Is Representation and Recognition Important on Tik Tok?

Since Women’s History Month, you could say that I’ve had a bit of writer’s block, loss of inspiration, and a bit exhausted. However, something has happened since then there has been something that has gained momentum since then and I’m not talking about COVID-19. I’m talking about Tik Tok. If you’re like me, a bored adult who has to stay home all day and work from home, you need something to distract yourself. For me, that’s Tik Tok.

For those that don’t know what Tik Tok is, it’s a social media platform that merged with musical.ly. By 2018, it blew up and then COVID-19 happened and many millennials are hopping on board. To say Gen Z is happy about is a joke.

Viral Video

So, what does this have to do with Pasifika people. Well, many of you may have seen this video and dance go viral:

@charlidamelio

@noahschnapp

♬ Do It Again – Pia Mia
https://www.tiktok.com/embed.js

Great song and fun dance. Which by the way was first done by Noah Schnapp from Stranger Things. The song is “Do It Again” by Pia Mia feat. Tyga and Chris Brown. What many of these creators or kids don’t know is the origin of this song. Some of you may already know this. I mean I had heard the lyrics many times and was like, “Where have I heard this?” I opened my Spotify app and looked through my Island playlist, and there it was! The song’s origin is from J Boog and his song “Let’s Do It Again”.

Me thinking “Do It Again” is a rip off, I went to Google to find out it Pia Mia had stolen the song. However, she didn’t. She actually got permission to use it. She first heard it when she was in Guam and J Boog was doing a concert there. Anyways, the point is, this song went VIRAL and no one was really showing much credit for its origins. Not that it always needs it, but as a Pasifika person, I felt that it needs to be acknowledged where this song originated from. So I made this video:

@aynsley_broom

Did you know where that Pia Mia song came from? Let me tell you! ##samoan ##polynesian ##reggae ##levelup ##fyp ##music ##doitagainchallenge ##jboog ##piamia

♬ original sound – aynsley_broom
https://www.tiktok.com/embed.js

I needed the people to know where the origins of the song came from. Granted not many people viewed my video, but there must have been some noise about this song because soon the kids were doing the OG song.

@charlidamelio

dc @noahschnapp

♬ Let’s Do It Again – J Boog
https://www.tiktok.com/embed.js

What’s So Wrong?

This is something that I’ve been thinking about LONG about. Tik Tok is taking us back to Patriarchal times. Times where you need to be a certain color, body type, etc. to have any acceptance. This song and the representation is shown by the popularity of users who used this song as pointed out by user @calikaven in this video:

@calikaven

This is the reason. ##fyp ##foryou

♬ Let’s Do It Again – J Boog
https://www.tiktok.com/embed.js

Oppression on Tik Tok

His frustration is understandable. Heck, I made a video about it, but like the ENTIRE page is made up of white creatives. Like not one black, Latinx, Asian, etc. ALL WHITE PEOPLE. It’s like I want to make a video that goes, “Look at all them white people!” (If you see the video “Look at all them chickens!” you’ll get the reference lol).

Some of you might think, this is not important or doesn’t. But let me make another point about Tik Tok that is super frustrating. They have been known to tell their moderators to “suppress uploads from users with flaws both congenital and inevitable. “Abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” dwarfism, and “obvious beer belly,” “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and many other “low quality” traits are all enough to keep uploads out of the algorithmic fire hose. Videos in which “the shooting environment is shabby and dilapidated,” including but “not limited to … slums, rural fields” and “dilapidated housing” were also systematically hidden from new users, though “rural beautiful natural scenery could be exempted,” the document notes.”

One well-known Polynesian creative @dexrated pointed this out in a recent video. He had posted a video of himself dancing with Lizzo a year ago at Coachella. Do you know how AWESOME that is!? Only for Tik Tok to say that it violated their community terms. The only thing that could’ve violated the terms is maybe copyrights, but I highly doubt it because there are SO many other creatives who would have violated these rights. So what was it? He was wearing a crop top. It has been pointed out by many creatives on Tik Tok who are curvy that the social platform will take down their videos if they are seen in a crop top or bikini. Heck even Lizzo had her video taken down. Yet, so many tiny, young girls can dance provocatively and it’s okay.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Tik Tok is still a kind of a young platform, and it’s obvious with the main demographic and the way it’s algorithm is ran. Anyways, as with any social platform there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. What has been happening with J Boog’s song and the people Tik Tok thinks should get more views is an example of this. It’s good that J Boog is getting recognition, it’s bad that the people who originated the music aren’t getting the recognition, and it’s ugly that Tik Tok is actually saying that white people deserve more representation than anyone else.

I love Tik Tok and the fun it provides, but I think it’s time that our people support each other on their so that we are seen. To break the algorithm, you have to fight it. That can be done by supporting other Polynesian creatives. That’s what I plan on doing!

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