Furocity by Tyson Fury looks like the combined effort of no more than three product design student’s end of year coursework which is precisely why the PowerPoint style presentation of the can’s bold lettering works in the context of an energy drink where the distinction between the design team and targeted demographic has become all but indistinguishable. This all feels, nevertheless, radically different from that range of caffeinated delectables offered by the likes of Monster Energy whose designs seem both garishly flamboyant and rococo trashy whilst at the same time outright possessed by a level of aesthetic nuance that seems utterly and totally, unnecessarily ornate. If Michelangelo, once tasked with decorating the Sistine chapel, is today considered an old master of the artworld then it is perhaps the artwork etched upon cans of Monster Energy which may one day float down into the dustbins of history as the masterwork of our hyperreal one. It is a sad and melancholic truth that most of us will float down there too; living amongst every crisp packet and Pringles’ tube, destined to forge a pitiful existence alongside that great refuse of trash until the demiurgic reversibility of all things inadvertently reveals these dustbins as perhaps holding the only past worth examining since ours is also a history where every aluminium can tossed to the wayside may one day glimmer with a revelatory semblance of truth.
In contrast to the illustrative monstrousness compelled to live upon the practically enchanted surfaces of aluminium cans everywhere, it is perhaps Sour Cherry Knockout with its runic allure that sits with the artisanal quality of having been thrown together by the haphazard inexperience of those who knew what they were doing only by noting down carefully what had already occurred in an already profoundly oversaturated drinks market.
Whilst ‘Prime was developed to fill the void…’ it was perhaps Furocity by Tyson Fury that hoped to fill the void left by Logan Paul and KSI, two YouTubers who my friend, she tells me, watches only ironically, late at night, in fact, when she’s dead behind the eyes with nothing left to do. Nevertheless, I take from this widening market of caffeinated beverages a shelving space never quite sated by the gravitational pull of new stock. It seems to me then that energy drinks mirror an accelerated information age that remains simultaneously too filled and yet profoundly unfulfilled, just as each and every refreshing sip at one and the same time leaves every kind of thirst unquenched. One takes from the metastasis of energy drinks then a deeply fatigued society in desperate need of a good night’s sleep where consumers and workers alike may one day wake from the stimulant induced nightmare and ceaseless bruxism to find an entire grocery store dedicated to an ever exxxpanding influencer empire. Similar to Jean Baudrillard’s characterisation of Halloween, there is nothing funny about those energy drinks that reflect, like the paranoid legislation made against e numbers in confectionary, the accelerated demand for revenge by children on the adult world.
Compare Tyson Fury’s appearance in the energy drinks scene with MrBeasts’ dive into the confectionary market which seems like a sidestep away from the competition into a memetic niche all of its own. Against this memetic niche, Sour Cherry Knockout goes in swinging with a can that reads, ‘Unlike my opponents, Furocity packs a real punch.’ I say with confidence that Furocity would not have worked had it performed a similar manoeuvre around the metastasis of competition since it is the very nature of competition today associated with the energy drinks market that works in tandem with Fury’s own identity as a world renown boxing champion.
On the other hand, MrBeasts’ Deez Nuts Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter offers the hyperstitious templexity of memes made material to match Marshall McLuhan’s medium is the message; a small glimpse into an emergent world of capital against the aging postmodern miscibility of Sour Cherry Knockout if it was not for the memetic gravitas of Fury himself. What’s more, Fury rides the cultural gamble of this fame and fortune identitarian absurdism which finds its exemplary in DJ Khaled telling them to bring out the whole ocean. They didn’t believe in us, DJ Khaled relates in reference to his hit collaboration but, of course, GOD DID. From the religiosity of DJ Khaled to the righteous fury of Alex Jones, it may be the case that the kingdom of heaven has always taken ground through cults of personality whilst the transcendental demonic, unable to keep up with the shifting sands of the chess board, loses its edginess in a boomersque all-in with MTV. This mythological dualism nevertheless possesses the cultural imagination before finding itself positively channelled through the influencer market manifestation despite having very little to do with God in the Abrahamic sense and everything to do with the Nietzschean rituals of cultural secularism (Rituals Minus God) where if Jesus Christ had red wine to make his abstractivity tangible in the eyes of his disciples then it would make perfect sense that Logan Paul and KSI would have reconstituted coconut water to provide the same effect. It is about connecting the hyperreal image of these saintly peoples back into some kind of xeroxed tangibility, just as the stimulant of caffeine takes the place of the holy spirit through a kenosis delivered by way of societal exhaustion. There is a reason why the gnostic heresy of Christ laughing at his disciples for performing the eucharist was removed from Christian orthodoxy since this removal was a fantastic means of ensuring Rome’s flourishing wine industry never went out of fashion. We can today blame the act of scrubbing away gnostic truth for birthing the demiurgic reality of energy drinks where against the timely manifestation of Sour Cherry Knockout exists the thesis of Trip, except the distinguishability of thesis and antithesis is thrown into paranoid incomprehensibility since antithesis was only ever a phenomenon of positionality, a thing entirely dependent upon which side of the fence you had fallen. It is only right in the Marxist sense of value (which in many cases no longer even applies) to have considered Trip as the antithetical queen piece in the game of Hegelian Dialectics and yet the authentic radicality of all the diverse positionalities taken over the past twenty years, like the fence and the shifting territories of the gameboard, seems somewhat difficult to locate since the stake, that being the fence post and the gameboard, once a product of the same ontological positionalities cast into disarray has shared the same fate of reality and fantasy, of disappearance and reappearance, to the point where no one knows anymore where antithesis ends and synthesis begins.
