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Jimmy Fallon-Addison Rae TikTok dance lesson was cringey for more than its failure to credit Black creators

  • Vox

    While the TikTok star's Tonight Show appearance last week reignited conversations about appropriation on the platform, Rebecca Jennings also points out that television doesn't really translate the intimacy of TikTok. "During her appearance.... the show had her demonstrate a series of eight TikTok dances to songs like Cardi B’s 'Up' and Megan Thee Stallion’s 'Savage,' but without any of the elements that make watching TikTok dances fun," says Jennings. "Namely, the actual music (I assume this was because of copyright issues; instead, The Roots played beats similar to the actual songs), yet the performance also lacked the camera angling and intimacy that comes with watching a close-up of someone’s face making eye contact with you through a screen. The result was the worst thing you can possibly be in the parlance of TikTok: cringey. The greater failure on the part of the Tonight Show’s producers, however, was the lack of acknowledgment of the conversations that have taken place over the past year about crediting Black choreographers whose dances get swallowed up by the TikTok algorithm. Addison and other creators who compose 'straight TikTok' (a.k.a. traditionally attractive people dancing and mugging for the camera) are sometimes credited for a trend or a dance that they learned from someone else simply because their audiences are astronomically large; very often, those dances are the work of Black teens. The most famous example is Jalaiah Harmon, the then-14-year-old creator of the Renegade, who received little credit until a New York Times profile from last winter."


    • Mya Johnson, the 15-year-old co-creator of one of the dances Addison Rae taught Jimmy Fallon, wished she could appear on The Tonight Show: “At first, I was excited, but then at the same time, it’s like, dang, I wish that could have been me performing my own dance or even just getting a little bit of credit,” she tells Los Angeles Magazine. “At first, me nor (fellow creator) Chris (Cotter) didn’t get any credit. Nobody reached out or anything.” As Pop Sugar notes, The Tonight Show did put Johnson's TikTok handle in the corner, but that's not where most viewers are looking. "Just little things like that, that have our name in it, so people actually know who made the dance," she said. Johnson said she would've "loved" to have been on the show. "I'm sure anybody would have," she said. "I was very surprised because it's like, 'Wow, I made a dance that's made it all the way to TV,'" she told Pop Sugar. "Of course, I was happy and everything." But as Johnson thought about it more, the video didn't sit right with her. "My mom always tells me, 'When it's my time, it's my time.' I felt like that should've been my time and Chris' time, because we created the dance."

    TOPICS: Addison Rae, NBC, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon, Mya Johnson, Late Night, TikTok