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TikTok warriors have turned against real workers

Baby Storme filming her single “This City is a Graveyard” in a Target. Credit: YouTube

August 17, 2023 - 7:00am

On Sunday, a single by a 23-year-old TikTok singer called Baby Storme, “This City is a Graveyard”, went viral after she and her amateur production crew tried to film a flash mob in a branch of the American retailer Target. They didn’t have permission, and so violated the store’s safety guidelines. In response, Baby Storme took to social media and accused the Target employee who threatened to call the police of being a “racist”. 

The footage does nothing to back up her accusation and, judging from the responses, public opinion is not on her side. Interestingly, however, Baby Storme and her legion of fans remain defiant. Why? An interview given by the singer a few years ago may hold the answer: “It’s crazy but you have to keep trying and keep going,” she said of her numerous efforts at going viral. “I’m going to get the song out there and I don’t care what I have to do, end of story.” 

This statement gives some indication of Baby Storme’s preoccupation with fame at all costs. It also provides an insight into the growing division between the traditional working class and the new class of political TikTok warriors and influencers. This group is typically enamoured with the aesthetic of fighting back against capitalism and social injustice and its online presence centres around turning identity politics into a narrative of personal struggle.

Take, for example, ContraPoints, a talented Left-wing YouTuber, political commentator, and cultural critic who has made several videos on the problems with capitalism. Despite the fact that her brand has made exorbitant amounts of money from this very structure, online audiences don’t seem to care about potential inconsistencies between her online content and her lived reality. 

TikTok warriors and influencers tend to be online personalities whose activism revolves around using their platforms to reduce all the ills of the world — or, rather, their world — to “cis white men”, “the patriarchy” and “Karens”. They base their entire identity on “going viral” with a cause, and moralising against what are most often traditional working-class values and people. 

This is because this virtual struggle has a different agenda to actual workers. Two months ago, “Citi Bike Karen”, a nurse profiled by the New York Times for risking her life during the pandemic, had just finished a 12-hour shift when she became the subject of viral content for being “racist” and a “suspected white supremacist”. That is, until video evidence exonerated her, in much the same way as the Target employee who was, no doubt, in the midst of an equally thankless shift.

If Baby Storme felt that said Target employee was “racist”, then, by the standards of the TikTok warrior, he was. As she herself tweeted, the reality on the ground didn’t matter — this was “her truth, after all.

A minimum-wage Target employee can be labelled racist if it increases the chances of social media virality for a young, black, and not-so-struggling TikToker who believes herself to be exceptional. In reality, members of this class are not as exceptional or unique as their virtual identities often lead them to believe. That, unfortunately, is a truth they will have to accept.


Zandile Powell is a video essayist and a freelance writer. Her Substack and YouTube channel is Kidology.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

The narcissism is breathtaking. This person actually thinks she can waltz onto private property and shoot a video without permission from said property owner – and if the property owner objects they are racist. It’s all a stunt of course. She doesn’t believe any of this garbage. It’s just a marketing ploy to go viral beyond her little niche on social media. And she succeeded. If Target really wants to inflict pain, sue her butt off for for using its property in a commercial endeavor. Hit her where it really hurts – the pocketbook.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You make good points, but I have some sympathy for her due to the fact that if she were actually looting the store, Target employees would probably leave her alone….

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago

Are you suggesting that low paid store workers should now be acting as the police putting themselves at risk?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago

Are you suggesting that low paid store workers should now be acting as the police putting themselves at risk?

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You make good points, but I have some sympathy for her due to the fact that if she were actually looting the store, Target employees would probably leave her alone….

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

The narcissism is breathtaking. This person actually thinks she can waltz onto private property and shoot a video without permission from said property owner – and if the property owner objects they are racist. It’s all a stunt of course. She doesn’t believe any of this garbage. It’s just a marketing ploy to go viral beyond her little niche on social media. And she succeeded. If Target really wants to inflict pain, sue her butt off for for using its property in a commercial endeavor. Hit her where it really hurts – the pocketbook.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
11 months ago

I have to say Feminists that women use these tactics way more often than men. There’s a particularly nasty version where women in gyms wearing porno-type gear do hit pieces on men who they claim are leering at them as they ‘just try to do their gym routine’ (while filming themselves obvs for their loving fans).

