Pre-Musk “Milady”: The “Internet Psychopath” Who Went to Extremes
Pre-Musk "Milady": The "Internet Psychopath" who took extreme measures.
Although Milady’s audience is a niche subculture similar to the “abstract” group in China, it can capture people and have the charm of pushing open a mysterious door to see what’s inside. Written by Cookie.
On May 10th, Musk’s sudden tweet “There is no meme, I love you” caused Milady’s floor price to skyrocket from 3.75 ETH to over 7 ETH in just one hour.
“There is no meme, I love you”
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Milady’s rapid rise after Musk’s “call”
The market’s attention once again focused on this “old” project that was born in 2021. Because Milady rose rapidly and then fell rapidly, many players believed that this situation was only Musk’s “intermittent call”, just like the “wolf is coming” drama that $DOGE played again and again, and had no analytical value-Musk “called”, everything can take off, and it is strange that Milady cannot rise.
But in fact, Milady’s performance in the bear market is quite impressive. From early April this year to before Musk’s “call”, Milady’s floor price has tripled.
Milady’s floor price trend from mid-August 2022 to now, Milady has an independent market trend
If you are an NFT player who is not very familiar with Milady, like the author, your impression of Milady may still be stuck in the negative news of founder Charlotte Fang’s involvement in “racism” and “suicide cult” in May 2022. After Charlotte Fang admitted his association with the “suicide cult” and announced his withdrawal from the Milady team, Milady’s floor price plummeted.
Compared with the negative news like Azuki founder Zagabond’s involvement in multiple “Rug Pulls”, this kind of news is too heavy, so that for a long time, the author thought that Milady’s story had come to an end, and this project will be like countless other projects that have disappeared in the long history of NFTs, gradually forgotten by NFT players. But Milady not only proved that the author’s view was wrong from the price trend, but even in terms of influence, Milady also slapped the author’s face hard.
Using Milady as a Twitter avatar gives the impression of a “geek” or “deep Degen player” to groups such as Synthetix founder Kain Warwick and Muse DAO developer @surfcoderepeat. Just as seeing someone use CryptoPunks as an avatar may subconsciously suggest that they are an “NFT OG”, seeing someone use BAYC may suggest that they are an “NFT whale”, and seeing someone use Azuki may suggest that they are a “fashionable person” … Perhaps the number of people who use Milady as their Twitter avatar is not large, but it is not easy for this group to leave a “memory point” on people.
The continued bear market of NFTs has made us less sensitive to many past “rising logic”. If we return our focus to “community culture”, can we find something different? With a strong curiosity about Milady, Rhythm BlockBeats interviewed 3 Milady community members who have a deep understanding of Milady:
CodyBoy (Twitter: @codeboymadif)
Tamara (Twitter: @_s0ftmachine)
JChen (Twitter: @0xJChen)
Milady’s “counter-cultural” spirit
CodeBoy explained his understanding of the Milady spirit like this:
We are free human individuals, but the mainstream has tamed us. We haven’t even discussed or probed the power of darkness, and we are criticized by moral police for a little offense. Everything that is banned seems to be unique art, Cancelled Culture, daring to be banned can help reshape our network spirituality.
What is network spirituality? It should welcome “anti-idols”. Faced with a controversial artist, an open supportive attitude is not to argue, “She never did anything wrong,” but rather “She did, but so what? This thing is still cool,” which is anti-idolatry. Elon Musk and Kayne West are the biggest anti-idols in the world.
CodeBoy’s interpretation of the Milady spirit quickly brought a word to the author’s mind, “punk”. Sid Vicious, the bassist of legendary punk band Sex Pistols, could not even play the bass, but does that matter? Maybe someone will try to convince you from the “musicality” aspect that Sex Pistols are really bad, and maybe someone will think that you are stupid for liking such a band, but so what? You like a cool band, and you are cool too.
Sid Vicious is quite controversial, as mentioned in Charlotte Fang’s article.
Liking a band with a bassist who can’t play bass may only make those around you think you’re “quirky” or “stupid,” but if the object of your adoration is a universally reviled “villain,” you will face immense pressure.
JChen introduced me to Martin Shkreli, the first key figure in the development of Milady. Martin Shkreli became a “villain” in 2015 for raising the price of antiparasitic/AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. At the time, Turing Pharmaceuticals, which he acquired, was the only producer of the drug, and the production cost of the drug was only $1 per pill.
What made the public even angrier was Martin Shkreli’s attitude and what he did:
“You’re rich and heartless. You don’t care about people who are still burdened with medical bills.” To this, Martin Shkreli replied, “Blame me?”
Martin Shkreli also spent $2 million to buy Wu-Tang Clan’s album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which was only released in one copy. However, he was not a fan of Wu-Tang Clan and did not intend to listen to this album.
