Ava Dettling '21
After a year where comic relief was depressingly spare, my hopes for comedy in 2021 are desperate. While prospects for theatrical releases are still unlikely, the film industry is itching to get back to normal. With various new streaming services popping up, like HBO Max and Disney+, the industry might just get a chance. Whether through newly created works or long-awaited films, 2021’s comedic lineup might just be the saving grace to a horrible past year.
After a two-year hiatus, Ryan Reynolds is back with another Deadpool-esque action comedy. Free Guy follows your average, unexciting bank teller, aptly named “Guy,” as he realizes he is living in a real-life superhero video game. He goes about his painstakingly perfunctory activities as a background character, but he soon learns that Free City is set to go offline—and only he can change that. Set to release in May 2021, Free Guy will surely feed into escapist habits all the while keeping you on your toes with Reynolds’s wit. With Reynolds and Taika Waititi in the same movie, Free Guy promises plenty of laughs.
One of 2020’s many losses was the delayed release of French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s latest installment. Like the rest of Anderson’s films, French Dispatch will be chock full of absurdist and idiosyncratic humor. While his films are not marketed as comedies, the oddity of his plots and sets certainly support his bizarro tone. Thankfully, we will be starved no more of Anderson’s peculiar humor. French Dispatch is set to finally (let’s hope) release in May of 2021. With an incredibly star-studded cast—including Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Benicio Del Toro, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson, and even more--French Dispatch promises quality humor. The film takes a look into the staff of the homonymous European publication as they highlight the three best stories of the last decade: an imprisoned artist, student riots, and a kidnapping resolved by a chef.
Nicolas Cage is back! Yay? In his newest film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Cage plays himself, a washed-up actor. The film follows the out-of-work Cage as he is suddenly invited to a billionaire super fan’s birthday bash. He is forced to live up to his own legend as he reenacts his most famous characters for the fan’s entertainment. If you were avoiding Cage’s movies in the past, the time has come to face them. The birthday activities soon take a wild turn as he learns he is performing for a notorious drug lord. From CIA undercover agents to Tarantino references, I have no idea what to expect for this film—but I will have a good time finding out. I have never thought I would see a movie with Cage, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tiffany Haddish, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Too bad I have to wait until March.
As trying as this past year was, hopefully 2021 will bring some levity. In 2020, comedy deserted us, only to be found in the clashes of politics or social media. Since the former presidency has come to an end, many late-night entertainment shows, like SNL, will be forced to find new material—and quickly. I think we got a taste of what’s to come through Chalamet’s “Tiny Horse” skit. The results of long-term social distancing will undoubtedly manifest themselves in a novel form of comedy. Whatever may be in store for 2021, comedy will assuredly be around to make it interesting. Just like the survivors of the 1918 pandemic—who pounced on any opportunity to celebrate unconfined life—we will emerge from COVID-19 finding humor in anything and everything.
Jack Kaplan '23
There is an old saying not to bring a knife to a gunfight. Yet, the Australian government was clearly unfamiliar with this principle when it decided to use mere guns to fend off the strong and powerful emu. At one point, the government was so fed up with emus destroying different crops, it conducted multiple military operations against these animals. Unfortunately for the Australians, the birds proved to be much fiercer adversaries than expected.
In 1932, Australia was in the midst of the Great Depression. Australians everywhere were struggling to make ends meet, and in exchange for subsidies, the government asked that farmers increase wheat production. Unfortunately, more wheat meant that more emus were attracted to the farmland in Western Australia, and the birds prevented the farmers from harvesting the large amounts of wheat necessary. While emus usually migrate to the coast during their breeding season, the new and tasty food that had been planted was good enough to convince 20,000 emus to stay behind. The birds would eat most, if not all, of the crops and leave large holes in the fences surrounding the plants, allowing further destruction of the farmland by other animals. As a result of these pests masquerading as birds, farmers suffered millions of dollars in damages, and their livelihoods and tough financial situations were only worsened by a bunch of emus.
