Most people can remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned that their favorite celebrity had passed away.
Those moments become touchstones and shape how we connect with pop culture, society, and even grief.
But if it wasn’t real, do you still remember that moment?
An online prank that recently went viral on TikTok was put to the test as it chronicled the reactions of parents when they lied and told them their favorite celebrity had passed away. Celebrity death hoaxes have been around forever (sorry, Paul), but the trend has finally arrived on TikTok.
The video was short and many found the instinctive response satisfying: one woman who reacted to Ozzy Osbourne’s fake death cried for nearly 10 seconds in one breath. The clip has been viewed 15 million times.
Online reactions, meanwhile, were mixed, ranging from stomachache laughter to outbursts of criticism. “strange“Evil,” When “disgusting” Others tired After a holiday season filled with real-life celebrity deaths. Andy Cohen is usually pretty unflappable on air. cursed on live tv while going against the trend.
The pranks seemed to wear off as kids returned to school and work this week.
If you missed the trend completely, here’s what you need to know.
what is the trend?
Pranks require a certain degree of intimacy. For the gag to work, you need to know which public figures your loved one has on his mind.
People then approach them and start recording on their cell phones, telling their parents or anyone within earshot of the fake news, and capturing their reactions.
Some videos end abruptly by simply showing a sudden shock, while others pull back the curtains to laugh, tell “jokes,” turn tears into smiles, or unleash parental anger. or
The trend’s virality seems to have peaked around Christmas and Christmas Eve, when kids are heading home for the holidays.
Parents may be slipping the turkey into the oven when it looks like their child is giving them (fake) bad news.
“Kate Winslet died at 47,” one user lied, leaving her mother frozen in shock, standing in a kitchen strewn with Christmas decorations and trays of food.
Part of the plot for some viewers is voyeurism, finding out who these total strangers care about. They tended to be A-list celebrities.
Tiger Woods was a celebrity who was often used to play pranks, especially on his father. One man, who was playing a golf simulation when he heard the fake news, dropped his club to his knees and gasped, “Oh, really?”
The video also revealed political differences from Donald Trump’s videos that elicit pain and celebration.
how did people react?
The prank video garnered millions of views and likes on TikTok and was widely shared among friends and family.
However, some weren’t amused and went to TikTok to share their disgust.
One user called the trend “insensitive,” while another asked people to stop pranking in 2022.
“These people have family and loved ones and you really care about them and you’re playing pranks,” said one user.
Grammy-winning musician Finneas O’Connell has spoken out against the trend, stating that he “never laughed once” in a video and called on people to stop.
O’Connell, who is known for working with the Billie Eilish sisters, said on a Christmas TikTok, “Your parents show vulnerability for just a second, but you laugh at them.
What do real-life celebrities think?
TV host Andy Cohen lashed out at the prank on his show Watch What Happens Live. Cohen has been the subject of several death prank videos.
‘I don’t want to experience people’s reactions to me dying’ Cohen said on Tuesday“It’s scary enough to actually die without watching the weird simulation over and over again.”
When he asked people to stop tagging him in the video, he uttered curse words, later adding that it was the first time he had done so on the show.
Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance’s 16-year-old son, Slater Vance, has joined the trend to tell his parents that fellow actor Michael B. Jordan has passed away.
of video now deleted, Bassett and Vance are seen leaving after being informed of the fake news. She turns around, opens her mouth and approaches her son. Bassett co-starred with Jordan in the 2017 movie Black Panther. Considering the death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman in 2020, many online criticized the stunt as insensitive.
Slater Vance quickly apologized on TikTok, calling the trend “harmful” and also apologized to Jordan’s family.
“I think this was a mistake,” he said. “And for others who use his social media as tools and sources of entertainment, to truly understand that his actions can have consequences beyond his own. I hope.”