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Vrinda Jagota

Sofia Coppola Is Soundtracking Sadness Online

Sofia Coppola decorates tales of female yearning and melancholy in lace, sugar, and decadence. Her dreamy aesthetic and ironic depictions of feminine frivolity have inspired a new generation of women who are interested in romanticizing their loneliness online, whether paying homage to messy teen girl bedrooms or developing the #coquette personal brand.

There’s currently a sound trending on TikTok (170.7K posts since it was first used in October 2022) in which users reveal unsavory realizations they’ve made about former friends and partners who mistreated them. The accompanying sound for these videos mashes up the audio from Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette with the song “Playground Love” by Air, which was on the soundtrack for The Virgin Suicides, her directorial debut. The aesthetic and emotional worlds Coppola creates in these films—both depicting young women living seemingly charmed lives that are nonetheless fated for tragedy—are so consistent that the two references compound on one another seamlessly to establish a heightened sense of foreboding and despair. The audio serves as a fitting template specifically for a trend about betrayal and more broadly as inspiration for Gen Z users who are prone to aestheticizing and accentuating their sadness online.

This trend gained momentum after the March 13 re-release of The Virgin Suicides, and may have also been bolstered by a viral TikTok made by Coppola’s daughter in late March. There is a general, sustained interest in Coppola’s work: Numerous other musicians have been brought into her cinematic universe via short-form videos in the past. Fan edits of The Virgin Suicides are often paired with Lana Del Rey songs, which fits tonally, as she has been singing about female melancholy and ennui for years and was even an inspiration to a previous generation of sad girls online. Last year, the same “Let them eat cake” audio that’s currently trending was used with “Deceptacon” by Le Tigre in 1.8K videos that copied Marie Antoinette’s bright aesthetic. Audio from The Virgin Suicides has also been overlayed on “Silver Soul” by Beach House in 6.6K videos that dissect the male gaze in cinema.

For the women in Sofia Coppola’s films, the world is on fire and no one notices, so wearing a pink linen dress and eating a cream puff is a temporary reprieve. Teen girls are used to their interests being derided as shallow and their pain being overlooked entirely, and in that context Coppola’s work becomes a glimmering, necessary moment of recognition.

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