The farmers knew that something had to be done, but rather than asking for help from the Department of Agriculture, they somehow managed to schedule a meeting with the Minister of Defense, George Pearce. Pearce devised plans for a military operation that he perceived as an opportunity for soldiers to practice their shot accuracy and a way to shoot film and create some nice propaganda (because nothing fires soldiers up more than seeing the massacre of their national bird). Pearce agreed to help the farmers and Major G.P.W. Meredith was placed in charge of the attempt to control the emu population.
The first “battle” occurred on November 2, 1932 when the soldiers were in Campion and spotted flocks of emus. The gunners fired on the emus at multiple different times throughout the day, but were outsmarted by the birds as they fled in different directions and out of range of the machine guns. Two days later, Meredith led an attempt to execute a well-planned ambush on just over 1,000 emus. The soldiers under Meredith’s command fired once they were in close proximity to the birds, but their guns jammed and only 12 emus were actually killed. The soldiers then moved south where the birds were more mild-mannered, but the Australians still were no match for the fast and well-organized emus, and the soldiers were unable to inflict significant casualties on the birds. By November 8, despite 2,500 rounds of ammunition used, only 300 emus had been killed. Due to bad press from the media and anger in Parliament, the military withdrew only six days after the operation began. The emus had pulled off the biggest upset in Australian history and would live to see another day.
Unfortunately for the emus, farmers continued to request military support, as they were unable to defend their crops against these formidable enemies. On November 12, soldiers were once again deployed in order to protect their homeland against these dangerous emus. Meredith was again placed in charge of the operation, and this time the soldiers managed to kill about 1,000 emus. The operation ended on December 10 after nearly 10,000 rounds of ammunition had been used. The operation was deemed a success by some military officials. The Australians had done it, they had killed 1,300 emus, leaving behind only 18,700!
Ultimately, the operation failed to effectively cull the emu population and farmers had to resort to new groundbreaking technology, stronger fences, to protect their harvests. Farmers requested military support again to control the emu population in 1934, 1943, and 1948, but the government had learned from its mistakes and denied the requests. The Great Emu War of 1932 is an important part of history that must not be forgotten for one reason: everytime an Australian tries to insult another country, one can now remind them of how their military lost a war to emus.
JT Willard '23
To the unassuming citizen, sharks and dolphins are simply creatures of the sea. They eat food, communicate among themselves, and are regular members of the animal kingdom. However, recent discoveries have provided substantial evidence that these creatures could be in use by Israel to spy on neighboring countries, even causing turmoil in the region. These provocative acts are by no means isolated incidents, as many West Asian and North African countries have felt the wrath of these aquatic agents. In Egypt and Gaza, there is sizable evidence suggesting that these animals are on an assignment to cause terror – driving away tourism, spying on citizens, and even launching small attacks. In some cases, these animals even have appeared to be under some sort of mind-control. If Israel continues using these sea creatures against nearby Mediterranean nations, what stops them from dominating all of the world’s oceans?
The first incident involving Israeli military sharks was in December 2010, taking place on the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh. These beaches, which are located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, are a major tourist destination for Egyptian citizens, boosting the economy with its beautiful beaches and houses on the coast of the Red Sea. Israel, who did not want Egypt to receive such an economic benefit, was willing to do whatever it took to drive away tourists. Over a five day period, beaches in the area were viciously and relentlessly attacked by sharks, leaving five people dead. These attacks were perpetuated by oceanic whitetip sharks, a common species that tends to live in tropical and temperate waters. While these sharks can be unpredictable, they almost never come to the Sharm el-Sheikh region and are even less likely to appear during the winter. These sharks also rarely attack humans; in the past 500 recorded years, they have killed only nine people total. Finally, whitetips don’t tend to swim into shallow waters like those near Sharm el-Sheikh. These strange actions brought me and a diver named Mustafa Ismail to the conclusion that the sharks that attacked the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh must be under some sort of mind-control, most likely by the Israeli government. To add on to this unusual and highly suspicious event, after the initial series of shark attacks, researchers discovered the first substantial proof that these sharks were acting as weapons inside of another oceanic whitetip: a GPS planted in its back. Why would a shark have such a device planted in its back if not for offensive purposes? Why would a shark travel so far just to eat some humans when there is plenty of food in the sea? If these examples do not provide enough evidence to prove that the Israeli government is using mind-controlled sharks as living weapons, there is another instance of water war that occurred with a seemingly less dangerous animal: a dolphin.
