WALPOLE, N.H. — Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns recently released his latest ambitious historical documentary, a 4,000-part series on the Civil War available in 30 second increments on TikTok.
“People today only soak in their information in short, concentrated bursts, and I needed to adapt to the times,” Burns explained. “I wanted to tell the full, in-depth story of the brutality and the familial betrayals of the Civil War, but even I have to admit that slow, creeping pans over stock footage with a velvety narration is boring as all hell. Now, if you’re bored during one of the 4,000 TikToks, you can always just glance at the videos of kinetic sand or Subway Surfers gameplay happening below it in tandem.”
The unorthodox documentary has already gone viral thanks to the TikTok algorithm, with users enjoying the educational series among their usual content.
“Usually I don’t have the attention span to sit down and watch one hour-long episode of a documentary, but 250 TikToks totaling three hours is much more digestible for one sitting,” said TikTok user Kelsey Bravely. “My algorithm is perfectly curated so I’ll get a funny dance between a mom and a daughter, then an obscure arts and crafts tip, then a beautiful, harrowing letter from the 1800s sent by a Union soldier to his betrothed back home. I also love to see people duet the Civil War Tiktoks, incorporating rousing speeches from Confederate generals into their experiences with their ex-boyfriend or a common situation at work.”
At press time, Burns’ representatives confirmed that the documentarian is preparing to start his next project, a comprehensive history of jazz music in a lengthy, 40,000 tweet thread on Twitter.