S1: As far as TikTok, I don’t use that at all. I don’t know what that is. I don’t want to be involved.
S2: Hi, I’m Madison and Kirchherr.
S3: And I’m Rachel Hampton. And you’re listening to Icymi. Why am
S2: I? In case you missed it,
S3: Slate’s podcast about Internet culture.
S2: Rachel, honestly, I’m mad at you today
S2: way for stealing my tweet.
S3: I didn’t mean to hurt you. We’ve been over this before. You stole my tweet. I didn’t steal shit. I refuse to be slandered on my own podcast. This is defamation. This is libel. You will be hearing from my lawyer
S2: by all of those things.
S3: You can tell me I’m wrong.
S2: Anyway, if you follow Rachel on Twitter, just know that one of the tweets you probably laughed at was mine.
S3: None of them are hers.
S2: It’s not a clue we’re talking about on the show today, though. It is a little bit of a grab bag of Internet candy.
S3: We’ve got there’s so much happening here, but I don’t even know how to sum it up. And I kind of don’t want to
S2: I don’t really want to either. I’ll play you for it.
S3: OK, what are we doing? Rock, paper, scissors. Of course. Of course. All right. Do three. Yeah, two or three.
S2: All right. Rock, paper, scissors. Shoot a rock, paper, scissors. Fuck you. It’s one to me.
S3: OK, rock, paper, scissors, shoot. Hi paper beats rock. OK, this is the final of Mad Max. Got a
S2: nervous wreck. Paper scissors shoot. First one with scissors. Rachel, what are we talking about today.
S3: Oh you know them. Most of you love them and today they’re back. That’s right. We’ve got some high speed downloads for y’all. But in the second half of the episode, we’ll be featuring none other than Wendy Williams and also some really angry wildlife biologist. But before that, Madison’s running another victory lap. It was an email from a listener that she is very, very excited about.
S2: We also I’m being a generous winner here and helping Rachel out. We have to start off by
S3: talking Orsatti, if you mention it.
S2: Yes, it is. The Bible says so. No, no, we have to start out by talking about the return of cat person, the megahit New Yorker fiction story that was once again the main character of the Internet. Last week, after a piece published by none other than Slate, Dotcom revealed it to be, well, not quite so fictional. After all,
S3: we love a discourse redux.
S2: In case you missed it on The New Yorker Dotcom in twenty seventeen, a short story by a writer named Kristen Opinion just blew up. It’s the story of a relationship between a youngish woman and an older man. And the power dynamics at play in there has a very dramatic and fucked up ending that I won’t spoil.
S3: So the story comes out 2017. It’s also importantly kind of during the height of the meta movement when a lot of people, mostly women, are re-examining the power dynamics and the relationships that they previously had. The power dynamics of it all gets really interesting. Approximately four days ago when a Slate essay by Alexis Nowicki came out and the title is Cat Person and Me and basically says that Rubini story draws specific details from the wiki’s life. Basically, Alexis had been in this relationship with an older man that she had met at a theater. And contrary to the kind of cat person story, the relationship is not skivvy, which is, I think, the best way to describe the relationship portrayed in cat person. She’s no longer in this relationship. But you kind of talk about how it informed her college experience and what it meant to an older man and how she has process that time. And all of this with this man named Charles, which is a pseudonym. The thing is, Nowicki has never met Rupanyup, but Rubini and apparently had an interaction with Charles and decided to write a story about this relationship and included. The the town Nowicki from the fact that she worked at a theater while she was in college and just kind of a host of other small details that were identifiable enough that when that person dropped in 2017, multiple people texted Nowicki to be like this. You know, exactly. This is great. It’s really good. And like I what I enjoy about it is that it doesn’t come to the conclusion of being like Rubini and his hashtag canceled or whatever. It’s kind of very deeply ambivalent by the end of it. Like, it doesn’t give you an easy like Rubini is the enemy. It’s just like this is weird. This is uncanny that none of that nuance made. It made its way to Twitter. Because what happens is that, like, because it’s the cat person viral cycle happening again, people are like, wow, I must show my whole class. And it becomes this conversation about the ethics of fiction, which is definitely a conversation Twitter is tailor made to handle.
S2: I can think of no better place, frankly, to discuss the ethics of fiction than a platform on which, by design, people are encouraged to lie for clicks.
S3: Yep. So the sides are probably about, as you expect, the discourse, of course, being there are some fiction writers who are basically the embodiment of that t shirt that says don’t be friends with writers or I’ll write you into a story like Think of Writer in the Dark by Lord and put that on a t shirt. And that’s what she got. That’s the energy. A lot of you’re in the dark.
S4: She’s gonna sing Q. But you the day you kissed a writer in that.
S3: Laura did it better, but the thing is, I
S2: am my mother’s child.
