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
There was a period of time in the mid-to-late 2000s and the early 2010s during which Hollywood was peppered with celebrities who were "famous for being famous." Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Kim Kardashian, some smaller two-bit actors like Mischa Barton -- all of these people were typically more known in the public eye for their ability to generate buzz about themselves or for being friends with another more famous (for being famous) person than for their skills or talent. Some of these "famous for being famous" folks parlayed their fame (or infamy, in some cases) into longer-lasting careers and empires whereas others have dropped off the radar quite a bit. But these days, you don't really see a lot of "famous for being famous" people in the news as much and I sort of think that's because reality tv is so abundant these days that anyone with a thirst for fame can just sort of try and get themselves on the cast of one of these shows and if they're lucky, they'll find themselves with the 15 minutes they need to snag brand deals and sponsorships that will leave them set for life. Oh also, social media: Tik Tok stars, Youtubers, Instagram creators -- it's easy enough to chase and obtain clout these days without having to do things like stumble drunkenly out of limos and flash paparazzis out of Chateau Marmont.
That is, if you're not Rita Ora. Somehow, through some magical way, Rita Ora has managed to maintain her relevance through doing who knows what really -- singing? Acting? Modeling? I truly could not tell you. In fact, I couldn't even tell you how Rita Ora first became famous. It must have been a song or a guest vocal feature on a track somewhere because I've never heard her sing or seen her perform. But here she is, making headlines every now and then for doing something. I'm writing this all very vaguely because I truly have no clue. Rita Ora to me really is the last vestige of the "famous for being famous" phenomenon, and by God, she's doing a mighty good job at it because entertainment journos and rags are still covering her!
And so here we are, talking about Rita Ora, this time for doing silly, selfish things in the midst of a pandemic. Yes, this is another one of those stories of rich people breaking rules and flouting safety protocols because they can. Because they got bored. Because it's their birthday and they needed to feel special after a year of feeling unspecial. Yes, Rita Ora decided to throw herself a birthday party with thirty (30) people invited to a restaurant in West London that she rented out for the occasion. This happened in early December, when London was in lockdown from rising coronavirus cases. Oh, this also happened after Rita Ora flew to Cairo, Egypt for a paid performance (why? whomstve?) and did not quarantine for the recommended amount of time upon her return. Good choices all around here, would expect nothing less to be honest.
So Rita Ora paid her fines and was criticized online for being a dolt. And I guess the heat got too much for her, so Rita Ora has decided to "go on holiday" in Bulgaria and "start afresh" in the new year. Which is cute, isn't it? We'll all be dealing with this still come January but I'm glad she'll get to have a redemption of sorts, even if it's all just in her head. She's not nearly famous or talented enough to pull these shenanigans and get away with it but I'm sure she'll try. She's already dropped hints of a new album coming in 2021 but I don't know a single person who would be interested in that soooo... good luck in Bulgaria, Rita Ora. And thanks for keeping the tradition of "famous for being famous" alive, I guess?