Imagine, if you will, you are streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. You’ve decided to cut the iconic fluffy blue hair you’ve had for over a decade into a low taper fade, a hairstyle that gradually gets shorter as you move down the head. Now, to change such an integral part of your brand, one that’s been featured in marketing all across the world and on your signature “Fortnite” skin, you might want to think long and hard about the decision.
Or, you can do it on a whim because there’s a viral TikTok clip going around. This weekend, Blevins chose to do just that.
On Jan. 5, hyperpop musician EricDoa was freestyle singing on his Twitch channel, letting whatever weirdness he could come up with flop out of his mouth. In between belting out existential choruses about his singing career, life, and Twitch chat, he asked a simple question: “Imagine if Ninja got a low taper fade?”
That catchy little sound would remain buried in the pile of other vocal stims from that stream until this weekend when a clip account dedicated to Doa would post the sound, gaining over 6 million views in just a few days.
There’s something oddly melodic and weird about the tune, which quickly spread like wildfire throughout the app. From emo edits to “Fortnite” tributes, TikTok’s algorithm fed up Ninja low taper fade content to millions of confused but engaged internet denizens.
@sour_rupert Imagine if ninja got a low taper fade 💈🤣🤣🤣 #ninja #fortnite #fyp #ninjafortnite #fortniteninjaskin #foryou #rupert_the_frotnite_king #viral #lowtaperfade ♬ original sound – Sour Rupert
Even the Brooklyn Nets got in on the sound, creating truly one of the most cursed videos of 2024 and gaining over 1.2 million views. Watch at your own discretion.
Like most memes that gain instant popularity, similar to that picture of Kevin James from 2023 or Ra Ra Rasputin, it’s impossible to find a reason why this Ninja low taper fade meme gained so much traction without trying to ruin the joke. It’s best to just accept it for what it is, which Blevins took in stride.
While streaming on Jan. 13, Blevins asked his audience if he should get a low taper fade, which they seemed ecstatic about. His chat had been flooded with the haircut, and Blevins is a smart businessman. He knows that capitalizing on a viral trend to build momentum is the best way to stay relevant: It’s how he managed to turn that original wave of “Fortnite” Ninja popularity in 2018 into a career that still goes viral half a decade later.
So later that day, Blevins posted his low taper fade, completing the prophecy. The meme reached its weirdest point when Blevins posted his haircut on the NFL TikTok account during the hotly anticipated game between the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams.
So Ninja now has a new haircut, and the internet has a meme to mess around with. The streamer played it smart, playing along with the joke and adding to its lore, allowing it to grow to even larger numbers. If he had dismissed it or ignored it, the fade may have just ended up as a way to mock or tease him. When dealing with viral ridiculousness, it’s always better to embrace the chaos.