HomeTechnologyWhy does Prison-Life content on TikTok feel so familiar?

Why does Prison-Life content on TikTok feel so familiar?


Others on the platform post similar videos. One demonstrates how to make a Prison Potato Trunk, which is like a giant tamale; another prepares a Prison Wrap, which is similar. There are even numerous cooking videos made by people who are still incarcerated: dishes cooked using methods that may or may not be legal in prison, the process recorded on phones that probably aren’t. (You may see clips that appear to show people frying patties in a tin can, cooking eggs in a plastic bag, or grilling wraps on a metal bunk.) The videos tend to be upbeat and often tinged with nostalgia. Marci Marie, for example, says that Cookie Rolls were a special gift, given when someone had something to celebrate.

The kitchen is but a subset of TikTok content created by formerly (and currently) incarcerated people. Some spend their time looking into the camera and earnestly educating viewers about prison life, telling stories and answering questions. Marci Marie has responded to many, including “Is it safe to make friends in prison?” (yes), and she responded to a message about ironing clothes (soak in water, press with a mug or hot pot lid, dry under the bed). Others describe the day of her release or how parties were celebrated or the best form of burpees. The more you explore prison life content on TikTok, the more it seems to mirror all of the popular genres on the platform (cooking, life tips, boring dance, workout tips) until the inside life stops seeming so different from the inside life. real. abroad.

United States does not have paucity of narratives about prison life, ranging from centuries-old memoirs and novels to recent movies and television. But in recent decades, most of these representations have focused on the most shocking aspects of higher security prisons. Reality shows and documentaries—National Geographic’s “Lockdown,” MSNBC’s “Lockup,” A&E’s “Behind Bars,” Netflix’s “I Am a Killer”—focus often or exclusively on the worst and most dangerous facilities, highlighting escapes, riots and intense conflicts. TV dramas like “Oz” and “Prison Break” have done the same. America’s incarcerated population grew in the 1980s and 1990s, but it wasn’t until the arrival of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” in 2013 that television had a more extensive depiction of daily life in a US prison. minimum security.

This focus on extreme conditions surely distorts our perception of prison life. We are shown hostile, strange and degraded environments (“A different world” with “its own rules”, as the introduction to an episode of “Behind Bars” says) full of violent and dangerous people (“murderers, thieves and rapists “, according to the introduction to an episode of “Lockdown”). These terrifying conditions are undoubtedly real, both in documented prisons and others. But when it comes to the system as a whole and the life within it, it is possible not entirely representative The United States incarcerates people at a shockingly high rate, more, by most estimates, than any other nation on the planet Most of the 1.2 million people in our prisons are serving longer sentences short stays in lower-security facilities, often for non-violent offenses.Their daily experiences, even the grim ones, tend to go unnoticed in prison dramas, which gloss over the routine of incarceration: costly and glitchy video calls; inedible food; the painful hours in solitary confinement, through a whirlwind of murder plots, escape plans, and sexual violence.



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