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March 12, 2020

TikTok: Gen Z’s Unmatched Art Form

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With Vine’s tragic downfall in 2017, our generation was left without a social media platform that could showcase users’ content and reach the same extensive audience in the same way. What TikTok has given us is an even better alternative; Its addictive and entertaining minisode-like format allows people from around the world to watch hours upon hours of content.

Within the app, however, there is more to it than simple 6-second bits like its popular predecessor. TikTok has in essence given rise to a modern-day Renaissance. Millions of users flock to the app to post original content as well as parodies of influential TikTok stars, who have been idolized like some of the world’s most successful celebrities. From its humble beginnings as a basic music video tool, TikTok has now gathered users who showcase talents of every sort, and it’s pretty amazing.

Some take to the app to produce particularly vine-esque comedic sketches or skits, which TikTok’s longer maximum video length benefits greatly. With numerous visual and auditory effects in the hand of each user, several thousand combinations have given rise to a generation of amateur comedians who otherwise never would have been discovered. User content commonly found on the “For You” page ranges from embarrassing personal stories to elaborately planned sketches bordering on short film statuses (which I personally think give the Netflix stand up specials a run for their money). I’d be lying if I said I’ve never tried to recreate some of the most popular sketches.

Others have started a revolution of dance trends that have taken off ever since TikTok first emerged. Teens like 15 year-old Charli D’Amelio have enamored the online world with synchronized and mesmerizing dance routines. As deceptively simple as these short routines may seem, however, one of the most remarkable qualities of these dancers is their ability to make everything look so effortless. If you think the Renegade dance is easy, feel free to give it a try yourself without looking incredibly awkward and dumb.

Among the more labor-intensive TikToks are those that focus on the fine arts, including paintings, drawings, collages and more. This passion extends further, however, to minute-long cookie decorating tutorials and even multi-tiered cake recipes. College students upgrading their meals (or showing off personal food hacks) and “What I eat in a day” formats are among the most common, while even employees have flocked to the app to debut or advertise their newest menu items.

Of course there are singers on the platform who take advantage of its “Musically”-inspired beginnings. Some of my favorite TikToks are by freestyle rappers, with many of them taking suggestions from their fanbase and comments about how to produce their next TikTok, much like a paid musician would.

Unlike YouTube, the best part about being a TikTok creator isn’t receiving the profit from views.. Instead, TikTok stands as a visual art gallery unlike any other. Its users are a cohort of massive proportions, sharing their lives sometimes so candidly with the world that one would think of them as a close friend.

Every new TikTok stands as an art piece in itself, whether it’s a feat of videography, music, dance or comedy. TikTok, since its launch, has become one of the boldest and most influential representations of Gen Z’s artistic voice.

I for one love what the app and its followers have to offer; scrolling down my “For You” page, I often lose track of time taking in the various creative endeavors. And if you disagree, then don’t enter the gallery. Don’t stifle the kids today and expect them to be okay later on.

 

Stephanie Tan is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at st626@cornell.edu.