White Male Late Night Talk Show Host Creates Viral ‘TikTok Appropriation Consolation Prize’ Challenge – The Root

TikTok Creators Break Down and Perform Their Viral Dances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
TikTok Creators Break Down and Perform Their Viral Dances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Screenshot: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

In another episode of the mainstream American hit, “Marginalized Creators: Here, Damn!”, late night show host Jimmy Fallon recently came under fire after he featured TikTok influencer Addison Rae performing an instructional series of popular TikTok dances…that she didn’t create. Following the social media backlash, Fallon attempted to fix the blunder a week later.

But, allow me to catch you up on the background real quick!

Last week, Rae appeared in a segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in which she taught eight different TikTok dances (typically set to equally popular songs) that have gone viral. If you’ve seen most of these original dances, though, it was clear that this was the extremely unseasoned, watered-down version. It was the “This is hip-hop!” video.

Fallon posted the video on his official Twitter account, and that…didn’t go well for the jovial celebrity-friendly host.

OK. Here’s the thing: We’ve already covered this—extensively. I’m talking whole-ass-features-have-been-written-about-the-Black-creators-everyone-failed-in-the-beginning levels of “covered this.” If you have an ear to the pop culture streets—something which Fallon and his producers presumably routinely do as their jobs—there’s no way you can “oops!” your way out of this. This isn’t something anyone is just now discovering, unless you’re Christopher Columbus.

Wait…now that I think about it, that tracks.

Anyway, on Monday night, Fallon decided to bring on the creators of each of the viral TikTok dance challenges. “On our last show before break, we did a bit with Addison Rae, where she taught me eight viral TikTok dances,” Fallon said in his introduction of the segment. “Now, we recognize the creators of those dances deserve to have their own spotlight, so right now, some of the creators will join me to talk about how their dance went viral, and then perform the dance themselves.”

The participating creators were:

Mya Nicole Johnson and Chris Cotter (Cardi B’s “Up”)

Dorien Scott (Popp Hunna’s “Corvette Corvette”)

Fur-Quan Powell aka Fly Boy Fu and Camyra Franklin aka Indii (D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” remix, composed by Fly Boy Fu)

Adam Snyder, Nate Nale and Greg Dahl (The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”)

Keara Wilson aka Keke (Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage”)

TikTok Creators Break Down and Perform Their Viral Dances / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (YouTube)

Not all of the featured creators were Black, but…y’all see the pattern. The creators were invited to perform their dances virtually, which, on the surface, is mainly due to the global pandemic and any possible scheduling challenges. Still, it was quite noticeable that Rae received the total-package in-studio production treatment, while the original creators were regulated to appearing on the show from their homes.

“[When it comes to] white social media creators, I don’t know their inside story, but from the outside [looking in], it really seems like they’re maybe getting credit for what we/I have created,” Wilson told The Root in a March 2020 interview. “So, young Black creators, we have to support each other and surround ourselves with positive people that know what they are talking about when it comes to this business because the window is open and we have to keep it pushin’ toward where we are trying to go.”

Rae spoke out in support of Black creators, noting: “They deserve all the credit because they came up with these amazing trends,” which I suppose we’re supposed to pat her on the back for and ignore the fact that these white privileged TikTok appropriators snatched these dances, whitewashed them and have routinely received most of the followers and sponsor benefits from them? Nawl.

My primary concern and care is with the original creators—especially the Black ones who are often overlooked—and if this appearance brought them joy (they seemed to have a fucking blast), I’m happy. In addition to that happiness, though, I will never stop championing for them deserving more and better than…this.