It’s a monitor a weekly column dedicated to everything that happens in WIRED the world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
Time travel has been on my mind lately. Or, at least, on mine. Not necessarily the kind that sends you galavanting through the past or leaping into the future, but the kind that makes you to feel as if you were stuck in another time and place. It’s the feeling you get when access to abortion in the US goes back to what it was before 1973, when the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to fight climate change goes back to another time, when Top Gun is once again the biggest movie in the world, and your favorite video game features the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And also the feeling you get when, for some reason, RadioShack dominates the conversation.
OK, so the latter isn’t as important as the former, but it’s perhaps the most telling of the current moment. Back in 2020, a company called Retail Ecommerce Ventures—known for relaunching brands like Pier 1 and Dressbarn—bought most of RadioShack’s assets. Since people no longer had to drive to a retail store to pick up obscure A/V cables in the age of Amazon, the idea was to turn RadioShack into a “cutting-edge e-commerce company.” To do this, REV transformed the convenience store chain into a blockchain entity, launching a cryptocurrency platform called RadioShack Swap and its own token, $RADIO (currently worth next to nothing). In an apparent attempt to trumpet these efforts, the RadioShack Twitter feed was full this week.
“Hey @MileyCyrus are you up?” read one monday tweet. “Taking the second half of an edible meal after not feeling anything from the first half is always a bad idea. This bar of chocolate brought me here to fight for my life.” remarked another. There was also a promise that “every interaction with this tweet will be considered for a chance to win by capturing these mf radiohands.” It was mostly the kind of boyish, NSFW humor that makes you think the account was hacked. Instead, it was a plea for attention — and it worked. Many tweets have gone viral, some have been deleted, and as of Thursday the account spoke, “I got parole on Twitter for talking about marriage with syringes. @elonmusk when do we make moves fam?”
Oh boy. Is this all stupid? Yes. But is it also a sign of the times? Yes. It feels like America’s clock is winding back, and watching a powerful business from the 80s and 90s transform into a crypto brand only brings that into sharper focus. Everything old is new again—but not improved.
Nostalgia cycles come and go all the time – throwbacks to the ’90s have been successful for a while – but they often come with a spirit of celebration or nostalgia. In the last two years it was a rarer case. Gen Z had fun bringing back emo, but bringing back 50-year-old politics is like walking down the wrong wormhole.
On Wednesday, after firing several popular DJs, a contemporary pop/rock station in Vancouver played an edited version of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” on repeat for more than 10 hours. When people called to ask for other songs, they were allegedly ignored. As word of the KiSS radio stunt spread, it seemed as if the Rage Marathon was an act of rebellion against the layoffs. But on Thursday morning, Vancouver Sun reported that it may have been just a publicity stunt – a cult protest song used to attract listeners. Or, in another dimension, a beloved electronics store that posts wild tweets.