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Do Feminists support these individuals?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That’s because it’s passive-aggression, our evolutionary speciality probably, because we’d usually lose against men in a contest of active aggression.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Er, is that from your own experience?

Fiona English
Fiona English
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Nothing feminist about such tactics. Please stop blaming feminism for behaviours from certain women and girls who have been caught up in the pseudo, self-referencing ‘girl power’ promoted by glossy magazines, Youtube so-called influencers, TikTok narcissists and corporate interests.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Do Feminists support these individuals?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That’s because it’s passive-aggression, our evolutionary speciality probably, because we’d usually lose against men in a contest of active aggression.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Er, is that from your own experience?

Fiona English
Fiona English
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Nothing feminist about such tactics. Please stop blaming feminism for behaviours from certain women and girls who have been caught up in the pseudo, self-referencing ‘girl power’ promoted by glossy magazines, Youtube so-called influencers, TikTok narcissists and corporate interests.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
11 months ago

I have to say Feminists that women use these tactics way more often than men. There’s a particularly nasty version where women in gyms wearing porno-type gear do hit pieces on men who they claim are leering at them as they ‘just try to do their gym routine’ (while filming themselves obvs for their loving fans).

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
11 months ago

“Imagine no possessions” sang a multimillionaire, then went on to making more millions from that very song, a few decades ago. I still remember the teary-eyed admiration my friends and I were feeling as we were singing the lyrics of that song together…
People have been able to make a very nice living in capitalist countries from singing about the evils of capitalism, for a long time.
Are they to blame, really? No, clearly there is a great societal interest in hearing the message. But that’s where it ends. It stays on the level of titillation, like paying for an entry to a haunted house to get scared.
Neither the singers nor the singees actually try to do anything once the song is over, except maybe a few crazies who make bombs in their basements.

Last edited 11 months ago by Fafa Fafa
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

I agree. I have no issue with artists railing about race or capitalism. That’s their business. Many of them are probably grifters, but the world is full of grifters of every race, religion and ideology. Imposing your viewpoint on others is another matter of course.

Evan Oakley
Evan Oakley
11 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

It’s worse, I’m afraid, as plenty of people who have been influenced by the supposed idealism of those facile and hypocritical lyrics (I don’t blame teenagers for dreaming along for a bit, like I did) now actively push “ideals” like completely open borders (“imagine there’re no countries”) which, other than grossly empowering ruthless cartels and smugglers, is a policy clearly of, by, and for not only global capital, but also the status-conscious, superficially globalized PMC who love to virtue signal while enjoying: cheap landscapers, nannies, etc, while not, personally or as class, being priced out of scarce housing, having to wait in endless lines at health clinics behind illegal immigrants who speak no English towing multiple children, or send their kids to overwhelmed, chaotic schools in which growing minorities of kids have arrived from very different cultures speaking no English and requiring remedial everything.

Meanwhile, every elite family from abroad of every background but one (even pale-skinned “Latinos” from Spain) has claimed and benefited from affirmative action in admissions, scholarships, hiring, and promotions, due to their “diversity”, for over two full generations. The children of a well remunerated banker with some continental Spanish heritage, whose wife worked with my mother, did this endlessly, while, as children of a single parent living near the poverty line, we simply did not qualify, categorically, due to skin color/Anglo ethnicity.

Perhaps Lennon could’ve added another dreamy lyric about industrial animal ag propping up the almost unfathomable cruelty and suffering in degree and scale inherent to its business model, by recruiting and trafficking migrant children to work in its slaughterhouses.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
10 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

Not to blame? ‘Imagine’ is just an early example or the vacuous, preachy virtue signaling practiced by so many of the show biz elite. Love Lennon at his best but FFS.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

I agree. I have no issue with artists railing about race or capitalism. That’s their business. Many of them are probably grifters, but the world is full of grifters of every race, religion and ideology. Imposing your viewpoint on others is another matter of course.

Evan Oakley
Evan Oakley
11 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

It’s worse, I’m afraid, as plenty of people who have been influenced by the supposed idealism of those facile and hypocritical lyrics (I don’t blame teenagers for dreaming along for a bit, like I did) now actively push “ideals” like completely open borders (“imagine there’re no countries”) which, other than grossly empowering ruthless cartels and smugglers, is a policy clearly of, by, and for not only global capital, but also the status-conscious, superficially globalized PMC who love to virtue signal while enjoying: cheap landscapers, nannies, etc, while not, personally or as class, being priced out of scarce housing, having to wait in endless lines at health clinics behind illegal immigrants who speak no English towing multiple children, or send their kids to overwhelmed, chaotic schools in which growing minorities of kids have arrived from very different cultures speaking no English and requiring remedial everything.

