As we watched Colin Powell sing "Call Me Maybe" on CBS This Morning, a little piece of us died, and maybe all of the few remaining shards of the "Call Me Maybe" trend expired as well. A trend, after all, is a precious thing, something to be treasured and protected in private circles and spoken about in hushed tones, not something to be smashed into smithereens on TV via the vocal stylings of a former Secretary of State. If you have not watched this happen, here it is:
Gruesome, indeed. These trend-killers, or, as we here dub them, trenemies, must be stopped. We have identified the most despicable in hopes of preventing further innocent deaths. Note: They are dangerous and prone to act in erratic ways, also, may be armed with horrible dad jokes, social media paraphernalia, and relatively speedy Internet connections.
Trend Killer: Colin Powell. Also, "Old People." Look, just because you're "old" or "a former Secretary of State" doesn't mean you don't have good taste, or can't adopt a trend. You can rock out to whatever the hip kids are listening to in your Chrysler or Ford Taurus all you dang well please. But talking about your love of said trend in public, particularly on television—and, even worse, actually attempting to "play along" with the trend by singing it—is unacceptable. We don't care if you read Fifty Shades of Grey, for goodness sakes, everyone else is and you might as well be informed, but once you're on the nightly news talking about how much you learned from it, you have crossed a line. No longer can we take our trend seriously. It has gone...we'll put this as nicely as we can..."mainstream." (See also: Pretty much anyone on morning and afternoon TV.)
Trend Killer: The Gerund. The second an "ing" is added to a noun, making it a verb, it is essentially dead. Planking, batmanning, horsemaning, Draping, Tebowing, stocking, Bradying, teapotting, whatever it is-ing. Trend-killing. Also a trend-killer: The question "Is ____ the new planking?"
Trend Killer: James Franco. Guys. Guys. James Franco didn't like Girls, thinks giving commencement speeches are a thankless job, and actually likes ghost tours in New Orleans. And the reason we all know this is that he's a HuffPo blogger, another sign of his trend-killing credibility. But this is all about Franco, right, the actor who went to school everywhere, studied everything, and has had stories written about his endless list of achievements more than any actor in the past 20 years. And it's that image, coupled with his blase "too cool" attitude and obtuse observations (he didn't like Girls because he couldn't see himself in it), that makes the most interesting cultural trends feel muted, dull and blunt in his hands.
Trend Killer: YouTube "Artists." You know them when you see them. Cute, probably white, kids autotuning themselves (playing their own instruments is optional) within in an inch of Lisa Simpson's voice and giving you "their unique take" on pop songs. These musical vampires are also the fastest way to kill a trendy song. Like, look at these dolts giving you a synth-lite version of "Call Me Maybe" and passing it off as artistic and thoughtful. Playing the piano doesn't make anything more artistic, especially you're singing verses like "ripped jeans, skin was showing." And the worst part is that they're a trend in and of themselves-- there are a lot of people out there buying songs from people who are singing other people's songs (this rant obviously does not apply to Alex Day, you keep doing you Alex Day). How is this different than Kidz Bop? Which brings us to....
Trend Killer: Glee. Rebecca Black. One Direction. Gotye. There's nothing that Ryan Murphy and his crew of auto-tuned (do the robot voices not bother you?), over-smiling monkeys enjoy more than taking a song that you can't get out of your head, and slapping Cory Monteith's flubby voice on it and calling it their own. You could argue that bands like Fun and their impossible-to-avoid "We Are Young" song benefit from giving Murphy and friends material because of the show's popularity. But for every Fun, there's a song like Rebecca Black's "Friday" whose humor died in the arms of Murphy's crew... or groups like The Wanted, whose pitch-perfect song of summer "Glad You Came" was covered by the Warblers during the last season of Glee. Who are The Wanted, you ask? Well, isn't that the point?
Trend Killer: Mark Zuckerberg. Mr. Facebook killed weddings, stocks, "relationship contracts," IPOs, good and bad scheduling, Mexican food, and the "executive hoodie" (buy yours here!), simply by having the slightest of interactions with all of them, in mere months. (And then, the New York Times wrote about it.). Also, he created Facebook. Enough said.
Trend Killer: College Students. We've long argued that memes, with their fleeting life spans, should be cherished, coddled and appreciated. And we've come to accept that each permutation of a meme, from "Shit Girls Say" to "What Should We Call Me," is destined to become a little less funny than it predecessor. We can't help it, and you just live by those rules when you choose to open your heart to a meme. You also have to live by the rule that when the meme has trickled down so far and the spirit moves some wide-eyed college student to co-opt said meme and play with iMovie, it's probably time to cut bait. Just look what these Harvard and Columbia kids did to "Sh*t Girls Say":
Trend Killer: Katie Roiphe. Singlehandedly, or perhaps dual-handedly, with the help of Trenemy Tina Brown, Roiphe has stomped on trends ranging from "spanking" and "BDSM" and "Fifty Shades of Grey" to Go the F**k to Sleep to Brooklyn liberals, and, OMG, the "trend" of not having kids. Of course.
Trend Killer: Tina Brown If Katie Roiphe is a trend assassin, then Tina Brown is the Yakuza. If there's a trend happening around the country, you can be sure Ms. Brown will find a way to end the conversation with one of her covers. "Hey, Obama had that monumental speech on same-sex marriage?" Brown's reaction? First Gay President. "Hey, Mad Men is coming back, aren't you excited?" Brown's reaction? One giant issue shilling for the show. "Hey, there's that little man being breast-fed on Time...." You get the picture. This woman loves to use a sledgehammer approach (as opposed to Arianna, who would get someone to use someone else's sledgehammer for free—we kid, we kid!) to let you know that Newsweek has its finger on the pulse of what's happening around the country. Nuance, wit, subtlety--there's no need for any of that in the art of trend-killing.
Trend Killer: The New York Times. Also, The New York Post (Hey, aren't those boys on that kooky new show Girls kind of terrible!?) and any other publication that breathlessly, seriously, documents what they dub "trends." But mostly The New York Times, for their pieces on hairstyles (Bangs are back, guys! Buns for boys!), face styles (Beards!), computer monitors (People have two, sometimes, guys!), and things people are DOING on THE INTERNET (like killing trends. Yeah, we know what you did this and last summer. And the one before that, too.)
Trend Killer: The Internet. We're looking at you, fill-in-the-blank large or medium-sized or occasionally small media organization lazily reliant on slideshows for page views. We're looking at you, media organizations. We're looking at you, slideshows. We're looking at you, trend piece on a trend piece. We're also looking at everyone who insists on Tweeting or Tumbling or Facebooking or Internet-Dad-Joking whatever might otherwise be legitimately cool and popular and precious if we could just stop talking about it for one tiny second into its early, shallow grave. And we're looking at ourselves, sometimes. If it feels as though our memes are dying faster than ever, it's because they are. Remember when that poor tranquilized bear fell out of the tree, and then, less than a week later, was hit by a car and became a second meme in his expiration? That car didn't kill him: The Internet did. It is a dangerous time in which we live.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.