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Google Books Ngram Viewer Searches refers to a photoshop trend on TikTok where users show a Google Books Ngram search for a modern term and look for a date far in the past where that term saw a spike in literary use. The video then transitioning to a series of photoshops showing historical figures in situations relating to the modern term. The trend began with a viral Twitter post made in July 2020, gaining moderate popularity on TikTok in August that year. In 2021, the trend saw a resurgence, with videos set to a version of the song "Air Max" by Rim'K.
On July 27th, 2020, Twitter user @PasEdward posted a screenshot showing the graph for usage of the French slang word "wesh" (fr. "what's up?") in French literature, with the graph demonstrating an unnatural spike in its use around 1800. In the post, @PasEdward attached a photosphopped image of Maximilien Robespierre in hypebeast attire. The post (shown below) went viral on Twitter.
On July 28th, 2020, Twitter users @30SecondsDamso and @Sitam37 posted the two earliest derivative memes, searching for Belgian rapper Damso's album "QALF" and French artist Arouf Gangsta, respectively. The tweets received over 100 retweets and 390 likes and 170 retweets and 1,200 likes in one year, respectively (shown below).
On July 30th, 2020, TikTok user @jbrown_08 posted the first known TikTok to utilize the format, searching for the phrase "send it," with the post gaining over 368,000 likes on the app in one year(show below, left).
In August 2021, the format achieved notable popularity on TikTok, with the videos utilizing a Slowed + Reverb version of Kanye West's Father Stretch My Hands. For example, on August 1st, 2020, TikToker phattboyyy posted a version in which he searched for the word "aimbot." The video received over 353,300 likes in one year. On August 5th, 2020, TikToker fayeet posted a clip in which he searched for the word "anjay." The TikTok (shown below, right) gained over 106,000 likes, being widely circulated online in the following days.
In 2020 and 2021, more viral versions of the meme were posted on TikTok. For example, on January 10th, 2021, TikTok user @arteche___ posted a version that received over 472,000 views and 39,800 likes in ten months (shown below, left). On April 12th, 2021, TikTok user @.lulu.lourdes posted a version in which she searched for the word "bruh,". The video gained over 4 million views and 1.2 million likes in six months (shown below, center).
October 2021 Resurgence
On October 10th, French TikToker @qouaa posted a video showing a Google Books Ngram Viewer search for "Fdp," a French acronym meaning "son of a bitch," (fils de pute) and a spike in use of the acronym around 1700. The video then transitions to an image of Louis XIV with drip saying "fdp." The video garnered over 3 million views in a week (shown below).
TikTokers began posting videos in the same style as @qouaa's over the course of October, searching various terms in Google Books Ngram Viewer then showing images relating to that term in the peak-search time period. On October 14th and 16th, TikToker @itsruss_k posted two videos following the trend, one showing the results for the term "Marvel" in the 1600s and one showing the term "Star Wars" in 1700, gaining over 4.9 million and 8.8 million views respectively in roughly a week (shown below, left and cemter).
The format maintained its popularity on TikTok in late October 2021, with multiple examples being reposted on Instagram and other social media.