Every month, the common TikTok person watches about 24 hours of video. Contemplating that movies now prime out at 10 minutes, that’s a bewildering quantity of content material and attain. TikTok hit 3 billion downloads in July 2021, turning into the primary non-Fb app to take action. As a world car for a wellspring of DIY creators, it has saturated the cultural second. Saturday Night time Reside is aware of this, and it retains desirous to say one thing in regards to the platform. Nevertheless it doesn’t fairly know what.
Final evening marked the third time SNL has lampooned TikTok this season. In addition to a chilly open final month that took goal at TikTok creators’ function in combatting misinformation in regards to the warfare in Ukraine, the present additionally spoofed the video-sharing app in December, when the pop star Billie Eilish hosted. Yesterday, the host and musical visitor Lizzo, alongside almost all obtainable solid members, parodied TikTok once more: There was a folksy rendition of the infuriatingly catchy Kars4Kids jingle, a wealth of performing and dance challenges set to music, and an older person (Cecily Robust) who didn’t absolutely grasp learn how to use the platform.
The sketch, which uncannily replicated the wormhole-like expertise of TikTok, was immaculately produced, although the extent of postproduction required to ship up lo-fi content material carries a sure type of irony. However by being so on the nostril with its imitation, SNL did not say something significantly significant. Like solid member James Austin Johnson’s eerily correct Trump impression, it was intelligent however lacked perception.
A part of the issue stemmed from the sketch’s many targets. It didn’t know the place to focus its efforts. Whereas December’s iteration appeared to make enjoyable of creators (Eilish performs a nurse who’s too consumed with posting movies of herself twerking to are likely to a affected person who begins flatlining), final evening’s punch line was fuzzier. Zoom out, and the present appeared to be taking a bigger jab at TikTok’s evolving person base. The sketch took the attitude of a 27-year-old dwelling at house who’s scrolling by way of TikTok as an alternative of finding out for the LSAT—a notable change from the unique section’s teenage person, who wanted to take the rubbish out. Each variations deepened their preliminary observations by revealing how every person’s father can be embarrassingly energetic on the platform.
In taking goal at TikTok customers, SNL is swiping at an viewers whose consideration it’s competing for. Though SNL grew to become the general prime leisure program within the coveted 18-to-49 age bracket final season, scores for the present season premiere dropped by 35 % in contrast with its predecessor. Metrics apart, SNL is way, culturally, from its high-water mark throughout the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election, when its sharp-toothed political commentary and Tina Fey’s uncanny tackle Sarah Palin usually claimed the highlight. Since then, as social-media apps have shifted the pace with which viewers devour data, and as consideration spans have narrowed, the present has struggled to maintain tempo in the best way that different, extra viral-friendly platforms can. The period of time it’s devoted to TikTok this season might be considered as an try at staying present, but it surely has come off extra like jealousy as an alternative.
A part of that tone may have one thing to do with the present’s underlying similarity to the platform, which grew to become extra evident throughout SNL’s distant episode at first of the coronavirus pandemic. Forged members carried out sketches in isolation, from their respective houses, providing an array of character work and premises paying homage to what TikTok creators do, although backed by a much more strong inventive crew. SNL depends on that writing and manufacturing employees, in addition to its intensive price range, to develop and ship sketch comedy. Absent a few of these sources, the present veered nearer to DIY territory. And though TikTok could not have the sketch present’s institutional legacy, it does have the twinned currencies of relevance and attain, and a transparent curiosity in competing with YouTube. SNL is aware of as a lot—is aware of the seemingly infinite distraction the app is able to creating. Maintaining with TikTok, nevertheless, requires greater than merely mimicking it.