While countries like the United States and Russia have used dolphin technology to rescue Navy swimmers, detect mines, and recover lost objects, Israel seems to have attempted to use them for an attack. In August 2015, Hamas soldiers found arrows and espionage equipment inside of a dolphin. The creature even seemed to have video cameras in it. This dolphin was quite clearly taken by the Israeli government and sent out to hurt and destroy those living on the Gaza Strip. Not only does it seem to have been equipped with surveillance technology, but some sources also say that the dolphin could have been a robot! Whether or not this conclusion is correct, we all must beware of the possibility of cyborg dolphins and what that could mean for humankind in the future.
Although the U.S. is currently allied with Israel, sending them billions of dollars in defense money that could be used for these super swimmers, this aid does not prevent us from the possible threat that these animals could pose to our ecosystems, our peace, and our livelihoods. Be vigilant, don’t trust every shark you meet, and look closely the next time you see a dolphin, for it may save you from an Israeli attack.
This article is satire ;)
Audrey Scott '23
Eighth grade Earth Science is a class I look back at with very fond memories. I was friends with everyone in that class. To anyone who knows me, it is not shocking to hear that I did a LOT of talking in that class. Being chatty, I find it very hard to stay quiet in a class with everyone I know in it, let alone people who might be interested in anything I have to say. I spoke so much in that classroom on the second floor of Woodley that after a couple of units, I was placed between two empty desks in an attempt to get me to stop whispering and pay attention or take notes.
As you may imagine from that brief recap of my habits during this class, I performed poorly on assessments despite having a blast the entire time. One of my worst mistakes on tests was mistaking two similar words for each other, the universe and the Earth. When we were reviewing one test, our teacher wanted to review a couple of the questions because our class didn’t exactly score well. After going over the frequently missed questions, one of my peers raised their hand, being intrigued by a previous comment by our teacher about people writing quite interesting answers to some questions and asked what her favorite response was. Our teacher chuckled to herself before turning to me and saying, “Audrey, do you mind if I share one of your answers with the class?” As can be assumed from that question, I got a very bad grade on that test. There were a multitude of answers she could have been referring to. I could have very easily said no, but I do not really embarrass as far as tests go, and quite honestly, I was eager for the opportunity to talk about something other than science, so I said yes.
I had no idea which of the completely made-up responses she was going to use and was awaiting her response almost as anxiously as the rest of my classmates. The question was something along the lines of, “What is the result of the Big Bang Theory today?” The correct answer to this question was basically “the universe is still expanding.” I did not write that. I wrote “technically the Earth is still exploding.”
Wow. That is genuinely something I wrote on a test. This was a situation in which I heard my answer and was immediately astounded, because I knew that my answer was wrong, and even if I may have been a bit confused on the correct answer, I knew for certain that the Earth was not still exploding. As you can imagine, this brought great joy to everyone in my class, and is something that some of my friends still like to remind me of today. How did I think that the Earth was still exploding? I live in the Earth; I hope I’d know if it were combusting beneath me! Even though I look back at that class and it makes me smile, I learned the importance of note-taking, paying attention, and double-checking my work. I also learned that it is okay to get an imperfect grade occasionally, and having a good attitude and positive outlook can turn a bad situation into a fond memory.
Madeleine Murnick '22
This new discovery brings a whole new meaning to “zoom-bomb.”
