TikTok goes somewhat overboard with regards to categorizing each final aesthetic into its personal microtrend. You discover it when Spotify Wrapped calls your music style goblincore, or once you unusually find yourself at a charity gala in San Francisco and a tech exec asks you if he must be involved that his teen daughter is obsessive about cottagecore (sure, this occurred to me). Take any noun, add the suffix “core,” and also you’re good to go.
There isn’t any extra pure terminus to this phenomenon than “corecore,” a meta aesthetic from “nichetok” that makes use of nihilistic video clips to create one thing so absurd and meaningless that in some way, it comes again round and makes you are feeling one thing. It leans into our impulse to masks all of our feelings in twelve layers of irony, however within the course of, will get so earnest that it won’t be ironic in any case.
Check out arguably the preferred corecore video, which tallied up 2.2 million likes. It begins with a clip from a wage transparency account, during which individuals ask strangers what they do and the way a lot cash they make. A baby says that when he grows up, he desires to be a physician, and when the host asks him how a lot he desires to make, he says, “I’m gonna make… individuals really feel okay.” Then, you’re instantly uncovered to fast-cycling clips: a timelapse of a busy road; a man screaming; aged individuals taking part in slot machines in a on line casino; a TikToker speaking a few hen that lives within the metaverse; and folks dashing out of a storage in disaster.
Some corecore movies appear like they might come out of an overwrought documentary that tells us actually apparent truths about how social media makes us lonely; others make little sense in any respect. However most of those movies are tied collectively by a normal malaise — a priority that life has no that means and expertise is alienating us from each other. Inside corecore, we see clips of robots at CES speaking about how persons are afraid of them, demos of latest VR headsets, and clips from Elon Musk’s look on Joe Rogan’s podcast. This lack of religion in company tech innovation is the precise reverse of the ever present “day a life as a tech worker” development, which shockingly isn’t a top-down company propaganda psyop (… or is it).
Corecore has been standard on TikTok since late 2020, however the techno-futurism-doom vibes really feel particularly applicable now, as we watch Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon and Salesforce all wage huge layoffs inside weeks. These nichetok posters are in all probability not reacting to the state of tech employment, however one thing greater that encompasses it: how we’re all topic to the whims of some billionaire tech guys who can simply resolve to purchase Twitter or make “metaverse” a phrase that standard individuals take into consideration. And naturally, there’s the added layer of irony that corecore is, too, a part of that ecosystem — that persons are making TikTok accounts devoted to creating their very own corecore compilations, promising issues like “face reveals” as soon as they attain 10,000 followers, utilizing an anti-capitalist, lonely aesthetic to realize social capital.
Corecore isn’t the primary meme of its sort. In any given second in web tradition, there’s often some form of absurdist meme in circulation, whether or not it’s corecore, deep-fried memes, bizarre Fb, dangerous animated movies, or the iterations on loss.jpg. That’s as a result of it’s very regular, virtually cliché at this level, to make nonsensical artwork in response to a world that doesn’t appear to make any sense. As anybody who’s taken an introductory artwork historical past class is aware of, that is how Dadaist artists reacted to the tragedies of World Warfare I — and now, it’s how modern meme-makers reply to the horrifying realization that we’re all hooked on scrolling by way of brief type movies. And it’s how the best minds of the bizarre web will react once more, the following time the world feels a bit too dystopian.
In the long run, the one factor that actually is sensible about corecore is the truth that it exists.