In my piece on Addison Rae last week, I wrote about how disappointing it was to see her perform TikTok dances without any recognition of the original dance creators, many of those creators being Black. This perpetuates the problematic patterns of BIPOC creatives not getting the credit they deserve. Thanks to the power of social media, The Tonight Show invited the original creators on the show to perform their dances themselves this week. Here are Mya Nicole Johnson, Chris Cotter, Dorien Scott, Fur-Quan Powell, Camyra Franklin, Adam Snyder, Nate Nale, Greg Dahl, and Keara Wilson getting their well deserved spotlight...
Okay, first of all, these performances were night and DAY compared to Addison’s. As a self-proclaimed TikTok connoisseur, I was disappointed by Addison’s lack of energy in the segment she did with Jimmy, which is weird because she’s literally known for her over-the-top facial expressions. But seeing the original dancers do it made her lack of energy even more obvious; she simply didn’t have flavour. Here’s a side by side for you so you can see exactly what I’m talking about…
the lack of energy. whereâ€™s the excitement, addison rae? pic.twitter.com/ibcoUtPC6X— sk (@kirkxxs) March 28, 2021
TikTok dances are giving us another example of white privilege: doing the minimum but seeing more success than BIPOC who are putting in the same, or as is the case in this situation, more work. There’s nothing wrong with Addison doing the dances. The issue comes when she is given a platform to perform them without uplifting those who made the dances in the first place. A lot of people in Fallon’s audience demographic wouldn’t understand that Addison didn’t create the dances unless it was said explicitly, so even though she’s not directly taking credit, not saying anything about it can have the same effect as if she was. The fact that I’ve written about this same topic in both The Bachelor franchise AND TikTok proves that there’s a bigger problem here because despite these being two completely different settings, the same issue remains. It’s also been an ongoing conversation in the cultural appropriation of our hair, music, culture, you name it. Black people have to overcompensate just to be seen because if not, whether it be on purpose or subconsciously, stereotypes and overshadowing kicks in.
It was nice to see Jimmy acknowledge that this segment was in response to the controversy, but there was no apology, or naming of why there was backlash. I wasn’t expecting a YouTube-style apology video of Jimmy sitting on his dressing room floor with red eyes saying he’s going to do better, but it would have been nice to hear them mention that they saw the frustration this caused and wanted to be part of the change by giving the creators a platform. We all know this segment is only happening because Twitter was on fire, so just be straight up about it.
That aside, it was great to see Jimmy have conversations with the creators. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even know a lot of these people, but I could do their dance backwards if I wanted to because of how often I’ve seen them performed by other TikTokers. An app like TikTok is tricky because there isn’t any way to claim your work which makes it hard for you to get recognition if you end up going viral with a small account. This is why people with big platforms should be crediting original creators. The “Renegade” dance creator, Jalaiah Harmon should be known as one of the reasons why TikTok blew up because it was the beginning of the TikTok dance phenomenon. Unfortunately, she was overshadowed by bigger accounts who were doing her dance without credit until people started to call it out. Which is why Addison and Charli D’Amelio now credit dancers in all of their videos. So I wonder if Addison mentioned anything about the strict culture around crediting on TikTok to the Fallon show when they were putting that segment together. I’m not putting the blame only on Addison, but I feel like the show would’ve listened to her request to mention the original creators if she made it clear how important it is.
As for the creators having their moment, the show definitely made sure to let the audience know exactly where we can find the creators on TikTok. It was also nice to see Jimmy ask about their personal lives to give their personalities a platform as well. Dorien Scott seems like such a sweetheart (loved the shoutout to his mom), and Keara Wilson got to share that she just got engaged. It kind of sucks that they weren’t flown out to the studio to do an interview in person, but hopefully that isn’t completely out of the cards for the future. Every single one of them did so well with their dances and I think this segment did a better job at promoting TikTok than the other because it felt real. It was real. Relatability is something I talk a lot about, and I think it’s because that is the common link to everything that is successful in Gen Z pop culture. Although big influencers like Addison are the “go-to” for the face of TikTok, this situation just illustrates yet again that authenticity is the key to our generation’s heart.
With that, here’s the list of dances performed on the Fallon segment with Addison again. As a writer, I have a platform too and I want to use it to uplift voices that should be heard. Happy TikTok scrolling!
Do It Again - dance credit @noahschnapp
Corvette Corvette - dance credit @yvnggprince
Laffy Taffy - dance credit @flyboyfu
Savage - dance credit @keke.janjah
Blinding Lights - dance credit @macdaddyz
Up - dance credit @theemyanicole
Fergalicious - dance credit @thegilberttwins
*Sorry y’all, the internet is still working on who created the “Savage Love” dance.