philip roth tiktok


‘Straight millennial men’ book TikTok gets roasted for tired old tropes

'The virgin Philip Roth vs the Chad Joan Didion.'


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 6, 2020   Updated on Jan 27, 2021, 1:21 am CST

As we’ve seen, there are many niche communities on TikTok. And while some of them aim to scare followers, Book TikTok is its own special hell.

Over the weekend, @cannibalmilkshake—a comedy account run by Dan Mahboubian Rosen and Jeff Ayars—posted a video about books every white millennial woman owns. From Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (“if you don’t own this book, you will be canceled”), it’s pretty accurate. Nothing about the selections is earth-shattering or surprising. Most importantly, the video isn’t offensive! These are critically acclaimed books.

But that didn’t stop another woman from doing what appears to be a parody of cannibalmilkshake’s video. TikTok user @kel.drigo filmed a video about what “straight millennial men who make fun of women for reading diverse female authors own.” The video includes David Foster Wallace and Philip Roth. There are several contradicting factors about this video, including the fact that kel.drigo would need to own (or borrow) these books herself to show them on camera.

She also explains the late Roth as a “Joan Didion for people who aren’t secure enough in their masculinity to read Joan Didion”—a statement that makes zero sense since the authors don’t really cover similar themes or topics. Notably, Roth was a fiction author who regularly set his stories in New Jersey. Didion also writes fiction but is perhaps best known for her nonfiction essays and writing about California.

Book Twitter did not take well to kel.drigo’s video, and it led to heated discussions about books on the platform on Tuesday.

In response, kel.drigo posted a new video on TikTok calling out “humorless blue-check media types” for making fun of her “satirical” video. The issue is kel.drigo’s video doesn’t come off as satire. Instead, it comes off as someone who is offended and upset.

Why are we having a cursed discussion about male authors (again?!) four weeks before an important presidential election? I don’t know, but here’s some tweets about Roth and Didion.

And, as actor Rob Delaney points out (but later deleted), you can like both! Or not!

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*First Published: Oct 6, 2020, 1:38 pm CDT