The newest account making waves on TikTok is a creator called @Marbl3H3ad, but who is he?
Marbl3H3ad is an anonymous art review account gaining traction for being anything but shy about sharing his opinions on other creator's artworks. Marbl3H3ad's formula is simple, his videos consist of him, with a filter of Michaelangelo's David statue over his face, being hyper critical of people's art, and his audience loves it.
In an exclusive interview with Marbl3H3ad, Issued Magazine was able to discuss with him his opinions and recent success.
During our interview, Marbl3h3ad went so far to simplify his success as stemming from his videos being "first class, grade A, prime hating". While there is some truth to that, he also went on to explain that the quality of the discourse offered in his videos is a main factor to why his fans take him seriously, explaining that "You can always tell if someone doesn't know what they're talking about".
Users have become aware of art TikTok becoming oriented towards watching an attractive person create rather than the art itself, and a lot of users have had enough. They want to appreciate art, not the artist, and Marbl3H3ad has become a voice for them to openly criticize artists whose focus has shifted from the art itself, to the art of making a viral video.
Marbl3H3ad explained, "The current state of sharing art on TikTok is abysmal. It takes on the characteristics of disingenuous; the downside of hustler culture."
Marbl3H3ad and his audience recognize a common problem in social media art, and it is the fact that the act of creation is more important than the final product. This would be fine if it was purposeful performance art, but instead it is just repetitive videos of people with closeup shots of them flailing their brushes on canvases followed by a 2 second clip of the final product. We have hit a point where TikTokers are over this formula, and if techniques are going to be a highlight of the video, then they are going to judge them.
Marlb3H3ad often criticizes TikTok artists for everything he can: too little technique, too much technique, using acrylic paint instead of oil paint, derivative work, work he considers bad, the way the artist filmed the video, lack of authenticity… the list can go on. There seems to be a philosophy Marlb3H3ad abides to, where if you are willing to put your art on the internet, then he should be able to judge and critique it.
While there is validity to the critiquing of some of the art and the processes of making the art videos, it might also have gone too far. There is a fine line between critique and being mean and sometimes that line gets crossed on TikTok. Critiquing is nothing new on the platform, TikToker @artedguru has been making this style of video far longer than Marbl3H3ad but has yet to face any controversy as he often speaks in a gentle and positive way.
Controversy arises when users on TikTok are quick to broadly combine all artists. Whether the artist is an experienced professional or someone sharing a fun hobby they are passionate about, some TikTokers have begun to judge these artists the same way.
When asked about the validity of offering critique to any artist on the app regardless of skill, Marbl3H3ad said "It's fair to critique anyone, but obviously you do it in different ways and for different reasons" adding that "Hobbyist critique usually centers around skill and concept". He also explained that "Professional artists who show up on TikTok are almost always lame hypocrites, so it is almost too easy to critique but it has to be done".
While there are ways to offer fair critique to anyone, there need to be a nuances approach and understanding of context. Unfortunately, in most Marbl3H3ad videos, it has been hard for viewers to see that nuance as he is extremely aggressive in the way he reviews work. That has caused a lot of the controversy for Marbl3H3ad, with many creators responding negatively to his videos. Some believe that although his videos have been harsh, they are necessary, while other creators see his videos as bullying and unfair.
Responding to being seen as a bully, Marbl3H3ad explained that if anything, he has to be more worried about getting bullied himself, than to worry about him or his fans bullying other creators. He went on to say, "Seriously anyone who says the B word obviously hasn't watched enough of the videos".
Other creators shared this sentiment confirming that it took a deep dive into the account to fully understand the type of content he was making. Users who were originally offput by the account decided they could understand the validity of his critiques once they saw his more niche content.
When you take a step back from the sardonic comments on the individual, you realize that Marbl3H3ad is actually mocking the culture of commodification and the consumerist landscape that surrounds the arts on social media. Unfortunately, Marbl3H3ad himself could not escape the manic, superficial nature of the TikTok algorithm, and as such, his hateful videos would get pushed to audiences much more than his thought-provoking ones. This led to the viewers thinking of him as a troll more than a person making legitimate criticisms, and thus he received enough backlash that before I could finish writing this article, he was banned from the platform.
Even with Marbl3H3ad's absence, what we are now seeing start to evolve on TikTok is a counterculture towards consumerism on social media. Comment sections have come to share Marbl3H3ads sentiment, wanting the platform to be about discussion and critique, instead of consumption. It took creators like Marbl3H3ad critiquing in an aggressive and passionate way to make these concerns heard and it will be interesting to watch this new attitude towards TikTok art take shape beyond what Marbl3H3ad started.