Last week, actress and comedian Shea Depmore started getting tagged in all sorts of videos about the Million MAGA March that was taking place in D.C. over the weekend. Depmore is known for doing political comedy on TikTok, and she was asked by fellow users to help spread the word about staying away from the far-right rally because of the potential danger to BIPOC from white supremacists participating.
The idea of simply telling her followers to not engage, however, didn't sit right with Depmore. "I didn't want to tell people not to counter-protest. It's important to oppose the message that people like the Proud Boys are spreading," she tells Refinery29. "I just wanted to encourage them to counter that hate in a safe way." So, she decided to figure out the best way to do what so many others have done in 2020 and use the internet as a place of protest. That's when she thought up the idea of Pancake Bitchez presents Million MAPA Brunch.
On Wednesday, November 11, Depmore dropped a video on TikTok, urging her followers to "Make America Pancakes Again." The idea for the counterprotest was to have folks share photos of pancakes they whipped up or even just stock photos of pancakes along with the hashtag #MillionMAGAMarch. In doing this, counter-protesters could flood the hashtag, making it unusable for those attending the actual Million MAGA March.
When asked why she chose to focus on pancakes for the demonstration, Depmore says, "I wish I had a deeper meaning for you." While the internet theorized that the idea came because so many states recently "flipped" to achieve a Biden victory, she says it wasn't actually that deep. "I wish I was that thoughtful. I just knew I wanted to give people something else to do instead of attending the protest. I thought that something should fit nicely into either a Proud Boys pun or the acronym MAGA. I spent forever trying to come up with something I liked to replace the G, but Make America Grits Again wasn't really doing it for me," she explains. "I don't know how I came up with pancakes, but the idea tickled me for some reason, and I thought we could be the 'Pancake Bitchez' instead of the 'Proud Boys.' Plus, it was a daytime march, so people could stay home and eat brunch instead of attending. That's about it."
To anyone who isn't extremely online, this may seem like a totally random call to action, but many TikTokers — including Depmore — have long been using the app and other social media platforms for these types of demonstrations. "I do my best to make funny videos about serious topics like this so people will receive the message and have the stamina to stay politically engaged," she says. "I came up with this the same way I come up with the rest of my videos: I try to find the humor or just the room to insert something silly. It just so happened that that silly thing turned into a proper counter-protest people actually were excited to take part in."
The Million MAPA Brunch did eventually take off, as Depmore mentioned, but she wasn't totally sure it would. "The original video did fairly well on my TikTok, but it was by no means my best performing video. It actually kind of scared me because it was just successful enough that people were excited by the idea and actually expecting something to happen, but not successful enough, I thought, to take over an entire hashtag."
But, Depmore had some help in getting her idea some traction. The actress called upon K-pop stans, a fan group that, in recent months, has proven to be extremely powerful in these types of online demonstrations. Never forget that K-Pop stans were responsible for tricking Trump and his team into expecting a huge turnout to his June rally in Tulsa and crashing the Dallas Police Department's iWatch app by flooding it with fancams. According to Depmore, when she said "someone inform the K-pop stans" at the end of her initial video, it was a "joking-not-joking joke." She explains, "TikTok knows they are the people who get stuff like this done, [but] I didn't think we'd actually reach them."
As usual, though, these stans came through. In a follow-up video, Depmore said, "Summon the K-pop stans and they shall come." She even added a suggested time for when to officially kickoff the Million MAPA Brunch but said she would defer to the stans since they really seem to be the experts in this kind of thing.
"I woke up on Friday morning thinking I was going to have to make a ton of videos to promote it just so we'd get some pancakes on #MillionMAGAMarch and people wouldn't be disappointed. I had no idea the K-pop stans had already taken over," she shares. "Almost immediately they were tagging each other in the comment section." From there, the pancake content came spilling out and began trending across social media platforms.
After this weekend's events, Depmore has a lot of love for the K-pop stan community. "I was so overwhelmed and overjoyed that they enjoyed the idea," she says. "I wasn't prepared for how successful they would be at executing it, though I really should have known. They are magical."