A female journalist named Christie Smythe fell in love with Martin Shkreli during the interview, so the pressure was transmitted to her through the Internet, and countless people tried to tell her, “You are wrong.”
Milady’s first significant increase in May 2022 was due to Martin Shkreli’s release from prison and his use of Milady as his Twitter avatar.
The author is not interested in getting bogged down in “right and wrong,” nor is he interested in explaining the direction of the Milady spirit. Let’s return to Cancelled Culture, as Tamara said, rebelling against “Cancelled Culture” is the true essence of Milady’s community:
Milady is somewhat like a resistance to the “mainstreaming” of Crypto. “Mainstreaming” means that you need to embrace certain “mainstream” views, and if you hold certain “non-mainstream” views, you will be “cancelled.”
When negative news about Charlotte Fang emerged, many people focused on whether Charlotte Fang had actually done these things and ultimately sold their Milady. At the same time, they ignored the rebellious aspect of Milady’s value against “censorship culture,” which actually made the Milady community stronger.
Indeed, the Milady community has become stronger. As JChen said, no one cares about Charlotte Fang’s things anymore, “go to his Charlotte Fang, everyone has fun.” Tamara also believes that this is why Su Zhu uses Milady as his Twitter avatar:
The spirit contained in Milady makes it a “controversial” badge. He is controversial and also undertakes controversy on Twitter. Using Milady as a Twitter avatar, joining the ranks of “controversial people”, well, that’s it.
And this is also a major feature of the Milady community, where there are all kinds of “strange” people, just like the Factory created by Andy Warhol, where “madmen” flock and play with their creativity.
Milady’s Artistic Style
According to Charlotte Fang’s description, the artistic core of Milady is the subculture trend of Tokyo streets from the late 1990s to the early millennium.
Is there a familiar feeling? CodeBoy hit the nail on the head and helped me find the corresponding localization in China from memory-“Sha Ma Te Culture”.
“Why can Milady feel the same at a glance? Friends who grew up in China are familiar with it. In 2000, we were also swept by this trend, combined with local conditions to become non-mainstream, occupying the entire QQ space”-CodeBoy
But “Sha Ma Te Culture” is not derogatory. CodeBoy said that this is the largest national cultural movement since the birth of the Internet, which has influenced hundreds of millions of people for 10 years. This trend has not stopped, but has continued to change and develop, and has taken root in Europe and the United States.
Combining Neochibi anime style with some “dark color system” (this is also a description from CodeBoy), you have the slightly “Cult style” Milady.
Although aesthetics is a very subjective thing, you may think that Milady is very ugly and rough, but Charlotte Fang’s design for Milady is indeed very careful, which can be seen from Charlotte Fang’s understanding of the financial development generated by design promotion.
Tamara said that many derivative art works of Milady have formed a “school”, and commercial products and commercial art can be combined. You can accept art as a commercial product and expand on this basis. This pointed me again. Although Milady is not the only NFT project active in the secondary creation field, it is really rare to break away from the “image” itself and be based on “style” for re-creation.
Tamara also mentioned a deeper level of “behavioral art”, that is, the founder Charlotte Fang used “role-playing” earlier to subvert the “mainstream” by “speaking directly about controversy” on social media. This reminds me of a map of “My House” in “DOOM”, an old game I encountered some time ago. The author logged in to the game forum again 17 years later and released a map to commemorate his deceased partner. Due to a series of contents, it is difficult for me to judge whether it is a real background or “behavioral art”… but it is really immersive.
Milady is unique.
Before Milady, I found it difficult to describe relatively clearly what the community of an NFT project is like. Although Milady’s audience is like a subculture of the “abstract” group in China, it can grab people and make them feel the charm of pushing open a mysterious door to take a look at what’s inside.
There are many well-made NFT projects on the market, but the number of projects that can leave deep and lasting “memory points” is limited. Is the difficulty of building an NFT project community really the lack of funds to hold various activities to maintain the participation of holders? How to make the individuals in the community form connections and enjoy the feeling of being in the community is probably the most difficult and overlooked problem. When the close connection between communities is formed, the fission-style re-creation has become a natural manifestation of community power, and it is not the result of trying to create driving forces by any means.
Many players say that NFT projects have been lacking new narratives for too long, to the point where they have lost the desire to invest in new projects. Milady’s success has given us a new perspective on how to think about projects—an exploration of grand narratives such as “streetwear,” “gaming,” and even “metaverse.” But when we expect new grand narratives to emerge, it seems that we need to revisit what was once considered a key value-add: the “vibe” and even the “community.” Despite the fact that Milady is not a Free Mint project, I gained a new understanding of the Free Mint model from Milady—the “honesty” that Free Mint represents can be the best narrative for an NFT project. Do we both like this picture? Then let’s become friends, enjoy the fun, and explore what else we can do on the basis of building emotional connections. Perhaps the simplest emotional connection is the most solid foundation for exploring unlimited possibilities.