TikTok is this year’s most visited website and dethrones Google after seven years. What was once a niche social media platform mainly for teenagers and their silly dances has now become a major player in the media world. With spacious one billion monthly users, TikTok can sit at the table with the big brothers Facebook (2.9 billion), YouTube (2.3 billion) and Instagram (1.4 billion).
Just as honeybees are attracted to the sweetest fruit trees, politicians find it difficult to resist this successful communication platform. For example, US President Joe Biden appeared on the platform in a pro-vaccination video with the pop rock band Jonas Brothers. The White House did its best to make clear the importance of vaccinations, but this mainly confirmed that sometimes you are simply too old for certain trends.
On December 17, brothers Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas visited the White House and created the TikTok featuring audio from the viral meme “Bing Bong.” In the short cutscene, the rock stars hang out in different rooms in the White House, taking turns yelling the meme audio: “Bing Bong! Are you vaccinated? Yes sir. Hey yo!” The TikTok video ends with a guest appearance from none other than the American president himself. “Did we get it”, the brothers ask. “Got it,” Biden replies, phone in hand. The audio comes from a YouTube video from the SideTalk . channel which went viral in September for the chaotic utterances of several eccentric figures from Coney Island, New York.
The appearance of President Biden could be perceived as cute. After all, it is an old man trying to keep up with the young. However, these images were painful to watch for many Americans. The country sees an explosion in corona cases and many are calling for free self-tests that are currently expensive and scarce. “We just had the whole White House make it look like we were stupid because we wanted free home tests, now costing up to $40 or $50, at a time when there is a massive COVID wave across the country.” complained Brittany Spanos, co-host of the podcast Don’t Let This Flop.
That politicians want a slice of the TikTok pie is nothing new. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs will ban influencers on TikTok and other social media train to respond appropriately according to the state on anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic responses online. And in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is using the platform to… Christmas wishes to share with the country.
Politicians in our own country are also reaping the benefits of TikTok. For example, GroenLinks, BoerBurgerBeweging and VVD try to reach young (potential) voters through accounts with hundreds of thousands of likes. BBB leader Caroline van der Plas managed to win many a young TikTok heart with a lovely dance that she did with two 15-year-old students during a tour of the House of Representatives. “I’m going to vote for BBB when I’m 18,” said a comment under her video.
No matter how friendly the appearance of politicians on TikTok, it has something of the baby boomer uncle who wants to form a forced friendship with the young people during Christmas dinner by shouting ‘super cool, man’.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of January 3, 2022
#Biden #odd #TikTok