An essential roundup of the week’s buzziest topics of varying importance and consequence

Document presents a short brief on the week’s buzziest topics so you can participate in the virtual brunch discourse. On the docket for this week are stonks, corsets, sex work decriminalization, poems to get you through this weekend’s cold snap, and much more.

Amanda Gorman’s poems for perseverance
The two (non-mitten) surprise stars of last week’s inauguration—National Youth Poet Laureate and Prada fave Amanda Gorman and Bushwick barista-core hottie Ella Emhoff—have signed with IMG, global talent behemoth. In light of this development and the recent announcement that Gorman will recite an original poem at this year’s Super Bowl, we were reminded that Gorman shared a list of her favorite poems for perseverance with Document last year. The list of seven poems, including pieces by Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and Langston Hughes, provide comfort and courage, proving as relevant as ever.

Signal boost
Signal, the encrypted messaging service, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity in the past month. The app, founded by cryptographer Moxie Marlinspike, has received an influx of new users—to the tune of 2 million by some estimates—after an exodus of users from the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp after it announced a new policy that shares users’ messages and data with Facebook. On Sunday, shortly after Facebook revealed a new privacy policy, Signal downloads saw a surge—it has become the most downloaded app in 70 nations and was banned in Iran—where it is, according to a spokesperson, the most downloaded app.

A room of one’s hommes
Pandemic has not halted men’s fashion week. A year of COVID has spurred some of the most creative thinking among brands showcasing their collections, many of them turning to film formats (or putting shows in boxes). One of the emergent trends from London, Milan, and Paris was a room motif. Ermenegildo Zegna and Prada produced standout films with robust sets, in which models glided from room to room displaying collections’ wearability. With fashion houses scurrying to respond to social isolation, these ornate sets quite literally set a stage for us to wear luxury clothing from the comfort of our own homes.

Re-fashioning the world
What a difference a year makes. In October, Virgil Abloh became the subject of widespread opprobrium when the Louis Vuitton Men’s artistic director tweeted a picture of a 50 dollar donation to a bail relief fund. His newest line, inspired by James Baldwin’s enduring artistic spirit, is a statement on Blackness, rolling out a presentation that featured musicians-cum-activists Yasiin Bey and Saul Williams. The presentation, a film shot in Switzerland and Paris, also featured the poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal, who in -part narrated,: “I think as Black people and trans people and marginalized people the world is here for our taking, as it takes so much from us.” In bending the narrative contours of fashion to the trajectory of Black artistic history, Abloh is deliberately reimagining fashion’s Black future.

Model Citizen
Ella Emhoff, the step daughter of Vice President Kamala Harris and daughter of second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, announced yesterday that she would sign with global modeling agency IMG. Emhoff, 22, a senior at Parsons, went viral when she wore a Miu Miu coat and Batsheva dress to last week’s inauguration. Ivan Bart, president of IMG models, in explaining his decision to sign Emhoff, pointed to the inauguration outfit, telling The New York Times: “Wow, she’s communicating fashion.”

It’s a stay, not a corset!
If you weren’t aware, corsets—or more accurately, stays—are proving to be a sticky trend, both as an item of clothing and a topic of discussion (ranting). They’ve been a staple in the Gen Z, cool-girl wardrobe for a while, but the recent phenomenon of Shonda Rhimes’s regency era, softcore-soap Bridgerton has prompted a flood of TikTok fashion historians, amateur and professional, to once again clarify the difference between a corset and stay and the way in which the garments were historically used. Many have debunked media’s corset-as-shorthand-for-the-patriarchy trope (see Keira Knightly fainting off the side of a wall in Pirates of the Caribbean). Still more have ranted at Bridgerton’s historically inaccurate use of tightlacing in an opening scene, pointing out the empire-waisted, column silhouette of Jane Austen’s heyday is fundamentally incompatible with an itty-bitty cinched waist. If you’re going to engage in this trend, be sure to use the correct terminology or risk the wrath of well-informed TikTok users!

