One example of reappropriation not cancelling

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04 May 2021, 9:01 am

This TikTok Trend Was Antisemitic. So Jewish Creators Reinvented It.

Quote:
Fiddler on the Roof, a record-breaking Broadway musical and subsequent movie adaptation, is a Jewish cultural touchstone — and also at the center of a new antisemitic trend on TikTok. But to counteract an outpouring of offensive videos, Jewish creators are now reclaiming the trend, educating audiences about antisemitic tropes, and boosting other Jewish users on the app.

The trend combines an audio clip of "If I Were a Rich Man," one of Fiddler's most recognizable songs, and a popular Expressify filter that exaggerates facial expressions. Many creators have pointed out that the filter resembles the happy merchant, an antisemitic meme that gained traction among the alt-right and has been identified as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

Even worse, many of the jokes that utilize the trend relate back to money, wealth, and greed, which lean into other antisemitic stereotypes. And some users also appear to be mocking the singer's voice or use of the traditional Jewish vocal expressions.

April 22, many users were pairing the audio with the filter.

As The Forward noted, some creators were unaware of the song's origins and thought it was just a cover of Gwen Stefani's song "Rich Girl." (In actuality, Stefani's song, released in 2004, is a remake of a 1993 track of the same name. And the original "Rich Girl," of course, is an homage to the Fiddler song.) Some knew it came from the musical but had no idea that it had any cultural significance.

In an attempt to reclaim the Fiddler sound, Jewish creators are sharing their own videos and racking up tens of thousands of likes. In a few popular TikToks, users address their concerns with the trend. In others, they just ask viewers to interact with their videos in order to bump them to the "top" of the sound. But many videos are just joyful depictions of Jewish creators dancing, lip-synching, and even baking cupcakes — which is probably the sound's best trend yet


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