Social Media Killed the Video Star

By Antonio Caceres, Staff Writer

Old Hollywood has long been dead. The era of significant starlets, multiple marriages, and secrecy that once dominated Tinseltown has gone away with it. Nowadays, everything is out in the open– and I mean everything. Everything is broadcast on social media, from a person’s intimate struggles to what they have for lunch. Platforms such as TikTok have shown that almost anyone can become an “influencer” and reach levels of celebrity that were once reserved only for dashing actors and the most glamorous of actresses.


No one better signifies this change in fame culture than Charli D’Amelio. The teen dancer gained an immense following on TikTok since 2019 and has a follower count that stands at over 100 million. Yet, anyone over the age of 20 is unlikely to have heard of her or her ungifted older sister, Dixie. While they primarily have lived online, in recent months, their profiles have heightened. Charli has starred in television advertisements and even appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Dixie has also begun releasing terrible pop music that still garners her 2.5 million listeners on Spotify. The sisters are tracked by the paparazzi and TMZ.


Americans know well those who are “famous for being famous.” The 2000s couldn’t get enough of Paris Hilton, and today’s teenagers look to the Kardashian-Jenner family for the latest fashion trends and drama. The rise of influencer culture is something entirely different. While they might not have exhibited raw talents, Hilton and the Kardashians were linked to American aristocracy, the Hilton Hotels and Robert Kardashian. They elevated their status by being entertaining and flailing about on the public stage. We just couldn’t look away. 


These new influencers are, frankly, nobodies. These newcomers with their lack of connections have done what was once thought impossible, becoming a sensation without ever being discovered. This is likely for a good reason, as any good casting director or manager would have turned away these naive teenagers on the count of their bland personalities.


Of course, the rise of influencer culture is not all bad. Black, brown, queer, and trans creators are making names for themselves through social media in ways they never otherwise would have. However, too many influencers, regardless of their identity, bring no new talents or vision to the public consciousness. Too many are grifters who rely on beautiful posts and brand deals to stay afloat without having any meaningful talent or personality to justify their fame. I have no problem with people being internet famous. Still, as the lines between online fame and genuine celebrity continue to blur, I can only envision an impending pop culture that turns away from talented artists towards no-names who will do and say anything to remain relevant. After all, that is what influencers do best.