What remains to be taken from the ailing dialectic is Trip’s boujee dystopianism; an alcohol alternative, as the tendrilous adreels seem to suggest, which offers some of the fun without any of the hangxiety; a contemporary portmanteau gaining traction through the culturally significant phenomenon of the age-old hangover exacerbated by a kind of naturally occurring generalised anxiety. ‘Take a trip’, the slogan reads, ‘to happy days’. It is these words that run atop the Dolores Umbridge pink of the 4 X 250ML container that provides this friendly request; the sloganeering of the box font appealing to the perpetually unbalanced like a billboard in the cybercity of a William Gibson novel. I have found some slogans sound more and more like insidious demands depending on how paranoid you are. It is an off-kilter (creepy) slogan punctuated with the familiar image of a sun passing through the clouds, the emoji-saturated tone of a close friend who messages to ask how you are, a friend who only wants the best for you. Afterall, Trip’s demographic is seemingly one caught in the suspended animation of permanent black-pilled melancholy.
Against this Cthulhu(wu) call – an aesthetics made as the beckoning of the terminally melancholic – Trip’s container is just far too effervescently ebullient in the quietest way possible. Take the deliriousness of its mixed signals; the trendy cohabitation of melancholic happy days; the air of something kept in the basement of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s house whilst simultaneously emitting the same succubustic aura as a Hello Kitty E-Girl; the cute/acc motif nevertheless held boxy and tangible in the millennial pink of Elderflower Mint. It is this substantial and relatively expensive product which holds four cans neatly wrapped in doughy soft cardboard like a bath bomb giftbox. The tranquillity of a hot bath is the exact territory in which Trip places itself with this drink having all the appeal of a jungle oasis seen on the front of every Radox bottle. The ginseng and the chamomile, the lemon balm and the L-theanine, the botanical infused science babble of a bygone gin wave inevitably reterritorialized back into its prior association with straight-edge living. These are botanicals advertised with all the natural alure of bath soak where even the hot and scented water of bath (templexual non-) time (a sense of time to match the non-place) once standing as a necessity of hygiene has become one of those many psyoped indulgences that radiates with all the soapy privilege of neoliberal self-care; an act of everyday necessity today sold back to us as an act of bodily resistance.
Out of the box now and each sleek can resembles the 3000 Limited Edition Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Future Inspired Flavour Co-Created with AI. Turns out that unlike the odoriferous, perfumy elegance of Elderflower Mint, the future tastes like shit. Sipping away at the Limited Edition Coca-Cola down the park then and one detects a three-pronged attack on the human senses. To say, I recall an artificial intelligence assembling itself from the enemies’ resources, the gruel Neo eats onboard the Nebuchadnezzar, and the bug protein the World Economic Forum inevitably wants to feed us. The story goes like this: the drinks review is coopted by a Future Inspired Coca-Cola Co-Created with AI where the stoic resistance forces of Sour Cherry Knockout begin to crumble the cosplay dystopianism of Trip’s sloganeering, the trendy popularization of the overtly privileged convincing themselves of a bad hand only in order to reconcile themselves with the same ideologies of despair they propagate. Whereas Sour Cherry Knockout appeals to the parasocial relationships formed between consumer and influencer, prioritising externality in its intertextuencer (a portmanteau of intertextual and influencer) positionality, it would appear that Elderflower Mint cuts in the opposite direction through appealing only to the inwardness of a demographic who crave not only a sense of ‘calm amidst the everyday chaos’ but the very much ego centred dual seduction of ‘your mind’ and ‘your body’. Unlike the presence of Tyson Fury in the mirror of the aluminium can on Sour Cherry Knockout, there are perhaps no exterior forces in Trip beyond the emptiness of the product and the emptiness of the consumer waiting to be ecstatically filled by the promise of all that Premium CBD (15mg). They are nevertheless each one of them aesthetically perfect in the Baudrillardian sense, the worst part of either drink located in just how good they both taste; which is to also briefly mention the degree in which I am caffeinated and loving it, CBD infused and loving it, torn into neither camp but nevertheless commanded to enjoy the fatal strategies of both.