Hayley Kalil leaves The Mark Hotel for the 2024 Met Gala
(Ilya S. Savenok/Getty)

Viral ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Met Gala TikTok Has People Fed Up

Some may say the backlash to Hayley Kalil’s (a.k.a. HayleyyBaylee) viral Met Gala TikTok was unwarranted. However, the response demonstrates it was just the spark that ignited everyone’s exhaustion with celebrities’ obliviousness to the world’s problems.

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Kalil is a model and social media personality best known for appearing in Sports Illustrated and for her TikTok account, which boasts nearly 10 million followers. Given her large social media presence, she was invited to serve as a pre-Met Gala host for E! News, conducting interviews with celebrities outside the venue. Although she didn’t attend the actual Met Gala, she easily stole the show that night with her TikTok.

However, outside the venue, where many Israel-Hamas war protestors were arrested for “disrupting” the event, Kalil showed off her outfit in a short video while lip-syncing to the sound of Kirsten Dunst saying, “Let them eat cake,” in the Marie Antionette film. For context, “Let them eat cake” is a phrase often attributed to Antoinette, the former Queen of France, although historians don’t believe she actually said it.

The phrase was first recorded by Jean-Jacques Rosseau in his book Confessions, in which he recalled an incident where a “great Princess” in France was informed of the plight of the peasants, who had no bread, to which she responded, “Then let them eat cake.” The unnamed Princess was apparently so out of touch with reality that she couldn’t comprehend the concepts of poverty and famine, believing that if the peasants didn’t have bread, they could just eat cake instead. Hence, it became a famous quote to demonstrate the oblivious attitudes of the rich.

Then, Kalil decided to utilize it for her TikTok.

HayleyyBaylee’s tasteless TikTok starts Blockout campaign

It didn’t take long for Kalil’s TikTok to go viral, receiving thousands of scathing comments and stitches slamming the influencer for seemingly mocking those fighting for change in the world while dolled up for the Met Gala. Even though she deleted the original video, it has been recorded and shared far and wide on social media. The “Let them eat cake” sound has been used by other influencers for outfit reveals and other purposes, but Kalil’s was the first to go viral, likely because the setting was difficult to ignore: a wealthy woman wearing a frivolous costume and quoting Antoinette in a city with one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation, with protestors visible in the background protesting the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in Gaza.

The TikTok video drew countless comparisons to the dystopian novel The Hunger Games, in which Capitol residents flaunted their wealth and threw parties while the districts suffered extreme poverty. Users immediately took the video to be mocking the poor and powerless or essentially stating that she didn’t care about the plight of victims of war crimes because she was personally having a grand time at the Met Gala.

@blanca_perdomo

Using the Marie Antoinette audio was a choice ? This just solidifies that a lot of these influencers are so far removed from reality. While she didn’t attend the Met Gala, her using this audio during this time is ridiculous… like read the room Haley ??‍♀️ #haleyybaylee #metgala2024 #popculturenews #popculture #letthemeatcake #metgala #hungergames #hungergamesedit #marieantoinette #incomeinequality#greenscreenvideo #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Blanca_Perdomo

Eventually, Kalil posted an apology video, although it left many unsatisfied. In the video, she tries to prove that she’s not “elite” and is just like everyone else. One of the primary examples she uses to prove this is that she wasn’t invited to the actual Met Gala event. She also claimed she didn’t know the context of the quote and thought it was just a popular TikTok sound. However, many pointed out how even her apology was out of touch, as she couldn’t even admit that she is more fortunate than the average middle-class worker and the only commonality she could find with “normal people” (as she called them) was not being invited to the Met Gala.

However, Kalil’s video sparked something bigger than mere outrage over a single controversial TikTok. Her video started the Blockout 2024 campaign, which resulted in millions of social media users blocking celebrities on various platforms. Kalil was one of the first influencers to feel the impact as her following dropped below 10 million weeks after she had celebrated the milestone. The campaign soon spread to other celebrities, as well. Those targeted were the celebrities who have engaged in the most excessive displays of wealth or those who have failed to use their platform to bring awareness to the Israel-Hamas war.

It is believed the campaign started with an account titled @blockout2024, in which the user has posted multiple viral videos calling for celebrity blocks across social media. The goal is to try to put a dent in the enormous ad revenue most celebrities enjoy and focus one’s attention on local businesses and artists. Celebrities who have made the blockout list include the Kardashians, Taylor Swift, Zendaya, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Brady, Kevin Hart, Harry Styles, and more.

There’s a variety of reasons for the Blockout 2024 campaign. Many are blocking celebrities to protest the widening wealth gap. Currently, just the top 1% of Americans alone hold more wealth than the entire middle class, which accounts for about 50% of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, poverty and homelessness have been increasing as the economy slows down and many industries experience post-pandemic layoffs. On average, CEOs in the U.S. make 344 times the salary of the average workers, while average workers increasingly struggle to make a livable wage.

Others are also using the Blockout 2024 campaign to protest against the celebrities with enormous platforms who have failed to bring attention to the Israel-Hamas war. Many of these celebrities have no problem using social media to promote their products, tours, and latest projects while never breathing a word about current events. Meanwhile, college students across the country are facing disciplinary action, financial setbacks, and potential loss of job prospects for putting all their efforts into protesting Israel’s war crimes. Regardless of the reason, many major celebrities have lost hundreds of thousands of followers in just the past week.

Ultimately, all the backlash isn’t actually about one single TikTok. It’s that citizens are finally growing tired of witnessing the disparity between how the wealthy live and everyone else. The lack of awareness, exorbitant salaries, and antics of the ultra-rich have been steadily building anger from citizens, and Kalil’s TikTok finally led to the outrage boiling over. Now, millions of people are demonstrating just how fed up they are with the pay disparity and the wealthy’s blissful ignorance of world events.


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Author
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.