Culture

We’re Confused And Enthralled By TikTok’s First Auteur, ‘AngelMamii7’

"Angelmamii7 could do 'Inglorious Basterds' but Tarantino couldn’t do “Darian we need chargers'."

TikTok user AngelMamii7

In a TikTok video with more than 250,000 likes, AngelMamii7 asks her son and partner “What do I look like, a bank???” in disbelief, before walking off shot. They’ve both just asked her to buy them both an iPhone 11 Pro.

Like most of AngelMamii’s videos, the 30-second vignette takes place in a store aisle. She stands in front of a display for the iPhone 11 Pro when her son runs over from another aisle, asking for the phone because his is “messed up”.

There’s a problem: she is about to get the iPhone 11 for herself, as she explains, gesturing towards the display as if a model on The Price Is Right. Why does her son need one?

The camera points from the son’s perspective, then switches to hers as the son responds. The cuts are rough and jarring, but the lines — always so affected, exaggerated, unnatural — are slow to start. His phone is too slow, and she agrees to buy him one, provided he doesn’t ask for another phone for 10 years.

He agrees, winking to the camera, saying “sure”, then AngelMamii’s partner asks if he can get one too. This pushes her over the edge. It pushes her viewers too: the top comment is “I honestly don’t understand what the point of this video is”, and most share the same sentiment.

Almost all of Angelmamii’s videos follow this same bizarre rhythm. Her most popular are set in a Target or Walmart, where she’ll be shopping with her family.

There will be some confusion — the milk will be hard-to-find, or there are no Halloween costumes her daughter wants — and either an argument will occur, or the family will make fun of each other. Another day, another visit to the store.

With 273 thousand plus followers, Angelmamii7 has found an audience, and it’s unclear on what level they consume her work.

Her iPhone video is captioned in the kind of language you see Facebook pages use to increase engagement, asking incredibly simplistic questions to encourage comments.”Who is going to buy the new iPhone 11?,” she asks.

It is both linked to and completely removed from the video’s content, in that their tones are so at odds they only seem tangentially linked, like an algorithm wrote it based off the video’s codewords. The incredulous comments are more common, but some viewers answer the question sincerely, but her video seems anything but sincere.

There’s a distinct style to Angelmamii’s videos. The dialogue is illogical and pace stilted, with laboured acting leading to a punchline that never comes. It is vaguely Pinteresque, but the threat of menace doesn’t come from the family itself: it glows from the products they argue over.

Angelmamii, whether aware of it or not, is an auteur: a director with a singular vision and voice, obsessed with particular locations and images, repeatedly using the same actors. The vacuousness of her shopping — how irrelevant the things they are buying seem — is reflected in the videos themselves, which are content without any content.

The videos fulfil both our new fate not to just buy, but to sell ourselves online. After all, Angelmamii’s not made of money.

‘It’s John’s Birthday. So Now You Can Put This Back, It’s Not Gatorade’s Birthday.’

Angelmamii, who according to her Facebook page is an aspiring model named KaiyLiah, makes videos that veer from confusing to completely illogical. In one, her son Ian asks if he can get Gatorade because he’s “thirsty”, and Angelmamii responds with anger because he had strayed off.

“This is not what we came here for!”, she says, grabbing it off him. “You know that. So why were you in the other aisle?… It’s John’s birthday. So now you can put this back, it’s not Gatorade’s birthday.”

Ian slumps off. Again, the caption asks for involvement, asking “Should I buy him the drink yes or no?” as if parenting was Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. These scenes are never followed up — as if a sitcom, we simply see them next in same-same-but-different situations. Arguments about chargers; conversations about milk; Angelmamii working out in Walmart for free or stealing a hat from her son.

‘Angelmamii7 could do Inglorious Basterds but Tarantino couldn’t do “Darian we need chargers”’

Over the past few weeks, Angelmamii’s videos have divided the Junkee office. One co-worker said they find them funny in a way that makes them feel sick after watching, and others just didn’t get it to the point where they wondered if their brain was broken.

Is it cringe-humour? Ironic? Or is it all accidental, a hyper online sensibility created by someone not in on the joke?

Angelmamii’s videos have a similar cadence to Casey Frey’s videos, where the casual viewer has no idea whether his loser-sleaze persona is real or ironic.

Part of the confusion is, no doubt, due to the sheer suburban-ness of it. Unlike Frey, Angelmamii isn’t the typical extremely online poster: she is a 30something mum with a broad Boston accent who wears leopard print leggings and slogan T-shirts from Target.

There’s also an inherent awkwardness to her videos that’s absent from Frey’s, which are tightly cut and edited. Angelmamii’s, on that other hand, are seemingly made on the fly, and her children begrudgingly act in them.

If she’s making fun of a type of person, it’s a person who looks exactly how meme culture would picture a white woman named KayLaih.

KayLaih lives for Walmart sales and treats Target like a restorative retreat, rather than a guilty pleasure or painful reminder of being pedestrian — middle class and middle American. Likewise, Angelmamii’s videos have no concern for appearances: the edits are utilitarian, a stark shift from Instagram’s carefully curated flat-lays and captions.

The aesthetic, then, isn’t seen as self-aware: how could someone of Angelmamii’s ilk know what she’s doing? But it’s incredibly patronising to assume she has no idea of how these videos land, and the fact she’s retweeting people calling her the successor to the French New Wave suggests otherwise.

Then again, we’re just watching videos a mother makes with her kids during their day-to-day lives: perhaps there’s an innocence to it which can’t be analysed or understood. If every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, maybe the same can be said for creating content; the fun is in working it out.