Coronavirus, a team of scientists discovered Monday, is capable of spreading quickly through the Internet, including the widely used video platform Zoom. The virus is now zooming through college towns, businesses, and neighborhoods with this newly discovered mode of transmission. It is recommended that only essential businesses and workers use Zoom in order to limit the spread of the virus.
This shocking revelation has ground many Americans' routines to a halt as schools and businesses struggle to re-adjust. Thousands of students across the nation are now being hospitalized due to exposure to the virus. These students, sources report, spend up to 10 hours on electronic devices per day, making their amount of exposure extremely dangerous.
“I can’t believe she turned her video on," says a local high-school student, referring to an unnamed classmate, "that’s so irresponsible!” Many students are similarly terrified as they try to protect themselves and their families from the virus.
Other video platforms, including but not limited to Webex, Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp, Groupme, FaceTime, Discord, Facebook Messenger, Houseparty, Microsoft Teams, and Instagram Video Chat have released statements assuring the public that their services do not pose any threat of virus transmission. Whether these claims are true is yet to be seen and caution is advised to all while investigations are pending.
Anyone using Google will now encounter a pop-up advisory warning of the dangers of using the browser, and websites across the globe are shutting down in the interest of public safety. Internet users have returned to older methods of research. Some brave heroes, under these extenuating circumstances, have even found that they are able to function without knowing the six fundamental traits of a Capricorn or the date of National Hotdog Day.
Without internet-based navigation services, many have found it impossible to travel to their neighbors' homes, and some have resorted to not leaving their houses at all.
Social media, as well, has become a public health risk. New sources report that liking a COVID-infected person’s post on Instagram or TikTok can spread the virus, and text messaging is quickly becoming the most common mode of virus transmission. Self-protection methods include sanitizing cell phones and laptops, burying electronics, and the most extreme: deleting social media apps. Twitter has announced that President Trump’s account will be shut down in interest of preserving his health.
Americans across the nation are sending pigeon-carriers to elderly parents and family, urging them to refrain from using the internet. "I've been sending out all my content through a bird messenger service," says a local YouTuber, who was nursing several beak-inflicted cuts on his face and arms. All over the globe, professionals are abandoning email in favor of messengers on horseback.
The most comprehensive safety measures include cutting all internet and cable wires to one's home and withdrawing to a hermit-like existence until the end of quarantine.
This development has led the entire nation to rethink the dangers of extended internet use and over-reliance on social media, and our routines will forever be changed.
Michael Herrald '21
What on earth makes Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair so funny? How do you make that funny? Where do you make it funny? In my opinion, internet humor is the most puzzling, disturbing, contradictory, and funniest form of comedy we have ever had. The most important qualifier of humor, opinion, yields the vast array and diversity of humor we see today online. However, this does also mean that explicitly trying to pin down what makes internet humor funny and its origins is an incredibly tough task, so everything talked about here will be in generalities.
With that said, there are generally three forms of internet humor: satire, nonsense, and taboo. The first, satire, is by far the most common comedic theme and does not need much explaining. The second is total nonsense, humor based on sheer ridiculousness. An example of this sort of humor might be a picture of Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair from the inauguration edited into a Yalta Conference photo. Another example would be an image with extreme color contrast that just has the letter E. It is so nonsensical, so ridiculous, that it is funny. It is not a new concept in comedy, but doing so with a picture of Mark Zuckerberg and using it in a YouTube compilation is unprecedented. Of course, there are more extreme examples, but that's the general idea of it. Take one thing and put it in a ridiculous situation, and the ridiculousness is the comedy. The ridiculousness can quickly become taboo humor, segueing into the last and most complicated category: taboo humor.
Taboo humor is by far the most subjective part of internet comedy and has been since it first came about. It is nothing new by any means; from George Carlin to Bill Burr, plenty of comedians have built their careers on shock humor. If it is taboo, it will shock you to see it. The golden rule of comedy is that nothing is off-limits. Nothing. And the internet, spurred on by the power of anonymity, takes this to a new (and often controversial) level. Everyone who is reading this knows what I mean, so no specific examples have to be given.
