you should see me in a crown

deciphering the gen z fame game

You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥 internet culture served piping hot. This week: Billie’s Grammy sweep, building empires from bedrooms and hummus for boomers. 

Drink up. 🐸☕️

what we’ve been sipping on 

The 2010s created a new breed of celebrity, from grainy Photo Booth confessionals to daily vlogs filmed on the back of Boosted Boards (cc: Casey Neistat), playing out our lives online was first encouraged, then normalised, now expected. We have YouTube to thank for that, growing pains and all.

The rule book around the commodification of content was formed as quickly as the algorithms that propelled their creators to the status of ‘overnight’ celebrity. As consumers, we were along for the ride and it was vicariously thrilling. After all, hadn’t we participated in their public rise to fame? Our investment was measured out by the minute, voting with views instead of dollar bills. You know what they say, time is money. 

The road to celebrity has always been a torrid affair, but in 2020 it’s hit fever pitch.

💅from bedroom to boardroom

To decode today’s fame game: enter Billie Eilish and Charli D’Amelio

Exactly one month before Billie Eilish turned 15, she uploaded Ocean Eyes to Soundcloud, a track she’d recorded in her childhood bedroom. The song was supposed to live between the four walls of her dance teacher’s studio, but the internet had other ideas. Last week, Billie (now 18) made history in becoming the youngest person and first woman to win the four main Grammy categories. Public service announcement: *that* album was recorded in the same bedroom studio with a $99 mic. Duh. 

One month after turning 15, Charli D’Amelio began choreographing dances on TikTok from her bedroom in Connecticut. Turns out the internet also had other ideas for her. Tonight you’ll see Charli take centre stage in her own Super Bowl commercial. Who needs 15 minutes of fame when you’ve got 30 seconds of the most valuable advertising real estate in television history? FYI: the sneak peek she dropped three days ago has already been liked 1.7M times. 

It pay$ to pay attention, don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

i had a dream, i got everything i wanted - Billie Eilish

It’s no hidden chestnut that fame is being rerouted from conventional media spaces into the unknown, social gold rush that we’re seeing today.  But, while each platform that has come before has created its own sense of celebrity (think Facebook pranksters, Vine comedians, the I’m-big-on-Twitter commentators), examples set by Charli and Billie tell a different tale of what’s to come. 

The cult status of inaccessible, unattainable celebrity is over. Show us your flaws, promote your fallibility, practice humility with just the right amount of the immortality of suck-my-cockiness youth and you’re already onto a winner. Relatability? We can sell that. Authenticity? Name your price. 

🤞“please don’t be me”

In 2020, self deprecation sells.

Visibly grimacing and mouthing “please don’t be me” moments before she was declared the winner of Album of the Year, Billie almost seemed embarrassed by her success, now commanding attention on the world stage - not just that of the Grammys. 

Like Billie, Charli echoes this rejection of spotlight ownership. Her TikTok bio still reads “don’t worry I don’t get the hype either”, with 22.5M followers and counting. Arguably the most famous creator on TikTok, Charli’s rise to teenage celebrity status and her permeation of traditional media stuffiness is unprecedented and apologetic in equal parts. Incoming: Charli’s seamless transition from high school dropout to LA baddie. You heard it here first. 

😈 i’m the bad guy

Celebrity, in all its forms, holds a mirror up to the society that created the conditions for its rise and fall in the first place. Charli and Billie extend a lens into the world of growing up online, post millennium, and the expectations placed on Zs as they navigate collective social space while building their multi-million dollar empires. 

We predict that soon, “biggest on TikTok” will be interchangeable with “biggest on the internet”, ‘Soundcloud rapper’ will lose its prefix, ZEO will replace CEO as the baller du jour

We accept the celebrity we think we deserve.  Did you get everything you wanted?

kettle’s on: ones to watch

  • Mine’s a peach with an eye roll. A new bill was introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives this week which would allow emojis on license plates in yet another example of how digital expression is starting to pervade IRL. Ngl, we hope this gets rolled out sooner rather than later 🍑👬😎🤠👩🏼‍🎤💅🏻😍

  • Popeyes? Sainsbury’s? Beyoncé? We ask for forgiveness not permission for the tea we’re about to spill, but even Queen B [all hail] has to allow us one little titter. Her recent Ivy Park x Adidas collection has people comparing her carefully curated colour tones with that of UK supermarket staple, Sainsburys and after seeing the results for ourselves, they aren’t wrong. Not to miss out on a moment to cash in, fast food brand Popeyes also launched their Ivy Park-inspired collection, which is now also sold out. Given that Beyoncé has a lifetime supply card to the chain, we’re sure she’s having a laugh about it all. 

  • Join the club, we’ve got memberships! Drink Haus, named the Glossier for alcohol, announces raising a $4.5 million seed round to fund a membership program of its 15% citrus and flower-flavored aperitif. ICYMI, Drink Haus is the new millennial must-have, doing away with hard liquors in favour of a less alcohol-centric way to kick back and relax with pals. We rate.

Okay, you made it. Now you can go back to your Super Bowl snacks. 

ttyl,

Alice & Faye