a highly specific art movement grows

I can't tell if I've got lockdown brain or if there's been an actual significant uptick in this trend. Or maybe it's not a trend at all, and is actually more of a microtrend (which usually translates to "I found three examples"). Either way, I guess it's time for me to plant a flag and talk about Cuddlecore.*

I would define Cuddlecore as a genre of digital illustration that depicts millennial relationships as both ideal and mundane. Case in point, consider these two drawings from Korean artists @ari.nunnunano and @0g_maru.

January 15, 2020
집데이트가 짱♡
#야한장면 #나와라 #빨리

#영지의그림일기 #그림 #그림일기 #드로잉 #일러스트레이션 #커플 #럽스타그램 #럽툰 #만화 #인스타툰 #웹툰 #drawing #illustration #cartoon #illust #artwork #lovestagram
March 10, 2020

Or this similar image an idealized “Netflix and chill” from artist Daiyaan Cola.

All of these images fall vaguely into the broad meme bucket of "Relationship Goals" (they exist on the same spectrum as the infamous illustration of Goofy telling a Thrasher-tee Roxanne "Wow queen you're so beautiful") and they also skew young in their technological details. You have two people attentively texting each other at night rather than talking on the phone, or you have a couple that is not watching TV, but lying in bed watching something on a computer or otherwise small monitor.

This was commonplace before widespread lockdown procedures were instituted across the country, but I think recent events have highlighted and exacerbated these sorts of interactions: physically distant check-ins or movie nights thrown together in small apartments. As such, there have been a lot of image macros thrown together with these illustrations in the last month or so. Many of them using corny captions like "Is this too much to ask for?"

I love a good Shrek callback, and particularly respect the use of the Shrek the Third DVD menu in that last one, but I think my favorite detail is the Starbucks drinks lazily photoshopped in to replace the weed in the second pic. Who puts a completely full, uncovered, whipped cream-topped drink on their bed? It’s making me very uneasy.

While some of these memes are earnest in their depiction of cooped-up domesticity, many of them have quickly turned ironic. The image of the boy and girl texting has quickly been seized upon in a “boys from Mars/girls from Venus” way.

The texting joke got so popular that the Instagram artist @0xes created a variant specifically for Black Twitter.

Made the better version 😌😆
If you use this tag me !
#memes #twitterhumor #0xesart #couples
March 7, 2020

It gets more complicated from there. There are macros mixing up various forms, or video version that feature clips from shows and YouTube videos edited onto the screens.

Apirational digital art like this is always going to find an audience online. Young people figuring out what their version of emotional fulfillment looks like, yada yada yada. And it’s not rocket science why these memes are experiencing a surge in popularity right now, but you can probably expect them to pop up again and again in various forms for as long as [gestures vaguely in all directions] this goes on.

*Peeking behind the curtain: one of the few pieces of (annoying but unfortunately effective) advice I’ve received while meme blogging is that anything remotely resembling a trend should be given a name in order to brand it/the publication writing about it (“cuddlecore” jfc). So if you ever read about an online trend that has a cutesy nickname, the writer probably made it up themselves.

Surging: Claytonhive

At the start of this month, the 2007 motion picture Michael Clayton was added to the streaming service HBO GO. Around the same time, I noticed an uptick in many people talking about how good this film is.

No offense but I am not interested in fair-weather Michael Clayton fans showing up only when the movie is available on streaming services. No thanks. Some of us (not saying who) have been Claytonhive for years. Some of us live for this film. Some of us who were the president of the high school’s Movie Club made our classmates watch a DVD of it in the spring of 2008 and then we got CustomInk tees later that year that said “Do I look like I’m negotiating?” on the front. I’m thrilled to see the Claytonhive grow, but it needs to grow sustainably. Change your avatar to a still from your favorite of the film’s many impeccable scenes, and then we can talk next steps.


One last Clayton

Thank you for subscribing to BNet. This week, I finished the virtual-reality video game Half-Life: Alyx, and because you can only play it in VR, I have nobody to talk about the ending with. Very frustrating.