S3: The thing is, that’s what some of these tweets are basically just like, whoa, if you’re going to be friends with a writer, then you should just accept the fact that they take personal details from life and include it in their fiction, which is a yes, sure be. Opinion was not friends in any way with Nowicki they had never met, she gleam these details from stalking her on social media, which is like that’s a choice. Writers are kind of like magpie’s. They take things and often you don’t remember where you get specific details. And so they do end up in work. So you have written and I do think that can be. Uncomfortable for people who know writers, but the thing about being a writer is that writing is not an inherently ethical or moral practice. In fact, it is kind of immoral on its face. Like that is the thing. And you have to accept that when you were writing, there is nothing imperative about writing. And if you’re going to choose to include details about people that, you know, you have to accept that those people have a right to feel that way about it, have a right to do what Alexis did, which is right back to it as another writer. And they have a right to be ambivalent about it. You have to accept the consequences of your actions. You cannot just live in a vacuum and just say, you know what, I’m a writer. I’m going to take your very specific mannerisms and put them in my book and maybe draw some conclusions about a character being a piece of shit. But you can’t be mad about it because you knew I was a writer when you met me. Like, no, that’s not how that works.
S2: Sorry, could you give me a second? I’m just getting down one last paragraph about a character named Rachel Shrimpton.
S3: I mean, feel free to do that, but I will feel free to make a character named Osterman’s from alone. I was there and, you know, she’ll make a lot of puns.
S2: She sounds terrible.
S3: So, yeah, there you go. That’s so that was a flavor of the week that was last week. Kind of sucked. I didn’t like it.
S2: It did force me to grapple with the memory of when I was like 10. And I was convinced I had written The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, like I had read the books as a kid and like internalized this story that I loved so much and that I wrote my own short story. About a group of like four female friends, one who has a really shitty summer job. You know, my I
S3: just was convinced. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
S2: I went to see the movie with my mom, who was like, Madisen, we need to check.
S3: We have to have a talk, because I think there are some similarities here. I mean, honestly, the first part of being a baby writer is just ruthlessly plagiarizing your favorite people and then eventually figuring out that’s not OK.
S2: So I’m feeling very high and mighty, as you mentioned earlier.
S3: I mean, I, I don’t really want to give you another opportunity to gloat, but I guess I have to you know,
S2: I remember a couple of episodes back. We did a look into the world of TikTok misconnections. Our producer, Daniel, was guest hosting with me. The whole thing ended in a very heartwarming conversation between two women, Casey and Val, who met via TikTok completely randomly in the wild and are now genuinely friends. It was a nice upper of an episode. If you want to go back and need some joy and don’t want to think about the ethics of fiction writing for too long, when we made this episode, I was convinced, like the kernel of inspiration for it was, I was convinced that none of these stories could be true. They couldn’t be real. But today, today, Brian Lessner, Brian brings us a TikTok meet. Cute story that she’s convinced is totally fake. And I am to the TDR on this meet. Cute. The Tilda, your favorite, the Yelda is it’s two women. One is having her birthday at a restaurant and really hits it off with the waitress, OK. And puts out a call to find the waitress.
S4: Oh my God. You guys, I think I’ve met the love of my life. So it was my birthday. Yes, I am a Pisces. Sorry about it. And every year since I came out to my parents, my dad has taken me to this like off brand Hooters kind of restaurant to celebrate. I think it started out as like kind of a misguided straight guy idea of connecting with his lesbian daughter this year. Her waitress gave me this. I finally lost my mind. But of course, I was too shy to say anything. I can’t just go back to the restaurant, can I? That would be weird. Let me know what
S2: you know, what happens next, Sobran says. I recently listened to your podcast doubting TikTok misconnections, and I wanted to bring your attention to this one that definitely is fake. Initially, they purported themselves to be real, but now they have hashtag fictional on all of their videos and the bios of both accounts say one half of the messiest lesbian fictional TikTok duo. My main confusion is why do this? Neither account is linked to social, so it can’t be for Klout. It doesn’t even seem like they’re using their real names. It seems like they have done one possible spon con for a dating app.
S4: Writing Lux ads for each other know that we are comfortably in the friendzone cottage carfare. I’m looking for someone to romance in real life that’s better than the characters and start Evalyn. I think that’s good. Classic sets up for something to talk about,
S2: but how can that be worth all the time that went into it?
S3: I have the same questions Brian does specifically around the hashtag fictional. This is the popular hashtag. Are people just out here using I like faking my life experience. Is this kind of writing fanfic about your own life? Like what?
S2: What’s going on near the fan fiction you want to see? I mean, we
S3: all love a bit of self insert fanfic. Let’s be real here. But come on, girls. So we take me through these videos. So birthday girls at a restaurant.