What about generational humor? That certainly still has a role in this realm of comedy. For example, a "Facebook Meme" is usually comedy that is funny to an older audience. Usually. My father, for example, is 76 and doesn't find what falls into that category funny. Instead, he finds humor funny that is more in line with what someone of my age enjoys or someone in their mid-20s. The reality is trying to fully understand what makes internet humor funny, what makes it unique, and what makes it the way it is is mostly futile.
Satire, nonsensical, and taboo humor have existed for as long as humans have communicated with one another, but the internet has accelerated the development and spread of these types of humor beyond the wildest dreams of comedians of the past. The iceberg of internet humor is so deep I do not think it even has an end. If you don't find it funny, well, you just don't get it, and I think George Carlin said it best, "There's a humorous side to every situation. The challenge is to find it.”
Will Howe '21
Regardless of political affiliation, it is widely accepted that the 2016 election cycle propelled politics into the forefront of the national discussion. Hype around pop culture and new movie releases paled in comparison to the attention garnered by the political landscape. With Donald Trump, a lifetime entertainer, hurling insults (often quite funny ones) at his competition, first in the republican primaries and then in the general election, politics became all the more entertaining for the average American. This new attitude towards politics made it easier for late night comedy hosts like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel as well as programs like Saturday Night Live to make jokes about politics that appealed to the general population. Pop humor began to take a new form.
When Donald Trump won by a slim margin in 2016, comedians fell silent. “You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time,” said Stepehn Colbert about the election, representing a vast swath of the American public. Comedians (I use this term broadly to refer to any entertainer who specializes in comedy, not just stand up) had been changed by the elections, and comedy itself would follow. One of the first indicators of this shift came with Kathy Griffin’s now infamous photo holding a bloody replica of Donald Trump’s head. Though some argue the joke was in poor taste, it was clear that there were strong emotions surrounding the piece, illustrating that culture could no longer maintain even a semblance of separation from politics.
Late night hosts stopped exclusively making jokes, and began incorporating jokes into larger political arguments. Comedy became a subset of their political content, whereas politics was once a subset of their comedy. With Donald Trump on the front page of the news nearly every day during his presidency, jokes about his administration and himself personally were accessible to the general public, and thus garnered solid ratings for late night hosts. Comedy became a refuge from Trump’s rhetoric for many, countering his claims while making the audience smile. It was all too easy to make fun of a president who tweeted at 3 a.m. and misspelled words like coffee. For conservatives, this shift in comedy was in itself the source of comedy. Pundits like Steven Crowder often mocked late night hosts for tearing up during their programs, alleging that their emotion was likely scripted. Both sides of the aisle found a new brand of comedy in the post-2016 election cycle world.
Speaking of right-wing humor, the rise of “SJW [Social Justice Warrior] Destroyed Compilations” characterized much of social media in 2016. These videos would compile clips of conservative commentators like Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopolous, and the recently pardoned Dinesh D'Souza allegedly “wrecking” leftists on college campuses with “facts and logic.” Trump’s rhetoric in debates feels much like the rhetoric found in these compilations, so it is no wonder that they grew in popularity around the time of his election campaign.
The 2016 election cycle changed the landscape of comedy by making it more politically centered than ever, and as comedy is subjective, only you can decide whether it was for the better.