Sex sells, but you can’t buy it—or stocks
State Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, introduced legislation to legalize the sale of sex—though it will still be criminal to buy it. Presented as a bill to decriminalize sex work, it actually falls in line with the Nordic model rather than full decriminalization. This prohibitionist approach has garnered criticism from sex workers, many of whom have spoken out against it.

“Criminalizing sex work stigmatizes and disproportionately targets people of color and trans women, who are already marginalized members of our community,” writes Manhattan District Attorney candidate Eliza Orlins in the comprehensive policy platform she released earlier this week. “Some people use the need to fight sex trafficking as a justification for the prohibition of sex work. However, evidence suggests that the opposite is true: the criminalization of consensual sex work makes it more difficult to detect and prosecute sex traffickers.”

Give a man a stock, he eats for a day. Teach a man to trade…
This won’t be the first thing you’ve heard about GameStop this week. The whirlwind saga started a few weeks ago, when Reddit users noticed a hedge fund was shorting GameStop stock—essentially borrowing a stock from a broker and selling it immediately at its current price, with the goal of buying back the stock at a lower price and pocketing the difference (the stock has been falling since 2013, making the sleepy video game retailer a potentially lucrative bet for those with money to spare.) Led by a trader called “Roaring Kitty,” Reddit collectively organized to take down the hedge funds betting against GameStop by buying as much of the company’s stock as possible and driving the value up. Called a “short squeeze,” this strategy worked exactly as intended: the steep increase forced hedge funds to buy back their stocks at higher prices than they borrowed them, which in turn made the value of the stock skyrocket. Melvin Capital, a hedge fund valued at $13 billion, suffered huge losses and had to be bailed out by backers to stay afloat, while Redditors like Roaring Kitty pocketed some $13 million.

Enter Robinhood, an ironically named investing platform that restricted trading in GameStop and other heavily -shorted names in the middle of the market storm in an attempt to save hedge funds with financial ties to the app. This resulted in politicians from the left and right uniting to call out the hypocrisy at the heart of Robinhood’s purported mission to “democratize finance.” Aside from being a viral drama and the subject of some very good TikToks, GameStopGate is a potent reminder that the financial system is working exactly as intended—but that when regular people start to game it, the invisible hand of the market starts to look more like a clenched fist.

@ahlulzuhdI thought it was a free market 😭? #capitalism #stockmarket #gamestop #communism #socialism #marxism #leftist #economics #economics

♬ original sound – جنة

@planetmoneyHere’s the dang gamestok #gamestop #gme #reddit #shortsell #learnontiktok

♬ original sound – planetmoney

Sorry losers and haters
After Donald Trump was deplatformed earlier this month by a tri-partisan coalition of democrats, republicans, and Silicon Valley discourse mods, a slew of grassroots platforms cropped up to preserve the tweets of @RealDonaldTrump. While even the most proudly centrist politicians and smoothest brained social media CEOs probably agree it’s important to have a public record of presidential tweets about dropping nuclear weapons on North Korea and Iran, academic researchers are now requesting unrestricted access to tweets sent for not-so-official purposes—for instance “Windmills are the greatest threat to both bald and golden eagles” and “Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart. She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again.” This would allow scholars to better study online discourse, according to The Verge’s report on Twitter’s plans to open its entire public archive to researchers for free. “We’ve heard a lot of interest from the academic research community in studying @realDonaldTrump,” a Twitter product manager, Leanne Trujillo told reporters. “We’re having conversations internally about how we might give thoughtful consideration to the study of this topic.” To be a fly on the wall at Twitter HQ…

Daniel Johnston exhibition
New York’s Electric Lady Studios is hosting an exhibition of psychedelic marker drawings by the late lo-fi legend, Daniel Johnston. Though relatively obscure, the artist and songwriter has a cult following and was cited as a major influence by giants like Kurt Cobain and Tom Waits. The show, curated by cartoonist Gary Panter, is viewable in person via appointment and runs until February 7.