TikTok is obsessed with dads. The viral video sharing app is full of videos surrounding the topic: There are big dads, gross dads, extremely dedicated dads, young dads, lesbians who get called daddy in the comments, and most fun of all, a veritable plethora of users with daddy issues. But in the midst of moon hexes and shadowbanning dominating the news cycle, a new and mostly unrecognized TikTok trend has emerged to prominence on the app: the Bewildered TikTok Dad.
While most people assume this Gen Z app is all about dancing to Billboard Hot 100 bops while China steals your personal data, the real key behind making TikTok your bitch relies on one simple element: commitment. Whether your page is about the latest dances or just simping in general, users are rewarded for the constant and unwavering commitment to their side of TikTok.
Since the algorithm is tailored to the specific interests of users, alt creators hoping to distinguish themselves use or create a spliced version of trending audio clips, in the hope that they can promote their videos in a lane not crowded by top users and draw in a viewer more likely to watch their video. So while the app constantly drives up plays on songs you can easily recognize (think any bop from Megan Thee Stallion or Chloe x Halle), it can also create absurdist mashups that dominate the page for weeks — great examples of this are the “Hey Soul Sister (Platypus Controller Edit)” or “Yellow Hearts (sonic is a god)” remixes. For these edits, the winners are creators who commit to the bit, regardless of all else. This means the more people you get to also commit with you, the better chance your video has of rising above the chaff.
So perhaps the most surprising turn of events is a trend that relies on something else entirely: Complete and total confusion. Which brings me back to the Bewildered TikTok Dad. There’s no hashtag for him, yet he is slowly becoming one of the best things on TikTok. While he can be found in almost every trend on the app, his most famous appearances are currently in the “Good Day” remix, which features a quote from commitment connoisseur Tyler the Creator over the popular Greg Street song, combined with yet another viral clip from Tyler the Creator.
The challenge is easy enough to understand: Viewers place their phones with their parental figures in shot, deliver the insult (“I’ll whoop your ass, your girlfriend look like my mom”) and then dance. While the first popular videos in the trend saw the usual, with the biggest and boldest parents actively participating, what emerged victorious was a much funnier version, where kids did the challenge in front of their Brown parents, and viewers got to watch the result.
Besides the general fear most Black and Brown kids have about cursing in front of their parental figures, this TikTok accidentally created a star in the form of their unamused, incredibly confused fathers. Unlike the past trends that drew and grew from active participation, like “Why is your dad outside?,” the “Blinding Lights” dances and “Who’s Next?,” “I’ll Whoop Your Ass…” relies and succeeds on a key ingredient — a father figure who has no idea what’s going on. These videos have skyrocketed in popularity, with the highest clips raking in upwards of 2 million views.
Just look at their faces. Those disappointed head shakes. The general confusion behind their eyes. They’re the best kind of celebrity — one who is wholly and deeply unaware that hundreds of thousands of people have seen their face. They’re going to go Google TikTok after this. Two weeks from now, they’ll be at a barbeque and ask one of their friends if they also had to be on the “Tik video.” If this isn’t the height of comedy for you, you’re clearly on the wrong article.
Not only are creators rewarded for risking their lives for the shot, but the “Good Day” remix has become almost an anomaly among popular sounds. Click the audio clip and you’ll find that Black creators dominate the top viewed videos, proving the trend isn’t only hilarious, but gives Black TikTokers a way to shine.
In an era where bigger and better TikTok presences are determining real economic growth outside of the app, Black, Brown and queer creators are starting to demand recognition for their popular sounds and trends that go viral. While it’s clear this one TikTok trend won’t completely fix the app’s problems (like harmful trends promoting eating disorders, racist videos making waves on the “for you” page or the ever-present push from older generations to ban the app entirely), it’s nice to see a set of videos that show something different for a change.
So let’s raise a glass to these befuddled TikTok dads. Here’s to them, and for the sake of their poor kids, here’s to hoping they never find out just how popular they really are.