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.
If, like me, you spend a worrying amount of time on TikTok and Instagram, you must have seen the ‘Hiiii’ vs ‘Bruh’ videos going around. For those who haven’t—this is a recent trend where new gens on the internet compare ‘girly’ girls with ‘tomboy’ ones. Here’s why this new trend stinks of internalised misogyny.
The ‘Hiiii’ girl (also known as the ‘🥺’ girl) typically embodies conventional traits that have been long associated with traditional ‘girliness’, such as liking the colour pink, makeup and clothes—characteristics that are not representative of any gender, and yet here we are again. She is fragile, cordial, and gentle (notice how these qualities are frustratingly archetypal to the patriarchal expectations imposed on women). The ‘Bruh’ girl, on the contrary, is more of a tomboy—she likes sports and video games, she is ‘low maintenance’ and has a quirky sense of humour. She is ‘one of the lads’, but with a vagina.
This trend initially started off as a fun way to compare different hobbies and personalities, which allowed TikTokers to relate to strangers online and create a greater sense of community on the video-sharing platform. But because this is the internet, it was soon taken wildly out of context, as users on TikTok started pitting the two types of women against each other, portraying ‘Bruh’ girls as superior, because they do not engage with any traditionally ‘feminine’ hobbies or activities, and are ‘not like other girls’.
Each of these tropes limits female complexity and uniqueness as it unintentionally portrays both the ‘Hiiii’ girl and the ‘Bruh’ girl as one-dimensional persons. Newsflash: you can be a female athlete who is also amazing at makeup. You can be an aspiring professional gamer and still be pursuing a career in fashion at the same time. You don’t need to select one main category. You don’t even have to identify as female to enjoy or do any of these things. Skills and hobbies are not exclusive to the gender binary, times have thankfully changed—we should do what we can to keep it that way.
So, why are we shaming teenage girls for their hobbies in 2020? The issue with people’s dislike of ‘Hiiii’ girls is that it is deeply rooted in internalised sexism and misogyny. It inaccurately portrays traditionally ‘feminine’ girls as tedious, passive, and superficial, without even taking into account that femininity is pushed onto women from a young age. It also makes an attempt in presenting traditionally masculine hobbies as superior.
Many argue that the entire trend exists as an attempt to gain validation from men, and there are a lot of comparisons that can be drawn between the gen Z ‘Bruh’ girls trope and the millennial ‘Pick me’ girls. ‘Pick me’ girls are described as women who try to distinguish themselves from other women, or pretend to not get offended by sexist things in order to appeal to men—the same girls who say they prefer to hang out with men because they represent “less drama.” Ironically in this new situation, it is the ‘Hiiii’ girls that are being ridiculed for seeking validation from men. Even self-proclaimed ‘Bruh’ girls are turning against other self-proclaimed ‘Bruh’ girls by branding them as fake.
For a generation that is considered as the most progressive, this trend doesn’t seem to reflect that, it certainly is odd how popularised it has become among teenagers. How can we judge women for internalised misogyny and sexism, if we ourselves as a society continuously impose these onto them? Teenage girls are constantly labelled and categorised into boxes: we call girls basic bitches (commonly referred to as VSCO girls among gen Zers), there are egirls, indie girls, ‘alternative’ girls, Instagram ‘baddies’—you name it, we categorise it. And while internet subcultures are great most of the time, there is no need to put any of them against each other.
Here’s the thing: it is impossible for anyone to just be one thing. Humans are well-rounded individuals with unique feelings, personality traits and hobbies. None of these are exclusive to sex or gender identity. And while this is just a silly TikTok trend, let’s remind teenage girls that they are not each other’s competition. After all, we’ve all been there and I can imagine none of us want the new gen to go through the same toxic scrutiny.