I don’t know about you, but I used to be one of those people who said, “Nope. No. I’m not getting TikTok, it’s rubbish- bring back Vine!) Then the lockdown of March 2020 happened, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands, and next thing I knew, I found myself enthralled. No, it’s not Vine, but TikTok is full of hilarious, creative human beings who made my lockdown that much brighter.
TikTok may be a platform for wannabe influencers, but it has increasingly become a place for the creative expressions of different fandoms. I might not know who Addison Rae or the D’Amelio twins are (can someone please tell me what a Hype House is?), but I have seen all of @smallestkyle’s Twilight Sleepover series and @lukej2e’s “pov: I’m in the Hunger Games and you’re watching my private story”.
Not only has the social media platform become a place for people to assert themselves into pre-established narratives, but also to create cross-fandom scenarios, in which members of the Kardashian family can attend Hogwarts (Kris Jenner is definitely a Slytherin, try and change my mind). Fanfiction sites such as Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own have been home to this form of interpretation for many years, but the visual aspects of TikTok means creators can quite literally place their chosen characters in specific settings using the green screen effect.
Famously, TikTok videos can be no longer than 60 seconds. This limited time-frame allows for fast-paced, and often quick-witted dialogue that results in hilarious multi-fandom storylines. I recommend @katielemm16’s portrayal of Glee’s Brittany S. Pierce in different fictional universes.
The variety of TikTok’s performative elements means that creators can take their favourite fictional work and explore it within different adaptations. In 2021, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, originally created by Emily Jacobsen (@e_jaccs) raised $2,000,000 for The Actors Fund. More recently, Abigail Barlow (@abigailbarlowww) and Emily Bear (@emilythebear) have taken the TikTok world by storm with their creation of Bridgerton the Musical, an adaptation of Netflix’s hit television series with Shondaland, Bridgerton. Warning: as if the show wasn’t addictive enough, the songs are extra catchy, and will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
I think what’s most intriguing about TikTok is its audience inclusion. Likes, comments, and views are easily accessible, but audience participation goes one step further with POVs (point of views). POVs allow audiences to be directly involved in the story the creator makes, whether that be in Narnia, or a post-pandemic club scene.
The need for creative arts over the past year has made platforms such as TikTok even more important for at-home entertainment. It’s possible that without as much free-time available, these masterpieces would remain just in the imaginations of their creators, but it’s reassuring to know that amongst the hoards of repetitive dances and lip-syncs, TikTok remains a platform for creative interpretations, as well as a place for fandom members to interact and celebrate their favourite fictions.