The time for sea shanties is over. TikTok’s latest obsession is something we’re dubbing “gnome punk.”
This new genre comes to the app thanks to the Phoenix-based DIY art-punk band Playboy Manbaby, which also uses its TikTok feed for bizarre and informational snippets on everything from election fraud to the filibuster. The videos star and are written by bandleader Robbie Pfeffer, whose onscreen wardrobe tends toward pocket T-shirts tucked into khakis. In one video, Pfeffer tops that ensemble off with a yellow tie as he gently pleads for viewers not to kink-shame his love of garden decoration to the tune of “Home” by Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros.
Other posts, like the aforementioned explanation of obscure Senate policy, poke fun at the clichés and political outrageousness that take place in his home state or the so-called “courage” it took for members of former President Trump’s cabinet to resign after the Capitol riots. In this mode, Playboy Manbaby’s feed comes across like an episode of Last Week Tonight as staged by Tim And Eric.
The million-plus views racked up by “Gnomes,” “Dogs,” and “Asparagus” don’t seem to have gone to Pfeffer’s head, but in a recent video, he did take a few moments to show off all the swag he got to help promote Netflix’s To All The Boys: Always And Forever. As he savors a sea salt cookie, he can’t help but wonder about how strange it all is that a huge media organization is hitting up an obscure punk band to sell their movie. But hey: It’s definitely less weird than grown men singing shanties.