S2: Yeah. And then they make plans to meet up through TikTok. Through TikTok. They find each other, they make plans to meet up. OK, except the birthday girl is like an hour late
S4: and more minutes and then I realize I’m being played true life. I was an hour late to a date with my TikTok crush because of a cat and a tampon.
S3: Why don’t you leave thirty minutes, Rachel?
S2: I’m not here to answer any of these questions. What I am doing here, I brought the story into your life because it serves me fine. Brian ends the email. Sorry for the long email. I have had brain worms over this ever since I saw it. Brian. Me too.
S3: Why do you why would anyone want to see fictional lesbian videos? What’s the audience for this? I don’t understand this at all. What do you get out of this? It’s this very creative writing class. Is it coming back what we were talking about beforehand
S2: next week in The New Yorker
S3: and then four years later in Slate.
S2: On that cynical note, we’re going to take a break, a much needed break and reset our brain removed some of the worms. When we our collective brain, our singular brain will be reset our hive mind. When we come back, we’ve got everyone’s favorite high speed downloads. We’re going to take you through a bit of Twitter drama involving feral cats and Wendy Williams latest viral. What the fuck moment.
S3: More on that after the break.
S2: All right, we are back. It is time to play high speed downloads, which is a game where Rachel and I have 60 seconds to explain a piece of Internet culture, a meme, a tweet, a viral something or other a get get get a better post. We have one minute to talk as fast as we can and hopefully give you as much information as we can about something going on online. If you don’t like listening to people talk or really, really fast, consider changing your podcast playback speed to point five X now.
S3: Yeah, Nowicki
S2: troll. Don’t do that. Rachel, you’re up first. What do you have for us?
S3: I have a cat person. Part two. Oh. Except technically part three. This is a completely different cat person. This is about a a drama I saw unfolding on my timeline this weekend that I simply kind look away from because it was just utterly deranged, some might say feral.
S2: Oh, why do I get the feeling like once again you’ve chosen a story with seventy two moving parts in 15 characters
S3: because you know me and I am consistent. I have a brand and I’m always on it.
S2: All right. You have 60 seconds on the clock. Three, two, one, go.
S3: OK, so Rachel. Woman Yes, it’s Wendy. Rachel’s with this podcast. Tonight is The Moment co-host. Another podcast, Commerce complaining about pro wrestling, boring talk about podcast or wrestling or Rachels. But I’m delighted that Rachel tweeted a photo of her feeding three feral cats in her neighborhood. Two things that are important about this photo. The cats are cute, but it’s also a response to another person’s tweet. This was a direct engagement. She did not tweet this photo by herself. You know, this cat photos quoted by someone named Justin the Wild who’s like, cute, but bring the cats inside and which is like, hold on. I have a lot of cats already, but also I’ve been feeding this cat three years. I take care of them and like, leave me alone. Just like sounds like it’s time to reach out to other organizations about getting these cats in the house. And Rachel’s like a Brooklyn rescue of about three adult feral cats. They’re just going to be like, I can’t do nothing about that because the vitamin DeNardo mean trap, neuter or at least not let this mag’s or the rest is history. So Rachel would know because she’s been doing this for three years and has been certified by local rescues and actually has contact with animals from here, like the Twitter bird Twitter and annoying penetrant. I got involved. I see you. She gets piled on for literally days by people and my hands were just like euthanize the gas.
S2: And I was like, what the fuck is wrong with you?
S3: It’s. I don’t know why, but The New Republic really,
S2: really, I was too far gone to even really left you screaming euthanize the cats at the top of your lungs as per the time honored by lots of high speed download, you
S3: do get one more sentence. Is there anything else we need to know? Just that all the people yelling at Rachel are a lot of them are wildlife biologists who straight up have these animals and yet somehow still cannot keep their own heads out of their asses long enough. And I just feel like this means that we should shut down all wildlife biology PhDs until we find out what’s going on.
S2: Yeah, a lot of bad cat people in the world.
S3: Yeah, no, a lot of them are bird people. That’s why people are really mad, is like feral cats are like bad for local ecology. They like kill local bird populations. But the thing is, if the cat’s not hungry because somebody is feeding them, aren’t they going to kill less birds?
S2: This is beyond my ninth grade biology understanding.
S3: I mean, saying but it’s so wild that all these people were yelling at Rachel just being like, how dare you feed these three cats single handedly killing the sparrows? And it’s like, all right.
S2: But is it wild, though? Like, I, I feel as though if you were to tell me that people got mad about this tweet, my guess would have been that it ended in, like, Nazis. I don’t actually I may not have been so happy ending on Twitter dot com.
S3: Yeah. I mean, a happy ending for everyone. But Rachel, I mean, at least those cats are fed like one of them’s name is like Doddy. It’s actually like a 12 year old cat’s a very cute cat.
S2: That was amazing. Thank you. I say your best high speed download performance to date.
