Every month, the typical TikTok consumer 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, changing into the primary non-Fb app to take action. As a world automobile for a wellspring of DIY creators, it has saturated the cultural second. Saturday Evening Reside is aware of this, and it retains eager to say one thing concerning the platform. However it doesn’t fairly know what.
Final night time marked the third time SNL has lampooned TikTok this season. Apart from a chilly open final month that took goal at TikTok creators’ position in combatting misinformation concerning the conflict 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 practically all out there forged 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 consumer (Cecily Sturdy) who didn’t totally grasp how one can 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 didn’t say something notably significant. Like forged 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 night time’s punch line was fuzzier. Zoom out, and the present gave the impression to be taking a bigger jab at TikTok’s evolving consumer 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 learning for the LSAT—a notable change from the unique phase’s teenage consumer, who wanted to take the rubbish out. Each variations deepened their preliminary observations by revealing how every consumer’s father can be embarrassingly lively 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, rankings for the present season premiere dropped by 35 % in contrast with its predecessor. Metrics apart, SNL is way, culturally, from its high-water mark through the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election, when its sharp-toothed political commentary and Tina Fey’s uncanny tackle Sarah Palin repeatedly claimed the highlight. Since then, as social-media apps have shifted the velocity with which viewers devour data, and as consideration spans have narrowed, the present has struggled to maintain tempo in the way in which that different, extra viral-friendly platforms can. The period of time it’s devoted to TikTok this season might be seen as an try at staying present, however it 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 firstly of the coronavirus pandemic. Solid 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 sturdy artistic crew. SNL depends on that writing and manufacturing workers, in addition to its intensive finances, to develop and ship sketch comedy. Absent a few of these assets, 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, nonetheless, requires greater than merely mimicking it.