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This week on the internet: Texas power grid memes, the Batman controversy

Plus: Unpacking a celebrated author's viral essay.

 

Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Published Jun 18, 2021   Updated Jun 22, 2021, 11:22 am CDT

Welcome to the Friday edition of Internet Insider, where we dissect the week online. Today:

  • What’s your AC turned to this week?
  • Why a celebrated author’s Twitter essay sparked backlash
  • Batman is embroiled in an oral sex controversy

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texas conserving energy memes
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BREAK THE INTERNET

What’s your AC turned to this week?

Who willingly sleeps in a room set at 82 degrees Fahrenheit during a hot, humid day? That’s a question Texans have been asking each other this week after a graphic (which appears to be from 2019) that showed recommendations for conserving energy was widely shared online. The recommendations also included turning your thermostat to 78 degrees while at home—which is a little more reasonable! People responded to the recommendations with memes (more on that below) and criticism. But what is the solution—and how did we get here this early into the summer season?

For those not in Texas or who aren’t following the saga, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) operates the state’s independent power grid. On Monday, it asked residents to conserve energy in order to avoid blackouts—due to high demand and offline power plants, we were in danger of reaching our energy capacity. This was, of course, worrying to people who had survived through days-long outages during the winter storm back in February. It made people wonder what weather conditions the Texas power grid could handle. ERCOT asked people to conserve energy only through Friday evening—so it appears that we likely won’t see a power outage this week. But we haven’t even seen the hottest temperatures of the season, so this probably isn’t the last time Texas will be threatened with a power outage. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has spent the week tweeting about building a border wall—which he expects to be funded partially through donations.

—Tiffany Kelly, culture editor


CANCEL CULTURE

Why this author’s Twitter essay sparked backlash

Americanah author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie posted an essay to her personal site Tuesday, addressing alleged attacks on her by two writers, and critiquing how Twitter can stunt and warp discourse. It was widely shared—at one point her website even crashed. But critics claim the lengthy essay is also a response to being called transphobic.  

Adichie doesn’t name the writers by name, by one of them is apparently Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi, who graduated from Adichie’s workshop. Last year, Emezi, who uses they/them pronouns and identifies as nonbinary, called out Adichie’s defense of J.K. Rowling’s essay on gender from last summer. Emezi, whose latest novel Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir was released last week, addressed the essay on Instagram, saying the emails were published without consent, and that the piece was “designed to incite hordes of transphobic nigerians to target me.”

—Audra Schroeder, senior writer


HEROES

Batman is embroiled in an oral sex controversy

Forget the age-old debate over whether Batman should kill his enemies. DC Comics has managed to find a far more ridiculous dilemma: Should Batman have oral sex? Specifically, should he be the giver? According to the executives overseeing Batman’s public image, the answer is a resounding no.

This revelation emerged via the TV show Harley Quinn, an animated adult comedy with an irreverent attitude to DC icons like Batman and Superman. Speaking to Variety‘s Joe Otterson, the show’s co-creator Justin Halpern explained that they wanted to include a scene “where Batman was going down on Catwoman.” However, DC put the kibosh on this idea because “heroes don’t do that.”

Naturally, this revelation led to a flood of mockery on Twitter. Even Val Kilmer, who played the character in 1995’s Batman Foreveroffered commentary on the topic in the form of a GIF. (And, on Thursday night, director Zack Snyder shared a piece of art on the topic along with the caption, “Canon.”)

—Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, staff writer


MEME OF THE WEEK

This Star Wars prequel meme can apply to many situations.

Now playing:  “Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast 


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*First Published: Jun 18, 2021, 2:50 pm CDT