Borkowski Weekly Media Trends 11-06-21

Baby Name Debacle | Musk vs. Anonymous | Mount Trashmore at the G7

What’s in a name?

Poor Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Winsdor. What would’ve been a mouthful of a name at best is, instead, the subject of numerous tabloid tear-downs and legal documents. It is difficult to say whether the news was shocking or eye-rollingly predictable. It might be what you’d expect after Harry and Meghan’s recent track record of PR moves, but the audaciousness feels wild, even for them.

That is unless their decision to give their first daughter the private (and previously unknown) nickname of the Queen was entirely innocent. It is not impossible: In any other circumstance this gesture would have been touching. Unfortunately for them, this isn’t any other circumstance. Revealing the name that the Queen’s parents and recently-deceased husband called her to the world feels like an uncomfortable breach of privacy – no matter if Harry asked permission or not - whilst recent events mean that any goodwill intended would be instantly rejected by sceptics… as it has.

One has to wonder if there was a miscommunication – that Harry and Meghan’s camp thought they could get away with this ‘olive branch’ move without formal permission. But is that too naïve for a couple who have spent the past year entangled with the press? Probably, but we’d like to think not. The other explanation would be a double bluff: Harry and Meghan knew this would enrage people, and did it anyway, framing it as generous gesture gone wrong, and making a bold statement about their claim to the Queen's legacy.

This is Harry and Meghan’s Achilles heel: No one can agree if their intentions are completely innocent, completely malicious, or somewhere in between. Even for those who disapprove of the royal family, trust in Sussexes is low. If Harry and Meghan are going to continue to build any kind of positive reputation for themselves, they need to focus on clear messages that align with their actions (and keep any reconciliation attempts behind closed doors).


Musk Reaches New Heights of Fandom

Uber nerd Elon Musk is quickly becoming the world’s most divisive character. Whether it's pumping and dumping the crypto market, furiously tweeting obscure memes, or being attacked by hacker group Anonymous, Musk is a near permanent part of the media agenda.

Watching an Anonymous YouTube channel try to dethrone the Internet’s Prince Charming felt like a peculiar throwback to 2012. Sadly, it wasn't the ‘official’ Anonymous, nor do Anonymous have any real influence on anything these days.

It was interesting to see Musk's complete disregard for any of the points raised in the viral video. Instead, he responded with his trademark sign off - the meme. It was a different story for Musk’s slightly terrifyingly dedicated fanbase, which will fight to defend any criticism thrown at the maverick entrepreneur. A couple days after the video surfaced, #WeLoveYouElon began to trend, as parody videos and swarms of Twitter users rushed to support Musk. This widespread show of solidarity wasn't overtly aimed at anybody. Instead, it was spontaneous mass love-in, praising Elon for his litany of oddities.

Whatever anybody says about Musk, he's flirting with a God-like status, and ruling an army of fans who believe he can do no wrong. He's running off mass approval, a sprinkle of delusion and a genuine belief that he is humanity's best chance at progressing to the next level – whether that’s space travel or some kind of tech-driven evolution. Should we be concerned? We’ll have to wait and see.


Mt. Rushmore of Waste Trashes G7 Leaders

As the leaders of the G7 gather on the shores of Cornwall, artist Joe Rush and his aptly named collaborator Alex Wreckage have created a Mount Rushmore style sculpture made out of tech waste at Carbis Bay beach. Designed to draw attention to the growing threat that discarded tech plays in environmental degradation, the stunt has been picked up across social media and has been effective in stealing some of the thunder from Johnson’s stage-managed photo ops.

It’s an apt stunt for the era, recalling tactics that have become more common in the Trump years, such as when Madame Tussaud’s binned their Trump statue ahead of the election or the ‘Emperor Has No Balls’ sculptures which controversially depicted the ex-President in humiliating figure. Though slightly less eviscerating than these examples, the sculpture, which is being unoficially called Mount Trashmore (confusingly, for an American who just got the hang of calling it rubbish) packs a punch nonetheless. In addition to being quite a technical and artistic achievement (we have it from our Cornish correspondent that Biden’s skin is made of motherboards; Boris’s disused rose gold iPhone covers), it is a glaring reminder of the one issue that seemingly every G7 leader ought to be able to agree on: the worsening climate crisis and the massive amounts of waste that these developed economies leave in their wake.

In addition to being an unimpeachable stunt, the monumental sculpture gets these leaders where it hurst most—right in the question of their legacy. Indeed, as Merkel and Macron and the rest of the lot gather to contemplate the way they will direct their nations, Mount Trashmore raises the apt question of how (and whether) these leaders will be memorialised in light of their responses to a worsening climate emergency. Whether history sees these figures as worth turning into icons or effigies depends on whether they can summon the courage and political will to tackle climate change.