TW: Intimate partner violence
A TikTok user has gone viral for all the wrong reasons by uploading a video in which she appears to be slapping her boyfriend.
The account belongs to a user named Beth Herndon. While she only has 2,479 followers, the video in question now has more than 3 million views – and the feedback is not good.
The clip shows the boyfriend appearing to shuffle a deck of playing cards. She can be heard saying:
Hey guys! Today we're going be playing Slap Jack. This is my boyfriend Jack...
She then proceeds to – seemingly out of the blue – slap him across the face and laugh into the camera.
The caption for the video states: "My boyfriend left me for this please make this go viral..."
People were not impressed.
The video has the comments disabled, however followers have been commenting on other videos to express their concerns about the nature of the content.
Many people found the whole thing quite disturbing.
User @bigmanrigs commented: "Domestic abuse isn't cute or funny." This was echoed by @black_lives_matter_31, who wrote "You really think slapping yo boyfriend is funny don't you."
A number of users suggested the slap wasn't real, claiming they'd slowed the video down and seen her hand didn't actually make contact with his face.
Herndon went on to make a follow-up video in response to one such comment, saying:
Oh my gosh, thank you tortellinnitto! It's not real! I love my boyfriend so much!
At this point her boyfriend appears behind her and she pretends to slap him again, then laughs and says "just kidding, come here!" and kisses him.
This video also has the comments disabled, but users again left comments elsewhere.
Many made the point that whether the slap was real or fake, the implication that it was funny to slap her boyfriend is problematic.
User @bayleybug111 said: "Even if you didn't actually hit him it's weird to pretend like that." And @ricemilkman agreed, saying: "It doesn't matter if it was real or not, abuse is not something to joke about."
Hendon then uploaded a third video, entitled "A tribute to @ryan.dan5 because apparently im abusive". The short clip is set to a James Blake cover of 'Godspeed' by Frank Ocean, and contains six shots of them together, one of which is the slap in question.
Perhaps it goes without saying that the comments are also switched off.
Herndon seems to be continuing to find the whole saga amusing, because her bio now reads "The girl who didn't actually slap her boyfriend," and features her Venmo username, presumably for viewers to send her money.
Jokes about abusive relationships and intimate partner violence have come under fire before.
Just last year UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox faced backlash after trying to dismiss the validity of a political question, saying it was the equivalent of being asked "when did you stop beating your wife?"
During the fifth Democratic primary debate in November last year, Joe Biden made a bizarre remark when talking about tackling domestic violence, making punching gestures and saying:
"So we have to just change the culture, period, and keep punching at it and punching at it. No, I really mean it."
The absurd use of what can only be construed as an attempt at a pun did not go down well at all.
Brands have also sparked backlash for making light of such a serious issue.
In 2018, Rihanna slammed Snapchat for a horrifying ad which featured a poll asking users whether they would rather "slap Rihanna" or "punch Chris Brown".
The singer said: "This isn't about my personal feelings ... but all the women, children and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially ones who haven't made it out yet... you let us down! Shame on you."
Perhaps TikTok users should give her statement a read.