Helen Wickett '22
As the country bids a tearful adieu to the twice elected, greatest of all great presidents of the United States, Donald John “I didn't touch her'' Trump, the LAME stream media is back to doing what they do best: LYING. While we reflect on his glorious final in office, Donald liberated 144 of the most deserving, honorable humanitarians in the presidential tradition of last-minute pardons (I mean we’re talking Mother Theresa and Gandhi's love child deserving). But the only thing the LAME stream media can do is criticize him and play that same Dominos commercial every 10 minutes. The list of well deserving people includes names such as Lil Wayne, Kodak Black, and Steve Bannon. Clearly, the president has an affinity for rappers under 5’8. It's rumored that Don was moved by Kodak Black’s rendition of the 2017 hit song “Shape of You '' by Ed Sheeran, which ultimately landed him his commutation (treat yourself to a listen as you continue reading). Bannon allegedly defrauded donors who supported the construction of a border wall. However, what the media fails to point out is that he was building the wall himself, brick by brick, and using bubble gum to create an impenetrable bond that the ‘bad hombres’ could never get through. The investigation on where Bannon’s donor money has gone points to the production of his new mixtape: “Bannon Canon.” The next saint pardoned was Paul Manafort. Trump’s former (but forever in our hearts) campaign chairman, who was unjustly criticized for his connections with Russian interests in the 2016 election. He didn’t want to eat his pierogies and drink his vodka alone, so he made some powerful friends. We can all relate! Thankfully, Trump relates. If you ask me, we should all take a page out of Manafort’s book and remember that when you need a favor, ask the Russians, whether it be a few million dollars or a shoulder to cry on. Unfortunately, some of those anticipating a pardon from Trump were left high and dry. Joe Exotic is the best example of Trump neglecting what got him his presidency in the first place: celebrity. As you all probably remember from March, when we thought that little flu would be over by June, Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence for plotting to kill his arch nemesis, Carol Baskin. The gay big cat lover, who had a limousine waiting to pick him up from prison, was apparently shocked by his lack of pardon. Additionally, it was rumored that the animals back at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park had planned on reenacting the opening scene from the Lion King with their beloved leader Exotic playing the role of Simba. Unfortunately, it seems as though we are going to have to wait until 2037 to see that masterpiece come to fruition. Rapper, Tay-k, was also robbed of a pardon, and could not be reunited with his love, his Choppa. We pray for their swift reunion. All in all, Trump’s final pardons will go down in history as the greatest end to the greatest and most productive presidency in the history of the United States. And to close, I will now leave with you with some wise words from Trump's good pal, Lil Wayne, “Real Gs move in silence like lasagna.”
Julia Sherman '22
There’s nothing quite like attending an Episcopal school as someone who doesn’t identify as Episcopal. But it’s a whole different story when you’re not just ‘not Episcopal,’ you’re Jewish. Now, I don’t consider myself particularly religious. I don’t even consider myself particularly Jewish. I don’t subscribe to then entire ‘Jew-ish’ identity though; rather, I’m just a Jew. Well, I’m an American Jew: my grandfather grew up in Brooklyn, my dad’s a lawyer, and my nose is my least favorite part of my face.
For most of my life, I didn’t bat an eye at my Jewish identity. Not that I really comprehended the concept of religion or a higher power, but I didn’t start to think about my religion culturally or socially until I was around 11 or 12. I was in Hebrew school one day, and one of my classmates was telling me about her elementary school, which just so happened to be the National Cathedral School for Girls. But I interrupted her, looked her dead in the face, and asked “If you’re Jewish, why do you go to an Episcopal school?” My question was sincere, but completely inappropriate. Now, about five or six years later, I’m asking myself the same question. Why the hell DO I go to an Episcopal school if I’m Jewish?
When I entered in 9th grade, I heard horror stories from my brother on the other side of the Close. Gas chamber jokes, Holocaust puns, and photoshopped pictures marked his first two years at STA, all swept under the rug by either my brother or the St. Alban’s administration. I was prepared to enter the same sort of environment. Instead, though, I entered a different environment.
Instead, I get asked about the Israel-Palestine conflict a lot. I learned about the conflict once in geography last year, but that’s where my knowledge stops. But somehow, I’m always expected to have an opinion. That could be due in part to the fact that I never stop talking and giving my opinion on things, just another part of me that feeds into the American Jew stereotypes. Anyway, ask any Jewish person, and they’ll give you the exact same conversation about the conflict. Somehow, I always manage to get ambushed at the worst possible moments. Whether it’s in the lunchroom right after I take a bite of my dry chicken, or as I’m trying to rush from one class to the next. “Julia, is not supporting Israel antisemitic?”
