Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


2023 TikTok Wrapped is Here.

A celebration of the real, the realer, and the realest moments that defined our year.

2023 was a great year for TikTok: the rise of new creators and influencers, new app features, and lots of drama. We’ve compiled a list of the biggest moments of the year; from ex-Walmart Employees to looksmaxxxing, this is your guide to TikTok in 2023. 

1. Colleen Ballinger vs the internet 

Miranda Sings was famous on early YouTube for her bright red lipstick and bad singing voice. Sings’s actress Colleen Ballinger attempted to become an influencer as well, but was annoying in a way that wasn’t funny. The summer of 2023 started with a bang when Colleen posted her now infamous “hi.” apology video featuring her song “Toxic Gossip Train,” in which she accuses the people she groomed of lying about her grooming them. Ballinger’s inability to take responsibility for her own actions quickly turned everyone against her. She tried to make herself the victim of the situation, which did not resonate with the TikTok populace. She was subjected to ridicule for months. The “Toxic Gossip Train” “chugged down the tracks of misinformation” as Ballinger lost almost 200,000 followers. 


2. Matt Rife vs his fans

Comedian Matt Rife released his first comedy special: “Natural Selection” on Netflix in November, and it was met with immediate backlash. Rife began the special by making a joke about domestic violence toward women, despite having a mainly female fanbase, and many took to social media to express their disgust. Rife responded to these comments by stating that he doesn’t “pander [his] career to women.” He responded further to the criticism by posting a link to his “official apology” on Instagram, which redirected users to a website selling helmets for children with special needs. He continued to anger the internet as he then got into a fight with a six-year-old on TikTok. @bunnyhedaya, or the Bunny Barbie, posted a TikTok of her son, Aiden, which stitched a clip from Rife’s special where he says that even though Jupiter has a ring, people should not look to it for advice. Aiden corrected his comment by saying that Saturn is the planet with rings and added that Rife is mean to girls. Rife commented under the video that Jupiter has a ring and that Santa Claus isn’t real, which many felt was mean and unnecessary. His behavior might be more easily forgiven if his special was good, but it was not funny at all. 


3. Keith Lee vs Atlanta

Keith Lee is a Las Vegas food reviewer and an influencer in the truest sense. If Keith Lee posts a review of a restaurant, that restaurant is sure to be flooded with patrons by the next day. In response to his massive popularity, he and his family embarked on a nationwide “food tour.” Lee did not seem to be a big fan of many of the restaurants in Atlanta, most notably “The Real Milk and Honey.” He gave the establishment a bad review because they refused to serve him due to their “strict rules”. Unfortunately, another restaurant in Atlanta called “Milk and Honey” got targeted by his fans, which negatively affected their business. Apparently, his fans even threatened to blow up the building. In the fallout, Lee has made videos clarifying the distinction between the two restaurants. Generally, Lee has a positive brand image, so it was concerning to see how intense his fans were in their backlash.


4. Tarte vs influencers

The beauty brand Tarte faced multiple scandals in 2023 surrounding its brand trips. In January, Tarte flew 50 influencers to Dubai to promote the launch of a new product. These influencers flew business class, stayed in private villas, and received many free products. Many took to social media to criticize this luxurious trip, considering it “tone-deaf” as the United States was in the midst of a recession. Their next two brand trips also caused controversy as the company was accused of treating the influencers unequally. In May, @shawtysin, an influencer invited on Tarte’s trip to Turks and Caicos, posted a TikTok revealing that she was given the smallest room in the house, and she was only invited to stay for one week, while others stayed for two. Although she was grateful for the opportunity, she felt that, as a BIPOC creator, she was being looked over. @Briajones, another BIPOC creator, posted a TikTok in tears because she felt like she was being treated as a second-tier person on the brand trip to attend the F1 Grand Prix in Miami later that month. She stated that she had always been treated equally on trips, however, she was only invited to stay for warmups, while other influencers got to stay for the entire day. In response, Tarte’s CEO posted a video apologizing for the miscommunication that occurred. After receiving backlash for not addressing diversity concerns, she posted a second one where she promised that Tarte would improve upon their creator program to ensure it is more diverse and equitable. 


