President Trump’s first campaign rally has received backlash from the very beginning of his announcement. Initially, the rally was scheduled for Juneteenth, the holiday which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. Issues came up even further as this year is the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, in which hundreds of Black people were murdered by a white mob, destroying and burning down what was known as a prosperous black community..
Due to the combination of these two events, in addition to the Black Lives Matter movement being a prominent force in society at the current moment, people were outraged and frankly horrified by Trump’s announcement to have the rally that day. While the rally was rescheduled to June 20th instead, people were still very much up in arms about the previous actions, as well as the continuing threat of contracting coronavirus. Trump’s campaign promised that there would be huge crowds in Tulsa, with Brad Parscale, chairman of Trump’s re-election campaign, announcing that there had been more than a million ticket requests; in the end, only 6,200 people showed up. This was due to Gen Z’s, Tik Tok users, and K-pop fans.
Users on the popular app as well as many K-pop, or Korean pop music, fans have taken full responsibility for requesting thousands of tickets. On June 11th, the campaign on Twitter, Trump’s favorite form of communication, that registration for free tickets could be done via phone. Initially, K-pop fan accounts started spreading the information to register, suggesting that they sign-up, but do not show up to the event.
The day after the announcement, many Tik Tokers began making videos highlighting the same message: Register for his rally, but leave the place empty. MaryJo Laupp, a 51-year old grandmother from Iowa, is just one person who has been posting videos of such content to Tik Tok stating, “I recommend that all of those of us that want to go see this 19,000-seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty, go reserve tickets now and leave him standing there alone on stage.” Many Tik Tok creators followed suit and signed up for the event, and it seemingly worked.
According to the Tulsa Fire Marshal’s Office, fewer than 6,200 people showed up. There were so many expected to show up that initially there was a planned outdoor spill over event as well, which was canceled due to the lack of arrivals. Brad Parscale also mentioned that the sign-ups were meant to contact future supporters for donations and possible ads, claiming that the lack of numbers were also caused by the “fake news media” scaring people away by fear of catching the Coronavirus.
This is not to claim that they are not the only reason why Trump’s campaign a rally turned sour in numbers, as there are definitely a multitude of reasons why the turnout was so low. However, Tik Tokers and K-pop fans are catching some of the most attention because they are, mostly, a part of the younger generation. Generation Z has been extremely vocal about their views and beliefs throughout their whole existence, whether it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter, Climate Change, or any sort of issue at hand.
The significance of this lies in the fact that not only are these younger people speaking out about injustice, but they have the chance to vote in this election. Many of these people that requested tickets are now able to vote in the next election. By using Tik Tok as a gateway to the rest of the world, they can get their voices heard and they plan on making a change. This is not simply a ‘prank’ pulled by some teenagers, this is a protest. They are not just a voice, but they are a movement.