By Anjali Nayak
Charli and Dixie D’Amelio gained prominence through TikTok, a video-sharing platform in which content creators can upload 60 – 180 seconds of footage and reach billions of users. With the widespread use of the Internet, the public view has seen an upsurge in social media influencers, some becoming relevant enough to be placed in the category of A-list celebrities. Charli is at the very top, considered to be the “Queen of TikTok,” the 17-year-old boasts 101 million followers along with 7.9 billion likes. Along with the newfound popularity, both sisters have received unprompted public scrutiny, death threats, and cyberbullying. Neither deserves half the hate they get.
With the rapid growth of social media and the Internet, the concept of fame has greatly changed. Gone are the days of auditioning for a role or praying to get picked up by a record label in order to distribute your work. Anyone can upload anything on the Internet and make millions of dollars. Users of the social media platform are in charge of deciding who they want to be successful, not the celebrities themselves. Neither Charli nor Dixie chose to become famous, the hundreds of million people that follow them did. This is the case for Dixie D’Amelio, who rose to fame by being Charli’s sister. Dixie was given a platform so quickly, she is left to figure out why she is famous: her latest venture being music. Before the concept of social media, artists hone their craft for several years, until they have gained enough skill to earn recognition. Now, however, we seemed to have reverse-engineered this process. A teenager becomes extremely popular with a large fanbase, just for someone to then capitalize off of their fame. Throughout the show, countless managers and agents push the idea of her becoming a pop star, regardless of the fact that she is not a natural singer. The general consensus of Dixie’s first few songs is very negative, which is the usual opinion for most artists’ first works. However, in this situation, Dixie has not had the time to hone her craft and be confident in her ability as a singer. It also is not her fault that she is in such a position that everything she does will be endlessly scrutinized. Failure is a very large part of finding achievement. For example, it took David Bowie three albums to create a project with both commercial and critical success. When trying something new, failure is inevitable. On the other hand, Bowie had a small fan base during the beginning of his career while Dixie had millions and millions of followers, scrutinizing her every move. The question lies, would you rather fail to try to do something for the first time in front of 50 people, or 50 million people?
“The D’Amelio Show,” is a refreshing take on celebrity reality TV. Rather than flashy and melodramatic, the show provides insight into the dark side of fame. Navigating such newfound popularity can be an overwhelming process, especially as a teenager in such important development years. Both sisters are very explicit in how stardom has destroyed their mental health. For example, Charli explains that she used to have 6 – 10 large panic attacks every day. Specifically, with younger stars, significantly high pressure to make many business ventures when one is younger, before they are considered old, gross, and naturally irrelevant. The D’Amelio family is also extremely financially dependent on both Dixie and Charli’s paycheck, living in a luxurious mansion, owning expensive outfits, and an overall lush lifestyle. Jenette McCurdy (previous child star on Sam and Cat) opened up about her experiences as a child actor, saying that she didn’t even like acting, yet felt that she needed to continue her career because her family had become financially dependent on her. Charli and Dixie both undergo the same crisis, feeling that they must carry the burden of growing up in the public eye to keep the family afloat. When watching the show, it does not take very long to realize that Dixie and Charli are both very damaged people. They undergo constant suicidal thoughts, depression, breakdowns, and crises. One does not need to be a fan of the sisters to be able to sympathize with them as human beings.
While Charli and Dixie are constantly criticized for minute details, male social media influencers are left untouched for the most terrible of actions. For example, Bryce Hall has a string of controversies under his belt but does not receive half the hate the D’Amelio sisters receive on a daily basis. Hall threw large super spreader events during the peak of the pandemic, has many sexual assault allegations, and most notoriously peed off the side of a balcony at the social media convention Playlist. During the same time, Charli was losing a massive 500,00 followers for “coming off as rude.” On the other hand, Bryce was making rash decisions, putting thousands of people in danger of the coronavirus infection. While there have been multiple tirades of the public trying to tear apart Charli D’Amelio’s following for unnecessary critiques, nothing has happened to Bryce Hall, even with the fact that there are multiple things he should be held accountable for. There has been a long history of women in the entertainment industry “going crazy,” yet all can be distilled to the same concept, the effects fame and immense amounts of hatred can have on child stars. Are Dixie and Charlie D’Amelio going to have the same fate as Britney Spears? Hopefully not, and as her audience, we are the only ones that can stop them from doing so.