In the horror show of 2020, some turned to yeast. I turned to Poppy, the multimedia artist and viral phenomenon, from back when we could still call things viral phenomena.
It seemed apt to devote some time to the internet It girl during a time when live music was relegated to Facebook and stand-up comedy was stuck on Instagram, when dance parties had relocated to Zoom and a museum visit was only possible via Google Street View technology. In contrast to the rest of us valiantly trying to squeeze our lives into internet boxes, Poppy was a creature and denizen of the notional space beyond the screen; the internet was her venue and plaything.
She turned out to be exquisite company. I set myself the task of watching every one of her available and canonical videos, videos in which she tap dances, hula hoops, peels and eats a banana, stares at you, counts $100 notes, speaks admiringly about Tide laundry detergent, sleeps, clutches a dog, demonstrates how to load a gun, wonders aloud about butterflies, stares at you some more, jumps up and down for 10 minutes, and, most infamously, introduces herself over and over and over again.
A friend told me she used to fall asleep to Poppy reading Genesis 1–13 from the Bible, and, truly, there was a strange comfort to be found in a video like “Am I okay?” in which Poppy purrs reassuringly: “Everything’s gonna be okay. Don’t worry about it, you’re gonna be fine. I think everything’s gonna be okay.”
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