5. Rachel Zegler vs Disney Adults

Rachel Zegler was announced as the star of the “Snow White” live-action remake in the summer. When asked about the film during a red-carpet interview, Zegler seemed smug about her role and was very off putting. She appeared to dislike the original plot of the story, and in another interview, she said that she was so scared of the original movie when she was a kid that she never picked it up again. The film had already been criticized by Disney adults and conservatives for its choices to not include actors with dwarfism as the dwarfs and for Snow White to be a person of color, so this interview was the tip of the iceberg. The video does not come off great for Zegler, but it did not warrant death threats she received. However, she returned into public grace during her press tour for “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” Zegler never backed down from her statements, instead posting photographs of her in princess costumes as a child and stating how grateful she was to have been cast in the role. 


1. Shein factory tour

In June, fast fashion company Shein invited influencers on an all-expenses paid trip to China to learn more about the company and to try to clear the poor online narrative about the company. On Day 3, the influencers visited a Shein factory and posted videos showing and talking about their experience. Tiktoker @itsdestene_, in a now-deleted TikTok, stated that she “expected [the] facility to be so filled with people just slaving away but [] was actually pleasantly surprised…everybody was just working like normal.” Additionally, she added that “[the workers] weren’t even sweating.” Another creator, @itsDanidmc, in another now-deleted TikTok, said that her “biggest takeaway from this trip was to be an independent thinker, get the facts, and see it with your own two eyes.” These influencers were met with immense backlash because Shein has received numerous human rights violations due to their poor working conditions. Therefore, these influencers were spreading a false narrative to an impressionable audience. Even though these influencers have deleted their TikToks from the trip, Shein still has videos from the experience on their social media accounts, so they can not truly remove themselves from the situation.


2. Mikalya Nogueira

Beauty Influencer Mikalya Nogueira (@mikaylanogueira) always seems to be at the center of some controversy on #beautytok. She was accused twice in January of faking the performance of makeup products for sponsorships. First, she was accused of wearing false eyelashes while promoting a new L’Oreal mascara. People said that when she revealed the finished look, they could see lashes that were not there before, and some even spotted that the band for the false lashes was coming off the inner corner of her eye. In addition, she was accused of using the TikTok skin-smoothing filter while reviewing a foundation from YSL for another sponsored post. Other makeup gurus, such as Jeffree Star, have called her out publicly and accused her of lying about products for money. These controversies have led many of her fans to doubt her reviews and her to acquire an untrustworthy reputation.


3. World of T-Shirts

The saga of Josh (@worldoftshirts) came to a head this year as his posts chronicled his descent into alcoholism. His struggles were so public that there was an entire account dedicated to tracking how much he was drinking every day. Josh would only be sober for hours at a time before hitting the streets to start drinking again. His relationships with other influencers didn’t help his condition, as they would encourage his behavior. Much controversy surrounded these relationships as many found them to be inappropriate and harmful. They would deny Josh’s condition and encourage him to continue drinking, while villainizing those publicizing his disease. Josh would often go on vacation, leading to benders beginning on the plane ride over. He also gave tours of New York, which featured (almost exclusively) trips to famous bars. Recently, he’s either started to sober up or has just stopped drinking on camera so that no one can track him anymore. 


4. Lady Bedazzled Hannah 

Lady Bedazzled Hannah (@lady_bedazzled_hannah) is a more niche creator but is quite notorious in certain spheres of the platform. She is most well known for her severe cultural appropriation; she will often dress up as indigenous women and claim to be practicing “cultural appreciation.” In a direct response to the accusations that what she is doing is insensitive, she decided that the best course of action was to politely disagree with those calling her racist. Hannah has a husband, whom she refers to as Mr. Donovan, and one child. She does like to advocate for several serious issues. Primarily, she advocates for the end of domestic violence, which is a noble cause to use one’s platform for. However, the second most important to her is “LCS,” which dedicated fans will know refers to “lazy cart syndrome,” the phenomenon of shoppers leaving their carts outside the designated stalls when they finish shopping. Most recently, Hannah has begun conducting “AI character live streams,” where she puts on her idea of cultural clothing and parades her knowledge of racial stereotypes. She has ones for “African lady,” “Asian lady,” “Irish lady,” and, of course, “Native American lady”. What’s most perplexing is that she uses the same accent for all of these characters. 