“No…?” I reply, trying to not spur the conversation any further.
“Um, is it antisemitic to not like Israeli people?”
“This can’t be good,” I think to myself.
Before I’m given an opportunity to respond, I’m whisked down a conversational rabbit hole about the ethics and origins of Zionism, the war crimes of the Israeli government, and who Jerusalem really belongs to. As much as I wish it every night, I’m not the be all and end all speaker for Jewish people. I’m actually not the be all and end all speaker for any concept, unfortunately.
Don’t even get me started on the Israel-Palestine conflict government club meetings.
I’ve also been told on multiple occasions by multiple people that they hadn’t met a Jewish person before coming to NCS, or I was the first Jewish person they met. Hearing that really makes me feel special. Like I’m a unicorn, only if unicorns had brown curly hair and overbearing mothers.
There’s also nothing I love more than the Sacred Days email series. Every year, on about three occasions, I get emails from the NCS Religious Studies department with the subject Sacred Days, which are essentially just watered-down explanations of Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, or Passover. I would appreciate those emails SO much more if I actually got those days off school. But hey, nothing says “enjoy your holiest day of the year” like make-up work in every single one of my classes and a butchered explanation of holidays.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being at NCS. I also love being Jewish. And I’m not the victim of constant antisemitism just by attending this school. But while Jews may be an anomaly on the Close, we’re not in the world. We live in DC for crying out loud. So next time you talk to someone Jewish on the Close, try and think before asking about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Brent Moore '22
It is safe to say that TikTok has taken the world by storm. With its 2.5 billion global downloads from 2016 to November of 2020, it was the past year's most downloaded app. To those who question its appeal, TikTok, and its content, may seem childish, absurd, and cringeworthy. Some parents dislike the app because of the sheer number of hours their children spend on it. To parents like mine, TikTok is true to its name: a time-wasting app where, according to my mom, influencers like “James Savage (James Charles), “The Amelio Twins (Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio), “The jock who is dating the Amelio twins” (Noah Beck? Chase Hudson? Who knows), “All the Paul's” (Logan and Jake Paul), and “Tana Mongo” (Tana Mongeau) sit around and do nothing. Other parents may be worried about the potential security threats of the app, as Former President Trump attempted to ban TikTok on the basis that the Chinese government could potentially access user data, censor political topics, and spread misinformation.
Yet, to the members of Gen-Z, 6 to 24-year-olds (let’s hope that 6-year-olds are not on the app), TikTok is changing how comedy is produced and viewed in a time when humor is much needed. The 30 to 60-second video format is much like its predecessor, Vine, which had a 6-second format for content. Despite the wide array of apps where comedy is also readily available, TikTok is currently the most popular platform to produce and view comedy. In an extremely digital world, comedy in video format like a TikTok video has even helped traditional comedians. It was not until stand-up comedian Carmen Lynch posted a humorous exchange with her boyfriend on TikTok that her work began to gain traction. That video reached 1 million views, and since then, she has amassed hundreds of new followers seeking her content. Comedic output through video platforms like TikTok is a way for Lynch to build an audience, hoping that the popularity she receives online translates to higher ticket sales when live shows return.
The pandemic has undoubtedly increased the need for lighthearted comedy as a means of distraction from the hardships of the past 10 months; TikTok has proven to be just the place for this. The humor found on TikTok is undoubtedly absurd and cringeworthy at times. Still, this lighthearted content that can be consumed endlessly with just the swipe of a finger supplies relief and a distraction to creators and viewers alike. Proven by Lynch’s example, TikTok also provides the perfect platform for creators and regular teenagers to pursue comedy, as it promotes the idea that becoming a comedian, even from home, is an attainable goal.
Who is to say if TikTok’s massive popularity will keep growing or if it will eventually face the same demise that Vine did. Will another app follow in TikTok’s footsteps and again alter how comedy is viewed and produced? Putting aside speculation, one thing is for sure: TikTok and its content are not going anywhere anytime soon.