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The ‘Oh My God, [Celebrity] Died’ Trend Died in the Worst Way

Erik Killmonger in Black Panther

Christmas is a time to be with family, and in that time in 2022 came a lot of people using TikTok to prank their relatives. A new trend popped up that had kids using parasocial relationships to their advantage. They’d gasp, say a celebrity died, and then film the reaction of those around them. The problem is that sometimes it went too far, and then it was no longer “funny” to watch.

One of those cases came from Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance’s son, Slater Vance. Participating in the trend, he told his parents that Michael B. Jordan died, which already seems like a bad thing to do to celebrities who work with these people, but for Bassett, it is equally rough because she did also work with Chadwick Boseman, who shockingly passed away in 2020.

The backlash had Vance taking the video down and issuing an apology for it and explaining that it was an honest mistake, and Vance having accountability for himself is honestly wonderful to see on social media. So often these trends happen, there’s pushback, and then we move on. And while it blew up because it included Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, this is hopefully the end to a bad trend to begin with.

“I would sincerely like to apologize to Michael B. Jordan’s entire family, his extended family, and him directly as he is an idol of mine,” Vance said in his video apology. “Taking part in a trend like this is completely disrespectful. I don’t wish any bad ramifications of this of my actions upon his family nor my parents as they deserve none of the backlash.”

Not all “comedic” trends are good

Now, it’s not fair that this fell on Slater Vance to end it. This trend was bad from the start. Quite frankly, the only times I laughed involved the very drastic differences in the reactions to “Donald Trump, dead at 76” from Trump fans vs. people who hate them. Overall, the humor came from the reactions of people who didn’t care. One had a guy just going “someone always has to die at Christmas,” and I’ve never stopped thinking about him.

But the point is: Slater Vance didn’t start the trend, but he showed us why trends like this can hurt. Look, I don’t want to get into parasocial relationships, because it is hard. But when a celebrity you look up to dies, it can take a lot to process. Carrie Fisher’s death still hurts to think about. And so, pranking your family with this at the holidays is just sort of mean.

You may find it funny, but then you’re the one who has to explain why you went ahead and told them someone they loved died. Vance just ended the trend and showed us a drastic result because Bassett has been through something like this before, and it’s not fun to see her upset in the video.

Vance taking the video down and apologizing is the right move, but it shouldn’t have just been on Vance’s shoulders. Many who used their family for clout over the holiday in this trend should stop and think about it because that’s not fair to them, those celebrities who are constantly seeing how they “died” on Twitter, and the families and friends of said celebrity who might see those trends and be upset before they realize it is a joke.

(featured image: Shutterstock, main image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.