Dear Food and Drug Administration: You need to start asking me what things are real and what things are fake among teenagers before you send out warnings. This week’s real-things: Chinese teenagers pretending to go to American high school, a rapping politician redefining “cringe,” and a video game critic taking a huge risk. This week’s fake thing: NyQuil chicken.
The triumphant return of NyQuil chicken
This week, the Food and Drug Administration issued an urgent message to the parents of America warning of “a recent social media video challenge” that “encourages people to cook chicken in NyQuil.”
The FDA says you should talk to your children about how important it is to not cook with with over the counter medicines. But I advise parents to not worry about this at all. Make sure your child is keeping up with their homework instead. Here’s why:
- There is no “social media challenge” involving NyQuil chicken. There were a few TikTok accounts that reacted to a quite old 4Chan video of someone boiling a chicken in NyQuil to be funny/weird. All the reactions were, basically, “gross!” not “you should try this.” But even those videos are gone from TikTok now (you can .)
- This non-trend trend is not new. I wrote about it in January, and it was at least five years old then.
- Even if there was a “challenge,” very few people would go to the trouble of cooking a chicken in NyQuil, and I can’t imagine anyone eating one. It would taste and smell absolutely foul.
- In warning about a trend that isn’t happening, the FDA created a trend. Now hundreds, maybe thousands, of news organizations are reporting on it, most accepting the FDA’s bogus framing that it’s a “challenge” people are actively participating in, and countless people are searching the term. Check out Google Trends. That big spike on the right is when the FDA issued its warning. The big spike on the left is the last time this hoax trended.
- Shouldn’t the FDA be grading meat or something instead of making parents jittery about imaginary things? Shouldn’t the people at the FDA be smart enough to not fall for this kind of thing?
Rapping grandma horrifies nation
Linda Paulson is an 80-year-old woman running for state senate in Utah. She loves traditional families, god, guns, and spitting bars online. In an effort to attract the youth vote in her district, Paulson released a rap video this week. It is far from what the kids call “fire.” Over a slowed-down riff ripped from MJ’s “Smooth Criminal,” Paulson drops awkward rhymes (and not-rhymes) that are worse than whatever you used to think of as the worst thing you’d ever heard.
Of course it went viral, with liberals rushing to dogpile insults from every platform and a few conservatives actually pretending they think it’s good, or funny, or at least saying no one should make fun of an old lady.
My question: Does the resulting virality mean the ad worked or failed? Is Paulson an idiot for trying to attract the youth vote with something no one under the age of 85 would like, or is she a genius for drawing the attention of every young person in her district, even if it’s just to drag her? We’ll see in November. A Paulson victory is apparently considered an extreme long shot, but maybe her “rapping” will upend the power structure in Utah’s 12th district.
Chinese teens use Ikea to recreate an American high school
According to the sinologists over at Vice, the hottest trend among hipster teenagers in China is called Meigaofeng, or “American high school fashion” in English. The move is to post pictures of yourself posed in front of the blue lockers at Ikea because they look vaguely like high school lockers. The dress code is modified private school uniform— you’re doing it right if you look like an extra from Gossip Girl. Reportedly, the poseurs are numerous enough that they’ve been banned from IKEA in China. There’s something totally fascinating about young people in China converging on a store based in Sweden to recreate the look of teenagers in movies set in America. There are so many levels.
Chinese influencers also like taking pictures in front of the Costco in Shanghai while wearing American clothing and striking poses next to nice cars. They’re trying to evoke a Los Angeles lifestyle, but I’ve been to the Costco here; the photos from China are way more glamorous, I promise.
Viral video of the week: VideogameDunkey’s new company
Over two million people have watched Videogamedunkey’s latest YouTube video, and it’s only been up for a day. Dunkey isn’t reviewing some hype new game. Instead he’s announcing the formation of a new game publishing company. In the video, Dunkey touts his track record as a game reviewer and promises BigMode games will act as a “seal of approval” for indie game developers and will “publish some of the best games out there.” Okay— but isn’t that what every video game publisher tries to do? Do any of them set out to publish only the worst games? (Insert Square Enix joke here.)
Over the past 11 years, VGDunkey has built a fanbase of over 7 million subscribers on YouTube through honest, insightful, and funny game criticism. He has integrity and gamer-clout, so maybe he is the perfect person to build a quality indie game publishing company. On the other hand, history’s trash bin is overflowing with movie critics who thought, “how hard could it be to direct?” and not all of them were François Truffaut.
But maybe more importantly: In my experience, people who share the strongest opinions about playing video games are almost always clueless about the business of video games. So stay tuned over the coming months—Dunkey is about to undergo a very public trial by fire.