Meanwhile, every elite family from abroad of every background but one (even pale-skinned “Latinos” from Spain) has claimed and benefited from affirmative action in admissions, scholarships, hiring, and promotions, due to their “diversity”, for over two full generations. The children of a well remunerated banker with some continental Spanish heritage, whose wife worked with my mother, did this endlessly, while, as children of a single parent living near the poverty line, we simply did not qualify, categorically, due to skin color/Anglo ethnicity.

Perhaps Lennon could’ve added another dreamy lyric about industrial animal ag propping up the almost unfathomable cruelty and suffering in degree and scale inherent to its business model, by recruiting and trafficking migrant children to work in its slaughterhouses.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
10 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

Not to blame? ‘Imagine’ is just an early example or the vacuous, preachy virtue signaling practiced by so many of the show biz elite. Love Lennon at his best but FFS.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
11 months ago

“Imagine no possessions” sang a multimillionaire, then went on to making more millions from that very song, a few decades ago. I still remember the teary-eyed admiration my friends and I were feeling as we were singing the lyrics of that song together…
People have been able to make a very nice living in capitalist countries from singing about the evils of capitalism, for a long time.
Are they to blame, really? No, clearly there is a great societal interest in hearing the message. But that’s where it ends. It stays on the level of titillation, like paying for an entry to a haunted house to get scared.
Neither the singers nor the singees actually try to do anything once the song is over, except maybe a few crazies who make bombs in their basements.

Last edited 11 months ago by Fafa Fafa
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 months ago

Why do we insist on believing that these people are altruistic, and then complain when they all turn out to be money-grubbing frauds. Genuinely altruistic human beings are as rare as hen’s teeth and certainly not to be found on the Internet, and certainly not in Parliament or the media.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 months ago

Why do we insist on believing that these people are altruistic, and then complain when they all turn out to be money-grubbing frauds. Genuinely altruistic human beings are as rare as hen’s teeth and certainly not to be found on the Internet, and certainly not in Parliament or the media.

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago

reduce all the ills of the world — or, rather, their world — to “cis white men”, “the patriarchy” and “Karens”.

In other words, this is a battle against concepts and archetypes, with little relation to what is actually going on on the ground.

Especially when this relates to ordinary people doing ordinary jobs, and trying, against the odds, to make their lives work.

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago

reduce all the ills of the world — or, rather, their world — to “cis white men”, “the patriarchy” and “Karens”.

In other words, this is a battle against concepts and archetypes, with little relation to what is actually going on on the ground.

Especially when this relates to ordinary people doing ordinary jobs, and trying, against the odds, to make their lives work.

Richard M
Richard M
11 months ago

“That, unfortunately, is a truth they will have to accept.”
Will they though?
Unfortunately I suspect Baby Storme is on to something: the operative currency of a social media-based culture is not truth but her truth – not virtue, but the appearance of virtue and so on,
As long as there are enough people who will view this event through the paradigm that attractive young black women trying to express themselves are pretty-well-automatically victims and burly middle-aged white men who are tasked with enforcing their employer’s policies are pretty-well-automatically oppressors, then she is going to cash in and just keep rolling.

Richard M
Richard M
11 months ago

“That, unfortunately, is a truth they will have to accept.”
Will they though?
Unfortunately I suspect Baby Storme is on to something: the operative currency of a social media-based culture is not truth but her truth – not virtue, but the appearance of virtue and so on,
As long as there are enough people who will view this event through the paradigm that attractive young black women trying to express themselves are pretty-well-automatically victims and burly middle-aged white men who are tasked with enforcing their employer’s policies are pretty-well-automatically oppressors, then she is going to cash in and just keep rolling.

Michel Starenky
Michel Starenky
11 months ago

Her actions are vile narcissism.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
10 months ago

Not possible, there are no bad black people

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
10 months ago

Not possible, there are no bad black people

Michel Starenky
Michel Starenky
11 months ago

Her actions are vile narcissism.

Ronnie B
Ronnie B
9 months ago

Great piece, thank you.