Hello from The Goods’ twice-weekly newsletter! On Tuesdays, internet culture reporter Rebecca Jennings uses this space to update you all on what’s been going on in the world of TikTok. Is there something you want to see more of? Less of? Different of? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and subscribe to The Goods’ newsletter here.
You are allowed to be unproductive in quarantine, but here is an interview with a woman who is very much not: 26-year-old Madelaine Turner in Long Beach, California, filmed what is essentially an entire Wes Anderson movie on her phone, which subsequently took over the internet.
That’s not even the only pitch-perfect TikTok parody she’s created this month: There’s one about a trailer for a tense British period drama and another skewering black-and-white Oscar bait about depressed women avoiding voicemails from their mothers. Fun fact: She’s not a professional filmmaker, and it only took, like, three hours! Meanwhile, this weekend I bragged to everyone I know that I made lasagna.
How’d you get into TikTok?
I’m a big sister to two way younger siblings, a brother who’s 17 and a sister who’s 15, and so I try to keep up with them. My brother got on TikTok and he had really liked it and found a group where he could be creative, so I got on it sort of initially just to watch, and then I found that the platform is so fun for the creative process. I was like, “Whoa, you can do so much with it!”
How’d you come up with the idea to create a Wes Anderson parody?
I did a TikTok riffing on very British period pieces and I really didn’t think that anyone was gonna like it or see it. I was like, “This is not TikTok’s demographic. This is purely self-indulgent.” And people really loved that. A lot of people were commenting on the video, “Oh, this is like Wes Anderson meets Jane Austen.”
I just woke up on Monday and I was like, “Oh, I should do a Wes Anderson in quarantine, that would be really funny.” Monday’s my day off, so I wandered through my apartment and pulled out random knickknacks and anything that I could see that would make sense in the Wes Anderson world. What I used as the backdrop was bundles of fabric my mom had forced me to take home at some point and they had been shoved in a little dresser for years. Then I sort of just made it up as I went along, and it ended up turning out really fun.
Do you have a background in video production, or is this all new to you?
All of the video stuff I’ve done has been self-taught. I used to work for a fashion company, and when they started delving into the video world, I was like, “Sure, I’ll take this on.” I got familiar with editing softwares and color grading and things like that, and then a little bit of independent work, but for the most part, I haven’t really delved into any sort of professional video production.
When did you start to notice it taking off?
I posted it and the people that followed me were really excited about it and were tagging people. An hour or so later, it had hit 50,000 likes, and I was like, “Cool, that’s amazing! I’m so excited.” When I woke up in the morning it had 200,000 likes. I posted it on my own Instagram where I have, like, 1,000 followers, and I was like, “Yay! All the people I went to high school with have seen it! We’re done.” And then this morning when it went on Twitter, that’s when it became a big deal. Today has been kind of a whirlwind.
How does it all make you feel?
It’s been really cool. It definitely feels like a little bit of pressure. For the most part, my videos that I make are very true to me, but they’re very silly and they’re very zany and weird. This one was a lot more intentional and structured and very visually charged. So if there’s a bunch of people who follow me from this and they want that all the time, this very aesthetic, purist content, a lot of the time, that’s not really what I’m doing. But I am super excited to see where this will go. I told myself once I hit 10,000 followers on TikTok, I was gonna start a YouTube channel just for fun. And so four days ago, I hit 5,000 followers, but as of right now, I think I have 23,000 followers, so I should probably set my account up.
Now that you’ve gone viral, are your teen siblings jealous?
Oh, my brother hates me. He doesn’t want to talk to me. He’s so bitter. My sister’s excited; she’s more forgiving about that sort of stuff. But my brother is pissed. Once the quarantine is over, I promised that he and I will make some TikToks together and he can mooch off my notoriety.
TikTok in the news
- 20 consumer groups say that TikTok has failed to uphold the terms of its agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to protect children’s privacy. Among the allegations are claims that TikTok has not yet removed a number of videos posted by children under 13 from 2016, when TikTok was still Musical.ly, and that its age verification process contains a major loophole.
- The Verge interviewed Alex Stamos, former chief security officer for Facebook, about how TikTok could be vulnerable to disinformation campaigns during this year’s elections. The biggest potential threat could come from the fact that as a video-first platform, it’s much more difficult to search for shady content than if it were text-based.
- Disgraced Papa John’s pizza CEO John Schnatter got on TikTok to brag about his $11 million mansion in Kentucky.
- In other people-being-terrible news, a guy with more than 3 million followers dumped an entire storage bin full of milk and cereal on the floor of a moving New York City subway car for TikTok clout. Hahaha, yep, you really pranked those essential workers!
Roller skating is now the official sport of the pandemic, and not just on TikTok. In a piece on Ana Coto, the viral roller skating girl who joined the app in February and now has more than a million followers, BuzzFeed reports that roller skate brands like Moxi Skates and Impala are noticing a huge increase in demand. Others on social media have noted that roller skates are now super hard to find online, and Google searches for roller skates have skyrocketed since late March.
All sports go through periods of visibility and irrelevance, but roller skating hasn’t seemed so aspirational since the ‘70s (or at least since Beyonce’s video for “Blow”). Thanks to a crop of cute and well-dressed roller skaters breezing through our TikTok feeds, roller skating has become the polar opposite of the dreariness of quarantine: It’s accessible (all you need are some skates, some knee pads, and yourself), and while it takes quite a bit of practice before you feel somewhat less like a baby deer, for many of us, time and newly summery weather are all we’ve got.
One Last Thing
While I am not generally a fan of pandemic scolding, this video of an AP Gov student screaming out her car window at anti-lockdown protesters is extremely good.