December Culture Report

Welcome to the December Culture Report, a Marmite-covered sprout among the Christmas trimmings, unwrapping seasonal gifts from marketing Santa. Editorial team: Pitch and Sync, Alice CrossleyCaris Dollard.

PLANFT OF THE APES

Membership-based NFT platform Bored Ape Yacht Club continues to push creative innovation after Bored Ape #9797 (aka ‘Jimbo’) became the first NFT to release a music video. Dropped on December 10th, it’s for the track ‘Delist Your Ape (2DaMoon)’ by Clear Eyes and rapper Reo Cragun, who boasts ‘Spinning little savings on a project worth a lot of bands/now I can take a flight anywhere…’ Launched in April as a collection of 10,000 NFTs, BAYC is already estimated to have generated a billion dollars. Producer Timbaland runs a start-up entertainment company finding work for Bored Apes. Two apes were bought for a music video by Post Malone for 160 Etherium ($682,000), and four were recently signed by Universal Music as the virtual band KINGSHIP. In other NFT fun, Baby Sharks, the most watched piece of video in history, with 9.7 billion YouTube views, is the latest set of NFTs to set speculators’ eyes a-popping. FRANK BROUGHTON

CULTURE CAMPAIGNS

Guinness donated over £30 million to help keep pubs open in 2021 and is rounding off the year by lighting up pubs across the land with suitably dazzling Christmas lights.
GUINNESS – Light Up The Local

Meatless brand This has taken over the Leicester village of Quorn, sponsoring the chip shop, bingo, pub and football team Quorn AFC.
THIS – Quorn Takeover

Having risen to TikTok fame with a series of instore dance triumphs, the staff at Marks and Spencer in Romford have taken their Christmas song to number two in the Apple charts.
ROMFORD M&S This Is Not Just a Christmas Song.

IS TWITTER THE NEW CLUBHOUSE?

Last year Clubhouse exploded in popularity thanks to an invite-only launch and a lockdown hunger for audio companionship, and then faded from discourse just as fast. Covid restrictions eased, the real world returned and while people enjoyed the app they didn’t feel it was enticing enough for keeps. Enter, Twitter Spaces. Just like Nikki Minaj, who uploaded a sound clip addressing Boris Johnson in a fake British accent, you can now upload your tweets as audio recordings, or join Spaces – virtual rooms where you can engage in real-time audio conversations, just like Clubhouse. The feature has been live since mid-2021 but hadn’t really taken off. That is until one November evening when Jacob McLaughlin created a room called ‘Sing Your Dialect’ and invited just four friends to join. Fast forward a few hours and more than 150,000 people had tuned in to his virtual karaoke, starring everyday users and no short supply of blue ticks. From YouTube star KSI to Stacey Solomon and footballer Declan Rice – Twitter Spaces united the world for a big sing-song. The downside is that because Twitter decided not to police Spaces, they have already been jumped on by a rogues gallery of white nationalists, Taliban supporters and loopy anti-vaxxers. Audio is simply harder to moderate than text and Clubhouse faced a similar issue. Can Twitter Spaces save itself from the same rise and fall? ALICE CROSSLEY

CULTURE’S MUSHROOMING

Whether you’re rooting for ceps in your local woodland or dosing yourself with psilocybin tincture over the weekend, mushrooms are increasingly centre stage. The hashtag #foraging has 415.6 million views on TikTok and the subreddit thread for Mycology enjoys 373,092 subscribers. There’s even a project to map the world’s networks of underground fungi – the biggest living things on our planet. Mushroom fashion took off in 2020 with Bella Hadid leading the charge, and now an amazing fungus-derived material has designers in raptures. Mylo™ is grown from mycelium and has the appearance and touch of leather, not to mention vegan-friendly sustainability credentials. Stella McCartney used it to created her unique  Frayme Mylo bag, as revealed in her Summer 2022 fungi-inspired collection; Adidas made Stan Smith Mylo™ concept shoes, while lululemon offers a Mylo™ concept yoga mat. The fungus frenzy isn’t only about reversing fashion’s environmental damage. Many startups are using mushrooms in their food tech solutions. Boreal Botanical has created SuperTonics, from functional and adaptogenic mushrooms for their health and energising benefits. As found in Merlin Sheldrake’s book, Entangled Life, and in Paul Stament’s Ted Talk on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, fungi and mycology will be crucial in understanding how the environment can produce new technologies. Let’s see what sprouts next. CARIS DOLLARD

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