Say hello to the newest ASMR craze


June 12, 2019

Today, Spotify profits from your emotion and Seth Rogen capitalizes on his devotion, but first…
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Mukbang Millionaire: Inside the slurp-tacular success of a shellfish-sucking superstar

Bethany Gaskin really loves seafood.

She loves seafood so much, in fact, that she films herself sloppily devouring crab legs, lobster tails, and mussels — and, every week, millions of YouTube viewers watch her do it. 

Her most popular “mukbang” video — 36 minutes and 34 seconds of crab-cracking, lip-smacking, napkin-lacking wonder — has 11.7m views. 

Now, Gaskin’s viral videos have earned her more than $1m, 1.8m subscribers, and the chance to quit her job, The New York Times reports.

The miraculous medicine of mukbang

Mukbang, a combination of the Korean words for “eating” and “broadcasting,” first became popular among niche Korean video-streamers a decade ago. But to uninitiated American viewers, modern mukbang feels fishy: Am I missing the joke? Is this all some sick shellfish charade?!? 

But make no mistake, mukbang mania is no joke — it’s ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response).

ASMR videos — mindless, soothing sights and sounds that trigger tingles in the brain — are the televisual tonic of the social media age; sweet, obliviating stimulants that calm frayed nerves and withered attention spans.

And, apparently, seafood is just what Doctor Algorithm ordered.

Making mukbang into a booming business

“I think of mukbanging as a ministry,” Gaskin told the NYT. “I knew this was it, and I quit [my job] by faith.”

Indeed, it only took a few muks to start bringing in the bucks: Gaskin’s wildly engaged audience (which today includes Cardi B) quickly enabled her to quit her job.

That was only the start of her seafood success. Soon, Gaskin’s husband, Nate — who was initially skeptical of his wife’s “hobby” — left his job at General Electric to become his wife’s full-time manager.

Today, the feasts are a family affair: Gaskin’s sons often appear in videos — and, since they also suck the shell out of seafood, they’re perfectly poised to take over the family business.

Good mukbang for your buck
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Spotify turns our emotions into data, and then profits off of them

Spotify users all know the platform’s mood playlists. If you’re feeling good, go with “Happy Hits.” If you emerge from the wrong side of the bed, try “Mood Booster” to flip your frown. And of course, “Life Sucks” for those who read we’re all going to die in 2050.

But what you probably didn’t know is that Spotify compresses your emotions behind those playlists into data. And, as The Baffler reports, the music streaming giant has been selling your emo’ data to multinational corporations since 2016.

It’s called ‘emotional surveillance,’ and we’re feeling it

In 2014, Spotify acquired the “music intelligence” firm Echo Nest. Together the 2 companies went deep on the 1.5B user-generated playlists at Spotify’s disposal to better understand the way listening happens on its platform.

Shocker: They found that listeners curate their playlists daily to moments and emotions going on in their present lives, and started selling corporations all the feeels.

4 years later, Spotify is a VIP to brands and advertisers

Very Important Platform that is… And the biggest asset to Spotify’s emotional surveillance is today’s culture. 

In other words, Spotify’s mood collector in sheep’s clothing has become the antidote for brands struggling to reach skeptical millennials through negative social media and news platforms.

» When you put it that way

Seth Rogen’s weed company is about to hit Ontario

In March, comedy workers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg launched their company Houseplant in Toronto, becoming the latest High Times royalty to launch a recreational cannabis company with global pot giant, Canopy Growth.

When the owners first started Houseplant, they told CNBC they wanted to proceed with “measured growth” for the sake of product quality.

Now, only a few months later, Houseplant is expanding into Canopy Growth’s hometown of Ontario.

Famous people are slingin’ weed hard these days 

And it’s not to make rent. No, no, no. It’s merely so they can make even more money while they sleep (from all that indica they’ve been tokin’ amiright??).

In the last year Canopy Growth has led the charge, spit shaking on partnerships with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart.

Now that’s some chill company.

» dank

The fight for Pepe the Frog is finally over… or is it?

When California artist Matt Furie created a drawing of a frog 15 years ago, he never could have known it would one day become Pepe — the infamous, widely memed mascot of the alt-right.

But when the artist found out that Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, had used Pepe for perilous purposes, he was (ahem) Furie-ous — and he decided to sue.

Now, Alex Jones has to pay for Pepe

In a settlement signed Monday, Jones agreed to pay Furie $15k for appropriating Pepe, NPR reports.

According to the settlement, Jones and his company may no longer use Pepe without a license from Pepe’s papa. Furie’s attorney called the outcome a victory. But, in a twist, Jones’ lawyer did, too…

So… is the ambiguous, amphibious drama really over?

Jones’ lawyers insisted that since they were originally sued for millions, the $15k payment was a huge win — a small settlement for a licensing issue, not a dramatic loss of all-powerful Pepe.

Going forward, Furie plans to enforce his intellectual property rights over Pepe more strongly — but it may be hard to repair Pepe’s reputation.

» It’s frog-eat-frog out there
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