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Blowing up on TikTok is so simple: make a video to one of the many current trends, use a trending sound, put the right hashtags in your caption, use the right filters, and boom! Just like that, you’re racking up thousands of views right before your eyes. Normally, this blow-up is a one-off; your fifteen minutes of fame. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, your whole account blows up and all of a sudden you’re TikTok famous! This randomization of the algorithm pushing seemingly arbitrary users into viral fame makes me question the validity of the people we all see now as “TikTok Stars”. The D’Amelios, Addison Rae, Anna Sitar, The Sway House and others of the like were all normal people until they blew up on TikTok one day and now they have fame in the same league as movie stars and music artists. That brings up the question: is this fame warranted?

The argument is often brought up, usually from TikTok haters, that TikTok stars have no talent. But is there some merit to that statement? These people getting famous are, for the most part, teenagers who happened to create a bit of relatable or entertaining content or are simply just very attractive. Are these normal teenagers who are accumulating enormous followings cut out for that lifestyle? In the history of celebrities, actors and singers and athletes had to put in tremendous amounts of hours and possess enough talent to “make it” in their respective industries. So do these TikTok stars deserve the fame and hype? A certain element of stardom and celebrity life is that you must possess the appropriate business and marketing skills to excel because you are, ultimately, your own brand. A great example of this is the Kardashians. This group became famous through family drama and power and they harnessed this onset of fame with incredible business skills to become the most famous family in the world. Some would argue that Kim Kardashian has no real talent- she can’t sing, she doesn’t act, she doesn’t play a sport- she’s just really, really hot. But Kim took this public interest in her appearance and turned herself into a worldwide icon. Those are some pretty good marketing and publicity skills. And you could say the same about TikTok celebrities. Take the Sway Boys, for example, they became famous for pretty much just standing in front of their iPhone cameras and looking hot. Where’s the talent in that? But they were smart about it- they knew they were attractive, knew their audience, and played the part. Now everyone knows who Lil Huddy is! So even though these TikTokers may not have talent in the traditional sense, maybe they are introducing us to a new era of celebrities. The quality of talent may be different than the traditional celebrities we’re used to, but maybe the relatability factor of these being seemingly “normal” people makes them all the more intriguing.

But if TikTok is these celebs main platform and claim to fame, what happens when TikTok dies? The app isn’t going to last forever, and even if it does, these teens aren’t going to be prime TikTok age for their whole lives. Some of them dropped out of school and gave up on their educations to pursue the TikToker dream, which has worked for some of them who are now making six figures, but what happens when they’re 30 and nobody remembers what TikTok was? The smart thing to do, as we can see some of these stars such as the D’Amelios and Addison Rae doing, are diversify their brand. They’ve moved onto other platforms such as Instagram and Youtube, Dixie D’Amelio started a singing career, and Addison Rae is acting in movies. These are more prosperous careers that could sustain them into the future, as long as they stay relevant.

What happens when TikTok dies?

So, in conclusion, these TikTok stars are famous because they entertain people. They are entertainers. They may not be entertainers in the traditional sense, but maybe they are the next generation of celebrities: a more relatable, tangible icon. We see older celebrities that were already famously trying to make TikToks and grow an audience on this new platform, probably because their young publicist told them to, but then this must be the direction stardom is headed. Whether you like it or not, we have a new brand of celebrity on our hands and, who knows, thanks to the algorithm, you could be next!

Alex Ugolini

Queen's U '24

Psychology major, actress, lover of the earth. Find me on Instagram @alexugolinii
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