The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is facing serious backlash for a segment on Friday night's episode with TikTok star Addison Rae. Rae is one of the biggest stars on the short video app, and she joined Fallon for a seemingly harmless segment where she taught him some of the viral dances from TikTok. However, viewers noted that Rae and Fallon did not credit or even mention the choreographers who created the dances, many of whom could have used the exposure.
Rae's dance segment made the rounds on Twitter, where critics pointed out that Black dancers originally created many of the dances she taught to Fallon. Soon the replies to Fallon's posts were filled with attempts to tag the right creators while condemning Fallon and Rae for leaving them out. Many viewers thought that the omission constituted theft since it provided Fallon and Rae with free content. Many also likened it to instances in history when white celebrities took credit for Black musicians, writers and artists.
Where are the black people who made these dances? Why aren’t they on jimmy fallon? https://t.co/uej260R8ZV— 💗🌸Kenny 🌸💗-💗🌸Bubblegum Era🌸💗 (@Reportxed) March 28, 2021
So far, neither Fallon nor Rae have responded to the backlash. Reporters from Buzzfeed meticulously tracked down the origins for each of the dances Rae performed, giving them some credit after the fact.
The dance Rae performed for "Do it Again" was reportedly recorded by Pia Mia and choreographed by user "@noahschnapp." "Savage Love" was reportedly recorded and choreographed by Jason Derulo; "Corvette Corvette" was recorded by Popp Hunna and choreographed by "@yvnggprince"; "Laffy Taffy was recorded by "D4L" and choreographed by "@flyboyfu"; "Savage" was recorded by Megan Thee Stallion and choreographed by "@keke.janjah"; "Blinding Lights" was recorded by The Weeknd and choreographed by "@macdaddyz"; "Up" was recorded by Cardi B and choreographed by "@theemyanicole"; and "Fergalicious" was recorded by Fergie and will.i.am and choreographed by "@thegilberttwins."
Rae and Fallon continue to take flack for this segment on Twitter, with many users calling on Fallon to cut it from his show going forward. Here is a look at what people are saying.
Stealing from black entertainers and having white "creators" regurgitate it to the masses is american history 101.— ✨ Dracula Spectacular✨ (@fancycatxo) March 28, 2021
Many viewers pointed out the fraught history of art created by Black Americans falling into white Americans' hands and making them disproportionately famous. They also argued that institutions like The Tonight Show are often responsible for this kind of incongruent attention.prevnext
White privilege is not creating a single movement in these dances, but getting the opportunity to go on national TV to teach Jimmy Fallon instead of the actual creators. https://t.co/aPkvtK3fF9— Abu Ronin (@StephMcNasty) March 27, 2021
Many critics questioned why Rae got to be the one to "teach" Fallon these dances since she did not create any of them and is not a choreographer. They wondered what she really contributes to the culture of dance where she makes her living.prevnext
the people in the video on the left are theemyanlcole and cchrvs!— sk (@kirkxxs) March 29, 2021
Some users put the video of Rae's TV performance side-by-side with the originals, illustrating the differences in her dance moves.prevnext
This is what white privilege looks like—Black creators innovate dances and do them amazingly but Addison Rae gets invited on Fallon to perform them in a ho-hum way. She’s not racist, Fallon’s not racist, but somehow the Black dancers are erased. Even though they dance better. https://t.co/svgBu5JDxz— Young Daddy (@Toure) March 29, 2021
Many culture critics argued that this is a perfect example of how someone can contribute to systemic racism without "being racist," but simply by ignoring their own privilege. They argued that neither Fallon nor Rae is overtly racist, yet they should still be held accountable for this lapse in programming judgement.prevnext
Some of Fallon and Rae's critics were high-profile stars in their own right, including The View co-host Sunny Hostin. Some fans hoped that this kind of attention might force Fallon to address the controversy, and maybe even make it right.prevnext
Where was her jimmy fallon performance pic.twitter.com/Ka6H1lNTTx— patootie (@thejoIIibee) March 28, 2021
Many users jokingly auditioned to take Rae's place on The Tonight Show, arguing that they or their friends and family were better dancers than Rae.prevnext
Jimmy Fallon about to ask Adison back on his show to perform this dance in ripped jeans and distressed Air Force 1s https://t.co/FQl27bavst— dino spumoni (@Shadynasty15) March 28, 2021
Rae's success had some viewers feeling apathetic about up-and-coming viral videos, believing that they would be co-opted and sanitized before they reached the masses.prev