S3: Same. I really I think I got the most important information in I you know, but Madisen, now that I have said such an exemplary record, how are you going to live up to what do you got for me?
S2: I have a clip of the Wendy Williams show. Oh, God. That you may or may not have seen on Twitter, probably.
S3: But if you
S2: did see it, you have not stopped thinking about it. And I am in that camp.
S1: Do you know Swathi is clap clap if you know who Swathi is.
S3: OK, OK, well, I am sitting here with dread in my heart, I’m not going to lie, but I can’t wait to hear what Wendy Williams has done this time. Are you ready? Are your lungs full? Empty anyway? Yes.
S2: Full, yeah. OK, back to ninth grade biology for both of us.
S3: That’s a public high school man anyway. You have a minute on the clock, three, two, one.
S2: OK, we’re here to talk about Wendy Williams of the Wendy Williams show. She is the titular role performance artist of our times. Honestly, Marina Brabec, whatfor Wendy Williams has just like sitting in the MoMA. The thing about Wendy Williams show is you can’t convince me that the whole operation is not a meme factory engineered for kids to go viral on Twitter in 2017, Wendy in a full on Lady Liberty costume, passing out mid show and collapsing on the floor. Look, it’s fine. We can joke about it now. She was fine. I know this technically wasn’t on her show, but Wendy was on the mass singer. She performed native New Yorker and that became a TikTok audio that wouldn’t leave. No one opens the door. Our native New Yorker. This week’s Twitter moment, though, Tergat one, even though I’m talking at a comical rate like this isn’t funny. It’s extremely grim and beyond gross behavior. From the Williams camp to her Hot Topic segment, Wendy sitting there in a yellow dress puts up this picture of a nineteen year old influencer, Swabian. Ask the audience, does anyone know who this is? She says, Could you clap if you know this is the audience does not clap. She says, I’ve no idea this person is and neither does one person in the building. He’s a TikTok star and he’s got more followers than me. 2.5 million cut to her producer being like Wendy. It’s OK because you have more followers than he does on Instagram. The crowd cheers. OK, great, fine. Whatever. And then pivot. She’s like, well, my son says no one used Instagram anymore and I don’t give a shit about TikTok. And then she’s like, by the way, Swathi was murdered.
S3: The thing is, I knew how that was going to end, and yet I was still shocked. I think you said Grimm, this is Grimm. That was very accurate, you know, in the time honored tradition. Do you have one more thing to say about this very grim thing?
S2: I really do feel like I tried to over state that we are lambasting Wendy Williams editorial decisions here. And honestly, perhaps the best way to do that is just got to hear a little bit of it.
S1: Well, he’s a TikTok star. He’s got more followers than me and two point five million. On TikTok, I’m TikTok, but on Instagram, you have more followers.
S3: The fact that this is the lead up to her talking about a 19 year old who has been killed is just shocking, not from Wendy Williams specifically. This is not shocking coming from her. It is just shocking in the very human capacity of I cannot believe anyone would talk about a 19 year old dead child like this.
S2: Swabi mother has since understandably had some words for Wendy Williams,
S3: but has some words.
S2: I have some words for Wendy Williams, perhaps. How dare you so disrespectful. I used to watch you as a child, and even though you have a gossip show and all that, you didn’t even know my son.
S3: I would have I would have had. That was a very diplomatic statement from his mother, Wendy Williams man. Why is she like this? What made her like this?
S2: Next week on Icymi Wendy Williams origins.
S3: So. We got to the part where she introduces the clip, how does she come out of it?
S2: Well, honestly, I again, I think it’s better if you just hear it.
S3: I don’t know if I’m ready.
S1: And I’m one of those stories. I’m on a lighter note, Bruce Springsteen’s daughter is going to the Olympics.
S2: And that’s the show we’ll be back on your feet on Saturday, consider subscribing, it’s the best way to make sure you never miss an episode or a moment of Rachel and I talking really, really fast. Maybe leave us a rating and review an Apple podcast, tell a friend about us. Tell your local gossip show host about us. You can follow us on Twitter at Icymi. Underscore pod. Thank you to everyone who has sent us a DM in the last week. We’ve gotten some really great story ideas. Keep them coming, not because we’re lazy just because we like to collab. And you can also always email us Icymi at Slate Dotcom.
S3: I see why, as produced by Daniel Schroeder I supervising producer producers, they’re gone for horsewoman and Alegra Frank are Slate’s culture editors gave Brothas editorial director of audio
S2: online or not.
S3: I would just like to say there will be a redemption round and I’m going to fucking win it, but before that,
S2: OK, Donald Trump, twenty twenty four, hold up.
S3: You call me a thief. And Donald Trump, that is actual defamation, libel, slander. Can’t be all three. And we’re talking nothing’s been written before. I sue the shit out of that.
S2: I’ll be hearing from your attorney. Yes, you will.