The TikTok space seems obsessed with reviving trends from past decades and the Adult Swim trend is the latest in the long line of nostalgic fads blowing up on the app. It makes me feel old and I’m only 24. The trend shows users creating their own videos in the style of Adult Swim’s ‘bumps’—which first became popular when the late-night programming block aired on the popular TV channel Cartoon Network. So, what are these bumps Adult Swim became famous for?
The general definition of a bump or ‘bumper’ is a very short clip, no longer than 15 seconds, that is usually placed before and after adverts or sometimes just to include a pause in a programme. They usually had recurring music themes and varied imagery from more artistic short films to simplistic text—bumps are not commonly used in broadcasting anymore.
Adult Swim’s bumps usually have a cheeky conversational style that talks directly to the audience with a ‘short-film quality’ about them. They often have weird ‘meme-like’ jokes, animations or cartoons, B-rolls, time-lapses and a unique editing style. The sequence is always followed by its iconic logo—[as] or [adultswim]—which is integrated into the artistic action of the scene. The logo’s ‘reveal’ is often unveiled in interesting ways and differs every time.
As always, TikTok users are showcasing their talents, making their own bumps, and incorporating [as] in as many ways as they can. It seems to be the main focal point of a lot of the videos online. Some examples show the [as] appearing on through spilled milk, cut into grass and even tattooed. There are also some great ‘grunge-y’ filmic examples. Although bumps are not exclusive to Adult Swim, its distinct style has won over millions—literally. At the moment, #adultswim has a whopping 1.3 billion views, with the specific #adultswimbump gaining nearly 114 million views.
It’s safe to say this new trend has absolutely blown up on the app. Michael Cahill, Adult Swim’s Vice President of on-air and social media, told Insider, “We’ve been creating bumps on our air for over a decade. To see people having as much fun with them as we have over the years is incredible.” This really is great news for Adult Swim, who even responded to the trend with its own TikTok video to the viral sound behind the trend–VANO 3000. Adult Swim writes in the clip: “We’ve been talking to you like this for a long time. It’s nice to see you talking back to us. Let’s keep it going.” But who started the conversation first? Let’s look at the creator and his sound behind the trend.
A music producer who goes by the name VANO 3000 was the creator behind this trend. The dreamy viral sound used in all the TikTok videos was produced by VANO 3000 himself. He first released the track on 23 May in a ‘mukbang’ TikTok clip of him standing on a street eating a sandwich. As many TikTok users have pointed out, the sound is sampled from BADBADNOTGOOD’s song ‘Time Moves Slow’ featuring Sam Herring.
The short video has since been watched over 5 million times, with VANO 3000’s sound used in around 230,000 other TikTok videos. As the originator of the trend, the first Adult Swim-style bumper was made by the music producer to his own sound; the video shows a man walking through New York in a Spider-Man costume which is overlaid with text that reads “This sounds works with everything. Try it out….[adultswim].” And people have. The talent is incredible.
TikTok user @notwildin said in a hilarious take on the trend, “I’m never gonna forgive y’all for escalating the adult swim trend so quickly because I didn’t even get to try.” He sarcastically continues, “Sorry I’m not sponsored by Adobe, y’all are making Pixar shorts.” VANO 3000 also recently announced in another video, showing him working in a studio, that Adult Swim has followed him. Hopefully, this is the first step towards black TikTok creators finally being credited, celebrated and paid for their work.