Millennials are writing cringey Gen Z diss tracks on TikTok, and they're getting roasted
- A millennial versus Gen Z culture war over skinny jeans and side parts has become a meme.
- Millennials are posting Gen Z diss tracks on TikTok, with some saying they were meant as parodies.
- The diss tracks have gone viral on TikTok and Twitter, and some are widely mocked.
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Since February, a conflict over generational style has played out on social media through memes, ironic TikToks, and mockery.
After word got out that Gen Z was apparently "canceling" skinny jeans and side parts, millennials - particularly white millennial women, with whom the aforementioned skinny jeans and side parts are most frequently associated in pop culture - were up in arms attempting to defend their style choices. Now, the feud's participants are taking part in one of internet drama's most storied traditions: diss tracks.
"I like skinny jeans, and my side part / I use this emoji, and I like the heart," one such diss track goes, to the tune of "Boys" by Lizzo. "So you think we're old, well I ain't having that / we give you WiFi, and we can take it back."
I’m doing laundry and I was crying before I got she’ll shocked into existence again♬ Side part and skinny jeans - Mammy Banter
The sound, which TikTok says was uploaded by the user Mammy Banter, appears to be from a since-deleted video. Mammy Banter published a follow-up video in which she acts out an exchange between two people talking about the track, saying the song was supposed to be a parody mocking generational conflict.
While some millennials seem to have used to the sound earnestly and posted lip-sync videos, at least two appear to have deleted their videos. Others - presumably members of Gen Z - have recorded themselves reacting to the sound, sometimes while melodramatically crying.
##duet with @kariruffley who let millennials believe they created wifi.. don’t you have a buzz feed quiz to get to￼♬ Side part and skinny jeans - Mammy Banter
Gen Z's apparent distaste for millennials already caused a stir online during the summer of 2020 after a TikTok comments section dunking on them went viral. Mammy Banter's "Boys" parody is far from the only diss track that has spread on TikTok. One of the most popular was uploaded by the musician Sarah Hester Ross on February 11 but went viral on Twitter during the last days of February.
"Hey Gen Z you can suck it, you can't tell me what to wear / 'Cause I've been rocking this side part since you had Kermit on your underwear - so cute!" Ross sang in the video, which has more than 35,000 likes. Later, she posted a duet with @teenscientist, who had written an ironic millennial diss track in response.
That trend has also inspired a litany of parodies, such as one from TikTok creator @emboogie, who clarified in a later video that she was actually 17 years old and not a millennial.
##duet with @emboogie 17 going on 34 with children and a mug that says “only 90s kids would understand”♬ GenZ You Can Suck It - Sarah Hester Ross
Most recently, the TikTok user @cassiesmith607 posted a rap defending Eminem after reports emerged that Gen Z was trying to "cancel" him. The diss track went viral on both TikTok and Twitter and seemed to represent a watershed moment: Suddenly, people on Twitter were becoming aware of the diss tracks, and some millennials made moves to distance themselves from them.
—beans after dark after dark (@goodbeanaltalt) March 2, 2021
Some feel that the diss tracks represent a disproportional response
The thing about this conflict, as Rebecca Jennings wrote for Vox, is that while petty, it's not that deep. Generational conflict and mockery are baked into our culture, and as far as stereotypes go, it could be worse than skinny jeans and side parts - millennials have been subject to harsher judgment in the past. As Insider's Kate Taylor reported, millennials earned a reputation for "killing" products or industries as a result of their bleak economic reality vis-à-vis older generations.
Jennings noted social-media posts in which millennials seemed to take the style judgments with more gravitas than they were intended. The diss tracks, despite playing into the meme cycle of it all, have a similar effect, with some TikTokers expressing surprise at the vitriol.
Furthermore, it's based on a months-old meme about skinny jeans that has been circulating on TikTok and elsewhere online since at least July, as Ryan Broderick reported in his newsletter Garbage Day. While the supposed Gen Z animosity for skinny jeans, side parts, and the crying laughing emoji has been most pervasive online during February, the sentiment isn't new. Dire reactions - like the diss tracks, parody or not - have helped to blow the entire affair out of proportion and spawn further mockery.
WHY can’t we just be friends <3 ##fyp♬ GenZ You Can Suck It - Sarah Hester Ross
At this point, the entire thing has circled around to irony with people posting parodies of the diss tracks themselves.
—Ryan Ken has been in the Knowles family group chat (@Ryan_Ken_Acts) March 2, 2021
"You think you're younger than me? I was born in 1989 and I'm still the special baby," the actor and writer Ryan Ken said in a parody video of a white millennial woman making a Gen Z diss track. "You don't get to decide what's good, I get to decide what's good."
Ultimately, the debate over skinny jeans and side parts, as well as the conflict between millennials and Gen Z (which is being fought mostly on TikTok, Gen Z's home turf), amounts to very little. It's predicated on mostly low-stakes stereotypes, and as some TikTok users said in videos, the backlash feels somewhat disproportionate against teenagers and young people who are spending their formative years in a pandemic.
At one point or another, every generation stops being Young and Cool. It's just part of the game of growing older.
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