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Home / Art and Culture / TikTok ‘Trauma Porn’ latest trend: Tone deaf users dress up as dead Holocaust victims, called out for anti-Semitism

TikTok ‘Trauma Porn’ latest trend: Tone deaf users dress up as dead Holocaust victims, called out for anti-Semitism

Tone deaf TikTokers have been playing dress up, painting on burns and bruises over their bodies to recreate the emaciated Jews in the Third Reich’s concentration camps while they share how they ‘died’ in the Nazi camps.

art-and-culture Updated: Aug 25, 2020 18:46 IST
Alfea Jamal
Alfea Jamal
Hindustan Times, Delhi
TikTokers are dressing up as Holocaust victims in this latest trend that has been dubbed ‘Trauma Porn’.
TikTokers are dressing up as Holocaust victims in this latest trend that has been dubbed ‘Trauma Porn’.(Twitter)

TikTok may have been banned in India, but the short video app still has a strong user base in other countries, and like every trend that emerges from the app, the latest one is truly the most - to put it politely - incomprehensible, insensitive and completely ignorant. TikTokers who can do absolutely anything for views, be it licking a toilet seat or the ‘pee your pants’ challenge, where you literally wet yourself. But the new TikTok trend, which shows young people pretending to be Holocaust victims in heaven, has wreaked havoc on every other trend when it comes to being disturbing and daft. The TikTokers dress up and wear make-up so as to look like someone from the 1940s, with burns and bruises drawn over their bodies, while they share how they ‘died’ in the Nazi’s death camps.

Some people shared entire stories, some played dress up donning on stripes to represent the uniform of the concentration camps, or the yellow Star of David that Jewish people were forced to wear by the Nazis. Some others used the background of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the choice of songs playing the background, guiding the narrative, included bizarre choices like Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars, Heathens by 21 Pilots and Homage’s Mild High Club.

 

The videos were hashtagged with #Holocaust and #heaven and are a part of TikTok’s widely popular POV or Point of View style of videos. These videos are shot from the viewer’s point of view as though they are watching the TikToker address them directly, making the viewer the main character and have been reported to be one of TikTok’s hottest video shooting styles. TikToker Adam (@porrinate), told Motherboard that he thinks the style “makes it very personal to the viewer, because the video is through their eyes.”

And although the videos got millions of views, a lot of social media users, rightfully, couldn’t help but express their outrage over people talking about such serious issues in such a fickle manner. Several people from the Jewish community also expressed their disdain over the trend, with one teenager even dubbing it ‘trauma porn’ saying that people use the shock value of such content to get likes and views. An Ashkenazi Jewish teenager from Los Angeles, Brianna, told Wired, “Our obsession with trauma porn has only motivated a desire to dramatise these narratives. Most creators are doing [these videos] to hop onto a trend so they can get likes and exposure [but they are] ill-informed and woefully ignorant. These kind of trends are so normalised these days, there’s also a level of shock value content which I think is outdated and in bad taste. This shock value further desensitises viewers to this type of behaviour and normalises this type of harmful content.’

Social media users also expressed their outrage, one tweeted, “Right. Now can we please STOP making Holocaust trends on tiktok? It’s straight up antisemitism and you all let it slide.”

Another social media user tweeted, “Did these girls really cosplay a holocaust victim and narrative for a tik tok.. such a callous mockery of the genocide of millions of jews and other marginalized groups, i feel sick (sic).”

 
 
 Another 15-year-old content creator from Florida told Wired that she made the video to share what her ancestor’s went through during the genocide, she told Wired, “I’m very motivated and captivated by the Holocaust and the history of World War II. I have ancestors who were in concentration camps, and have actually met a few survivors from Auschwitz camp. I wanted to spread awareness and share out to everyone the reality behind the camps by sharing my Jewish grandmother’s story.”
 

Jewish TikToker, 21-year-old Taylor Hillman, who had also made the video said that she felt a lot of people were using the trend to get fame, and that if one was not of Jewish faith, they wouldn’t understand the complexities of it and the resulting video just ends up seeming like they are mocking Jews.

 

Another 17-year-old creator told Insider that she made the video to ‘educate people’ and because she thought it was important to share such stories. In her video, which she has now taken down, she and her family are deported to Auschwitz and killed in the gas chambers. She said, “I’ve always been interested in the history of the Holocaust and just wanted to make a creative video informing people about it on TikTok, It was never intended to be offensive.”

However, the complexities of the Holocaust can’t be explained in a couple of minutes, or seconds in this case, especially not in a make believe scenario with a pop song guiding the story, no matter how well meaning one may think it is.

Diane Saltzman, the director of survivor affairs at the US Holocaust Museum, told Insider, “Imitating Holocaust experiences dishonours the memory of the victims, is offensive to survivors, and trivializes the history. The Museum encourages everyone, especially young people, to learn about the Holocaust and understand the lessons it holds for us today.”

TikTok declined to comment to Insider as well as Wired about this story, however the videos can only be up on the application if the content doesn’t violate any of their guidelines on hate speech. And this clearly doesn’t.

While many were heartbroken when TikTok was banned in India, trends like these make one realise how the desire for views and likes on such apps completely desensitize people to harsh realities, promote stereotypes, are completely inaccurate and dumb down extremely serious issues, making everything seem fickle. One can only hope this bizarre trend made people read up more about Hitler’s Third Reich and the actual ongoings, than just trust a bunch of viewership-hungry teens who think they can share such painful and inhuman times in the world’s history in less than ten seconds as Billie Eilish sings Lovely in the background.

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