I said it in my recap of Atlanta’s series premiere, and I’ll say it (or write it, whatevs) here again: fame’s a helluva drug. Paper Boi/Alfred got his first hit of the spotlight narcotic in “Streets On Lock,” when his convenience store altercation and time spent in lock up made cops and mothers alike ask for selfies and earned him a box of the good lemon pepper wings.
“The Streisand Effect,” spends its running time examining the flip side, as well as the way social media has made celebrity—any type of celebrity—within reach of just about anyone willing to exploit themselves and others in the name of likes. This is embodied by Zan--or as the hashtag hat he gives to Darius reads, #ZanStan--a social media junkie and all around douche who accosts Earn, Alfred and Darius for Instagram and Snapchat pics and possible musical and sneakies (baby shoes for adults…yea) collaborations.
After Alfred gives him a gruff brush off, Zan launches an extended troll campaign against him and if you’ve perused social media anymore than a nanosecond, you know what comes next—Youtube rants, Vine videos, the works. It’s enough to make a Paper Boi go postal, and Alfred tracks down Zan at his pizza delivery job to confront him and/or beat that ass.
“I scare people at ATMs boy. I have to rap,” Alfred brusquely tells Zan as he rides along with Zan and Quentin, his “business partner,” a foul-mouthed little boy who immediately needs to be snatched up by social services, because whoever let him ride with Zan needs those parental rights snatched.
But I digress. Alfred dismisses Zan as poseur who doesn’t care about rap. But from everything we’ve seen and heard from Alfred up to this point, his attitude toward his burgeoning music career is more as a hustle than any personal, artistic pursuit. Zan correctly points out that as much as he’s exploiting Alfred’s notoriety for his own benefit, Alfred is exploiting his own circumstances to justify being a rapper. What’s also left unsaid but lingers in the background is the way hip hop culture has pulled from Asian culture, a fact hinted at in both Alfred’s and Earn and Darius’ story lines.
That said, there’s a big damn difference between trying to become a rap star and bolstering your rep with small-time drug dealing and filming a random little kid you took on your delivery route being robbed by a grown-ass man, as Zan does, all with a gleeful lack of fucks to give. A disgusted Alfred gets out of the car and walks away. The takeaway? Zan’s a douche. Don’t be like Zan. Don’t encourage real-life Zans by liking/watching/retweeting the idiotic things they post. Message!
In other news, Earn continues to be broke, leading him and Darius on a magical adventure to that cesspool of bargaining and quiet despair known as the pawn shop. Having had several adventures to said place myself, I did an inner fist pump when the shop owner offered $190 for Earn’s phone, then a literal face palm when Earn decided to trade it for a Samurai sword Darius had his eye on for the promise of more money.
Darius keeps his word, trading the sword for a dog, and then giving said canine to another man, who’ll pay them when the dog breeds and has pups…in September. “Poor people don’t have time for investments, because they’re too busy trying not to be poor,” Earn rants, a valid point that temporarily made me feel some pity for his latest foray in fuckboydom. Darius gives Earn his phone, calls them BFFs and all is right with the universe.
At least until tomorrow.