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What Is Corn-Plating? The Weird Origins & True Meaning Of A Controversial Insult

The English language is incredibly malleable, and the advent of the internet has introduced a host of new slang and phrases that go on to develop some greater meaning. And if you've been active on TikTok or X (formerly known as Twitter) lately, you may have seen a new term pop up in relation to media analysis — corn-plating. So what is corn-plating, and what does it say about the state of media literacy? Honestly, TikToker @pretendingtobehot breaks it down magnificently. 


#greenscreen on media literacy cornplating and encanto

♬ original sound – Milo

Corn-plating derives from an X post from @hourlydolores about the Disney movie "Encanto." They shared a screenshot of Dolores (Adassa) holding a plate of corn, with the caption, "I never realized she was holding a plate with corn in this scene." Suffice it to say, this isn't exactly an Easter egg one would've missed in "Encanto" because it's so inconsequential and seemingly meaningless. A response to that post from @yandhiisntreal is what really took it to another level, as they responded, "Y'all are running out of s*** to say about this movie I'm crying." 

In essence, corn-plating refers to making an inconsequential observation about a piece of art. It doesn't necessarily matter that Dolores is holding corn, and a user just needed something to say because we all live and die by engagement these days. @pretendingtobehot points out how "corn-plating" came to the forefront from a more recent X post from @chaneIgogetit where they use it in relation to 2024's "Challengers" and how Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) understands German. As such, movie fans may be insulted if someone claims they're corn-plating about something because they're effectively stating how the person isn't saying anything significant. But is there more to this term than meets the eye (like the aforementioned plate of corn)? 

What's with the rise of corn-plating?

With social media, anyone can become a critic. It seems like any time a new trailer for a superhero movie comes out, there are countless accounts across TikTok, X, and Instagram of people trying to point out every possible Easter egg. Some of these may hold merit, but others could be pure speculation. In a sea of content, everyone wants to stand out, leading to a rise of corn-plating.

"Encanto" was a cultural juggernaut when it came out. People obsessed over the cultural aspects of the film and observed tiny details about everyone's favorite secluded uncle, Bruno, who may sound familiar because he's voiced by John Leguizamo. At first glance, it would appear @hourlydolores posting about Dolores holding corn (without any additional observations) is a way to keep the "Encanto" conversation going without it being meaningful. In this manner, corn-plating holds a negative context with people seemingly wanting to limit discussions of movies and TV shows when they think the person isn't adding anything.

Corn-plating could be seen as similar to the "Curtains Are Blue" meme. This is an image that goes around once in a while showing two interpretations of the sentence "The curtains are blue." The first is an in-depth analysis of blue symbolizing depression while the other is "The curtains are f***ing blue." It implies there's no greater meaning to derive from certain details and that people can think too much about trivial details. Dolores holding corn and Art understanding German seem inconsequential, with accusations of corn-plating potentially shutting down further discussions. But seeing as the term is still new, there may still be a way yet to reclaim it because corn-plating doesn't have to be all bad. 

Corn-plating doesn't inherently stand in opposition to media literacy

One of the great discussions on the film-centric sides of TikTok and X these days is how media literacy is seemingly dead. People don't understand that an untold truth of "Starship Troopers" is that it's a satire of fascism, not an approval of it. Newer audiences don't see how "Breaking Bad" is enjoyable because Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is the protagonist, and his being the protagonist means the TV show endorses every terrible thing he does, right? Some may think corn-plating is in this same vein because people are trying to imbue greater meaning onto pointless details, but that may not be fully the case.

There's nothing wrong with finding enjoyment in small details because even those can hold greater meaning for each individual person. For example, X user @stormbringxr posted several shots of Alan from "Smiling Friends" while writing, "Cornplating this clip but its so good that they gave him loads of new expressions aside from looking mostly deadpan." Even if Alan's new expressions don't matter a whole deal, an animator still had to make those, and someone could understandably enjoy seeing a new side of the character. In that vein, Dolores holding corn may not seem important, but it could simply represent the family's culture. Also, Dolores' special ability is super-hearing, and she's holding ears of corn, so it could just be a silly inside joke.

Yes, corn-plating can be seen as endemic to online film discourse, picking apart everything to boost engagement. However, it can also be an incredibly media-literate thing to do when someone engages with minute details of a piece of art. Even if an author never intended something to have a greater meaning, it can still gain meaning through a viewer's interpretation.