Kids are pranking their parents on TikTok by telling them celebrities have died. Angela Bassett's son may have killed the trend by bluffing about her colleague, Michael B. Jordan
- Slater Vance joined in on a TikTok trend where users lie about celebrity deaths to their parents.
- He then apologized for lying about the death of Bassett's Black Panther co-star, Michael B. Jordan.
It was another TikTok trend that went too far.
That's what 16-year-old Slater Vance learned last week, after joining in on it using his own famous parents: actors Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance.
The trend involves users pranking their families on camera, pretending that celebrities — usually ones beloved to their parents — have died. The trend grew in popularity over the holiday season as families gathered and children flocked home for vacation, with TikTok users temporarily bluffing in living rooms, kitchens, and grocery stores across the world.
As of January 1, the hashtag "celebritydeathprank" had over 174 million views on the app, with "deadcelebrityprank" clocking in nearly as many.
Slater Vance joined in by pretending to read the news that actor Michael B. Jordan had died at the age of 35 years old, which Bassett reacted to in apparent shock and distress.
Social media users were quick to note that Jordan actually being a colleague of Bassett's — they co-starred in 2018's Black Panther and its sequel together — might have escalated the prank from distasteful to harmful. Chadwick Boseman, another young Black Panther co-star of Bassett's, died of colon cancer in 2020, news that also came abruptly to the film's cast and crew.
The elder Vance has also worked with Jordan, with the two executive producing the show "61st Street" on AMC.
Vance has since removed the video from TikTok, and posted a remorseful apology about creating the video.
"I would like to apologize for taking part in such a harmful trend," he said on Saturday. "I apologize to Michael Jordan's entire family, extended family directly because he's an idol of mine, and taking part in a trend like this is completely disrespectful."
Even as many continue to enjoy and share the videos, some social media users were prophetic about the trend's potential to go south as it did with Vance, including Grammy-winner Finneas O'Connell.
"I haven't laughed once at any of your videos of you telling your parents somebody died when they didn't actually die," O'Connell, who often collaborates with his sister, Billie Eilish, said in his own TikTok video. "It's mean. Your parents are showing vulnerability for a brief second and you're laughing at them. It's mean. Stop."
Twitter users say that Slater Vance's New Year's Eve TikTok may have killed the viral prank, which has seen the names of Jon Bon Jovi, Oprah Winfrey, and Cher taken in vain.
"Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance just put an end to that TikTok trend and we owe them a debt of gratitude," one user said.
Slater Vance expressed his wish that others could learn from him.
"I own this mistake and hope this can be a teaching lesson to anyone who uses social media as a tool and a source of entertainment to truly understand that their actions can have consequences that extend beyond you," he said.
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