It’s nearly Halloween, boils and ghouls, so I’m channeling the Cryptkeeper and bringing the horror to this week’s Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide! I’m talking menacing cougars, the evils of TikTok, and the unspeakable, cosmic horror of Korean boy band BTS.
How scared should you be of TikTok?
How evil is TikTok? The President of the United States called the enormously popular video sharing app a threat to the national security. The media breathlessly covers the many dangers it brings to your child, with TikTokers encouraging overdosing on Benadryl, filing your own teeth, and committing a particularly time-consuming kind of suicide.
But on the other hand, hilarious TikTok teens may have helped tank a Donald Trump rally (Well, probably they didn’t really, but it was funny how many people believed it at the time), and TikTok says it wants its users to do good in the world by sharing videos encouraging education, climate activism, and safer internet use.
To solve the “TikTok, good or evil?” question once and for all, I spent a ton of time on its trending chart, and found it neither good nor evil. It’s just dumb. TikTok is endless clips of monkeys rodeos, kids trying to be funny, and that perennial favorite, dudes being popped in the balls. TikTok is only evil if you think kids wasting their limited time on earth with this stuff is evil, but really, if you look at the world we left, it’s hard to blame them.
Viral video of the week: Cougar run
Kyle Burgess’ video of his run in Slate Canyon near Provo, Utah has gone viral for the most terrifying reason imaginable: While out on the trail, Burgess was stalked and menaced by a deadly cougar.
The nightmare begins after Burgess notices some mountain lion cubs near the trail where he’s running. Then Momma cat appears and starts following the runner. Not good. Burgess responds exactly how you would: “Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck,” he repeats as he slowly backs up.
For the next six minutes, Burgess basically goes through all five stages of grief: bargaining, despair, and so on. Luckily, there’s there’s a happy ending: The big cat eventually turns around and slinks off. Props to Burgess for responding exactly how you are supposed to; most of us would have turned around and run …and ended up eaten.
Speaking of viral videos starring cougars, more than 14 million people have watched rock and roll witch Stevie Nicks doing her own version of the “Dreams” video I detailed last week. More than 14 million people have watched Nicks lace up her roller skates in front of piano while lip syncing her own song.
This week in tech: Google’s Frightgeist
Google recently launched Frightgeist, a site that uses the company’s scarily all-encompassing grasp of online data to give us a preview of Halloween costume preferences in America. The most popular costumes in America are Witch, Dinosaur, and Harley Quinn. How frighteningly basic.
The site gets more interesting when you drill down into local preferences. Like did you know the trendiest costume in Casper, Wyoming is “The Handmaid’s Tale?” or that people in Fairbanks, Alaska search for “Llama Costume” above all other choices? My own search of “Sexy John Maynard Keynes costumes” did not make the list anywhere, even though I search it at least six times a day.
This week in music: I listen to the hits (so you don’t have to)
Like you, I haven’t listened to any new music since Blue Oyster Cult dropped Agents of Fortune, but as a public service, I checked out Billboard’s top three singles in the country this week. Here’s what’s going into your kids’ earholes.
“Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)” by Jawsh685 and Jason Derulo: This bouncy pop tune is the number one song in America right now. A collaboration between a 17-year-old producer from New Zealand and veteran singer/songwriter from Florida, “Savage Love” features a tiny dose of reggae overwhelmed by gallons of production gimmickry. It’s both incredibly catchy and instantly forgettable. Really, really terrible.
“Dynamite” by BTS: On the other hand, this is not terrible. Each of the seven members of Korean boy band BTS is adorable, and they’re so popular, a less-than-thoughtful interview recently set off an international incident. “Dynamite” is pop-perfection with a 1970s disco vibe. You should listen to it, unless you’re too cool for things that are awesome.
“WAP” by Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are rappers who rule the world, and their raunchy ode to female sexuality is a banger that will rattle your walls. This is the greatest song on this list and maybe the greatest song ever recorded, but it’s not for kids. Even though your kid already loves it. Even if you don’t know they listen to it.
This week in gaming: Phasmophobia
If you hear screams coming from your gamer-kid’s room, they might be watching a stream of Phasmophobia. The multiplayer horror game has been burning up the Twitch charts since it was released a month ago. In Phasmo, players are a group of ghost hunters, looking for spirits with tools like cameras, crosses, EMF readers, and Ouija boards. It’s the perfect horror game to watch other people play because, according to Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson, when Phasmophobia works, it’s like an improvised horror movie that’s being lived out by its players, and when it glitches out, it’s hilarious. Unlike a horror movie though, viewers can chat at the players/actors, so if you warn them not to open the damn door, they might actually listen.