LOS ANGELES – Annie Korzen is a shrewd F-bomb dropper on her TikTok channel, which in less than four months has claimed more than 223,000 followers and 2.2 million likes.
The 82-year-old professional storyteller and television actress favors colorful language as much as colorful clothes, accessories, artwork, furniture and friends. Her personal flair and bent against the grain help explain her popularity on a social media platform that advocates for dancing babies and fashion tutorials, but her secret weapon, she says, is her 30-year-old best friend. , Mackenzie Morrison, who is a producer, editor and music supervisor for her lapidary videos.
Their Friendship is a TikTok version of the HBO comedy âHacks,â where a young writer helps an aging actress brush up on her act while regaining her authenticity in the era of the meta-climax.
“We were watching him while we were on the phone together. We were obsessed,” Morrison said as Korzen laughed beside her.
The two sit side by side on Korzen’s back porch in the sprawling La Brea Park complex along the Miracle Mile, discussing their TikTok strategy: what works, what doesn’t, and why.
The “why” part remains the most confusing for Korzen. His videos aren’t meant to be comedic, but they often have comedic undertones. They are essentially short stories enriched with a subtle message that generally inspires or uplifts. Korzen fans especially appreciate Korzen’s knack for hanging out. She can take a subject – Macy’s, for example, or royal family fashion – and shrink it down to size with ruthless efficiency.
Korzen doesn’t understand why a video about her postpartum depression, which she says resonates with people, has not been successful. TikTok, she says, is a mystery to her. Which makes sense, she adds, as she can barely take a selfie or text.
When looking for a way to expand her audience, she thought maybe she should give Instagram a try, but Morrison immediately put an end to the idea.
âFor me, Instagram doesn’t exist anymore,â says Morrison, who is a writer and sells vintage fashion online. “When I see people looking at Instagram it shocks me, I don’t know how this app still works. It’s archaic and depressing.”
TikTok, Morrison told Korzen, is a much more positive space – with less negativity and fewer trolls. Korzen’s first reaction: No way.
“I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ I knew enough about TikTok because my 7 year old grandson is one of them, âKorzen explains.â I knew they were sexy young girls doing dance steps or showing you how to put on makeup. Why would anyone want to see me? “
It turns out that the reasons are many and varied. Scan the comments on Korzen’s videos and you’ll see a lot of praise. A sample :
“I just fell madly in love with you!”
âEveryone needs you in their life.
“Look, I’m almost 40, but if you’re looking to adopt I’m available.”
“She is the replacement for Fran Lebowitz that we all need.”
“You are my spirit animal.”
Many commentators call Korzen beautiful, and she says it makes her want to cry.
âThis is not a message that I have received in my life. Never,â Korzen said. “If a casting was going on today and they wanted an ‘attractive older woman,’ I guarantee you, because I know the business, I wouldn’t be seen for that.”
“But Annie, you are so beautiful,” Morrison says as Korzen waves a dismissive hand.
âI’m not the Hollywood idea of ââattraction, but it’s something I’ve lived my entire professional life,â she continues. âAnd the idea that people see the beauty in me is amazing to me. It gives me hope that maybe the young people of today – maybe their perception becomes a little more open and tolerant. “
The overall nature of TikTok has dramatically changed Korzen’s audience. As an actress, she appeared in “Seinfeld”, “Why Women Kill” and “PEN15”. She presented a five-month one-woman show at the Santa Monica Jewish story company, The Braid. She considers complaining about an Olympic sport and is a shredded champion of unpopular views. She hates Disneyland and has a particular antipathy to Frank Capra’s Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Prior to TikTok, Korzen believed he knew his fan base: “college-educated middle-aged or older people, mostly women, mostly Jews.” On TikTok, its followers represent all ages and a variety of races and ethnicities. At Braid, she was happy if she sold all 80 seats in the theater, but on TikTok, she feels bad if a video has less than 10,000 views.
Because so many people are watching and the age of social media is fraught with misunderstandings online, Morrison sometimes pushes Korzen away from sensitive topics.
âI’m just trying to make sure we don’t get canceled because people are really sensitive now,â she says.
Korzen doesn’t hesitate to say what she thinks and although she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body, she does traffic in humor, which gets its oxygen from making fun of a thing or another. Morrison does his best to make sure the jokes in question don’t unintentionally offend.
One of Korzen’s videos shows her wearing Zulu jewelry, which she compares to wearing art. “Art is not Louis Vuitton, art is not a stupid $ 100,000 Birkin bag. It is not art. Burberry. Is there anything uglier? than Burberry? A brown and beige plaid from England. “
“She brought all of England’s culture to life in less than five seconds, lmaoooooo, PREACH,” applauded one commentator.
Some, however, berated Korzen for cultural appropriation. Korzen was encouraged by a number of supporting comments from people who identified as Zulu and thanked her for appreciating their culture.
Korzen addresses issues of race and perception in a video about her grandson, who is black. She says that when they walk down the street together, some people look at them as if they weren’t together. On the contrary, she says, they have everything in common, from music to humor. They are, she said with tears in her eyes, an alliance made in heaven.
Sex, however, is prohibited on TikTok. Korzen found out after a video featuring a story about her and her husband’s sex life had the sound removed. (Korzen’s husband Benni Korzen co-produced the 1987 Danish film “Babette’s Feast”, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.)
âIt was very nice. The video is online, but the sound is cut off,â says Morrison. âI think sex is a weird thing on TikTok.â That’s why people use âseggsâ when they talk about sex, or they say so. You can’t really say ‘Sex’. “
“We put the one on the vagina, didn’t we?” Korzen asks.
âWe did. I think you can say ‘vagina’,â Morrison said. “Sometimes things are reported, sometimes not.”
Korzen learns as he goes. She doesn’t want to be a social media star or influencer, but she hopes the fun she and Morrison have on TikTok will lead to other opportunities.
“My real fantasy?” she asks.
“I would love to do what Andy Rooney did in ’60 Minutes’. I want to be on a TV show once a week for five minutes just to complain – or inspire. I hope to inspire.”
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