Former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang commenced his run for New York City mayor yesterday with an ad indicating that he’s familiar with the subway system, pizza, and—ayyy—the Knicks. Yang, who’s never held public office in New York City, or anywhere, is staring down a maelstrom of once-in-a-generation crises: millions to be vaccinated, potential city bankruptcy, and the aftermath of closure of thousands of businesses. His mayorship would need to, at a minimum, also address entrenched segregation, police brutality, and an affordable housing crisis that’s left 80,000 homeless before the pandemic.
But check this out: TikTok Hype Houses.
First spotted by New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, Yang’s campaign site promises to fix our many woes by, among other things, making New York City a leader in “cultural touchstones.” Beyond subsidizing artists’ rent, the site announces that “our administration would also work to attract content creator collectives, such as TikTok Hype Houses, where young artists collaborate. We need to help create similar artist collectives that utilize new technologies.”
Hype Houses are collectives of glamorous Gen Z’ers who mostly sing or dance or perform comedic routines while living together in palatial homes with pools, primarily in the Los Angeles area. They utilize the technology of TikTok, a short form video app popularized by teens. They are assigned to promote songs by the music industry and merchandise by the fashion industry and energy drinks by the energy drink industry. They have talent agents. People over age 27 are not advised to start a Hype House, due to the unwritten understanding that it gets weird.
It’s unclear whether he’s kidding or what. Yang is the unserious tech guy caricature who’s very online, and weird, dumb proposals stand out in a crowded field of seasoned New York City public servants vying for the job of mayor. You can have the guy who knows about TikTok technology, or you can take Scott Stringer, who spends all day every day writing detailed letters to Bill de Blasio about progressive solutions like community land trusts, something Yang gives a passing nod on his site. Also on Yang’s agenda: urban beautification through projection mapping on buildings, making scrip for the poor (“Borough Bucks”), and holding the biggest post-covid party “in the world.”
Speaking as someone who’s spent ten years in New York City, I notice a few holes in the Hype House plan. I have never seen a kitchen island in this city, nor a palm tree. We’re suffering a mansion shortage. Cohabitation with three or more roommates is unpleasant. I’m unsure of whether the Department of Sanitation could cope with the strain. Hype is not a solid long-term bet.
Also, nobody gives a shit about Hype Houses—at least no one of voting age.
It’s a hard sell, but this is absolutely not to say that Andrew Yang shouldn’t bring up Hype Houses at every community board meeting and town hall in the coming months to apartment-bound residents who hadn’t thought of that.
Update 1/14/2021 5:22pm ET: Andrew Yang’s campaign sent a statement from Yang via email:
“NYC is the creative capital of the world and if we want it to stay that way we need to engage young New Yorkers. The simple fact is the arts, entertainment and tourism industries are going through a brutal depression right now and there’s no idea too big or too small. Silly as it sounds to some, TikTok is a massive social media and creative outlet for millions. Why wouldn’t we try to create news spaces to foster that kind of tool? Undercounting young people’s role in our City’s recovery would be a massive mistake.”