I Want to Die by Murder Hornet: An Open Letter to God

I want murder hornets to kill me.

Dear God,

Hey. It's me. I know we don't talk much, but it's finally time for me to reach out.

Keep reading... Show less

COVID-19 Marketing Emails Are the Newest Form of Art

You must be very concerned about what your favorite companies are doing during this global crisis.

For most Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned life as we know it upside down.

From school and restaurant closures to quarantines and social distancing, the American people are largely waking up to the fragility of our social systems. But for corporations, and especially marketing professionals, a new art form has emerged from amidst the chaos—the COVID-19 e-mail.

The COVID-19 e-mail, as an ideological concept, is quite simple. If major corporations are your friends, as American culture has attempted to establish time and time again, it follows that you must be very concerned about what they're doing during this global crisis. Sure, you might be a bit worried about how to feed your children when your paychecks aren't coming in and the schools are closed, but how could you sleep at night without knowing that Chipotle is safe? And yes, while it sucks that your grandpa might die without you even being able to enter his room for fear of spreading the virus to others, imagine how much more it would suck if GameStop didn't let you know what they were up to during these perilous times?

But fear not. All of your favorite corporations are right there in your e-mail inbox, detailing exactly what they're doing to prevent the coronavirus from spreading (short of shutting down while continuing to properly pay their employees).

Chipotle

While many Chipotle employees were upset that Chipotle was continuing to disregard sick leave laws even after the pandemic had already reached New York, Chipotle kindly assured us that their protocols were already "industry-leading." So even though it's scary that your significant other is coming down with an awful cough, hopefully knowing that Chipotle already supplied Purell sanitizer to their employees can take a hefty weight off your shoulders.

chipotle covid 19

GameStop

As an asthmatic, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that learning about GameStop's newly assembled "internal COVID-19 taskforce dedicated solely to this issue" is like aloe to the lingering burn of realizing that my compromised immune system makes dying a whole lot more likely. There's only so much that we can do to protect ourselves, so it's comforting to know that GameStop's "taskforce" is watching over everyone.

gamestop covid 19

TurboTax

As Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Indeed, this deadly pandemic has arrived in the middle of tax season, so it makes sense that many of us have been waiting on pins and needles to hear from our good pal TurboTax. Happily, they are continuing to "closely monitor, assess and respond to this situation" and, by all accounts, are planning to stay functional as a business with products that exist entirely online. I was upset enough about my brother being homeless after his out-of-state college dorm closed down, so it's great to know that at least TurboTax has their sh*t together.

turbotax covid 19

Free People

Even while we're socially isolated, it's incredibly important for us to maintain our sense of community. After all, we're still a social species. Sadly, many of our human friends have been too ill or preoccupied with their lives falling apart to spend hours chatting online. There are few feelings quite as painful as wishing you could help the people you care about but knowing that doing so very well might make everything a whole lot worse. Free People understands this. "Whether you have questions about a pending order or shipment, where to find a coveted dress, or are simply looking for someone to talk to, we are always here for you," they promise. I hope that none of my loved ones die during all of this, but if they do, I'm genuinely grateful to know that Free People is there for me.

free people covid 19

Sephora

There's no reason that being stuck alone in your apartment needs to mean that you can't go all out. That said, if you want to keep your make-up supply stocked through an indefinite period of isolation, you're going to need to hit up Sephora while you still can. Yes, logically a company whose store model revolves around sampling shared display make-up should probably stop that practice for the good of literally everybody at the first sign of a global pandemic. But that's why Sephora wants you to know that they are "cleaning all display testers with disinfectant multiple times per day and replacing as needed." Who would Sephora be if not your fun, trendy friend who lives life on the wild side. If looking good means spreading just a little bit of coronavirus, so be it.

sephora covid 19

Schmackary's

Personal story: One time before human society started imploding, my girlfriend and I were walking around New York City and had a sudden craving for cookies. A quick Yelp search directed us to a nearby cookie shop called Schmackary's. While checking out, I entered my e-mail for their reward point system or something, thinking that if the cookies were good, I might come back at some point. I do live in New York, after all. In truth, I don't crave cookies often and, in time, I forgot about Schmackary's. But that's the thing about long lost friends; even after years, they were still a part of your life, and sometimes it's nice to have the peace of mind that, while the sky falls down around you, an old friend is doing okay. Even as I run out of food and worry about paying my rent, even as my loved ones fall ill around me, even as paranoia sets in, my heart is filled with joy thinking about how Schmackary's is going "above and beyond in order keep our bakery safe and clean."

schmackarys covid 19

"Animal Crossing" Is a Blueprint for Functional Socialism

Animal Crossing New Horizons is sure to push the series' socialist ideology to an even wider audience.

