A crucial experiment is happening on TikTok: Many Black creators are effectively striking, refusing to produce a new dance for Megan Thee Stallion’s “Thot Shit.”
This appears to have started last week, when “Thot Shit” was officially released, though there has been an ongoing movement by Black creators to be credited for work and labor, have their voices elevated, and reclaim certain sounds.
It’s been very revealing: Megan Thee Stallion songs are a consistent source for TikTok dance trends, but Black creators rarely get credit for producing them. Jalaiah Harmon and Keara Wilson are just two recent examples of Black women who’ve originated a piece of choreography, which then gets copied by mega-popular TikTokers and siphoned onto the FYP, where credit is often obscured and white creators elevated.
This played out on a different screen when Addison Rae performed popular dance trends on The Tonight Show in March and received backlash for not crediting the creators (and for a sub-par performance). So what happens when the source of influence runs dry?
The hashtag #blacktiktokstrike accompanies multiple videos of support for the movement, and there’s empirical evidence that the strike is effecting the TikTok dance trend ecosystem.
“The instructions are right there,” said @xosugarbunny, referencing the chorus of “Thot Shit,” and the hands-in-the-air dance that has started circulating in the absence of a better template.
As pointed out, Black creators have done their own “Thot Shit” dances, though some are creating their own sounds for it.
In response to ongoing criticism regarding how TikTok exploits and suppresses Black creators, the company introduced an incubator program for Black creatives in January. But this strike is more about the unpaid labor and power imbalance inherent in “content” production, and not just on TikTok.
“We talk about the algorithms but we have encouraged an in humane automation of cultural labor and creativity,” wrote @Blackamazon.
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