5. Scar girl

Annie Bonelli (@annbonelli) went viral on TikTok for having a unique scar on her cheek. However, people began to notice that the scar often changed colors, position, and shape. Sometimes it was lighter, and other times it was a darker brown. Some suggested that she was using an eyebrow stamp to create a fake scar, while others believed that the scar may have started as real, but she started drawing over it for attention when she became famous. The internet erupted when she posted a video in January using a Q-tip and make-up remover to wipe off the scar; however, she almost completely missed the “scar,” and some say that they saw color come off at the end. Soon after, she posted a video in tears that stitched a video from another influencer making fun of her scar. Regardless, the comments did not sympathize with her. Although the “scar” has now disappeared, Bonelli continues to argue that it was real.


1. #coquette (by Jasmine Zheng & Milla Broadwater)

Coquette-style clothing takes inspiration from the Victorian era with soft, pastel colors and lots of lace. Something about the style is just so delicate and girly. Coquette screams, “I’m just a girl.” She’s a girl’s girl if she’s coquette. It’s taken over TikTok as various users can be seen simply slapping pink bows on anything in sight and posting it to the sound of Lana Del Rey’s “Let The Light In.” From Raising Cane’s chicken tenders to McDonald’s fries and ranch dressing bottles, the pink bow phenomenon has completely taken over the social media platform.


2. #romanempire

After a viral video of someone asking their male significant other how often they think about the Roman Empire, everyone started asking each other and themselves what they think about a weird or excessive amount. This trend is usually posted to another song by Lana Del Ray: “Margaret.” My Roman empire is…


3. #grimaceshake

For Grimace’s birthday, McDonald’s released a new milkshake, and TikTok was quick to posit that if you drink the shake, you will get murdered by Grimace. The videos were often over the top and involved playgrounds. Getting murdered by Grimace, who slightly resembles a large grape from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, is a scary thought.


4. #looksmaxxing

Looksmaxxing is defined as changing one’s appearance drastically to “maximize your potential.” However, on TikTok, this tag shows men how to fix their hair and jawline (mewing), and clear their skin. It’s the masculine equivalent of a how-to guide for a “glow up”. 


5. #erastour

During the summer, Taylor Swift’s concert took over TikTok. Everyone would post videos of the tour, live streams of shows, and reviews and rankings of the surprise songs. It was a huge cultural moment in 2023. 


1. The Chamoy pickle kit was definitely a moment on TikTok. To assemble the now notorious Chamoy pickle, you need one jumbo pickle soaked in Chamoy, giving it a unique bright red color. You also need Takis Fuego, Fruit Gushers, Lucas Swinkles Salsaghetti, Lucas Gusano Tamarind (sauce), and Lucas Polvo Chamoy powdered topping. This sounds absolutely disgusting to me, but maybe it’s just because I don’t like the idea of eating Gushers, Takis, and pickles all at once. However, some find that it is a tasty treat. 

“I may reorder it.”

— Suzanna Carlsten


2. Gail Lewis, a former Walmart employee, filmed her giving her final announcement after ten years as an associate with the big box store. She announced she would be taking a better job after her tenure at Wal-Mart. The video quickly went viral. Many praised Gail Lewis as being the best to ever do it. According to the New York Post, Lewis’s virality was a “dream” for her. She had a Walmart vest auction for $300,000 and a full merch store with mugs, sweatshirts, tops, and notebooks. 


