OK Calla, apparently there is a new TikTok trend that has not yet filtered through to Instagram, where geriatric millennials like me can “discover” it. Tell me about it.
Jo, I’m so glad you asked. To understand this meme, you need to know two very important things about TikTok. The first is that the good people of the clock app are absolutely mad about borzois, or Russian wolfhounds. You know, the lanky, wispy-haired dogs that look like they have just appeared on a misty bridge at midnight to ask you their riddles three.
A large part of this popularity is due to a borzoi named Esper, who sadly died last year. Esper was owned by Jacob Chattman, a US actor whose account is dedicated to the animals he calls hose goats. The hose goats, in turn, are dedicated to ruining his life by howling.
The second thing you need to know is that if a song exists, there will be a Muppet cover of it on TikTok. They often sink below the waves but occasionally the algorithm will drag one to the surface and whenever that happens, a meme is born.
You had me at “lanky, wispy-haired dogs”. So what do the memes look and sound like?
The essential feature of the borzoi is its extremely long nose. Just a lone pair of nostrils and then miles and miles of snout before you reach the eyes, which always convey the expression of an animal that has suffered a moral injury. They look like a stray sock with eyes on. So a few months ago, people started dueting videos of borzois with a googly-eyed sock puppet. Then people realised that if you draw two little dots on a HB pencil, that also looks like a borzoi.
Around Christmas time, a video of another dog that looks like a pencil with eyes was dueted by a pencil with eyes that looked like the dog, paired with the FKA twigs song Cellophane as sung by Miss Piggy.
And now I cannot escape it. Everything looks like a borzoi.
Surely not that many objects look like a long-faced European dog?
Hotel room taps. The pump dispenser on a bottle of moisturiser. Other dogs with slightly less long noses (one of the earliest memes featured a Silken windhound). Anteaters. A doorstop. A collection of taxidermy at Oxford Museum. A banana. Shelving brackets. A skinny slice of pizza. Whatever this thing is in the birthing ward with Jacob Chattman and his partner and new son (congrats btw). They are everywhere.
Oh my. I find this both very funny and weirdly … poignant? I want to adopt all these weird little triangular objects. How can a skinny slice of pizza make me feel so much?
It may be because sighthounds, with their short life spans, remind us of the ephemeral nature of life. Their soulful eyes, or two burnt patches on a skinny piece of pizza, tell us that every moment is to be treasured.
But I suspect the real reason is that FKA twigs is a very good songwriter, even when being covered by a Muppet.