A disturbing new trend that sees TikTokers dress up as concentration camp victims has been widely criticised as ‘trauma porn’
The advent of TikTok has brought with it a lot of highs and, increasingly, dark lows. For every person feeling unsafe in a taxi helped and Trump rally brought down by the social platform, it has also seen a number of teenagers hospitalised after participating in the ‘Benadryl challenge’ and the tone deaf mugshot challenge. This latest trend, however, might be the most disturbing yet.
Creators on TikTok have been participating in a trend that sees them pretend to be Holocaust victims in heaven, sporting make-up simulating burns, and dressing up in striped outfits as worn in Nazi death camps complete with the Star of David badge.
The videos often use images of concentration camps including Auschwitz, where over one million Jewish people were executed in the gas chambers, as the user describes how they died in the camps. Chillingly, it’s set to the inappropriate soundtrack of Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out Of Heaven”. Unsurprisingly, the spate of videos have angered many in and outside of the Jewish community, who have dubbed it “trauma porn.”
“Our obsession with trauma porn has only motivated a desire to dramatise these narratives,” Brianna, an Ashkenazi Jewish teenager from Los Angeles, told Wired. “It can be very triggering for people who have family that either survived or was lost in the war.”
Brianna originally documented the trend on Twitter with a thread of over 50 examples of the TikTok videos. “Did these girls really cosplay a holocaust victim and narrative for a TikTok... such a callous mockery of the genocide of millions of Jews and other marginalized groups, I feel sick,” she wrote.
Many of the creators participating in the trend have spoken out defending their videos as educational and an attempt to raise awareness around the horror of the holocaust. One video shows the user with tears in her eyes and “dirt” on her face telling a story of being up in Auschwitz with her family. “We were forced to work, it was painful, exhausting. We were also tortured,” the video states. “We were told it was because of our religion, what we believed in.” It continues on to describe in detail how she was sent to the gas chamber to die.
@tiktok_us 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 #Holocaust#tiktok#holocaustchallenge (more to follow) pic.twitter.com/ZeDeddkRQ8— Patricia🏳️🌈✡️ (@Mowgli_Lincoln) August 18, 2020
“I’m very motivated and captivated by the Holocaust and the history of World War II,” teen McKayla told Wired. “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.”
However, ultimately, many in the Jewish community feel that this attempt has been gone about the wrong way. As Diane Saltzman, the director of survivor affairs at the US Holocaust Museum, told Insider: “Imitating Holocaust experiences dishonors the memory of the victims, is offensive to survivors, and trivializes the history.”
This is not the first time TikTok has been at the centre of anti-semitic controversy. Last month, the platform’s algorithm was accused of promoting a collection of anti-semitic videos, which were soundtracked by the lyrics, “We’re going on a trip to a place called Auschwitz, it’s shower time”.