Borkowski Weekly Media Trends 29-04-22
Mick Jagger x YungBlud x MGK | Tories Local Election Rural Rumble | Selling Sunset: Netflix's Saviour | Mark Borkowski on Media Industry's top TikToker
Mick Jagger, Machine Gun Kelly, Yungblud: The superficial face of Modern Fame
Legendary Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger recently endorsed two of rock music's flavours of the month, Machine Gun Kelly and Yungblud, in an interview. Mick cited their 'post-punk vibe' and rock 'n' roll 'spirit', drawing the ire of rock purists. Music nerds and snobs alike were quick point out how out-of-touch Jagger is and the wealth of talent transcending the rock niche at the moment (the likes of Wet Leg, Squid, Yard Act, Black Midi, NovaTwins, Fontaines DC, Bob Vyland), but the remarks were an interesting case study of the nature of fame in the modern age.
In MGK's case, most critics agree that his craft is neither authentic nor original. Still, his industry backing, unceremoniously picking up the torch left behind by the talented and popular Lil Peep, along with his high-profile relationship with Meghan Fox, supported by looking the part (embracing punk aesthetics, particularly tattoos and piercings), has helped propel his career to the top of the mainstream. And this ascent is clearly what has piqued Mick's interest.
YungBlud is a more authentic character: combining a similarly appealing aesthetic (more emo or quasi-goth than MGK’s faux-punk) with a winning and charismatic personality, and wearing his own issues and heartache on his sleeve. But his music is neither much more original nor more interesting than MGK’s to the rock anoraks.
More than rock stars, MGK and YungBlud are good-looking celebrities stand out by rehashing trends that the likes of Mick Jagger pioneered. It isn’t fair to expect Mick Jagger to have his finger on the pulse of contemporary music; he's probably taken one look at MGK and made sense of his existence by applying his understanding of rock and merging it with a concept of today's world. In fame, sometimes it's not about authenticity. It's about good timing and better luck, ripping off the right thing and avoiding any high-level scrutiny.
Local Elections: Tories Could be in for a Rural Rumble
Outpriced in their own communities. Rising fuel prices. Dwindling career opportunities. Brexit chaos. Seasonal labour shortages. The culture war has ignited long standing divides between ‘country folk’ and ‘city folk’ on issues from shooting to historic buildings. And a government which is ignoring them.
The rural way of life is under threat. It’s a ticking time bomb creeping towards combustion after years of inaction. And the government is doing nothing about it.
A report was released in Parliament this week about the government’s neglect of the rural community that revealed years of neglect and a severe lack of understanding of the issues being neglected.
This year has seen a new set of challenges for the rural economy; against the backdrop of record-breaking 7% inflation, agriculture inflation is at nearly 29% with sky high fuel and fertilizer prices – key components to the yearly harvest. Many don’t see a government there to help or listen.
Consumed by environmental targets, culture wars and self-inflicted crises, rural communities have been left behind. Key rural policies were left out of the levelling-up agenda, and are often little more than a footnote.
Why does this matter? The wider focus of the news is on how much the world relies on two countries at war right now. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30% of the world's wheat production. Even higher for other resources. Right now is when the government’s focus should be shifting to how we can be more self-reliant at home, (which, of course, is good for the environment too…!)
Part of the reason for this negligence is that the Tories have always taken the countryside vote for granted, but now rural community might be starting to turn away from the party which has supposedly represented them for so long. The FT reported polling by Survation for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents landowners, found that in five of the UK’s most rural counties, voters were shifting allegiances. Some 46 per cent of respondents had voted Conservative at the last general election but only 38 per cent now say they intend to do so in upcoming local elections, while 36 per cent plan to vote Labour. A dramatic shift.
Next week’s local elections will be another test for the Government of Chaos, and it will be interesting to watch what happens in some of the more rural areas to see if this apathy and feeling of being left behind turns into a bigger trend.
Netflix May Be Tanking But Sunset Boulevard Real Estate is Booming
While Netflix leaks users into the black hole of angst surrounding its highly unpopular price rise, their leadership must have been longing for a symbol that their long term prosperity was secure. Enter a new season of Selling Sunset, the kind of cult phenomenon on which Netflix built its empire.
As a historic cost of living crisis bites, scores of people worldwide still appear content to take their minds off their financial woes by watching a reality show about rich people selling luxury mansions to other rich people (when they aren’t too busy fighting with their rich co-workers).
What was initially billed as an earnest attempt to reveal the inner-workings of the opulent LA hillside real-estate game rapidly descended into yet another scandal-ridden scripted reality soap opera. Selling Sunset has taken us on a journey, from watching what it’s like to be a successful woman in one of the most competitive working fields in the world, to watching housewives catfight over text messages and empanadas, much to viewers’ delight.
Netflix’s astronomical success is partly built on its domination of the sizeable market for trash US reality shows. From, Too Hot To Handle, to The Ultimatum, to Below Deck the media giant’s ability to craft addictive, low-maintenance television that allows viewers to both aspire to its lavish luxury and judge the garish, bratty privilege of its protagonists may be a USP that allows it to retain the majority of its mammoth, but increasingly restless audience.
Check out Mark Borkowski’s LinkedIn for his take on how Rob Mayhew, TikTok’s hottest lampooner of life working in the media, may have inadvertently uncovered some uncomfortable truths about the industry:
“The hard truth underlying the funny sketches is that our industry is too tied up in performative displays of influence, creativity, purpose and studiousness, while often winging it or doing the bare minimum. If we all act like the characters in Rob Mayhew’s stages, which too many of us do, then sooner or later we’re going to get found out: if your default setting is ‘smoke and mirrors’ eventually you will choke on the fumes.”