The Out-of-Touch Adults' Guide to Kid Culture: Did TikTok Really Inspire Disney's Next Musical?

Screenshot:  Hercules/Disney+
Screenshot: Hercules/Disney+

TikTok has inspired a lot of people to do a lot of dumb stuff, but it’s as yet unclear whether we can add “making a live-action musical adaptation of Hercules” that nods to the culture of the social media app to that list. Plus: There were probably people making elaborate haunted dollhouses and squirrel obstacles courses in previous generations, but back then, they were just neighborhood cranks unable to share their gifts with the world. Luckily, we live in the present, where everyone can enjoy these niche hobbies.

Disney’s upcoming Hercules: An experimental musical influenced by TikTok

Disney remaking its animated properties into live-action movies is nothing new—the live action Jungle Book came out in 1994, and 17 other Disney cartoons have gotten the “real people” treatment since, including The Jungle Book a second time—but recent examples haven’t exactly been hits with hardcore Disney-heads. The criticism is usually that they’re by-the-numbers copies of the originals only made worse by not being animated. So you’d think people would be excited that producer Joe Russo promised that Hercules would be more experimental. But then said it would be a musical influenced by TikTok.

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“There are questions about how you translate it as a musical,” Russo told Variety. “Audiences today have been trained by TikTok, right? What is their expectation of what that musical looks like and feels like? That can be a lot of fun and help us push the boundaries a little bit on how you execute a modern musical.”

There’s a lot of reasons to think the new Hercules will be good. It’s being directed by Guy Ritchie, who has been known to make a good movie now-and-again (his last Disney live-action remake notwithstanding), and the source material has undeniably stood the test of time, but a musical influenced by TikTok is a tough sell. As Nort put it in a tweet, “Hades gonna make Hercules lose his power by convincing him to eat a tide pod.”

TikTok’s haunted dollhouses are the best thing ever

Sometimes TikTok will blow me away with a new, awesome thing I never knew I needed in my life. This week’s discovery: Haunted dollhouses. There is a small community of TikTokers whose hobby is created elaborate, miniature horror dioramas in dollhouse form. I’ve spent several hours taking in the creations of the queen of the art, Southern Gothic Dollhouse, and I’m speechless. I mean, a tiny little living room with a tiny little TV playing The Haunting! A recreation of that scene in Nope! Something is lurking under the stairs! Miniature spiderwebs! A dollhouse sized black magic ritual chamber! And so very much more.

Lauren Dodge, the genius behind Southern Gothic Dollhouse, told Daily Dot that her work is “a COVID project turned rabid,” that she hopes to pass her creations on to her grandchildren so they have, “something that could teach them some history, inspire them to read, or possibly just something they are proud of having in the family that they may want to pass along to their own grandchildren,”

All my grandmother did was read Readers’ Digest and go to church every morning.

Step aside, Florida. Ohio has swag.

I’m sure you remember the “Florida Man” memes that were everywhere on the information superhighway back in the more innocent days of 2013. Well Florida Man isn’t good enough for today’s kids. They’ve moved on to Ohio Man, and Ohio Woman, and just Ohio itself. Videos tagged OhioMan have nearly 11 billion views on TikTok, and the more specialized tag #SwagLikeOhio mythologize the state’s uniquely weird style of restrooms, school-buses, weathermen, people, and everything else. There’s also #OnlyInOhio, which features videos of absurd Ohio highlights like rhino attacks, insane carnival rides, and oversized objects that are tourist attractions.

Bonus trivia that no one over the age of 20 knows but me: The “Swag like Ohio” song is by rapper Lil B, who also created “Ski Ski BasedGod,” the soundtrack to previously popular and controversial Devious Licks Challenge.

Viral video of the week: Backyard Squirrelympics 3.0 Summer Games

YouTuber Mark Rober built a following of nearly 23 million people through videos that combine ridiculous stunts, genial humor, and science. His series of videos targeting “porch pirates” with booby trapped boxes are his most well-known, but they’re little mean-spirited for my taste. His squirrel-obstacle courses are just delightful however. If you’re not familiar, Rober sets up extremely elaborate obstacle course in his backyard to test the ingenuity and athleticism of neighborhood squirrels. It’s equal parts funny, amazing, dramatic and educational. Squirrels are amazing animals we take for granted.

For the third entry in the series, Rober set up an Olympic-themed course, pitting squirrels against spinning balance beams, heavy balls, a long-jump and more. It’s all in fun, but I share the concern of YouTube commenter Taylor Winter, who posts, “Mark might accidentally create a super smart squirrel lineage in his backyard if he keeps these shenanigans going for a few generations.” We can only hope.

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