Animal Crossing isn't a game people play for a few hours or days and then set aside; it's a game that people spend months or even years on, tweaking flower beds, rearranging furniture, and doing everything in their power to get Bitty to move out of town.

But when so many people dedicate so much time to a game that essentially boils down to a "living-in-a-town" simulator, it begs the question: What do people get from Animal Crossing that they don't get in the real world?

In the world of Animal Crossing, everyone just kind of exists. The society is clearly not lacking for basic living essentials. Everyone has food and clothes and the means to create more of it whenever necessary. When you want fruit, you go get fruit from a tree. When you want fish, you catch it in the river. Everyone has a shovel for digging, a rod for fishing, and an axe for chopping trees. The world's bounty is at the characters' fingertips, and they realize that for a community to function, they must all strive together for the communal good. Animal Crossing offers more than just simple video game escapism; it's a blueprint for a functional socialist utopia.

Most townsfolk spend their days just like the main character does: hanging out, tending to their flowers, and talking to their neighbors. With their most basic needs presumably taken care of through the efforts of the larger community, they are free to pursue their interests and creative endeavors. Some, like Goose the jock chicken, provide communal services like offering fitness advice to help keep everyone in great shape. Others, like Bob the lazy cat, are fundamentally incapable of working hard, and that's okay, too. Everyone is free to spend their time as they wish.

animal crossing bob Bobgyfcat

Of course, the system allows those with extra motivation to work for monetary gain. If the Able sisters want to run a textile business, more power to them. If Kapp'n wants to charge villagers for the opportunity to go out on his boat, he's more than welcome to. Just because bartering is the primary exchange method in society doesn't mean coin can't exist to handle transactions that go above and beyond the essentials. The community doesn't need to share everything––just the basics to allow every villager food, clothes, and a roof over their heads.

Government exists within Animal Crossing, too, but it works towards the greater good of the community. For instance, there's a police station, but its primary directive is to operate the lost and found. As far as we've seen, Copper the police dog holds no punitive power. Similarly, the town has "laws," such as zoning restrictions for where you can build your house, but they're almost entirely practical, designed to prevent your home from abutting the local parade grounds or opening your door into the river. The Animal Crossing political bodies truly function by and for the animals they govern.

But what discussion of Animal Crossing politics could truly be complete without analyzing Tom Nook, the real estating/shopkeeping/money lending tanuki who serves as the player character's primary benefactor in every game? Isn't Tom Nook the very definition of capitalist greed, trapping the player in an endless cycle of debt and home improvements? Well, not really. Tom Nook has no power, whatsoever. There's no government backing him, no corporatist structure for him to thrive off.

tom nook Tom NookNintendo


Tom Nook gives you a house, upfront, for nothing. Sure, he asks you to pay him back, but he can't enforce those debts outside of refusing to build you a bigger house until you do. There's no time frame for his loan and no interest. In other words, Tom Nook literally just lends you money for nonessential home improvements, and he takes 100% of the risk on his own shoulders knowing full well that you might never pay him back. He's the wealthiest animal in the entire community, and he spends all his time and resources donating those funds in exchange for little-to-no personal gain. If anything, Tom Nook is a shining beacon of the core socialist structure of Animal Crossing's society.

In essence, Animal Crossing paints a picture of a friendly, functional society wherein different species co-exist peacefully with their every basic need provided for in full. The government is run by and for the community, ensuring that the needs of the townsfolk are properly met without ever overstepping or interfering with their private lives. From there, animals have the freedom to pursue their interests, provide communal services, or consolidate wealth. Those who do consolidate wealth tend to invest much of that profit back into the community. It's a system that works and everyone is happy—except Bitty, because she sucks and needs to move.

In the real world, we're stuck in a capitalist nightmare, riddled with government-enforced debt, corrupt politicians, and corporations as people. White supremacism is on the rise. In Animal Crossing, we never need to worry about having fresh food, clean water, or a roof over our heads. A duck and a wolf can be next-door neighbors and everything is totally fine. Both of these options are possible in real life, too (at least if we substitute the duck and wolf for people from different walks of life). Which do you prefer?