The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: What is ‘Palworld?’


If the gamer in your life is suddenly locked into Palworld and you want to know what’s up, read on. The upstart game is causing some controversy with Nintendo, but it’s not the only dust-up in youth culture this week. There’s also the feud between Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion, a South Korean cosmetic surgeon vs. TikTok, and 4chan’s perpetual battle against all that is good and pure in the world. Even this week’s viral video, a song from Hazbin Hotel, isn’t free of conflict.

What is Palworld (and why does it make Nintendo mad?)

Palworld is an open-world monster collecting and crafting game that has taken off in popularity very quickly. Published by Pocket Pair, Palworld was released on Jan. 19, and has already sold six million copies. It’s on the top of Steam’s charts for concurrent players. Powerhouse Twitch streamers like IronMouse are streaming Palworld. These are Fortnite and Minecraft numbers: Palworld is a phenomenon already, and it’s less than a week old.

In Palworld, players can choose to live peacefully among the world’s many creatures (known as Pals), or they can kill them and eat them—just like real animals! You can also train your Pals to work in factories and on farms, and you might find yourself forced to consume your beloved Pals in order to survive. You capture Pals in a ball, and you can train them to fight against the Pals of other collectors, leading some to describe the game as “Pokémon with guns.” That’s where the controversy comes in. The possibly actionable similarity between Nintendo’s property and Palworld prompted Nintendo to release a statement saying it intends to “investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon.” Bottom line: If you’re curious about Palworld, don’t put off giving it a go; it might not be around forever.

The Nicki Minaj vs. Megan Thee Stallion feud, explained

A feud of epic proportion is raging between rappers Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion this week. The static started last week when Stallion, best known for her hit “Savage,” released “Hiss,” a new single that takes aim at a wide variety of haters and under-appreciators. Stallion doesn’t mention Nicki by name, but the lines, “These hoes don’t be mad at Megan, these hoes mad at Megan’s Law” seem like a dig at Minaj. They are a reference to the national sex offender registry; Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, is on the registry for a crime he committed in the 1990s, and he recently spent a year on house arrest for failing to register after moving to California. That seems to be the immediate cause, but like all wars, the real basis seems to be long-simmering tension between two would-be queens of hip-hop—town’s just not big enough for both of ‘em.

Minaj, best known for “Anaconda,” responded by getting epicly-mad on X (formerly Twitter), posting a deluge of disses over the course of half a week. It culminated in a full battle-rap from Minaj, “Big Foot.” Judging from the comments, Stallion is coming off better and it’s not a close contest. YouTube commenters are calling attention to Minaj’s outsized reaction as opposed to posting things like, “cracking good diss track! Good on you!” To be fair, Minaj put the track out quick. Anyway, feel free to listen to both and pick your favorite if you’re bored or something. 

Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hiss”

Nicki Minaj’s”Big Foot”

Why is Dr. Kim causing a commotion on TikTok?

Dr. Kim is a South Korean plastic surgeon who who seems to specialize in facelifts and eye-lifts and is going viral on TikTok this week, with commenters sharing the vids he posts and commenting on the appearance of his patients. Along with rando TikTokers, Dr. Kim has started drawing commentary from other online plastic surgeons, who are dropping diss videos that go as hard as Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion. (OK, maybe that’s an overstatement: They’re just saying things like, “Every surgeon has to make their own decision as to what’s right, and for me: no thank you.”)

Based on comments, Dr. Kim’s patients look shockingly ironed and processed to people on TikTok and X. But who are they to judge? South Korean people seem to have a different standards for what’s attractive than we have in the west—both the “eye smile” procedure and surgery meant to result in smaller, V-shaped faces are common in South Korean plastic surgery circles, but are rarely practiced in the U.S. By contrast, people in the U.S. have more breast augmentations done than they do in South Korea. I don’t understand giving people any flack for whatever plastic surgery they want, as long as the patients are happy with the result. In fact, I hope it goes further, and people start giving themselves extra noses or pyramid-shaped heads. Let’s get weird with this shit, right?

New slang: what does “41% yourself” and “WPS” mean?

The controversy continues with a couple of very-online slang terms. The first, “41% yourself,” originated on putrid nightmare-chamber 4chan. “41% Yourself” is a way for online cretins to say “kill yourself” and make it even worse by referencing a 2014 National Transgender Discrimination Survey that indicated that 41% of respondents had attempted suicide. (People were a bad idea.)

The second term, “WPS,” means “white people shit” and it’s more tongue-in-cheek. It refers to things white people are into, like really enjoying TED Talks or listening to Queen. The term has been around for a while, but it’s enjoying a resurgence in 2024 on TikTok, largely due to a video of a couple who don’t wear shoes, even in winter. These people really earned the three-letter descriptor. 

Viral video of the week: “Hell’s Greatest Dad”

This week’s viral video is a clip of a song from Prime’s new series Hazbin Hotel. The cartoon features voice acting from Broadway heavyweights like Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Krystina Alabado, and Lilli Cooper, paired with the work of straight-from-the-internet writers and animators headed by Vivienne Medrano. Hazbin’s show-tune inspired music is excellent, and it’s gratifying that it seems to be finding an audience so quickly—the clip of “Hell’s Greatest Dad” has been shared nearly five million times in its first three days and is accompanied by the kinds of comments only a passionate fandom leaves behind. It wouldn’t be a passionate fandom if people weren’t pissed about something, though. Some Hazbin fans are not happy that the entire voice cast from the original, YouTube pilot was replaced. No official reason for the recasting has been given, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s because the new cast is way better. 

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