3. JoJo Siwa, former star of Dance Moms, stepped into the spotlight this year after being broken up with by Avery Cyrus. In the viral video, Siwa’s mom asked what she was upset about, and Siwa loudly proclaimed, “I WAS USED.” “For what?” questions her mother. “FOR VIEWS! AND FOR CLOUT! AND I GOT TRICKED INTO THINKING I WAS LOVED!”. JoJo’s reaction seemed guttural to say the least. JoJo is also well known for the videos of her singing Olivia Rodrigo songs. Her face seems to have miraculous color-changing properties while singing, which could lend an interesting element to onstage performance. 


4. Nara Smith discovered apples this year. Nara Smith (@naraazizasmith) is a Mormon model and influencer living in Utah with her husband, model Lucky Blue Smith, and their two children, Rumble Honey and Slim Easy. In October, she posted a TikTok where she claimed that she did not know whether she was late to apples or if people were eating them already. Upon taking a first bite, she discovered that apples are “crunchy” and “really fall-y”. Many took to social media to meme her for acting pretentious while she described this “innovation.” Perhaps Nara should try a carrot or even a strawberry next.


5. Kilah Reigan (@kilahreigan) didn’t wash her hair for 100 days in a dedicated effort to avoid cleanliness. After a third of the year spent constantly changing hairstyles to avoid washing, she gave in and cleaned up using dish soap and mayonnaise. We’re glad she finally did wash her hair, although it’s possible that she killed the small ecosystem that probably developed on her scalp.


1. “GyatStacy” by Ovp.9 went viral for its perplexing lyrics this year. Luckily, we at the Talon have done extensive research (with the help of Genius) to discover the hidden meaning behind the poetry of the song. The first line is “sticking out your gyat for the rizzler.” The word “rizzler” is slang for an “expert seducer” (Wikipedia) and is a portmanteau of “Riddler” from the D.C comics and “rizz”, a shortening of “charisma” that references charm or flirting ability. The line seems to imply that the rizzler is not the one doing the rizzing and is in fact being rizzed by whoever the song is being sung to. Perhaps this is a comment on the changing norms regarding dating and relationships in the 21st century. The second line, “you’re so skibidi,” is a reference to the Skibidi Toilet series, which features the clash between human-headed toilets and humanoid creatures with TVs for heads. Perhaps the speaker is calling the subject a toilet. I’m not sure how this would romantically entice them, though. The “Fanum Tax” was coined by streamer Kai Cenat, who takes a certain amount of his friends’ food. By calling someone else “Fanum tax”, perhaps the speaker is implying that they have a legal right to a portion of the subject. “I just want to be your sigma” is a straightforward plea for courtship, as is “freaking come here. Give me your Ohio” may imply that the subject of the song has a large amount of emotional baggage from living in the suburban Midwest. The song is a complex portrayal of 21st-century love. 


2. “1997 Live Performance of Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac. This rendition is known as one of the most haunting and witching performances of all time. During the performance, Stevie Nicks stared directly at guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, whom she had split from. TikTok users post videos mouthing the incredibly powerful lyrics: “You’ll never get away from the sound of a woman that loves you” and “I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me.”


3. “Sprinter” by Central Cee X Dave. This song absolutely took over TikTok as users dressed up as British rappers and danced to the lyrics: “Take a look at these diamonds wrong, it’s a life of squintin, can’t just stare.” 


4. TikTok freaked out about Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan’s new movie “Saltburn.” The final scene sees Keoghan prancing about a mansion in his birthday suit to Sophia Ellis-Baxter’s “Murder on the Dancefloor.” Despite this being only one of the many somewhat disturbing scenes from the movie, it was the only one with a soundtrack. Viewers in a post-Saltburn state could experience the collective trauma of watching the film to the groovy song together on TikTok.


5. “Better Place (Family Harmony)” from Trolls went viral this holiday season as the backdrop to a dance from the movie, which usually featured multiple members of the same family or friend group. 



This year on TikTok was defined by an explosion of new trends, drama, conflict, and influencers. This has been your guide to TikTok in 2023. See you next year… or not… 

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