Patrick Freyne: Lipsynching with your shirt off. That’s a job now

Netflix reality show Hype House reveals that jobs now include being sexy in 15-second chunks

Hype House: The kids are all cargo-cult capitalists extracting value from the alienated labour of their own bodies

Hype House: The kids are all cargo-cult capitalists extracting value from the alienated labour of their own bodies

 

Hey peeps, Patz here, The Irish Times young person correspondent. Today I want to rap with you about a hip new show called Hype House from the absolute GOATs over at beloved hegemonic culture sponge Netflix. Hype House is a reality TV programme about a group of TikTok stars who live together in a big mansion in order to collaborate on creating viral content and maximise synergies across multiple platforms (This is how young people talk these days; it’s called “slang”).

It’s an interesting choice demographically. Reality TV programmes of this type, in which glamorous Americans talk lethargically about their unconvincing disagreements before aspirational music plays, are quite old-fangled now. They’re something middle-aged people like. To youngsters, watching a reality TV show about TikTokers must be like watching a Pathé newsreel about them or having a tribal elder sing of their exploits around the fire.

You won’t know who any of the people on Hype House are. That is not something to boast about in the comment section

As for then writing about them in a “newspaper”, an unclickable piece of tarnished tree skin? Why, that’s like scratching runes into a clay tablet (The Irish Times clay tablet edition comes free with your annual subscription) or lighting a pyre on a hill to let the valley know that bears are coming to take our precious oats (hill pyres are also part of the premium subscription package).

Yeah, I wrongfooted you there at the start. There are no young people here. There’s just you and me and the bang of Werther’s Originals off us. You can still call me “Patz” though, if you like.

You won’t know who any of the people on Hype House are. That is not something to boast about in the comment section. It’s in no way a sign of your cultural superiority. Resist the temptation to say, “In my day we had real stars like Count John McCormack, Ms Sarah Bernhardt, Skeet Ulrich, Showaddywaddy and television’s ‘Alf’.” Just accept that the choo-choo train of relevance has moved to the next station where young people on hoverboards are laughing at you for using a train.

The Hype House is dominated by young men with floppy fringes who have murals of their own faces on their walls and also some young women who seem to be just about tolerating them. There’s a man named Alex who does things like pretend to propose to his girlfriend, only it’s not a real proposal, it’s a clip for TikTok. Then he curates a fake marriage and makes her sad and he doesn’t understand why he can’t do this for ever because it is sick and also dope.

Thirst traps

There’s a man called Larray who we’re told went to a party at the Hype House knowing he had Covid. He claims later that the producers made up that story, and soon I fall down an online portal of speculation and inter-influencer spats and before long I’m wondering if this is a story that should be on the front of The Irish Times (or at least etched into the clay tablet we mail to premium subscribers). The news desk says no.

There’s a gothy brooding man named Chase who talks mournfully about growing up in a small town where he had no one to “collaborate with”. He must mean “no friends”, I think. So I rewind and hear that he definitely says “collaborate with” and I feel sad inside.

Then there’s Vinnie, the most-sculpted one, who has created a TikTok following of millions by creating “thirst traps” in which he lip-syncs in a sultry fashion with his shirt off. That’s a job now: being sexy in 15-second chunks. You can probably study thirst-trappery to master’s level in Trinity and frankly that’d be more useful than many qualifications. At one point, Vinnie worries that he has little more to offer beyond thirst traps, to which I say: “Vinnie. Don’t worry about it. Jacques Derrida would have done thirst traps if he could!” Then I realise that this is a terrible example. Do a Google image search for Jacques Derrida. He definitely did thirst traps. Philosophy was obviously just a sideline.

Hype Housers aren’t feckless hedonists YOLOing their way through life so much as they are cargo-cult capitalists extracting value from the alienated labour of their own bodies

The Hype House is overseen by an elderly youth called Thomas who I suspect will be Logan’s Runned out of the community any day now. He constantly nags the other Hype Housers to create more monetisable content to generate sustainable revenue streams through the forthcoming quarter and beyond. There’s that young person slang again. It’s clear throughout this programme that living in the Hype House has all the life-affirming appeal of an internship at Citibank. The Hype Housers never engage in high jinks or rough-housing unless they’re making something for social media. Most of the time they just sit around sulkily “beefing” with one another. (“Beefing” means “fighting”, not the enthusiastic consumption of bovine meats; and yet, I still feel hungry every time they say it.)

Clearly the Hype Housers aren’t, as their TikToks might suggest, feckless hedonists YOLOing their way through life, so much as they are cargo-cult capitalists extracting value from the alienated labour of their own bodies. Their job is to joylessly create the illusion of joy. They are weary digital serfs funnelling their own depleted essences down the content tubes of Silicon Valley. And if anyone could teach me how to twerk this observation to a 15-second snippet of a Dua Lipa song, I would be much obliged.

Lord Sugar’s pheasantry

The Apprentice: Alan Sugar must have hundreds of apprenti by now, aimlessly wandering around like pheasants
The Apprentice: Alan Sugar must have hundreds of apprenti by now, aimlessly wandering around like pheasants

Before ambitious young people congregated in Hype Houses they would get “jobs” with things called “businesses”. On The Apprentice (Thursday, BBC1) some young people are cosplaying as people from the olden days who work in “offices” and wear “suits”. If the Hype House feels oddly old-fashioned, The Apprentice feels almost quaint and courtly. The premise is the same as ever. Lord Sugar is still unaccountably looking for an apprentice. Whenever government spokespeople suggest that young people need to do more apprenticeships, he’s clearly the one taking up the slack. He must have hundreds of apprenti by now, aimlessly wandering around his house and grounds like pheasants.

As usual his search involves gathering overconfident acolytes in one place and getting them to do impossible things that they will never be called to do if he actually employs them. This time the task is to create and market a non-alcoholic drink from scratch. It is, I suppose, a different kind of “thirst trap”. They all fail to varying degrees. Then Lord Sugar sits back and watches them engage in the most important activity for any workplace: distributing blame. His little eyes light up and his roundy head seems to glow. He is happy and I suppose, in a way, we are too.

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