If you’ve been to New York you’ll know that behind the glamour, the gigantic buildings, the expensive stores, the dollar slices of pizza and the always lit neon lights of Times Square there are rats. Lots of rats. On the subway tracks, in the middle of the street, coming out of the sewers… The center of the world is infested by these critters to the point of becoming just another New Yorker. And there are people who have decided to take advantage of this.
Passing the RatTok
To begin this story you have to meet Kenny Bollwerk, a man who, fed up with the infestation of rats outside a building in Queens, decided to broadcast it live. What he didn’t expect was that his denunciation would end up crystallizing in the massive following of groups of fans of these animals. Since then he has been uploading his findings on his TikTok account, @nyc_kb, which has given rise to a whole movement: RatTok.
Some of his videos have more than 250,000 views: what started as a way to alert the population against these bugs has become a way of life. So much so that he even offers tours to see rats in the city. “When I started making the videos I wanted people to know what was going on and how to alert them to the problem,” he says. Yeah, sure, but when your streams reach 10,000 views and there are people from different parts of the world who want to see the rats… things change.
It has to be said that New York has managed to lower the number of rodents running around the streets by 15% (after rising sharply last year), but what no one saw coming is that a public safety issue would eventually become a tourist attraction. “It’s pretty crazy how much this brings people together,” Bollwerk comments. It is pretty crazy, yes. We can agree.
Ultimately, the idea is that these videos will attract the attention of the authorities to take care of it, but at the same time… Who’s bitter about a little bit of unintentional fame?