TikTok goes slightly overboard relating to categorizing each final aesthetic into its personal microtrend. You discover it when Spotify Wrapped calls your music style goblincore, or if 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 by some means, it comes again round and makes you’re 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 may not be ironic in any case.
Check out arguably the most well-liked corecore video, which tallied up 2.2 million likes. It begins with a clip from a wage transparency account, during which folks ask strangers what they do and the way a lot cash they make. A toddler says that when he grows up, he needs to be a physician, and when the host asks him how a lot he needs to make, he says, “I’m gonna make… folks really feel okay.” Then, you’re instantly uncovered to fast-cycling clips: a timelapse of a busy avenue; a man screaming; aged folks taking part in slot machines in a on line casino; a TikToker speaking a few hen that lives within the metaverse; and folks speeding out of a storage in disaster.
Some corecore movies appear to be 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 basic malaise — a priority that life has no which 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 2022, however the techno-futurism-doom vibes really feel particularly acceptable now, as we watch Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon and Salesforce all wage huge layoffs inside weeks. These nichetok posters are most likely 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 ordinary folks 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 achieve social capital.
Corecore is just not the primary meme of its form. 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, unhealthy animated movies, or the iterations on loss.jpg. That’s as a result of it’s very regular, nearly 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 Conflict I — and now, it’s how modern meme-makers reply to the horrifying realization that we’re all hooked on scrolling via brief kind movies. And it’s how the best minds of the bizarre web will react once more, the subsequent time the world feels a bit too dystopian.
In the long run, the one factor that actually is smart about corecore is the truth that it exists.