Over the past year or so, TikTok has consumed the procrastinating minds of high school and college students alike, and everyone claims to know someone who is “TikTok famous.” The app has all kinds of posts, from amateur comedy to cringey acting to dancing trends. One of the most popular dancing trends is the Renegade challenge, set to the song “Lottery” by K Camp. 

While it seems like every young adult in America knows this dance, a few people have become “TikTok famous” from it, like 15 year old Charli D’Amelio, a dancer from Connecticut. Up until recently, however, the teen who started this trend was not TikTok famous. It was not until Valentine’s Day when K Camp posted a video with Jalaiah Harmon, 14, and her friend Skylar, 13, thanking them for making his song so popular by choreographing the dance. This tweet was followed by NBA All-Star Weekend, where the NBA invited TikTok stars to make TikToks and teach dances like Renegade, but neglected to invite Jalaiah.

The NBA was criticized for this oversight, with some even accusing the NBA and TikTok users of “gentrifying” the dance, popularizing the videos of mostly white girls dancing instead of the original video featuring a black girl. In their defense, it is difficult to give credit where credit is due in this new area of internet trends in our world of patents and copyrights. Most TikToks are about having a new take on a trend, whether it be a dance, comedic sound effect, or meme. Should every user be expected to write in their captions what user they watched that inspired their video, or know the exact user who started the trend?

TikTok does not yet directly pay its creators, so it may not seem like a serious issue of who gets credit. However, some users have gone beyond just being famous on TikTok, with rising stars like Charli D’Amelio and Brittany Broski even appearing in a Super Bowl commercial for Sabra Hummus alongside stars like Mel B and Megan Thee Stallion. NBA All-Star weekend was another opportunity for TikTok stars to grow their brand, and the fact that other creators were gaining fame for doing a dance everyone does but one person created is simply unfair.

This Super Bowl advertisement featured all kinds of celebrities, including online influencers.

This story has a happy ending. On Sunday of NBA All-Star Weekend, a video was posted to Twitter showing Jalaiah performing her dance with two other TikTok stars who had been at the weekend’s events, getting fans excited that Jalaiah had arrived in Chicago. She was able to get in the spotlight by performing at the NBA All-Star game, earning her a Twitter shoutout from Former First Lady Michelle Obama, and even an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show where she performed her dance with professional dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss. It is wonderful that Jalaiah got the credit she deserves, but what about all of the other choreographers of internet dances, like the one to the song “Say So” by Doja Cat? What about the first person to use the song “Fabulous” from Phineas and Ferb as background music for a video meme, should each person who does their own take on that meme have to credit the original? This minor controversy may lead to debates like these about fair use among independent creators on the internet.


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