TikTok has exploded as a platform in the past two years, creating a whole new game of social media. From 15 seconds to 3 minutes, TikTok has allowed users to create videos that could blow up instantly. It is fairly easy to go viral on TikTok; most people can get at least one video to receive a decent amount of views. TikTok has created a new culture of social media influencers, appropriately titled “TikTokers.” Names like Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and LilHuddy have all become household names in pop culture. All of them had originally been from small towns across the country and, because their TikToks have blown up, they now reside in major cities in California.
The kinds of videos that blow TikTokers up vary, depending on the audience’s interest and what the algorithm pushes to viewers. The easiest way is following trends and, truthfully, being conventionally attractive. These TikTokers all gained consistent views and fame, propelling them into spotlight past social media stardom. They are no longer treated as just social media influencers; they are practically as regular mainstream celebrities.
We see Rae starring in a Netflix original film and hanging out with Kourtney Kardashian, the D’Amelio’s starring in their own reality show, Nessa Barret performing at Lollapalooza, and a variety of them attending the Met Gala. This flurry of TikTokers being handed opportunities on a silver platter and being treated as they are truly celebrities is something we have never seen with other sorts of influencers before. While some argue that they are “famous,” it is strange for people that make 15-second videos to get the kinds of opportunities that they have.
“I think that TikTokers are entertaining but get opportunities that they didn’t work for,” said Bekah Bostick, an Ohio University junior studying journalism. “They act like they are surprised when they are given opportunities but then act like babies when there is backlash that they were given the opportunity over someone more qualified.”
The controversy of these TikTokers getting these opportunities over people who are more deserving has been growing. Someone can get a record deal, appear on Jimmy Fallon, and receive an invitation to the Met Gala over a dancing video, and people wonder why those who have the talent are not given the same opportunities.
TikTokers are the most popular people on the planet because social media is so accessible. Brands, record companies, and festivals all want a piece of them to stay relevant, and in turn, it expands these TikTokers beyond social media. It is brilliant, albeit controversial as well. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu know that these names are popular, and the best way to follow the trends is by creating a show or a movie with them in it. Even the Met Gala, traditionally an A-List celebrity event, decided to invite several TikTokers. All these TikTokers will take the opportunity to expand their careers, keep their names in the media, and stay in the spotlight beyond the TikTok fame.
This is not the first time we are seeing social media stars given big opportunities. Many YouTubers had also expanded their platforms into brands, music, book deals, and beyond. The biggest difference is that YouTubers were generally known for being charismatic and usually did what related to their content online. TikTok stars do not make content where they have to be interactive and energetic like YouTubers do. The personalities make them more likeable, and in turn makes viewers enjoy seeing them on different platforms.
No matter what, there is no telling who gets famous and gets those opportunities. However, being famous on TikTok should not automatically trigger the need to be in every single avenue there is. Staying famous and relevant on TikTok is OK, and not every TikToker has to get the A-list celebrity treatment with the need to be famous in everything.