TikTok users are making memes roleplaying in a fictional "woodchuck revolution" using a remix of the familiar "how much wood would a woodchuck chuck" tongue twister.
The trend was started by 21-year-old Pip Petersen, who posted a video launching the concept after listening to AronChupa and Little Sis Nora's "The Woodchuck Song."
In the span of less than a week, the trend rapidly expanded, with people joining sides — "Team Human" or "Team Woodchuck" — and even writing original songs about the conflict.
TikTok has gone full dystopian-fantasy as creators, spurred on by a musical take on a familiar tongue twister, are creating lore around a fictional "woodchuck revolution" in which they fight against an impending woodchuck invasion.
In a matter of days, what started with a single TikTok set to AronChupa and Little Sis Nora's "The Woodchuck Song" has expanded into a fully fleshed-out universe in which fighter pilots sacrifice themselves to hold back the woodchuck front lines, turncoat resistance members sell out their fellow humans for "one million chucks," and dental saboteurs destroy the woodchuck army from within. There's even a Change.org petition imploring several film studios to adapt the woodchuck saga.
But let's backtrack - what in the world is the "woodchuck revolution?"
"I guess it's just a dystopian futuristic society where woodchucks have taken over and now the humans are fighting for survival," the creator of the trend and "woodchuck resistance leader," 21-year-old Pip Petersen, told Insider.
The meme has come about so dizzyingly that even if you missed them earlier in the week, the woodchuck revolution has likely either hit your TikTok For You Page, or is about to.
The 'woodchuck revolution' started with an outlandish remix of the classic tongue twister
The fictional revolution may not have happened had Petersen, an astrophysics and mathematics student who goes by @piptersen on TikTok, not come across an EDM remix of the classic woodchuck tongue twister.
On Saturday, he posted a video using a green screen effect that showed him dramatically standing up in a cave with the caption, "POV: you live in a society that was overthrown by woodchucks and you hear their battle song in the distance and know you and the resistance have to fight the final battle for your freedom."
The crux of the joke is the audio, Swedish singers AronChupa and Little Sis Nora's take on a familiar tongue-twister, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood."
With reverberating vocals, sharp drums, and a snappy cadence, the song's arrangement evokes both a battle cry and, as one commenter noted, "the next descendants [movie]" - a popular Disney Channel franchise whose music has similar "let's fight" EDM vibes.
Petersen told Insider during a phone call that he frequently seeks to make "outlandish" point-of-view (POV) videos on TikTok. In this case, the idea was audio-first: Petersen found the "Woodchuck" remix via a different filtered, lip-sync video.
One such TikTok from @nannybrendalee, posted on January 3, amassed close to 250,000 likes. The original audio itself was uploaded by @houseofalbatraoz, which appears to be the record label that released "The Woodchuck Song," on July 20.
Petersen saved the audio, not thinking too much of it, and later revisited it when the desire to make a new video struck. From there, the woodchuck revolution was born.
In the days since Petersen's original video, people have turned it into a full universe
The hashtag #woodchuckchallenge has become a locus for the expended lore of the woodchuck revolution universe, and as of Friday, it has close to 28 million views. Petersen and many others have continued to make videos, many of which play on established tropes or imagery - think Katniss Everdeen with a bow in "The Hunger Games" or Luke Skywalker learning that Darth Vader is his father.
While many of the videos use "The Woodchuck Song" audio, others have continued the narrative with new spins on it. TikToker @joshuaturchin created a jazz version of the song, captioning his video with "POV: the woodchuck jazz band plays their battle song as the humans and woodchucks fight."
There's even talk of "Woodchuck: The TikTok Musical" after a number of creators who were a part of the "Ratatouille" TikTok musical started to post original songs or concepts for a hypothetical production.
"This has been the second musical related woodchuck thing and I'm scared that an entire musical is going to be created by the end of the month," TikTok user @bunchesofbudgies commented on one of Christian's videos.
"If you saw the ratatouille group chat you'd be even more afraid," Christian replied.
Almost a week after its inception, the woodchuck revolution meme has flourished to the extent that many aren't even using the original audio anymore - the sheer concept is powerful enough on its own that the context isn't needed. Now, the woodchuck revolution is all-encompassing, incorporating other TikTok trends like "main character" memes or "The Wellerman," a sea shanty that's currently a TikTok favorite.
The 'woodchuck revolution' invokes TikTok's collaborative spirit as well as familiar tropes
Petersen said that the phenomenon reminds him of similar TikTok trends in the past when creators voraciously pushed the boundaries of a concept. As for its success, he guessed that current events and the ongoing pandemic have contributed to its virality.
"With COVID going on, building a sense of community is so important," he told Insider. "The 'humans' and the 'woodchucks' each get to create their own little community and expand on it in their own creative ways. I think that sense of developing the community, even through something like TikTok, might be something that's drawing people to this trend."
There's precedent for this sort of thing: in 2014, Tumblr users memed their way around a fictional "skeleton war;" and on TikTok, one-off jokes and videos have the potential to spiral out far past their original bounds. While it feels almost cliché to note given that we're far past the "new" stage of our normal, these kinds of all-encompassing memes have flourished on TikTok over the course of the pandemic, drawing users into elaborate, far-reaching collaborations.
When it comes to the woodchucks specifically, the meme was bound to resonate with a generation of people who grew up amid a surge in the popularity of dystopian, revolution-focused young adult literature like "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent." Familiar tropes, an unbearably catchy audio snippet, and boundless worldbuilding potential formed a perfect storm for it to take off on TikTok.
While it's not clear how long the woodchucks will be invading users' For You Pages, Petersen said that he has "no expectations" of the trend continuing to blow up in a similar fashion to the "Ratatouille" musical.
"But you know, if it progressed to that, I wouldn't stop the people from fighting the woodchucks," he said.
Read the original article on Insider