Welcome to our brand new food column, Hot Links, where VICE employee Dan Meyer explores the neglected culinary stars of YouTube. Each week, Dan will present a selection of videos highlighting specific food themes from amateur cooking, to local restaurant commercials, to elderly drinking buddies, to kitchen disasters, to the infinite supply of odd YouTube wonders in the food category. We encourage you to fall into this culinary video k-hole, and include your own comments and contributions below.
Here are my top seven selections for local restaurant advertisements. Watching these clips should mentally transport you to a run-down motel room in somewhere, USA, where the TV’s blaring with low-budget tourist trap commercials on a loop. Get familiar with the theme, crack a cold one, and watch these hot links.
Creed’s Seafood & Steaks—King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Restaurant owner Jim Creed loves wine, and is proud to be the boss at the longest independently owned fine dining restaurant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania—since 1982. Every time I am in the suburbs of Philly driving around the parking lots of a shopping mall, I find myself wondering, where could I possibly find a nice steak, in a lively setting, prepared by a real chef? Luckily, Creed’s is the answer.
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I think the fact that you are so marketable is that you’re one of the few rappers to bridge the gap from being just a rapper to being a pop culture icon. Let’s put it this way: my mother knows who you are. You even became a meme. How’d that come to be? It’s probably because I talked to Bill O’ Reilly and asked him if he was mad. It was nothing really. He was trying to come at me and I thought it was hilarious, so I made a joke out of it. It’s a lot of things. But the simple fact is that I’m living my lifestyle and people are capitalizing on it financially or intellectually. I don’t plan any of this, I just wake up in the morning being me.
Look through your Facebook feed and chances are you’ll find a bunch of half-truths, conspiracies, and chain letter–quality hoaxes sharing space with links to reputable news stories. In the past month, I’ve come across links to an article about Chinese people eating soup made of human fetus (a retread of an old racist rumor), a story about how former Liberian president Charles Taylor was a CIA agent (this one was actually reported by the Boston Globe, but later pretty much completely retracted), and a tale of a lesbian ex-Marine waitress who got stiffed on a tip by a homophobic couple (the couple now claims they gave her an ample tip; it’s not clear who is lying or what is going on).
With the exception of that last story, it would have been pretty easy for the sharers to do a quick Google search and determine that the OMG or WTF item they were about to post was outdated or untrue. The whole point of the internet is that you have pretty much the sum total of human knowledge sitting at your fingertips! It takes TWO SECONDS to research the thing you are thinking about sharing and find out that the Daily Currant is a shitty satire site, or that there is no“Abortionplex,” or that those “legal notices” your friends are posting on Facebook don’t do anything—yet even journalists and others who should know better fall for this crap.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, the cameraphone is the most important innovation of this nascent millenium. Consider the presence of video, drenching the very air around us with with viral potential. All you have to do is slip on the stairs, throw up on the subway, or throw down in the club and you’re more than probably going to be greeted with those two cascading syllables, the first drawn out, the second shriller, a staccato denouement to what’s become the de facto battle cry of our time—“WORLDSTAR.” What now? Are you more likely to punch that busdriver, or less? Is it worth it? Do you have a choice? The eyes of the world surround you, enter your body. You’ve become a gladiator for an emperor you can’t see. You’re meat, now—WorldStar is the world’s most democratic buffet, allowing you the choice to be either patron or meal. Either way, in the kitchen a friendly man with a wide grin and an impressive chain is counting his stacks.
When Lee O’Denat, bka Q, started WorldStarHipHop in 2005, he had no idea that he would be further contributing to the democratization of surveillance culture. He was just another internet-addled entrepreneur trying to make a website. Like so many before him, he realized that people like violence, nudity, and watching people engage in otherwise antisocial and lewd behavior. So, he catered WorldStar to fulfill those very compulsions, and it worked like gangbusters. Today, WorldStarHipHop is an empire, a self-sustaining behemoth that runs off of the folly of others, aired out for the world to see. Unlike YouTube, Worldstar’s become a brand unto itself, capitalizing on its own notoriety with series like “KO of the Week.” Q, argue some, is a monster, a guy who profits off of fuck-ups acting out in public and making our world tangibly worse in the process. Q, meanwhile, might contend that he’s just showing parts of society that exist—if society is fucked, is that his fault? No, and arguing otherwise is naive and reductive at best, and a dangerous perpetuation of the idea of the “nanny state” at worst.
Where Foucault warned us against a reality in which the authorities might be monitoring us at any given moment, WorldStar has created the opposite effect—we are all agents of surveillance culture, and suddenly, we’ve stopped worrying about the consequences of our actions, and instead consider their potential virality. If Q is holding up a mirror to society and showing us a bunch of people beating the shit out of each other on a Ferris Wheel or whatever, it’s not out of an urge to shame us, merely to point out that everybody’s been this fucked forever, and the fact that we’re still fascinated by people acting boorishly says way more about our world than the boorish behavior itself. Q—in person equal parts Steve Jobs, Sigmund Freud, Howard Stern, and Larry Flynt—was kind enough to stop by the VICE offices to chat with us, and despite running on two hours of sleep, offered a remarkably cogent and coherent defense of his site, which if you ask him, just might be the future of all media.
