RIP Vine, A Haven for Black Humor and Creativity

Twitter announced last week that it’s pulling the plug on Vine, the six-second video app that has generated billions of loops and laughs since its introduction back in 2013. While Twitter says that videos already uploaded to Vine will remain available for viewing, creators and fans are mourning the loss of a particularly potent platform, especially in the black community.

“Black creators, who remain underrepresented in the entertainment industry, used the platform to show each other, and the world, just how many forms black creativity and black excellence could assume,” writes Lilly Workneh for the Huffington Post. “Through humor and joy, Vine allowed users to redefine blackness on their own terms and through their own reflections; it allowed them to show off sides of the black experience that don’t usually make it to air on national TV.”

Some of pop culture’s most pervasive memes, from phrases like “on fleek” to dances like the Running Man Challenge, got their start with a simple six-second Vine that then spread through the Internet. Estimates suggest that 27 million pieces of online content are shared by users every day, but with the death of Vine, creators in this unique medium will have to turn to other platforms to showcase their talents.

But some of Vine’s best moments and biggest stars, as Jazmine Hughes argues in the New York Times, “are a particular product of black culture — on the surface, they’re funny to anyone lucky enough to bear witness, but there’s a secondary layer that’s meant for black people, predicated on our shared culture, experiences, and understandings.”

Twitter gave no public reason for ditching the platform it acquired back in 2014, but many believe the company was finding it difficult to monetize from Vine. For now, Vine stars like King Bach, Lele Pons, and Alphacat will have to spread their tendrils elsewhere.

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