Death to Faux Generational Outrage: ‘Who the Fuck Is X Musician?’ Tweets Aren’t News


As if festival season weren’t bad enough for adults already, the “who the fuck is X?” social media trend — and the press’ subsequent obsession with pointing out the generational gap or lack of cultural awareness that sits at the heart of it — needs to die a slow, horrendous death until nary a “Let Me Google That For You” joke is left.

We don’t need more things on the internet to be fake outraged about — there’s enough to be legit outraged about in our world. There’s also no shortage of ignorance online, and subsequently, people mocking that ignorance. I suppose my stance is that there are far higher stakes, among much more important minds, in way of ignorance policing than millennials on Twitter and Tumblr. With all due respect (children are the future — don’t destroy me on Twitter, teens), it does not matter that some millennials — or really, members of any generation — do not know a certain famous musician or pop culture figure.

This American Life boss Ira Glass did not even know who Jill Abramson, the then-ousted first female editor of The New York Times, was — and didn’t care. This is a person who produces news features for NPR. Dan Quayle didn’t know how to spell potato and he was the Vice President (under a Bush, but still). It should terrify you that smart people with power are ignorant, not that a 16-year-old Drake fan doesn’t know who the Stones Roses are or why “Bonnie Bear” won a Grammy — and clearly doesn’t care, considering he’s tweeting a knee-jerk reaction instead of even skimming a Wikipedia article. So why are we uplifting his voice? The same reason I’m writing this article: content on websites.

With as much self-awareness as I can muster, allow me to state the obvious: a lot of garbage trends are highlighted because websites need content to get traffic, to make money against their ads. I’m not going to go full Vox on how online journalism works. But sometimes, the media will just get on a particularly gross trend and run with it because it’s easy, lazy even. Does anyone find it interesting that Rihanna tweeted an RIP for a celebrity who recently died? Interesting enough to see a round-up of 20 of those exact tweets instead of reading about said deceased celebrity’s accomplishments?

(This is fake, Tom works here/is not a twat.)

And so, the internet has started trolling itself over this “who the fuck is X musician?” trend — and rightfully so, until media outlets fall for it anyway. Just last week, a fake “who is Paul McCartney?” meme made the rounds on Twitter, after McCartney’s song with Kanye West premiered. The outrage-mocking efforts fooled mainstream media outlets, with BuzzFeed to Good Morning America pointing out that the youth of today may not know who The Beatles are (yeah, hokay). And Kanye’s stunning “Only One”? Well, West summoning his dead mother gets relegated to a footnote on fake controversy.

The culture of bullshit is eating real, crucial art on the internet. Which brings me to this week’s Coachella lineup. I’ll just say this: festival lineups are assembled to please a lot of different types of listeners, and are largely dependent on which groups are touring at that time. Hundreds of major artists play. Not everything is for everyone, even though most major music festivals end up ubiquitous. So if you don’t know who Steely Dan is, consider starting here. You just may recognize it from Kanye West’s “Champion.”