Billie Eilish Has Thoughts On TikTok Stars — And So Do We

Fashion
Photography courtesy of Getty Images

What role do content creators have at award shows, like the People’s Choice Awards? According to the “What Was I Made For” singer, none.

TikTok stars are everywhere these days, and not everyone is thrilled about it. Case in point: Billie Eilish at the People’s Choice Awards 2024. On February 18, the singer was seen chatting with Kylie Minogue while at the annual awards show. But it wasn’t just two icons chatting about their music, Eilish — who took home the award for The TV Performance of the Year for her role in Swarm — was caught lamenting over the amount of TikTok creators at the event, seemingly telling Minogue: “There’s so many TikTok-ers here.” The singer looked less-than-impressed.

@brycehall #stitch with @centennialworld ♬ original sound – Bryce Hall

While the moment may have been seemingly innocent, some of the aforementioned TikTok creators didn’t think so — and they were pissed. The day after the show, content creator Bryce Hall responded to Eilish’s comment in, what else, a TikTok. In the video, Hall sarcastically apologized for not “bowing down” to the singer at the event and informed Eilish that Hall, alongside fellow creators like Chris Olsen, Alix Earle, and James Charles, were invited to the event by the People’s Choice Awardsorganizers. Hall wrapped up his video by telling Eilish that as a fan, “Now I don’t think I can renegade to any of your songs anymore. So thanks for taking out all my content.” So yeah, not pleased to say the least.

While the Eilish/TikTok-er feud will most likely blow over by the time the next viral trend comes around, the Billie Eilish People’s Choice Awards comment brings up an interesting debate over the role TikTok creators have at awards shows in general, and if they should even be there at all. Consider the following.

TikTok stars are the new era of entertainment

In 2024, the reality is that the entertainment industry has been taken over by social media stars, specifically TikTok. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Before TikTok, there was YouTube, with now mainstream stars like Canadian (and former FASHION cover star) Lilly Singh and Emma Chamberlain getting their start and building their fanbases on these platforms. Since welcoming fans into their lives via YouTube videos in the mid 2010s, both Singh and Chamberlain have gone on to amass millions of followers, branching out from their initial video content to the mainstream, becoming history-making late night TV hosts and launching coffee empires, respectively.

In the same way the Kardashians crossed entertainment boundaries, ushering in reality stars as the new type of celebrity, Youtube, Instagram, and now TikTok content creators have started to do the same. We’ve seen this with OG creator Addison Rae, who used her TikTok celebrity to launch a beauty brand, make a foray into acting with He’s All That, and launch a (kind of successful, at least catchy) music career. As the highest grossing app in 2023, TikTok has over 1.5 billion active users a month, many of them from Gen Z, meaning that users are turning to the app for every part of their daily lives; fashion advice, cooking tutorials, and entertainment.

In this way, showing up at awards shows like the People’s Choice Awards makes sense for these content creators. They are the entertainment — and the people — that mainstream audiences turn to. In many cases, through views, likes, and shares, they are the people’s choices. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t also be critical of the role TikTok and its prominence in the entertainment industry does play, or that we even need to necessarily like it.

But virality comes with downsides

While content creators have become more aligned with mainstream celebs over the past several years, there are some ways in which they differ, specifically when it comes to visibility and the need for it. As opposed to a traditional Hollywood celeb like Selena Gomez or Dakota Johnson, who value privacy off-screen, the whole idea behind TikTok content creators and what have propelled them to stardom is the very opposite, the fact that they’re scarily unfiltered. They need to be, because their livelihoods — and virality — depend on it. Which can add a level of invasiveness and surveillance into these awards shows that didn’t exist before, with moments captured and shared for viral views. And this continues even after the show is over.

@oliveluvsyoux100 The way hes distracted looking in her eyes 🥹 #kyliejenner #timotheechalamet #goldenglobes ♬ My Love Mine All Mine – Mitski

Because another thing audiences have seen on the rise this awards season are lip reading videos, with TikTok creators taking snippets of private convos between celebs, at the Grammys,  front row at Fashion Week, on the sidelines of football games, and at the Golden Globes and incessantly dissecting them — then sharing their findings with literally everyone on the internet. Like many things, it all started with the Kardashians. During the January 7th stream of the 81st Golden Globe Awards, a video of couple Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet intimately chatting went viral, with hundreds of people attempting to determine what 2023’s most surprising couple talk about on the down-low. (The actual convo is still TBD, ranging from the young duo cooing “I love you” to each other, to Jenner complimenting Chalamet’s necklace. Ah, young love).

Later that same night, lip readers of TikTok struck once again when BFFs Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Keleigh Teller were caught seemingly gossiping on camera about Jenner and Chalamet, with many on the social media app saying Gomez was denied a photo with Chalamet by his girlfriend. It was, to say the least, a frenzy.

@jessweslie #greenscreen #kyliejenner #timotheechalamet #kyliejennertimotheechalamet #selenagomez #goldenglobes #goldenglobes2024 #fyp ♬ original sound – Jessica Weslie Arena

And while I’m all for some good, grade A celeb gossip like this Billie Eilish People’s Choice Awards drama (blind items are my life’s blood), there’s something that feels a little icky about taking tangible private moments and conversations between celebs and blasting them all over the internet. Even if there’s no harm initially meant by it,  it inevitably leads to said celebs having to become extra vigilant and guarded. Since the Golden Globes debacle, celebs like Swift and even Billie Eilish have taken to shielding their mouths while on camera or in photos talking to people around them, reinforcing the idea and feeling that just because these people are celebrities they’re not allowed an inkling of privacy. Which is a fallacy I thought we got over a long time ago.

Regardless of whether or not TikTok-ers pop up at the Oscars or any and all awards shows to come, one thing’s for sure — they’re probably here to stay.

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