BINJ profiles of internet sensations tell stories behind local creatives with international fanbases

This year, in addition to the community news and investigative reporting that BINJ is best known for, we are excited to get back into covering a lot of music and arts. It’s not a new initiative, we have produced long form features on local creatives since the beginning, but in 2023 we’re deliberately leaning in to fill more of these gaps. We’ll never get to everyone, but there are far too many people doing phenomenal things and making big moves out of Greater Boston whose whole stories haven’t been told. And we hope to tell lots of them.

This week, we have two profiles of Boston-based social media influencers whose videos are consumed by hundreds of thousands of people daily, but whose own influences, past, and motivation have been largely unknown—until now. If you’re a TikTok hater or even a skeptic who is wondering why we would spotlight these personalities, consider how many people they entertain from around the world using Massachusetts as a backdrop, and also consider their remarkable talents and compassion for fans.

First, Michelle Tian profiled local TikTok artist Karen Tran, who spreads happiness around Boston via miniature felted animals that she hides in local businesses for people to find. Tran told Tian, “For me to highlight all of these small and amazing local businesses is another way of imparting that joy onto them and being like, we actually live somewhere that has a lot to offer.”

Next up, Ponette Kim spent time with TikTok Star Alden McWayne, better known as Gucci Pineapple, a 21-year-old senior at Berklee studying performance. He’s an impressive, hard-working student with nearly half-a-million followers; as someone whose own kid spends too much time ogling videos, I can only hope that most of the people she is watching are as grounded and gifted as McWayne.

I highly recommend reading both, and be sure to stay tuned for more BINJ Arts reporting in the coming weeks and months.




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