When You Eat Poison Long Enough It Starts to Taste Good

The other night at trivia, one of the questions was to identify the artist of a song. I strained to hear the beginning of the song over the din of the sports bar. Atmospheric reverb? Orchestral strings? And then: “I was a bad girl, I did some bad things.” 

I pumped my fist in the air. I had unwittingly been preparing the whole week for this moment. The song was JoJo Siwa’s new single, “Karma,” which has been basically the only thing my TikTok has been playing for the last week. I sang along to this song that I absolutely hate and felt genuine joy and then had to take a moment to be very honest with myself. Have I become a JoJo Siwa fan? 

If you fit the leading demographic of readers for this site, you’ve probably never heard of JoJo Siwa. She rose to fame in the 2010s as a cast member on Dance Moms, a reality show where small children learn new competition dances each week and are berated by their teacher, a mean and angry woman named Abby Lee Miller. Also, the eponymous Dance Moms sit in a room watching the rehearsals and get in fights with each other. JoJo was a late addition to the cast, joining only in 2014 after competing in a different reality show, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. In 2017, she signed with Nickelodeon and mostly played herself on various shows and TV specials while recording music and becoming a pre-teen powerhouse of high octane sugar and rainbows. She was famous for her giant hair bows and for dressing like a cotton candy superhero come to life. 

In 2021, she took out the bows and came out as gay and has been a chaotic figure on the internet ever since. There are tons of video compilations about the most embarrassing things she’s done. But all of this pales in comparison to what the last two weeks have been. On April 5, she debuted a new single, “Karma.” The music video shows her fooling around with many different women, acting like she has very much fucked before and she wants you to KNOW IT. And she’s traded the glittery rainbows for a glittery Gene Simmons look, complete with black face paint and rhinestones everywhere. 

I have eaten up all of the coverage of this. On eclipse day last week, there were exactly two videos on my TikTok feed of the eclipse and the rest were JoJo. She said, “No one has made, in my generation, this extreme of a switch, and I am the first of a generation, it is very scary, but someone’s gotta do it.” She said she created a new genre of music, “gay pop” (this caused mega meltdowns and induced a hilarious response from Tegan and Sara). 

I texted my best friend, “I think my greatest fear is that my creative work will be perceived like JoJo Siwa.” Then I listened to an hour and forty-five minute interview with her on Call Her Daddy. Then I watched the “Karma” video again. Then I downloaded Tubi to my iPhone and started season two of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, where JoJo is one of fourteen celebrities abused for a week in a fake special forces training camp.

Which all led me to trivia night.

A thing about me is that I like to consume the worst kind of garbage that will slowly rot my brain from the inside out. I don’t know why I do it. It always starts with a sense of smug superiority. “Mmmhm yes let me watch what this dummy girl has to say about her morning routine,” I say, hitting play on a YouTube video posted by some girl in college with rich parents and bad taste. Seven years later I can tell you everywhere she’s lived since graduating college, I can recite her professional history, the battery of cosmetic procedures she’s had so far, and that she’s planning to move in with her boyfriend this year. 

I have learned in recent years — because Kelsey is always telling me — that your brain can’t distinguish between genuine pleasure and it’s equal and opposite counterpart, ironic pleasure. Which means that if you do something ironically over a long enough period of time, you will actually start to enjoy it. This is why so many of the lads I work with at this website dab when they see each other, even though it is the year of our lord 2024. 

A brief and non exhaustive list of things I started doing ironically because I hated them and now do as part of my regular life: 

  • Watch The Bachelor franchise 
  • Yell “I LIKE BEER” (I don’t really like beer)
  • Watch this one lifestyle YouTuber who lives in New York City 
  • Watch that YouTuber’s best friend who also lives in New York City
  • Follow both of them on Instagram
  • Listen to their podcast, which is consistently the most inane 90 minutes of every week 
  • Listen to this other podcast where the host is obsessed with lymphatic drainage and eating meat
  • Say “Go Dawgs” 
  • Say “bigly”
  • Say “YUGE” 
  • Say “We did it, Joe,” but in increasingly nasal-y whiny voice so it comes out more like “mmmmweeeeiiitttyooo”

The world is a cruise ship buffet of disgusting poison to fill your eye and ear holes and I want to roll around in it. This is beyond a guilty pleasure; it’s a sick fascination with consuming things that make me feel bad. This is not analysis, this is a warning: be careful what you consume ironically, or, as JoJo says in “Karma,” “you’ll end up just like me.” 

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