🐥cult-ivating the coup
...what happens on TikTok doesn’t stay on TikTok
You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥internet culture served piping hot. This week: the step-chickens swoop in on the nest, we simp for Berghain on TikTok and Call Her Daddy has us crying for mom.
Drink up 🐸☕
what we’ve been sipping on
It’s been a week on the internet – and it’s safe to say that we’re exhausted. Remember when Joe Rogan landed his $100m (y’all sure love that valuation, huh?) Spotify-exclusive deal and then TikTok hired its first CEO (ex-Disney, no less). Yeah, that was just Tuesday. Elon took a backseat in the cancel wars: podium positions for Lana first, and then Doja Cat, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to dethrone Hillary Duff (come for anyone but Lizzie McGuire, you have been warned).
The past two months in lockdown may have felt like two years, but shit moves fast in quarantine (it’s probably all that time saved not looking for a free meeting room, right?). Now, more than ever, Things From The Internet™ are bleeding into our lives and the complicated digital landscapes they inhabit. We’re here to give you the roadmap.
family first: mother hen rules the roost
Make no mistake, we have cults forming on TikTok. The step-chickens led by mother hen Melissa, aka @chunkysdead (1.7M followers), have been unleashing hell on the internet with support from other notable TikTokers: @thejonathanmoss (4M followers), @richblackguy (1.4M followers) and @reitergrace (1.3M followers). Hey, even the Washington Post pulled up a pew in the chicken coup.
How does one become a step-chicken, you ask? It’s simple. You change your TikTok avatar to the pic of mother hen and her baby hairs (confusing the hell out of people in the process) and then comment on videos as a step-chicken to assert dominance on the platform. Every so often mother hen will call on the step-chickens to participate in a unique comment battle online, in which you will join the other chickens to fight to gain prominence (and clout, ofc) over rival cults, such as the Weenie fam led by Adrian Oritz. These battles are organized and calculated with an exact time and place to attack.
After mother hen gave the first orders for a TikTok battleground on May 13 (of which they were victorious, ofc), there was trouble in paradise as the competitor cults teamed up to form JEFF; a super-cult which greatly outnumbered the step chickens in their millions. But the step-chickens dominated in the comments and last week became one of the most powerful cults online. With victory under her wing, mother hen created created her own merch (yes there are masks), and there’s even a step-chicken anthem on Spotify. Some call this absurd, we call it a booming cottage industry.
And it doesn’t stop there. Since mother hen found out that her chickens were wanting a place to chick-chat, the step-chickens app was born. Partnering with Blink Labs to whitelist their community, the step-chickens were catapulted to an insane #15 in the Social Networking category on the app store 👀. We’re shook.
“I think it’s funny how all these people underestimate our power and I’ll be showing just how powerful we are with a declaration of war video” - Mother Hen, praise be.
So what’s next for the step-chickens? Well, they’re moving up in the world. As mother hen said in her latest video: “we have already completely dominated TikTok and there are no more worthy opponents here”. Naturally, she’s taking her loyal followers to a new battleground: YouTube. Hang on, there’s a method to this madness, we promise. With fresh ground to veni, vidi, vici on YouTube, @chunkysdead is partnering with the Weenies cult enemy leader, Adrian Ortiz (@adrianortiz), to create new battle zones in the comment sections. Ortiz said:
“We’re building a society, for you to be a part of something…me and Melissa we’re building our platforms - and that’s great - but at the same time we’re able to share the power…we could do that [a battle zone] on a YouTuber that we both think is up and coming and not getting the recognition they deserve. This culture has never been on YouTube.”
What does it all mean? TL;DR TikTok is powerful af, proving itself to be not only a hubbub of transient connectivity and creativity – but also the stepping stone to larger platforms, where building a community is as much about breaking bread as it is about breaking the algorithm.
ich bin ein Berghain-er
If that wasn’t enough cultish behaviour for one week, TikTok propelled another exclusive subculture to the forefront of the zeitgeist. Enter: Berghain...kinda. For those of you in the know, Berlin’s Berghain is the epicentre of European hedonism; part nightclub, part techno-lover’s paradise – where parties span days, not hours (strictly no pics allowed ⛔️iykyk).
If you thought The Box was a hard door, think again. Even Berliners in full Berghain uniform (all black, fishnet, sheer everything) still confess they don’t know if ‘tonight if will be the night’ that they get the approval of Sven Marquardt, the club’s infamous bouncer.
That’s exactly what got Fabian, Sebastian and Vinzenz at Sansho Studio thinking: “it would be crazy if you knew beforehand or could practice.” As students, they built the Berghain Trainer in 2016: an interactive website that uses facial and speech recognition to decide if you pass the vibe check.
Hopeful party-goers are asked three questions by actor Sven to see if they have what it takes, and if you answer “appropriately” you’ll be let in. The site went viral after launch in 2016 and has generated around 2M views over the past 4 years. However, in quarantine the trainer has taken on a new role. Once reserved for techno hopefuls, now the site is getting increasingly bombarded by Zs online with a new mission: a vibe checkkk.
