By Ana Sparling
If you haven’t already seen the viral TikTok that has managed to grind the gears of a
surprising number of app users, allow me to paint the picture for you.
Influencer Max Lepage – Keefe, or as he is more commonly known now, man with the
moustache and floppy hair, posted a video on TikTok on the 25th of October showcasing him
and 4 other friends with pints in hand chatting outside the Blue Posts pub in London Soho,
the song ‘Spooky’ by Dusty Springfield plays in the background, a bop that is quickly
becoming a TikTok sound staple when showing of your OOTD.
Speaking of, the collective dress code was your typical trendy London vibe, which, of course,
includes vintage trench coats, Kangol hats, corduroy, and cross-body bags topped off with the
necessary addition of piercings, tattoos, Guinness and, most importantly, moustaches. In
short, it’s the stuff of Depop girlies’ dreams.
The top of the video reads ‘Pints, chit chat and good people’ and is captioned ‘Grateful for the
friends I have.’ On the surface, this is all totally harmless; there’s no malice or hate here;
really, it looks like a relatively wholesome, if not a little pretentious, video, yeah?
According to the nearly four thousand people who commented on the video, the answer to
that question is a resounding no; people feel enraged, accusing him of an inauthentic
performance and treating the working class lifestyle as an aesthetic or brand.
‘One of the hardest watches of the year’ wrote one user, ‘Laughs in rah’ wrote another, and a
personal favourite, ‘Nightmare Pint Rotation’.
The video has inspired hundreds of parodies and spin-offs, mainly poking fun at the
awkwardness of putting up the phone to film a very mundane moment but also targeting
Lepage-Keefe, with many claiming to know that he is a ‘Tory with a trust fund’.
In an interview with The Tab, Lepage-Keefe says that these misconceptions are just that and
yet another example of cancel culture on social media, “I’ve had people commenting saying
that I’ve got a trust fund. I wish I did. I’m not a Tory. I work two jobs… I didn’t say a word in
this video, and it’s rattled so many people.’
So the question still remains: What’s the big deal? Why this video, Why this pub, Why these
Well, there are a few answers to that question; in an interview with Vice, Digital Culture
expert Dr Niki Cheong argues that the most straightforward solution is that influencers are
easy targets on social media for ‘online attacks and mockery because they generally function
based on authenticity when so much of their content is staged’.
This borders on what many claim is their central issue with the video: class divide. In fact
people on TikTok are drawing connections between this video and what is now the infamous
Fitzroy Garage Party incident, with one user commenting underneath the video ‘Fitzroy
Garage Party London edition’.
Let’s start with the pub; the Blue Posts in Soho is a spot many Londoners would have viewed
as an institution, a local and a favourite. The 300-year-old pub was considered a hidden gem
until it recently became the Palace x Stella Artois collaboration venue. It now features special
edition signage, drinks, and barware not to mention different pricing…
This comes at a time which many are now referring to as ‘London’s social revolution’,
Authentic businesses are being turned into chains, real estate is going through the roof, and
historic areas are being demolished and replaced with modern architecture.
Soho is no stranger to this; an area that has always been regarded as fuelling social change,
creativity, artistry, and activism is quickly becoming another example of gentrification in
London. So, seeing Lepage-Keefe outside the Blue Posts breaking traditional pub culture by
recording himself and his friends struck a nerve with many fellow Londoners, seeing him as
yet another pawn of this growing issue.
This, of course, isn’t to say that people hate him or his friends; it’s more so what he
represents: upper-middle-class lads wearing clothes that look cheap but aren’t, drinking what
would have been considered working-class pints (Guinness was originally for the Irish
working/lower class) and standing outside a pub that is a product of gentrification, the whole
thing being a staged ploy for views cheapens the set up even more so.
It’s this idea of using another social group as an aesthetic that really strikes most people’s
nerves and celebrates the gentrification of a working-class area/spot simply because it suits