On TikTok, black creators’ dance strike denounces creative exploitation – TechCrunch

There’s a new clip from Megan Thee Stallion in time for triple-digit temperatures. But instead of launching a new viral TikTok dance for the summer, the single inspired an informal protest among black creators tired of relentlessly launching trends into the social media stratosphere.

With the release of the video for “Thot Shit”, some of the creators of Black TikTok started to draw attention to this exploitation this week, inspiring others to refuse to choreograph a dance to the hit song. The idea behind the movement is that black artists on the platform create a disproportionate amount of content and culture – much of which is repackaged and monetized by popular white creators and culture in general.

The choice of song is probably not a coincidence. Megan Thee Stallion’s video is both a playful but important hymn for essential workers – in this case, grocery, restaurant and sanitation workers – and a biting commentary on the wealthy establishment. white who exploits their work without thinking twice.

The “strike” doesn’t have any creators leaving the platform or even staying out of the app. Instead, the black creators who might normally contribute to the dances for the hot new song sit down and show off what happens when they’re not around. (Predictable: not much.)

On the sound page, some videos tease the choreography but turn into a statement about how black creators aren’t getting their due on the app. In other videos, black creators watch in horror at clumsy dance attempts that fail to fill the void or poke fun at how the song’s lyrics are informative, but non-black TikTok still can’t. understand it.

The eminently dancing “Thot Shit” might become Megan Thee Stallion’s biggest hit to date, but just watching TikTok you wouldn’t know.

When contacted to comment on the phenomenon, TikTok praised black creators as a “critical and vibrant” part of the community.

“We care deeply about the experience of black creators on our platform and we continue to work every day to create a supportive environment for our community while instilling a culture where honoring and crediting creators for their creative contributions is the norm. “said a spokesperson for TikTok. mentionned.

Many TikTok accounts participating in the strike cite a recent lip-syncing explosion from white TikTokkers regardless of a clip from Nicki Minaj’s song “Black Barbies” from 2016 that specifically praises black bodies (“I’m a fucker Black Barbie / Pretty face, perfect body… ”) White TikTok has inexplicably flocked to sound, increasing its popularity and crowding out black designers.

This is just one incident in a long history of black designers feeling exploited and appropriate on social media. TikTok’s black dancers have long been overlooked: their original dance moves explode in popularity and are picked up by non-black creators, who also take credit along the way.

The recent strike is the latest beat in the ongoing conversation about who can tap into the source of creativity that springs from a platform like TikTok. More generally, some creators believe that TikTok’s economy is unfavorable to them, even compared to other major platforms like YouTube. Across social media sites, creators, especially creators of color, are turning to collective action and even organizing to assert their power.

For black designers tired of seeing their work take over, collectively refusing to offer the world a hot new TikTok dance is certainly a way to show how essential they are to the online ecosystem – something even a quick swipe at. eye to the sorry sound “Thot Shit” makes abundantly clear.

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