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Why Are People Blocking Celebrities?

Pop Culture

Tue, May 14

Less than a week ago, TikTok user Haylee Baylee posted a video gleefully welcoming her “10 million family members”. And yet, only days later, Haylee’s following count has fallen back to the 9 million.

The reason for this? A TikTok Haylee posted of herself on the day of the Met Gala dressed in an ornate dress accompanied by the popular TikTok sound “let them eat cake”.

The phrase stems from Marie Antoinette. The last queen of France allegedly uttered the infamous words when told that her subjects were starving. Although this rumor has been disproved by historians, the phrase has stuck around. For many, it symbolizes the elite’s ignorance when it comes to the suffering of the masses—a fact that Haylee, ironically, appeared oblivious to.

Image Credit: Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty from Wikimedia

Unsurprisingly, she received immediate backlash for her TikTok. Haylee has since released an eight-minute video explaining that she didn’t actually attend the gala, only the pre-met interviews. Haylee also justified her silence on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by asserting that she is “simply not informed enough to talk about it in a meaningful and educational way”. While some users accepted her apology (“People are totally overreacting,” reassures one commenter) others were not so easily taken in. “Watching from District 12 where I just chose between paying my bills and buying food” comments one sarcastic user, while another writes, “What a privilege to not have to think too hard about anything”.

Haylee isn’t the only celebrity people are perceiving as out-of-touch. At the Met Gala, Camilla Cabello carried a 22.5k purse made from ice. Emma Chamberlain’s dress took 600 hours to assemble. Alia Bhatt’s sari required a team of 163 people to construct. Meanwhile, war and violence rage in places such as Gaza, Sudan, and Congo.

Image Credit: Danilo from Wikimedia

How Does Blocking Celebrities Tie In?

For many, the contrast between celebrities and the suffering is simply too staggering. So, when TikTok user blockout2024 posted a video encouraging people to ‘block celebrities on social media so they don’t earn ad revenue from you’, people jumped on the idea.

All of a sudden celebrities, ranging from Kim Kardashian to Chris Rock, are finding themselves blocked by thousands of users. The same TikTok user who encouraged people to begin blocking celebrities, posts ‘celebs block of the day’ where he suggests a handful of celebrities for people to block. The main criteria appear to be those who have not spoken up about the devastation unfolding in Gaza.

TikTok, Instagram, and X alike are filled with posts about celebrity blocking. One TikTok user posted a video accompanied by the caption: “Let them eat cake is what I say as I block every celebrity not using their platform for good because I’m not paying for their lifestyle while the world burns.” The video has attained over eighty thousand likes. Other users are posting spreadsheets filled with the names of celebrities they’ve blocked so far. Comments are filled with suggestions of who else to block and ways to heighten the effectiveness of the blocking such as by also boycotting the celebrities’ brands.

Is Celebrity Blocking Having An Effect?

It’s easy to regard the sudden surge of people blocking celebrities as nothing more than a trend. But, the blocking does appear to be having an effect.

American rapper and singer Lizzo has up until now been silent on the crisis occurring in Gaza. However, after finding herself on several people’s block lists, Lizzo suddenly posted a TikTok video advocating GoFundMe pages for a family in Gaza and Sudan, as well as an organization to help people in Congo. In the video, Lizzo announces that she has donated and encourages her viewers to likewise donate if they feel so ‘compelled’.

Image Credit: Cosmopolitan UK from Wikimedia

Project Olive Branch is an initiative where people select a family in Gaza and advocate their GoFundMe pages to help raise enough money to leave Palestine. Public figures who have been largely silent on Gaza, such as Chris Olsen and Hank Green, have in recent days posted videos getting involved in Project Olive Branch after heavy pressure from fans.

However, although the blocking is affecting some B-list and C-list celebrities, its impact on A-listers is yet to be determined. Kim Kardashian is rumored to have lost 3 million followers due to the blocking but has yet to publicly show sympathy or offer help towards the crisis in Gaza.

Additionally, some argue that blocking celebrities online is nothing more than performative activism. Twitter user Blythwife says “It 100% is performative activism and even if people claim that it demonetizes or weakens their platform, that isn't what we should be gathering and putting our energy into". Blocking famous people is a simple action that makes people feel like they're contributing to a cause, without having to do too much.

What’s Next?

It’s always difficult to predict where online movements will go. While it’s possible that the trend of blocking celebrities will fizzle out by next month, it’s also possible that it will continue to grow—which is exactly what it seems to be doing right now.

People are turning their backs not only on celebrities who they dislike but also on those who they’re fans of. One TikTok user posted a video announcing that “if I, a Swiftie of 6 years, can block Taylor Swift so can you”.

Another posted a video declaring that “I thought people were just being dramatic about the “blockout” but seeing Zendaya (especially) and Taylor Swift getting blocked, even by Swifties…is confirmation on how real people are actually taking this.” Her video has over fifty thousand likes.

Image Credit: iHeartRadioCA from Wikimedia

For the most part, people aren’t blocking celebrities based on hatred—they’re targeting with purpose. Anyone perceived as complicit in the crisis in Gaza due to their silence is getting blocked.

While it’s uncertain where this newly sprung movement of blocking celebrities will head, for now, one thing is certain: people are no longer willing to sit by and watch the elite “eat cake” while ignoring the struggles that everyday people face worldwide.

Areesha Ahmed
10k+ pageviews

Areesha is a student from London. She enjoys watching horror films and drinking tea. When she is not reading books, she is buying them.

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