The site has gone viral on TikTok this week with 2.6M views on #berghaintrainer alone. The team at Sansho studio inform us that the average session has also increased to 4:20 mins (no, seriously) up from 1:20, and they’ve had to limit the amount of tries to just one per day due to overloaded servers. This week they received a cool 3M visits in 6 days.
So why TikTok and why now? With the breakdown between the virtual world and physical so apparent in quarantine, the resurfacing of the #berghaintrainer feels like just ‘another day in the bedroom’. But there’s something else at play here.
Just like the step-chickens cult, the emerging Berghain trend is the *chefs kiss* for the performative current that runs through TikTok – and Zs voracious appetite for participation in it. It’s less about Berghain and its legacy, and more about a new zeitgeist code to crack: did you get in? How long did it take you? What did you say?! TL;DR did you pass the vibe check? It’s even generated its own second wind YouTube: will “the Berghain challenge” become the quarantine’s answer to a viral trend for all of us stuck inside looking for escape?
Either way, since you can’t find us in the club, bottle full of bub – we’ll be in our bedrooms bopping to Nina Kraviz, bc Kermit passes the vibe check 🐸☕️.
United States of Chromatica
Outside of the TikToksphere, another community is rising up. Their call to arms comes not from a mother hen, but mother monster. The United States of Chromatica (@ChromaticaGov) twitter account is fresh off the block, created a mere 48 hours ago and already standing at a very calm 50k followers. Chromaticans really said: 50k for a verse, no album out.
The account comes off the back of the release of Gaga’s Rain On Me (certified cyborg bop), in anticipation of her sixth studio album ‘Chromatica’ – dropping May 29. But that’s not the tea. What’s worth writing home about is how this account leans into a very specific pop culture moment (blink and you miss it), and, in turn creates its own subculture of Gaga stans, the Very Online™ and everything in between.
So, what happens in this utopian idyll? Iced coffee is sold by the gallon, transphobia is punishable by an eternity of drifting off into outer-space and speed walking is mandatory. And since leadership matters more than ever in these unprecedented times 🐸☕ it’s worth noting: Charli XCX is President of Agriculture, Azealia Banks is the Chromatican Secretary of Education and Princess Peach (of Nintendo’s Mario fame) is Secretary of Transportation. This might explain why covid has not yet reached Chromatica and healthcare is considered a basic human right (this is financed by a 30% heterosexual tourism tax):
Southern Homo, MD @SouthernHomoBut does Chromatica believe that healthcare is a human right???? @ChromaticaGov
Even Starbucks (yes, Starbucks) got involved:
See, there’s never been a more perfect time for niche community building and subscribers to this cult are as engaged in their RTs as their Chromatican civic duties. In USoC’s most recent poll, 18k votes were cast on Lana Del Rey’s “legal status on Chromatica” (similarly, Rihanna’s visa will not be processed until R9 is announced). Its current poll asks Chromaticans to vote on bringing Doja Cat to court, so watch this space. Social media managers could never. That’s the beauty of it.
As Gaga said in her Apple Music interview with Zane Lowe, “how I make sense of things is chromatica...I can’t wait to dance with people to this music”. Same Gaga, same. Let’s hope our visa application to the states is accepted in time.
kettle’s on: ones to watch
🐦Reply to this if you want a DMC. So Twitter got an upgrade this week, and we’re kinda stoked about it. Starting with a small % of tweeps, Jack is rolling out private tweeting: a feature that lets you ‘@’ those you’d like to chat to. Except the whole world can see and can’t respond. It’s heaven for those who get serious trolling, and a great step towards making Twitter the safe space it’s crying out to be. We r9. 👏
💰Secure the (slime) bag. Slime is big. 5B views on TikTok big. And if that wasn’t enough, this week we got a glimpse of its influence when Addison Rae (41M+ followers) reviewed 15 year old Ricky Waite’s homemade slime on TikTok. He told Business Insider that shoutout alone “drove over $1,000 in slime sales”, not bad for a Z juggling school in the day time and slime-creating in the night. Oh, and did we mention this is just the beginning for TikTok’s social commerce takeover? 🐸☕️
🎙️*67 Call Her Daddy. Sofia? Alex? Dave? Is anyone there?! This week, the daddy gang were thrown into the eye of the tornado after the public falling out of the decade boiled over (h/t Taylor Lorenz). From #FreeTheFathers to Dave Portnoy (founder of Barstool Sports) calling the duo “unprofessional, disloyal and greedy”, the internet is splitsies and exploding with hot takes on daddy conspiracy theories (especially ones involving Suitman, aka HBO’s Peter Nelson). Yesterday, Alex posted her side of the story in a 30 min tell-all titled “The Truth about Call Her Daddy” (2.8M combined views and counting). There’s even merch for that – a new era: a single father. Lord, Barstool never misses a check. All we know for sure is it’s a mess and a hot one at that. Girls, the Gluck Gluck 9000 won’t be the same without you. 🍆💔
Ok you made it, now you can go back to Clubhouse.