Technically, because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, this past week was a short one for a lot of folks, work-wise. However, things being what they are, that didn’t necessarily mean life was quiet on social media. (The internet never sleeps, amirite?) But what were people talking about? Well, there was news that President Trump was preparing to expand the travel ban. There was also the discovery that Saudi Arabian leader Mohammed bin Salman might have hacked Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos’ phone, which is all kinds of alarming. Meanwhile, Richmond, Virginia had a pro-gun rally, there’s a new deadly virus that’s made its way to the US, and nerds across the internet are excited about the return of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the long-awaited launch of Star Trek: Picard. Oh, and this dropped.
But what were folks talking about when they weren’t distracted by the star-spangled spectacle? Dear friends, you only had to ask.
How to Get Away With Book Murder
What Happened: It turns out that the internet’s tolerance for violence is significantly lower than you might expect when it comes to books. Yes, books.
What Really Happened: We’ve all been there: We’re engrossed in a piece of classic literature and would want to keep reading on the go, but the damn book is just so physically heavy. If only there was some kind of solution to this problem …
OK, sure. It’s certainly a bold move, not to mention one that pretty much destroys the prospect of selling the books back to a secondhand store. But, as violent a solution as it may appear, surely the internet understood.
There was one piece of advice that kept popping up again and again on social media, however.
No, wait, not that.
Surprisingly, no e-reader company has launched a new ad campaign off the back of this idea just yet. It wasn’t so long ago that speedy responses to online fads were what companies did as a default. 2020 truly is a strange new world, it seems.
The Takeaway: Of course, this might just be the start. If we let people chop books in half, then what’s next?
President Trump Commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sort Of
What Happened: Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been an American tradition for almost 40 years, marking the life and career of one of the most respected civil rights leaders in US history. President Trump commemorated the day on Twitter by noting his own accomplishments.
What Really Happened: The work week started with Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, offering a chance for folks to reflect on King’s legacy as a civil rights leader and service to his community. How did President Trump choose to mark the occasion? See below.
This came after a less self-congratulatory tweet from the White House earlier in the day.
Trump’s son also chimed in to, um, trumpet his father’s work.
Wait. Donald Trump Jr., Martin Luther King Jr. … Is there something here to work with?
Apparently not. Meanwhile, people were noticing that the president didn’t seem to be planning anything beyond tweets to mark the day, which was not only a break with tradition, it was also arguably offensive to King’s memory and what he represented. But surely there was something on Trump’s schedule to honor Dr. King.
If only there was someone who wasn’t related to the president who wanted to speak out in his favor.
The Takeaway: If only there was some way to accurately summarize the president’s attitude towards Martin Luther King. If only.
The Impeachment Trial Begins
What Happened: It’s on—and by “it” we mean the impeachment trial of President Trump. The Senate began the process last week, proving that justice often moves really, really slowly.
The opening day of the trial on Tuesday lasted almost 13 hours, and that was before it got down to the nitty-gritty. Instead, those hours were spent discussing the rules and setting up what was to come. Oh, and having some grandstanding that was certainly intended to be impressive from the president’s defense team, even if the execution was somewhat lacking.
It didn’t just fail to play to the outside world, it was also rebutted quite capably—if surprisingly—by one of the impeachment managers from the House of Representatives.
Given how late the rules for the trial were unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it was hardly a surprise that there were a lot of proposed amendments to be worked through before business got started. Eleven of them, in fact.
Eventually, at an impressively late 1:50 AM, the rules were passed by the Senate.
After the marathon session on Tuesday, the world struggled to catch up, which may not have been the best sign for the way the rest of the trial was about to go for the Republicans.
Well, that’s not good for those defending the president, but at least he wasn’t going on television and saying something regrettable.
…Oh. Following that surreal, lengthy, partisan first day, arguments began on Wednesday and have continued ever since. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff impressed many by calmly laying out the simple, damning facts and dropping in some Alexander Hamilton, but the Republicans were ready for him. Kind of.
The Takeaway: Still, surely everyone present is taking this as seriously as the genuinely historic event calls for, right?
What Happened: That heroes will ultimately disappoint the people who admire them is something that, by now, our cynical world has come to expect. But even bearing that in mind, “beating up a 13-year-old” feels like it’s really going that extra distance in its desire to betray fandom. (That is, if said beat-down actually happened.)
What Really Happened: You know, it’s been a while since we checked in with Gritty. Remember Gritty, the beloved NHL mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers who was taken into the internet’s hearts almost immediately after his debut in 2018? Of course you do. You love Gritty. Everyone loves Gritty. Gritty can do no wrong in anyone’s eyes.
Maybe apart from that. But perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it sounds?
Given the sheer amount of love Gritty has earned over the past couple years, some people were convinced that the mascot not only wasn’t at fault, but that he simply could never be at fault.
Meanwhile, for others, reality was intruding in a way that, really, just feels a little bit rude, to be honest.
But what of, you know, the actual facts of the case? Few, it seemed, were actually convinced—including those whose job it would be to actually take notice of these kinds of things.
The case is still underway, so expect more Gritty updates in the future.
The Takeaway: Perhaps the greatest part of this entire story might be the shared belief that Gritty is somehow more than just a guy in a suit. What, exactly, do people know that we don’t?
The Grim Reaper Gets Salty
What Happened: Death is a simple fact of life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be emotionally devastated by [checks notes] the demise of an advertising mascot ahead of the inevitable high-profile relaunch. Wait, what?
The sheer surreally of the announcement brought social media to a standstill as people couldn’t help but pay their respects—in a sense.
As the story started to appear in mainstream media—it wasn’t even a slow news day, and yet it happened nonetheless; what is this world we’re living in?—the subject had become Twitter’s top trend, with two different hashtags topping charts: #RIPeanut and #RIPMrPeanut. No, really. This actually happened.
It didn’t escape everyone’s notice that Mr. Peanut’s demise happened on the same day as Terry Jones, with the latter having the benefit of … well, actually being real.
With the world being what it is, it’s no surprise that people immediately started thinking about who’d step in to take his place.
And for those wondering when we’ll get to the punchline of this particular joke, we’d just like to remind everyone that the Super Bowl, which loves stunt ads like Paddington loved marmalade, is just weeks away. Rumors of Mr. Peanut’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, we think, and not just because he’s a cartoon mascot of a snack brand and therefore not even alive in the first place.
The Takeaway: At least some people are happy to take notice of how genuinely weird this whole thing actually is.
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