Noisey: You have kids, right? Q from WorldStar: Yeah.
How old are they? Kids are 14, seven, and four.
Does the 14-year-old watch WorldStar? He loves WorldStar. He represents WorldStar. Wears the hoodie, the shirts, and he talks about it. Kids in his school love WorldStar. He also likes Grand Theft Auto. I love that game. We play together. Sometime we go online together. He’ll drive and I just go around robbing banks. He’s the getaway driver. We have fun.
Tinder’s popularity rises with the increasing number of lonely people in the world. Largely capitalizing on the solitude of the city-dwelling 20-somethings who form the majority of the app’s users, it has reduced the human romantic experience down to its most basic level. Your iPhone flashes up a picture of a stranger’s face. Put your thumb on it and swipe left if you don’t want to have sex with them; swipe right if you do. If you’re the kind of puritanical moralist who has issues with that, then fuck you. When you’re little more than a faceless urban speck, wedged in that sticky interim period between formal education and a living wage, techno-dogging offers a welcome distraction.
However, I was still a little surprised when my friend forwarded me this invitation to an official Tinder “Launch Party” in London, England:
Why was this party occurring over a year after the app’s actual launch? Maybe the launch was going to serve as an inaugural huzzah for a sort of Tinder elite, a pool of the most right-swiped people in Britain. Maybe the people who run Tinder just want to renew the hype around it after a couple of months of the media talking it to death. Could it perhaps be an orgy? Obviously I had nothing better to do that evening, so I went down to take a look and find out what Tinder’s finest really thought of Jack, 24, Peckham.
China is at the forefront of many 21st century technologies like superfast trains and alternative energy research, but regional officials around the country might need a primer on one of the most basic of desktop technologies: Photoshop. A public relations disaster is brewing in Ningguo, a small city in eastern China, where officials were found to have doctored a photo in which they pay a visit to the city’s oldest resident, a centenarian named Cheng Yanchun.
The picture was supposed to be a heartwarming photo-op for Ningguo vice-mayor Wang Hun and his comrades. Instead, the altered photo (above)—which depicts three Yao Ming-sized officials and one floating/vanishing legless man towering over a Hobbit-like elderly lady—has triggered a storm of ridicule online.
Originally posted on the Ningguo Civil Affairs Bureau website, the photo was discovered after another local controversy drove traffic to the government site. The officials apparently did in factvisit the elderly Ms. Cheng, but they were unsatisfied with photos that had been taken. Xu Feiyu, the employee responsible for the Photoshop screw-up, told CCTV: “I thought this photo by itself didn’t really represent the occasion. So I put the two pictures together. At the time I didn’t think there would be such a big reaction.”
In the wake of the original Silk Road’s closure, everything became a little turbulent for its users. First, they had to get used to not getting high-quality, peer-reviewed drugs delivered direct to their sofas. (Though presumably they didn’t stop getting high, instead forced back to the “mystery mix” street dealers and surly ex-Balkan war criminals who have spent years filling cities with drugs at night.) Some users were pissed off that they’d lost all the Bitcoin wealth they’d amassed, or that paid-for orders would go undelivered, while small-time dealers freaked out about how they suddenly lacked the funds to pay off debts owed to drug sellers higher up the food chain.
Viable Silk Road replacements have been few and far between. Project Black Flag, one marketplace purportedly created to fill the void, appears to have been a scam. The site’s owner recently closed up shop and made off with a load of Bitcoins without sending any product out to customers. Another alternative, Sheep, has been plagued with security worries, with many vendors deciding to hold off until a more stable site is launched.
“Social media manager” is an important position at corporations. Through websites like Facebook and Twitter, brands have a great opportunity to attract attention and influence purchase via “earned” (read: free) media, as opposed to “paid” media (TV, print ads, etc.). The insider industry term for this free media is “eWoM”—electronic Word of Mouth.
Tom McElligott, founding creative partner of the great Minneapolis ad agency, Fallon McElligott Rice, once said, and I paraphrase because this was pre-internet 1980s: I would much rather overestimate than underestimate the intelligence of the consumer. That quote really stuck with me in ad school, and McElligott became an early hero of mine. You can see some of his creative work, which includes the brilliant Rolling Stone “Perception/Reality” trade campaign, here.
McElligott was a very smart ad man. Today, many of the social media managers at large and important companies are, by contrast, not very smart ad men. To say that they regularly underestimate their customers’ intelligence would be a great understatement. They seem to believe their customers have the brain power of a baked potato.
I’ve collected eight recent social media posts by large companies. Most of these updates are from the last month. To try to pick the abjectly stupidest one would not be easy. You can go ahead and give it a try, though.
KLM is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. It has close to 32,000 employees worldwide. One of those employees writes KLM Middle East Facebook “engagement” updates like this one. This looks like a question on a third grade geography quiz. Egregious “Like-grubbing” posts like this one are unfortunately de rigueur by even seemingly sophisticated brands.