Arts

Obama portraits, Winter Olympics, YouTube rejects, and tiny kangaroos: It’s a thing.

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC

This week saw the unveiling of the official portraits of President Obama (by the artist Kehinde Wiley) and former first lady Michelle Obama (by the artist Amy Sherald). It also saw the unexpected transformation of a large portion of Americans into super snooty fancy pants art critics with venti lattes and axes to grind and pebbles in their shoes. Wiley’s bold depiction of Obama — seated and set against a vibrant backdrop of greenery and flowers — attracted equal parts awe and “awful!” from the mob of restless thumbs (it also inspired the first megameme of 2018). Meanwhile, Sherald’s more oblique vision of the first lady drew “brutal mockery, some praise” according to Fox News,  which I believe means everyone liked it but brutes. 

BRRRRING IT ON

The best part of the Winter Olympics (a.k.a. the Slippery Games) for the athletes in PyeongChang has been any indoor space and/or hot beverage. But for those of us staying warm and toasty on Twitter, it’s been hard to pick just one highlight. Let’s see, there’s been skiing robots tearing up the slopes (and other ones cleaning the carpets). There are the now-viral “Bullet Men” statues — phallic from the neck up and super naked from the neck down — standing guard outside the media center. There’s the ice-melting charisma (and ice-queen shade) of “America’s sweetheart,” Adam Rippon. And of course, there’s the plus-size shuffleboard of curling. How do we keep forgetting about this sport? It’s so awesome for like a week.

TUBE STAKE

Sentient protein shake and YouTube celebrity Logan Paul managed to get his ads (and thus, revenue) pulled by the platform again (last time it was for filming a dead body in a Japanese “suicide forest” — because whoa, right?!), this time for offering to eat Tide Pods in exchange for retweets and (hold on not done yet) posting a clip of him tasering a rat — because . . . whoa. Right? (You can stop retweeting now; he’s not really eating them. Sad face emoji.) 

SYMBOL PLEASURES

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Oh, and speaking of emoji, the Unicode Consortium just revealed its latest update, adding 157 new symbols to the standard set. The new cast of characters graciously opens itself to include the those of red, white, curly, and no hair, as well as a range of superheroes, critters (kangaroo! llama! badger!), and random household essentials (how did emoji go this long with no toilet paper?). Bostonians will rejoice to finally be able to quickly and effectively communicate  how cold they are, express how much they enjoy lobster, or enjoy a more convincing bagel than they’re used to. (ZING. MAKE BETTER
BAGELS, BOSTON.)

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MICHAEL ANDOR BRODEUR

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at mbrodeur@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.