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This week on the internet: Tom Cruse’s rant, COVID vaccine memes, and the year on TikTok

The Internet Insider.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Dec 20, 2020

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Baby Yoda, a.k.a. Grogu, is everyone’s favorite tree topper this year. In today’s Internet Insider:

  • A year spent mostly online
  • Tom Cruise’s film set rant goes viral
  • TikTok 2020: A POV for a cursed year


Being online more in 2020 changed us

Did being home all the time change how we acted online in 2020? TikToks of people uncovering something bad or surprising at their jobs blew up (more on that, below), and more people were “canceled” this year than last. So, the short answer is yes, lockdowns and social distancing definitely affected internet culture. 

The lack of social events and offices meant that we vented more of our feelings online—and that we had the time and space to pay attention to particular posts that maybe wouldn’t have received as much traction in a “normal” year. People also gained large social media followings for documenting their pandemic life, like gardening legend Gerald Stratford and actress January Jones. From March to December, social media became a lens through which we viewed the outside world from home. 

2020 was also a year of especially bad takes and pointless online arguments. As Vox’s Rebecca Jennings wrote this week, “the rules about what is or is not acceptable to say or do online are being litigated in real time.” What will we dunk on in 2021? I don’t know, but we can only hope that it won’t be about bodegas again.

—Tiffany Kelly, culture editor


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Tom Cruise caught hurling obscenities at ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ crew for breaking COVID-19 protocol

An audio recording of Tom Cruise went viral last week after he lashed out at members of the Mission: Impossible 7 crew. The movie is currently filming in the U.K., and Cruise was enraged by seeing crew members standing less than a meter apart on-set, breaking COVID-19 safety restrictions.

Published by the Sun, Cruise’s expletive-filled rant paints a picture of the Hollywood superstar under serious pressure. “They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us!” Cruise shouts, telling the crew that he spends every night on the phone talking to producers and studios about the future of the industry. “We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers.”

Here’s why it matters: Cruise is famously intense about his work and has a more hands-on role in films like Mission: Impossible than the average Hollywood star. He’s a workaholic whose entire life revolves around the film industry, so it makes sense that he’s majorly stressed out by the pressures of filming a movie during COVID-19—and, most likely, amid the shifting landscape of Hollywood in general.

—Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, staff writer


A POV for a cursed year

TikTok felt different this year. The foundational challenges and dances were still visible: There was the Renegade, and Megan Thee Stallion-inspired dances and trends. But the pandemic shifted TikTok into a tool to document: shutdowns, protests, remote learning, the election. POV videos are an integral part of the experience, but this year TikTok was the POV.

The app was a great medium for storytelling, especially new takes on early internet tales; DIY designers found a place to create and sustain. It also became a platform for workers to document their conditions: A growing genre shows fast-food workers revealing how certain foods are prepared, and former retail and corporate workers have been spilling industry secrets.

Politics dominated the year, and TikTok captured that POV, too: As protests took place across the country, teens documented political awakenings and used TikTok to participate in virtual actions.

Read the full article here.

—Audra Schroeder, senior writer


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“That’s the nyc equivalent of dying for cheesecake factory dinner.”

—David Covucci, politics editor, on this tweet

Whispers from the office

Now playing: Mariah Carey —“All I Want for Christmas Is You”

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*First Published: Dec 20, 2020, 9:52 am CST