TikTok’s hatred of famous men, explained
- Famous men like Lin-Manuel Miranda have fallen into a cycle of nasty TikTok memes.
- On the surface, memes are separate from genuine criticism and are based on mockery.
- While the villainous meme reputation remains on TikTok, it doesn’t hurt the career.
- Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.
On TikTok in the summer of 2020, it was impossible to scroll through the For You page of the app without the face biting the lips of Lin-Manuel Miranda being imposed on you. These now iconic selfies were splashed across the platform in what one meme creator called a “Lin-pocalypse.”
This moment heralded a new kind of memes cycle on TikTok: the celebrity “villain meme,” a personality like Miranda, who is subjected to vitriolic and mockery on the app in a way almost entirely separate from any real criticism. and severe.
TikTok’s villain canon includes “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” creator, as well as “Glee” star Matthew Morrison. This month, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran officially joined that team.
These nasty memes are hated for no other reason than the fact that hating them is a meme.
TikTok meme villains face disproportionate hatred and mockery
The memetic response to Miranda, Morrison, and Sheeran on TikTok reaches an overwhelming level of divorced mockery of legitimate controversies or bad behavior. Rather, it only focuses on how grumpy their vibes are.
In Miranda’s case, her series of biting selfies were an easy target for TikTokers who started slipping them into unrelated videos. This trend started with Nicholas, a TikTok user formerly known as @ mitskifan42 (who appears to have since left the platform). They told Insider in a July 2020 interview that they had no particular hatred or vendetta against Miranda, but saw that no one had used her selfies to “rickroll” others on TikTok. (“Rickrolling” is a famous bait-and-trade meme in which you surprise someone with “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley)
A new era of horror has dawned, as people unearthed old demos Miranda recorded for “Hamilton” songs mock her belt voice or soundtrack of other memes trends related to Miranda.
Much of Morrison’s hatred played out the same way. As the commotion reportedIt started with Carleigh Spence (better known as @teenagescientist on TikTok) posting videos in September 2020 expressing unbridled vitriol towards the “Glee” star and Tony winner.
Morrison’s memes exploded in late 2020, in tandem with “Glee” becoming one of the major trends of TikTok – Morrison’s character Will Schuster was one of the show’s most vilified for being a weird and creepy teacher – and the actor’s star starred in a live-action TV adaptation of “The Grinch.”
What about Sheeran? In February, the “Shape of You” singer sincerely asked people to sing along with him on his song “Afterglow”, only to be mercilessly clown by TikTokers who drowned his singing by explode notes on their instruments or playing familiar riffs like the opening chords of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
Now TikTokers are claiming their red and orange friends are actually the English singer in a parody of his relatively average appearance.
It has become a meme to make fun of these men in a way unrelated to real criticism.
Memes usually follow existing hate or criticism
This sort of response to TikTok meme doesn’t come out of thin air, as these men are under fire elsewhere online as well.
Miranda has been criticized for her work and politics, particularly with reference to “Hamilton” valuing the Founding Fathers while sweeping away their slave property, such as BuzzFeed News reported.
He also drew what he calls “valid” criticism for bringing “Hamilton” to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as Atlantic reported, and recently reviews sent In regards to colourism in the film adaptation of his musical “In The Heights”.
But as Motherboard’s Gita Jackson reported in 2020, once the serious discussions around Miranda slowed down online, the meme-based mockery still stuck. In a way, mocking Miranda through memes had become a shortcut to criticizing her policies.
Other villainous memes like Morrison and Sheeran don’t have the same history of public criticism, but they were up for the infamy of memes.
In Morrison’s case, online speech around his character “Glee” had built online in 2019 and 2020, in reference to Mr. Schuester’s lack of other adult friends, his odd propensity to perform sex songs with high school kids and plant weed in a student’s locker as blackmail to get him to join the glee club. Eventually, the dislike for the character turned into a memetic dislike for Morrison himself.
And as Joel Golby reported for Vice UK in 2018, there is a long tradition of hating Sheeran simply because he “looks like your friend’s younger brother” and “he plays the music business like a fun game at which he happens to be extremely good. , effortlessly”.
The nastiness of TikTok meme has minimal consequences
As memes fade and go out of style on TikTok, the memory of characters like Miranda, Morrison, and Sheeran being mocked online doesn’t go away so easily.
Sheeran memes, while they don’t yet garner the same sort of platform or media-wide attention that the phenomena around Morrison or Miranda do, are recurring, the mockery lasts from 2020. to this month.
And while Miranda’s selfies are no longer plastered on the For You page, creators like @umokayig have built their entirety on strange impressions of Miranda.
Still, there don’t seem to be any significant career consequences for the nastiness of TikTok memes. The adaptation of “In the heights” by Miranda received rave reviews. Sheeran, still one of the biggest pop stars in the world, is set to release a new single. Morrison gave what the Washington Post’s Sonia Rao called a “haunting” performance as the Grinch on the NBC 2020 music show.
But when celebrities are this famous, it’s only natural for TikTokers to go for it.
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