This Is Why Everyone's Mad at Jimmy Fallon Right Now
A Tonight Show segment with a TikTok star brought on immediate backlash.
A short segment on The Tonight Show brought on some serious backlash for host Jimmy Fallon. On the Friday, March 26 episode, Fallon welcomed TikTok star-turned-actor/singer Addison Rae. In addition to an interview with Fallon and a performance of her new song "Obsessed," Rae took part in a segment called "Addison Rae Teaches Jimmy Eight TikTok Dances." Fallon held up a sign with the name of a song and Rae did the corresponding dance that has been popularized on TikTok, before Fallon joined her for a dance at the end.
While that might sound pretty innocent, the problem is that the show didn't credit or mention the original choreographers of the dances, many of whom are Black and don't have the same level of fame as Rae.
Read on to find out more about what happened and the ongoing issues with Black TikTok creators in particular not getting credit for their work. For more talk show backlash, check out Meghan McCain Should "Lose [Her] Job" Amid These Comments, MSNBC Host Says.
Rae rose to fame doing dances originated by others on TikTok, many of whom are Black.
Twenty-year-old Rae has 78 million followers on TikTok and is the second most popular person on the platform, according to the Los Angeles Times. Recently, she's parlayed her social media success into a more traditional acting and singing career. In addition to releasing her first single, she has also been cast to star in the remake of the 1999 comedy She's All That.
Since part of Rae's rise to fame on TikTok came from her doing the dances that become popular on the platform, she was featured doing a series of them on The Tonight Show. Fallon had previously done the segment with 16-year-old TikTok star Charli D'Amelio, who's surpassed Rae with 111 million followers.
While Rae is known for dancing, she didn't choreograph the dances featured on The Tonight Show.
People were quick to question why Fallon didn't credit the original Black creators.
When Fallon posted the video on Twitter, many people criticized him for not giving a platform to those creators or at least giving them credit as their dances appeared. "Why didn't you invite the original Black creators to show you and highlight them?" wrote one Twitter user, whose tweet has over 20,000 likes. Another user received 13,000 likes for this tweet: "where are the black creators who made every single one of these dances at jim??" Someone else tweeted, "Jimmy, this was the perfect opportunity to invite the black creator(s) of these dances and you missed it. You need to be better than this if you have a platform and show of this size."
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This has long been an issue with TikTok.
One of the most popular TikTok dances, the Renegade, was created by a then-14-year-old Black dancer named Jalaiah Harmon. She posted the dance, which accompanies the song "Lottery" by K Camp, on the social media platforms Funimate and Instagram, and her choreography soon made its way over to TikTok. D'Amelio in particular became known for doing the dance—and is now the most famous person on the platform—while no one knew who Harmon was.
Harmon was profiled by the New York Times in February 2020. "I think I could have gotten money for it, promos for it, I could have gotten famous off it, get noticed," she said. "I don't think any of that stuff has happened for me because no one knows I made the dance." Harmon ended up meeting D'Amelio and Rae, and they all did the dance together. The teen also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and she now has 646,000 followers on Instagram and 2.9 million on TikTok.
The Tonight Show posted the credits on its YouTube channel.
The video of Rae and Fallon is on the Tonight Show YouTube channel, and credit is given to the originators of the dances in the caption. As reported by BuzzFeed, it is unclear if this was already in the caption or was added in response to the backlash. While one of the creators is already famous—Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp—most are TikTok users who have smaller accounts than Rae. One of the original creators, Mya Nicole, who's behind the dance "Up" by Cardi B, posted a video of a news report about the backlash that shows her dancing in a side-by-side video with Rae.
And for more TikTok trends, check out A Restaurant Server Is Rating Celebrities Based on How Rude They Are.