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The craze over Netflix’s Stranger Things

AMERICAN DIARIES: Gentle Barn’s therapy services through animal hugging, ‘Gentleminion’ trend, US coach’s ouster for public show of respect for religion & more

Suhashini Sarkar Published 16.07.22, 04:18 AM
Deeply fascinating.

Deeply fascinating.

Deep dive

  • After the latest season of Stranger Things dropped on Netflix, most people are glued to the TV. The new season has taken up the number one spot on the streaming platform since its release. Netflix in collaboration with Fever has launched an interactive, immersive exhibition called Stranger Things: The Experience, currently on view in New York, San Francisco and London. The walk-through experience offers a tour of the Hawkins laboratory and a new storyline; visitors can listen to an Eighties mix-tape and enjoy food and drinks. The sets are interactive and the reviews and pictures show that they can boast of Hollywood-level production value. One reviewer writes that it is a must-see experience whether you are a fan or not. One product that was mentioned in the show is a strain of weed called Purple Palm Tree Delight, that some of the key characters enjoyed to calm themselves down. But the strain is fictional. A cannabis platform, Leafly, which found people searching for it on its website, came up with a fake origin story for this imaginary strain and built a promotional stunt around it. Airbnb has listed the house used by the production team as the current Byers family home for rental. The 4,000-square-foot house is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Unique embrace

  • Times are tough with the world in disarray. People are looking to relax and one method that is gaining popularity is cow hugging. The Gentle Barn is a non-profit organisation that provides sanctuary for abused animals and offers therapy services through animal hugging. It has been providing this service for 20 years in California and opened up a sanctuary in St Louis, Missouri a few years ago. Ellie Laks, one of the co-founders, reflected on the power of animal therapy. “... [T] he agencies would bring groups of people to the Gentle Barn to feel the healing among the animals and of course while they were there, everyone had to have a cow hug. And over the last 22 years, we’ve gotten really wonderful feedback on how they brought people who wouldn’t talk, who were not responding to traditional therapy,” she told the Tri-State Neighbor. In Missouri, a one-hour session will cost $200, though people are welcome to walk in during open house and interact with the animals for much less. People can also purchase private sessions. The organisation now has locations in three places — Los Angeles, St Louis and Nashville.

Momentary headache

  • The new film in the Despicable Me franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, is enjoying box office success even though it was panned by critics. However, theatres are being forced to kick out kids and teens because of the ‘Gentleminion’ trend. This began when a group of teenagers entered a theatre dressed in formal suits, under tracksuits. The group caused disruption in the cinema hall — the teens threw objects at the screen and were generally unruly. Some theatres put up signs and completely banned suits while others stopped the screening and provided refunds. Sometimes even the police had to be summoned. The videos can be viewed on TikTok. An employee at a theatre in LA told the Los Angeles Times that the employees have been alerted to the trend after some Gentleminions caused minor property damage. The #gentleminions already has 65.4 million views on TikTok. But like most other trends, this too shall pass when it is replaced by the next big, fleeting thing.

Worrying trend

  • The Supreme Court of the United States of America, which recently overturned Roe vs Wade, decided on another case on the freedom of religion and the freedom over one’s body. A Washington State football coach, who would kneel and pray on the field after the games, was fired from his post. The Supreme Court has ruled that the coach’s decision to pray was protected by the First Amendment. “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote. “Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment.” But the court reportedly stated that government employees would still not be allowed to express their religion publicly. The decision was powered by the Conservative judges, with the three Liberal judges dissenting. The National Education Association said in a statement, “The Constitution should protect public school students from being coerced into religious activity… The court’s decision here does the opposite...”


  • If you cannot be in the top one per cent of society, perhaps you can consume those who are. A pop-up ice cream truck, MSCHF, is selling popsicles in the likeness of the most famous billionaires in the world. The project, called “Eat the Rich”, started out in Columbus Circle in Manhattan and has been moving to different locations. Each ice cream costs $10 with the packaging making fun of the business that the billionaire owns. There are five flavours — Munch Musk, Bite Bezos, Gobble Gates, Snack on Jack and Suck Zuck.
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