add milk; not a pre-planned skit
Welcome to Digestable, your mouthful of things happening in the world.
On this (snowy?! I moved to Vermont yesterday. Spring comes slow here.) Monday morning, two very different deep dives:
The Secret Black History of LSD: on the medical racism and also transcendent pleasure Black folks have experienced re: lysergic acid diethylamide
The COVID article I don’t think any of us want to read, but is by Ed Yong, prophet of the pandemic, and offerer of needed wisdom in this ever-confusing time: America Is Zooming Through the Pandemic Panic-Neglect Cycle
The Second Look
Half-baked cultural criticism from Gabriel Coleman.
A consistent source of entertainment for me is seeing what videos YouTube decides to slap on my homepage. I do my best to lock down my data online and preventing Google from keeping my search history or any of my cookies has completely bamboozled YouTube’s already shitty algorithm. Alongside off-the-wall recommendations like “Doctor Mike” reacting to people’s reactions of his own videos, compilations of Zendaya and Tom Holland being cute together, and full episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, a lot of the videos that end up in my feed have to do with milk.
Some examples of video titles that have flashed across my screen: “Just Need Chocolate And Milk Make This Delicious Dessert,” “No cooking only one cup milk dessert recipe,” “Have Milk at home? Make this Easy and Delicious dessert without flour! No oven,” and “How to turn milk into a sweet and chewy snack in three minutes.” The clickbait titles of these videos imply that without going to the grocery store to buy specific things or turning on a single appliance, milk can turn into some kind of magical tasty dessert.
It's fairly obvious that these recipes aren’t as easy and magical as you would think. Take the “No cooking only one cup milk dessert recipe:” according to the description the recipe actually needs bread, powdered milk, saffron, sugar, cardamom, dried fruit, and thick cream in addition to the titular milk. The “sweet and chewy snack” is mostly tapioca starch and the “just need chocolate and milk” recipe looks like it requires at least 4 sheets of gelatin. But of course the recipe isn’t framed around tapioca, gelatin, or even sugar, milk is the magic ingredient.
YouTube is full of fake food hacks that take advantage of supposed magical properties of foods and kitchen gadgets: putting skittles in a waffle iron, cooking burgers in a toaster, or popping popcorn with m&ms. The appeal makes sense: it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that colorful industrial products like skittles and pop-rocks have some secrets hiding from us, don’t forget that folks were eating tide pods a year ago. Industrial foods have ruined our sense of reality to the extent that it's no longer possible to tell cake from not-cake!
But milk? Sweet, pure, innocent, increasingly-hard-for-me-to-digest, milk? How did this simple staple rise to the ranks of manufactured mystery? Kendra Smith Howard’s Pure and Modern Milk tells the story of the fluid’s defamiliarization: going from a quickly-spoiling animal excretion to a frighteningly impure substance that could harbor disease, to the brightly packaged uniformly white and shelf-stable substance we’re familiar with. Through regulation of bovine bodies and farm and food processes, milk has become an increasingly industrial product.
Milk today is both industrial and animal, both plain and complex. It froths into latte foam, freezes into ice cream, and hardens into whey protein fueled muscle. Milk comes in chocolate, strawberry, and banana, and inspires new creamy imitators made from every plant under the sun. We’re told milk is essential to bones and teeth and yet is impossible to digest by most humans on Earth. No wonder we expect milk to do magical things! But don’t pour yourself a glass and expect it to turn into a tasty dessert all on its own. You’ll end up spoiling more than dinner.~Caro’s Tarot~
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
I know exactly why you came to this column today.
The 94th Academy Awards (a.k.a. the Oscars) were held and televised last night and, well, the Oscars got that elusive viral moment they've been chasing for ever since Best Picture-gate happened in 2017.
For many years now, the Oscars have been struggling with declining viewership. From the #OscarsSoWhite commentary to an often-too-long broadcast, the awards show has been under scrutiny each year for appearing more and more stuffy and more and more out-of-touch with evolving sociocultural trends and changes of these modern times. Even Seth Rogen says that shit is boring. Most casual viewers of the Oscars tune in to the red carpet coverage of the show and then catch up with the winners list either through live tweets or in the next day's media coverage of the event.
The producers of the Oscars know this, which is why they've been trying hard each year to attract and retain more viewers, and specifically younger viewers. This year, they decided to present eight award categories offscreen in an effort to cut down the duration of the show. They also commissioned Megan thee Stallion to write and perform a special verse to the song "We Don't Talk About Bruno" from Disney's hit movie Encanto and somehow managed to convince Beyoncé to come out after two years and perform her Oscar-nominated song for King Richard.
And still that wasn't enough. The Twitterfolk were already grumbling about a pretty disappointing red carpet preceding the actual awards ceremony and despite the best efforts of the producers, the Oscars was still bland. That is until comedian Chris Rock came out on stage to present an award, made a joke at Jada Pinkett Hall's expense (that she was clearly not entertained by), and Will Smith walked on over to the stage to rock Chris' jaw.
For a beat too long, the audience laughed nervously, unsure if this was a pre-planned skit -- until Will yelled "Keep my wife's name out your f-in mouth!" from his seat with Lupita Nyongo looking back and forth between the two men uncomfortably. The U.S. broadcast muted this exchange entirely but the Australian and Japanese broadcasts kept all of it in. Chris' post-slap bewilderment also confirmed that Will's reaction was indeed very real and not an awards show gag at all. And now we're all bracing ourselves for the next week of Discourse and think pieces on Will's slap.
People have been wondering how Will was allowed to remain at the ceremony after slapping Chris but reportedly, the comedian declined to press charges and that's why Will wasn't arrested or asked to leave. Some of the celebrities in attendance were also seen consoling and offering support to Will and Jada after the kerfuffle, while Serena Williams posted on her Instagram stories that she had to leave the auditorium out of shock. Will Smith did end up winning the Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams (Venus and Serena's dad) in King Richard and he gave a long acceptance speech in which he wept and apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Chris Rock.
I'm not here to thinkpiece. Greater sociologists, philosophers, and human rights defenders than me have already posted their Twitter thread of takes on this situation and I'm sure more will be published in the coming days, so you can seek those out as you want and need to. What I'm here to do is to gossip -- and here's what I think: Will Smith has snapped. Not in a way that is deeply concerning to his mental health and well being, but he has snapped in that he (and Jada) are clearly very tired of being the butt of everyone's jokes for the last year now. Earlier in the same broadcast, Regina Hall had made a joke about Jada that alluded to her and Will's open marriage. The pair seemed to grin and bear it then. But Chris' joke about Jada's baldness was the last straw. Jada has been pretty open about her struggles with alopecia and she was caught on camera visibly eye-rolling and not cracking a smile at what Chris said. Yet another joke at their expense in the same 3-hour timespan and in the same room of people would rub anyone pretty raw. And Chris unfortunately caught the short end of that stick last night.
My opinion on who is wrong or who is right doesn't matter. Multiple things can be true at once and there doesn't need to be a "victor" in every single situation. But this was certainly the spark the Oscars were looking for to reignite interest in their fledgling ceremony and my only suggestion is we include a public shaming in every broadcast from now on. More slapping isn't really my cup of tea but I feel like if we started letting the attendees throw tomatoes at Woody Allen or Armie Hammer or something, it would be a much more entertaining thing to sit through and watch.