If it wasn’t already clear that the anti-vaccination/anti-masking/pro-COVID contingent of the Trumpian right has great difficulty distinguishing reality from fiction, their latest trending social-media hashtag is its penultimate manifestation: #pureblood. Not only are they unable to distinguish between J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter wizarding world and their own, but simultaneously appear either oblivious to the fact that either they’re identifying with the story’s fascists, or perhaps wink-and-nudgingly embracing their eugenics.
Vice’s Tess Owens was among the first to report on this trend, noting that while the hashtag is popular on Facebook and Twitter, it has particularly taken off on TikTok, accompanied by such hashtags as #harrypotter and #unvaccinated. According to the Daily Dot, the use of the term probably originated with TikTok user kats.outta.the.bag, whose now-deleted video showed her with a black-and-white filter and onscreen text: “We will No longer be referred To as Unvaxxed… We simply go by….” She then revealed a filter with the phrase “Pureblood” highlighted in red.
Influencer Lyndsey Marie kicked the trend into high gear with a video that racked up over 250,000 views before she made it private.
“From now on, I refuse to be referred to as ‘unvaccinated,’” she declared. “I want everyone to now call me Pureblood.”
The video promptly gave birth to a variety of memes mimicking her declaration. Another TikTok user, friedahardy6, garnered over 3.4 million views for a similar video (also since removed from public view) asking to be called "pureblood" instead of unvaccinated.
TikTok user "drakapuffdaddy" expressed admiration for the term in a video of his own. "Man, are you pureblood? Yeah, I'm pureblood," he said in the video. "No more 'unvaxxed'—pureblood!"
In the Potter “wizarding” universe, the forces of proto-fascist evil led by the genocidal Lord Voldemort identify themselves as “purebloods,” wizards descended only from other wizards—apparently an expression of the belief that magical powers can only originate through genetics. Rowling’s fantasy is a clear reference to the Nazi preoccupation with genetic bloodlines and “pure Aryan blood” that provided the ideological fodder for the Holocaust.
Some of the #pureblood hashtag users have incorporated zombie-like filters on their videos. Others add a blood-droplet emoji to embellish their captions. One user demonstrated the fantasy-fueled break from reality by taking the analogy a step further.
“In like five, ten years, maybe less, all the people who are unvaccinated—we’re gonna be hunted,” she warned. “It’s gonna be like Resident Evil. We’re gonna be the antidote, because everyone else is fucked, and we’re gonna be the only ones with pure blood.”
The term is also gaining momentum as a localized or regional phenomenon. “Pureblood Patriots. Listen to me. The Great State of Mississippi will fight this discrimination. We welcome you all,” announced one self-appointed state spokesperson.
The reference is cropping up everywhere in right-wing social-media conversations about the vaccine, such as the one Markos noted recently in which one anti-vaxxer opined that “it’s really sad that over half our population has followed instructions on getting vaccinated,” and another replied: “I’m not willing to be shamed for not getting the poison. I am a Pureblood.”
Lyndsey Marie, Owens reports, is cashing in on her right-wing celebrity to advance the concept. She is currently promising her followers a line of “pureblood”-branded merchandise (featuring an image of a lion and text reading: “PUREBLOOD; Unmasked, Unvaxxed, Unafraid”) will be available for sale through her accounts.
As Kos’ Aysha Qamar recently explored, TikTok is rapidly growing as a center for the spread of extremist and conspiracist disinformation and propaganda:
A newly released Homeland Security briefing found that insurrectionists used TikTok to spread information about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and interfere with the National Guard during the riot and information about how to access the White House via tunnels and sabotage railroad tracks. According to the briefing document, domestic extremists have been using TikTok since October of 2019 to “recruit adherents, promote violence, and disseminate tactical guidance for use in various terrorist or criminal activities.”
According to another report published in August 2021 by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (IDS), at least 491 accounts were found that shared a combined number of 1,030 videos that promoted hatred, extremism, and terrorism. … At the time of writing the report, the Institute found that 81.5% of the extremist videos they identified on the platform were still live.
As Daily Dot notes, some TikTok users are wondering whether being “pure blood” means the anti-vaxxers have never had a vaccine before. Some users have responded that they have never been vaccinated in their lives, while others said they have never gotten an mRNA vaccine.
The latter group appears to be basing its actions on the belief that mRNA vaccines “change your DNA,” which the Centers for Disease Control explains is untrue because the mRNA does not reach the cell nucleus, where DNA is held.
Fictitious or not, the anti-vaxxers promoting the eugenicist idea of nonvaccination equaling “pure blood” are making real-life decisions based on it. “I will not date or have a child with someone who had the shot,” a TikTok user named mike marcellin commented. On Twitter, one user insisted that they if they needed a transfusion, they would only accept blood from an unvaccinated person and would request tests and paperwork to prove it.
Several others speculated that sperm from people with “pure” unvaccinated blood would be “worth a fortune” in the future. One woman went so far as to ask her husband to become a full-time sperm donor “so we can become rich [and] escape the UK. He doesn’t know how he feels about this.”