TikTok’s Favorite Nickname ‘Pookie’ Is Rooted in Rich Cultural History| Trending Viral hub

Campbell and Jett Puckett They are a textbook viral couple on social media. They’re rich, white, and post typical couples content: dinners out, lavish trips, and evidence of their love for each other everywhere. Tik Tok. But one term of endearment sets this Georgia couple apart from the rest: Pookie.

in a video which has now been viewed over 9.1 million times and parodied by Zach Bryan, Meghan Trainor and ESPN Sports, the couple shows off their “Friday night date” outfits. In his droning Southern drawl, Jett narrates, “Taking Pookie somewhere new tonight with three other couples and Pookie looks absolutely amazing.” His use of the term and clear affection for his wife took off online like wildfire.

It’s not just Jett referring to Campbell as Pookie, now fans of the couple are flooding the comments calling her Pookie too. Pookie’s story is extensive; she spreads Garfield comic pagesgrandmas from all over the south and now the comments section of the average hot guy on TikTok.

“When we see this atomized content on TikTok, we don’t inhabit the social world that those characters or those people inhabit. We don’t know about Campbell and her husband, we don’t know anything about their relationship,” Nicole Holliday, associate professor at the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Sciences at Pomona College.

Terms of endearment like Pookie act as a shortcut to explain the nature of someone’s relationship, and viewers love to feel close to the creators they watch.

“When we use terms of endearment (like Pookie), they indicate social closeness. You might say, ‘Campbell’s outfit looks great.’ Or ‘my wife’s outfit looks great.’ But when you say ‘Pookie’s outfit,’ the viewer “She gets the feeling that they have a close relationship and that he really loves her because he calls her that in public,” Holliday added.

As with anyone cursed by virality, viewers quickly dug into his past. One TikToks uploaded a screen recording of Jett’s LinkedIn profile to TikTok, focusing on his Ivy League education and his “amazing brain.” He New York Times reported that someone on Reddit resurfaced a photo of Campbell, who attended Ole Miss, posing with a Confederate flag and another of her in a vintage ball gown in what users speculate is a costume for a plantation-themed event.

Campbell apologized on her Instagram Story writing, “Some old photos of me resurfaced recently. At the time… I was 20 years old. I didn’t fully understand the impact of my actions like I do now.” She apologized “for the harm this may have caused to some and took full responsibility.”

Despite their rapid fall from grace, Campbell and Jett’s impact on the Internet lexicon is undeniable: they brought Pookie into the mainstream.

According Know your memePookie began appearing on TikTok in the early 2020s. Meme Dictionary noted that fans of @JayRScotty — the creator behind the viral “I’ve Never Seen Two Best Friends” video — often calls him Pookie in his comments section.

Another tiktoker, @444Pray, defended the term last year. You may know him as the creator of the sounds “It’s the way you act” and “guilty, guilty, guilty.” His bio says: “Great Pookie of Pookie Nation.” in a video with over 30.2 million views and 4 million likes, asks: “Am I your Roman Empire, Pookie?” while he makes his characteristic hand gestures.

Black creators and other communities of color have long used the phrase “It’s okay, Pookie” in jest. However, when two white southerners like Jett and Campbell use the term, it is no longer seen as a joke or a meme, but as an endearing reflection of love.

“Pookie” is far from a new phenomenon. According to Holliday, people in black and non-black communities in the South have been using the term at least since the 1930s.

As a word or phrase like Pookie gains popularity online, it is often rebranded as Generation Z or Internet slang. But the culture’s insistence that these terms are Gen Z innovations obscures their real origins, which are almost always rooted in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and simply discovered by white audiences online. The incorporation of this language into universal vocabularies is seen by many as a form of digital appropriation.

Pookie is unique because it has always existed across racial and ethnic lines. It is common for AAVE and Southern White varieties to overlap in the geographic area where the term originates, Holliday explained.

“If it was a rural term from the South during the Great Migration, African Americans would have taken it with them,” said Paul Reed, an assistant professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders at the University of Alabama who specializes in grammatical variations in English. and Appalachians of southern America. English, he told Mashable. Reed posits that Pookie has always existed in rural southern communities, such as the traditional white rural South, as well as in urban African-American communities (two groups that do not always receive the media coverage that leads to widespread exposure) after diasporic expansion. of African Americans. from the rural south to urban areas in the 20th century.

“TikTok spreads lexical items or particular words that are not geographically or socially widely known and that people consider useful, interesting or cute terms,” ​​said Holliday, who thinks Jett’s use of the term is “authentic.” because he’s southern.

However, there are some racially specific uses of the term. In the 1980s, during the crack epidemic, Pookie referred to both a crack pipe and a crack user. “It had a completely different meaning in crack-ravaged urban centers,” Holliday said. She pointed to Chris Rock’s portrayal of a character named Pookie who becomes addicted to crack cocaine in the 1991 film. Jack’s New Town as an example.

There are also caricatures of Pookie and Ray Ray used by black comedians in the United States. According to the Houston ChroniclePookie is a popular character who ranges from a wayward cousin to an ordinary young man. During former President Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns, he invoked Pookie and Ray Ray to appeal to black voters. in a speech Before the 2008 South Carolina primary, before a largely black audience, he said, “I need you to grab Cousin Pookie to vote. I need you to grab Ray Ray to vote.”

Beyond racial and gender differences, Pookie is a nickname within a tight-knit community. Reed compares the term to Bubba, a term of endearment for men because both can have that effect. “(Pookie) is a (term) that can become the way people refer to you. I know people in my hometown that if you met them you would call them Pookie because that’s what everyone called them,” Reed told Mashable , referring to the upper northeast. Tennessee, where the state meets Kentucky and Virginia. Pookie is used similarly throughout the traditional, rural, white, and broader South.

But Bubba is also shorthand for a caricature or type of character and can lean pejoratively, while Reed sees Pookie as “neutral to endearing.”

Holliday explained that in internet spaces nouns like GOAT (greatest of all time) are similarly used in place of the name of someone’s government. She says it’s particularly common in online forums, such as the use of “DH” (Dear Husband) in wedding planning spaces.

As Pookie becomes popular, its use changes. In fandom spaces, it’s not uncommon for someone to say that their favorite “is Pookie,” which may seem perfectly normal to those unfamiliar with it, but is not how it was intended to be used. Pookie is a vocative case, which is what you call someone. So saying that someone “is Pookie” is the same as saying that someone “is Honey” or “is Sweetie.” Pookie is now used as a third-person reference when it was originally used in the second person, changing its meaning to adapt to an ever-changing Internet lexicon.

“We have all these people who didn’t know Pookie before and they’re imitating (Jett), so now the word is being used in other contexts. That’s one way the language changes,” Holliday said.

As “Pookie” continues to transform and spread on TikTok, it serves as a prime example of the platform’s ability to appropriate and popularize regional expressions, distilling their complex meanings into something more acceptable for online consumption. It’s only a matter of time before you find your next language goal.

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