Creator Thanksgiving and ‘The Curse’ Of Gratitude


Happy Thanksgiving y’all. 

It’s November again, so once again time for the most problematic holiday (though Labor Day is running a close second…as is the new holiday I made up yesterday to celebrate Insider’s heel turn with its headline: “From Thanksgiving to Labor Day, these 9 holidays have surprisingly dark origins.”) What are we grateful for this year, folks?

I, for one, am not in the celebrating mood. There’s a tribal casino in the San Joaquin Valley where I’m spending the holidays that stays open through Thanksgiving, which I can’t stop thinking about. That’s so bleak. Like something straight out of the new A24 Showtime series “The Curse” from Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie, who co-star alongside Emma Stone. And even typing this out, I realize this sounds like a pitch from a coked-out network exec who threw some darts at a Gen Z Film Twitter mood board, but I’m very thankful to everyone involved for bringing us some of the darkest HGTV-inspired satire and late-night performance art of the decade


The premise of “The Curse” is as nasty as it is relatable: A millennial couple Whitney and Asher (Stone and Fielder) are eco-conscious home-flippers with reality TV aspirations. Enabled by a college friend turned producer Dougie (Safdie), the couple and their camera crews descend on the fictional town of Española, New Mexico to help renovate (read: gentrify) the indigenous community with Whitney’s “passive” homes and $10 lattes. Even before Asher gets himself “cursed” by a local kid selling sodas in a parking lot, you know these characters are fated for a life of misery. Whitney’s slumlord parents will always rub against her self-perceived altruism; Asher’s barely concealed rage (Fielder is channeling Antony Starr’s Homelander from “The Boys”) and micropenis are incompatible with his desperate desire to start a family with Whitney; Dougie’s truly tragic backstory makes him double down on his most toxic instincts. (His previous pilot, “Love to the 3rd Degree,” styles itself as “The Bachelor” meets “The Masked Singer,” except the lead is a terribly scarred burn victim.)

“The Curse” is supposed to make you queasy and uncomfortable; a reflection of modern living where the cost of celebrity status is self-delusional virtue-signaling, no matter how blatantly disingenuous or exploitative your intentions.

So how does it all connect? Looking at the estimated annual $215 billion “creator economy” as it stands today, it’s hard not to get the same sense of A24nfreude – defined by Webster’s Urban Dictionary as “the sense of absurdist vibes deteriorating baroquely”– invoked by “The Curse.” Platforms claim to support their users by constantly rolling out new “creator fund” initiatives, patting themselves on their backs for spotlighting diversity, but show of hands: How many of you have ever made money from one of these programs before they shutter unceremoniously, making way for “Creative” ad-rev splits

Who is sitting down this year giving thanks to Elon Musk’s Creator Program (available to Premium subscribers only), or to SAG for forcibly enlisting them in their strike for better working conditions, resulting in four months of lost revenue and reach on behalf of someone else’s union?

Actually, that’s a ludicrous question, because it presupposes that creators can afford to take off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July, Labor Day, et. al, instead of grinding through all of it, attached to their computers via some invisible umbilical cord made of algorithms; the stars of David Cronenberg’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

And YET! Despite all my righteous indignation on behalf of their plight, my timelines and Inboxes are full of artists taking time out to express sincere gratitude: for their fans who support them, for the community of content creators, and yes, even for the mercurial platforms without which they’d never have been able to do what they love for a living. That’s humbling.

So maybe this year I’m grateful for two things: “The Curse” for pointing out the obvious flaws designed into influencer culture, and for the IRL creators who have chosen a different path to defining success.


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