Video clips from a 1980s Apple ad announcing the Macintosh computer. Bill Gates explaining the internet to David Letterman. Steve Jobs unveiling branding for the first iPhone. Doom-scrolling. Selfie tips from influencers. TikTok haul videos. TikTok dances. A clip from Sound of Metal showing actor Riz Ahmed take hearing aids out of his ears.
And for a final couple of seconds, silence.
The video described above, posted by @nichelovercore on TikTok on Dec. 31 is what many are describing as “corecore,” or multimedia collages that combine videos and photos to evoke a specific feeling. Many corecore videos ask, “How did we get here?”
The trend gets its name from the names of other aesthetics that were popularized on TikTok and other social media platforms, like cottagecore, normcore, or dreamcore. But instead of having a cohesive theme, like the “cottage” part of cottagecore, corecore is the aesthetic of aesthetics—and very meta.
Case in point, @nichelovercore’s video takes us from the inception of the internet to the triviality of an endless TikTok scroll punctuated with mind-melting content.
@nichelovercore #nichetok #corecore ♬ QKThr – Aphex Twin
Some corecore videos focus on a specific topic. Where @nichelovercore’s video encapsulated the internet, @dullmangos corecore video boils down the patriarchy and the objectification of women.
First, the viewer sees a TikToker showing off her new rape whistle. Then a woman asks a series of questions: How are Latinas fetishized? How are Romani women fetishized? How are Black women fetishized? Her questions pass so quickly that it’s hard to catch all of them.
Then a TikToker says she gets tipped better at work when she wears pigtails. A male TikToker jokes about bribing a doctor to tighten his wife’s vagina after she gives birth. Another male TikToker brags about being married to a “Christian, traditional, submissive wife.”
@dullmangos ♬ Love You So – The King Khan & BBQ Show
Corecore really is as disparate as the aesthetic itself: The comment sections under corecore videos are filled with discussion of what corecore is—and whether any particular video counts as corecore.
“Corecore is just that funny feeling Bo Burnham was talking about,” @loserenergy commented, referencing Burnham’s song, “That Funny Feeling,” about capitalism and the ironies of modern life.
“[Corecore is] art deconstructed kind of,” @usele55n0ise wrote. “Basically invoking emotion out of a series of clips that you develop your own meaning to.”
However, not everyone feels that corecore is profound. In fact, @aboveayden, who commented on another viral corecore video, wrote that the trend is lazy.
“Literally any footage of humans works in this format lol.”
But despite its detractors, #corecore on TikTok is a behemoth and is growing. The hashtag currently has almost 500 million views on TikTok and its influence is growing quickly: Corecore was just added to KnowYourMeme, a digital meme archive, in November.
Who knows, maybe corecore will find its way into more innocuous videos, and TikTokers will begin to list some of their existential thoughts in their “get ready with me” vlogs. Or maybe the trend, like so many others, will drift off into the ether. No cellphones, no vibes, just core.