A clip of Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 and a man talking about the symptoms of depression and images of darkness followed by images of people in pain and suffering have one thing in common: they’re all part of the trend known as #corecore . This trend seems to have taken TikTok by storm, racking up over 400 million views since it started gaining popularity last December.
As its prominence increased, the question of how to interpret the trend moved to center stage. While corecore can be dismissed as just another trend with little or no inherent meaning, the themes it covers and the unique use of media to display them allow this trend to become emblematic of a larger mental health issue in social media.
Corecore’s TikTok videos can’t be boiled down to one easy concept. Unlike other, more formatted trends in TikTok and social media, corecore is shaped by the perspectives and artistic choices of individual creators. Although the trend lacks a standardized framework, corecore focuses on the creator using multiple types of media, including music, movies, podcast clips, and images combined into a short video.
At their core, these videos attempt to convey an emotion through a conglomeration of different media. Usually the focus of a corecore video is some sort of nihilistic view of society. This becomes more apparent when placed in the wider context of the rapidly increasing mental health problems among teenagers and young adults over the past decade.
Although they cannot be attributed to a single cause, these worsening mental health problems among young adults are rooted in social isolation, a growing wealth gap, and an increasing reliance on the Internet for everyday interactions. We can look to corecore for insight into the more elusive causes of these problems, due to their nature as a symptom, in part, of social media.
The nature of Corecore as a symptom of the larger issue of young adult mental health shows that the trend is more than a collection of random videos. Specifically, corecore and its content most closely ascribe to that of postmodernist art because they associate feelings about an increasingly absurd world with a video representing these ideas. Classifying corecore as postmodern allows us to think of the trend as an art form. The postmodernist art style does not contain a set of rules that the artist must follow, unlike some other art forms, such as pop and neoclassical art. It is because of this indulgence that postmodern art sees a variety of media used to depict it. Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (I Shop, Therefore I Am) is as postmodern as Claes Oldenburg’s Oxen sculpture. Although they differ in their medium and what they portray, they both make a statement about society.
It is this claim that postmodernist art presents that is intrinsic to corecore. The videos created do not combine multiple media together for their own sake, but instead to form a reflection of the creator’s personal relationship with society. Usually, the images in a corecore video depict some kind of social issue that the creator may see as the cause of their personal problems.
While there has been some debate as to whether corecore is truly an art form, or just another trend created by teenagers and young adults to get views, the commonalities between corecore and postmodern art cannot be ignored. Although most TikTok users are not world-renowned artists, it is the democratization of the media that allows anyone to have the chance to create art without formal training and express their views to the world through the Internet. Along with corecore as an art form is the inherent meaning – people’s ability to express themselves – behind it.
The prevailing nihilism of Corecore seems to imply a negative sentiment among its creators. His videos focus on what in society has caused the problems they experience. However, by focusing on these issues, they shine a light on the mental health issues that cause them. The output created by this trend not only reveals the problems facing a growing number of young adults, but also shows some of the causes of these problems, providing further insight into this growing epidemic.
While corecore may be another trend that lasts a few months before disappearing from the internet forever, it may also become much more important. Symptomatic of the growing number of young adults with mental health problems, corecore begins to reveal not only the problems a person experiences, but also their causes. It is with this meaningful social commentary that corecore should be seen as more than a trend, as a form of postmodern art that seeks to both expose the absurdity of society and make sense of it.
Tom Muha is an opinion columnist and can be reached at [email protected]