zooey deschanel in 500 days of summer

Searchlight Pictures/Hulu

Is a twee ‘revival’ happening on TikTok?

This is the 2010s Tumblr strain of twee.

 

Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Published Jan 5, 2022   Updated Jan 6, 2022, 10:12 am CST

With the new year comes a new trend revival courtesy of TikTok though, ultimately, Zooey Deschanel (who joined TikTok last year) might be responsible here. 

As Embedded recently suggested, TikTok seems to be experiencing a “twee revival,” though not so much twee as it relates to British indie music of the ‘80s and ‘90s. No, this is twee of the 2010s Tumblr variety

Deschanel’s TikTok account is pretty twee, even when she’s posting about climate change. But it’s her 2008 She & Him song “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” that accompanies many of the TweeTok videos. (It’s been used in more than 3,600 TikToks.) 

One popular video is essentially a look back at someone’s “twee/indie days,” though the photos are very recent. 

The aesthetic is lumped into the “indie sleaze” trend of the early-to-mid aughts, which is also making a comeback on TikTok. 

As with any TikTok revival of an internet trend, there was discourse about why it shouldn’t come back. Some pointed out that twee is synonymous with thin and white—it originally meant “tiny, dainty, miniature”—and that the 2010s Tumblr aesthetic was often associated with eating disorders and body-shaming. TikTok has struggled to stem the spread of pro-eating disorder content. 

This revival might also coincide with the 2009 Deschanel rom-com (500) Days of Summer arriving on Hulu last year. Deschanel posted about the film landing on streaming in May, and restated her belief that her character, Summer, “isn’t the villain.” That set off a wave of reassessment on TikTok. 

@theregigoes

Why did they have me thinking this man was a victim when my brain wasn’t fully formed? #500daysofsummer #2000s #throwback

♬ original sound – bethannebrice

TikTok trends form and expire at hyperspeed, however. (Remember Twiightcore?) One TikToker, clincallydelusional, pulled up a March 2021 TikTok where they advocated for “2008-2012 twee indie pop aesthetics” and allegedly “received death threats.” 

“And now it’s back in. And I feel vindicated.”

@clinicallydelusional

it’s not that big of a deal but also i was crucified.

♬ Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? – She & Him

Of course, Deschanel didn’t invent twee and much of what’s categorized as twee on TikTok is an amalgam of countless other microtrends on the app. And it’s been pointed out that this is a more modernized take on twee, divorced from its source material. 

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*First Published: Jan 5, 2022, 3:46 pm CST