A video posted on the popular TikTok platform showing four people dressed in nurse’s uniforms carrying a mannequin in a body bag labelled COVID – 19 drew sharp criticism from social media users. The four people are dancing as they carry the lifeless body down a hospital corridor.
The video appeared to be a variation of a popular meme originating in the African nation of Ghana, reported the DailyMail.com. In that meme a group of nattily dressed pallbearers carry a coffin while dancing. The meme was inspired by an actual company in Ghana whose pallbearers perform dancing and acrobatic maneuvers while carrying a coffin during the funeral procession.
TheGuardian.com reported that the Nana Otafrija pallbearers, who came to international notice when they appeared in a BBC documentary three years ago, are using their newfound fame to warn against the dangers of the COVID – 19 pandemic.
In an effort to promote social distancing the Nana Otafrija group has a new slogan, “Stay at home or dance with us.” Their primary message is that funerals need not be the somber and sad affairs they have so often been. Instead, funerals can be a time to celebrate the life of the deceased and lessen the strain and stress on the surviving family and friends.
Benjamin Aidoo of Accra has worked as a pallbearer since 2003 when he was still in high school. His experiences with grieving loved ones led him to develop his group’s variation on the typical funeral procession.
Condemnation of the TikTok video was strong and nearly universal. Many social media users were outraged at the apparent disregard shown for the lives of those lost during the current pandemic. There were also efforts to defend the video as being a more subtle message of medical workers defeating the coronavirus and carrying away its corpse. Most commenters failed to be swayed by these interpretations.
Many health care workers have taken to posting TikTok videos to amuse themselves and relieve the constant stress of dealing with the pandemic. The U.S. Sun reported a video of a dancing nurse in Springfield, Mo. getting millions of views. Social media users have questioned the wisdom of posting such videos on public platforms where they are likely to be seen by millions of viewers who may not understand the context in which they were made.
The video originated in San Juan, Puerto Rico, although the identities of the hospital and the nurses have not been determined. In the wake of the criticism directed at the video, it has been deleted from TikTok and the account used to upload it has been deleted.