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Finally: A TikTok trend for celebrities only
The ThatsNotMyName challenge is a one-in-a-million opportunity for celebrities to find community on social media.
We’re one step closer to a Raya version of TikTok, and I’m asking in advance to be allowed to snoop on it. —Kate
One of my earliest pieces about TikTok emphatically states that famous people should not be allowed on the app. You can get famous on TikTok—that’s fine. But if I already see you on red carpets and talk shows, then can you please just let normal people have this?
The celebrities ignored my advice, as they so often do, and have infiltrated the app over the past few years with whatever enthusiasm they can muster for the sake of their publicist. If ever they want a quick headline, they need only dance to a Megan Thee Stallion song or make the viral recipe of the moment. But over the past week or so, something curious has happened: celebrities have officially created their own side of TikTok, by starting of a trend only they can participate in.
In it, the celebrity will turn the camera on themself, and as the lyrics to The Ting Tings song “That’s Not My Name” progress through “Hell, Stacey, her, Jane,” they share pictures and videos of the popular movie and TV roles they’ve played over the years.
Of the celebrities who have participated—ranging from Jennifer Garner to Kyle MacLachlan—most credit Drew Barrymore, who in turn credits Alicia Silverstone, for inspiring them. But the trend started with regular people sharing the many nicknames they (and, often, their pets) have earned in their lifetimes.
If I had to guess, this all boils down to some manager or assistant who realized this would be the perfect, low-stakes way to get their client a completely benign spotlight that capitalizes on nostalgia. The headlines are already rolling in.
While the trend itself isn’t that interesting, scrolling through the sound on TikTok is. The videos are made almost entirely by verified accounts, with the occasional video from the original use of the trend popping up. It has been well and truly coopted, and something about it is so bizarre to watch.
So much of the coverage of celebrities—both IRL and now on social media—has focused on the ways they’re just like us. They pick up their groceries! They post selfies! They do silly dances! But this trend is different: it’s celebrities sharing in a phenomenon that is uniquely them. We can’t relate, just as we cannot relate to most aspects of their lives. But in this one instance, they have found community online the way regular people do. No wonder they’ve all flocked to it.
Obviously, if celebrities continued to create trends around the unique experiences they’ve shared, things would get alienating real quick. The #ThatsNotMyName challenge is fun for regular viewers because they can access it through their experience watching celebrities in their various roles. If trends started popping up around their other commonalities—things predicated on their extreme wealth and privilege—I doubt TikTok would be so welcoming. After all, despite how convincingly they may portray it, celebrity relatability on social media is just another one of their performances.