meme explainer

‘That’s Not My Name’: TikTok’s Most Corporate Celebrity Meme, Explained

Photo: TikTok

Emerging quite inorganically over the last few weeks, “That’s Not My Name” is a celebrity-led corporate creation. The meme is basically a way for Gen-X stars to explain the diversity and depth of their Hollywood careers to young people on TikTok while racking up solid views. And it’s fun and no one gets hurt! This is part of a larger complicated interaction between Gen-X people who are famous in traditional ways and Gen-Z people who are natively famous on TikTok or Instagram. Yes, there will be hurt feelings as these relationships progress.

How It Works

After a short, candid intro, the names of characters the actor has portrayed flash over movie stills, and while you’re watching, you go, “OMG, I remember that!”

Who Done It

Alicia Silverstone and Drew Barrymore, both quirky-cool and relatable Gen-X moms and stars, were trailblazers of the meme. Whatever Silverstone is paying her social consultants to come up with stuff like this, they’ve earned it.

But it took Barrymore to weaponize the format into 21 million views.

Why It’s Interesting

Right now, the traditional operations of fame are failing stars like this. Barrymore’s chaotic, hilarious daytime-TV show is squeaking into its second season with weak ratings; Silverstone’s latest film is a shark movie called The Requin, which is about the director’s war with the CGI artists in being able to properly depict marine life. (“Looks like it was recorded live during a particularly harrowing Zoom meeting,” say the critics.) They’re both better than this!

The Song

The format is set to the song “That’s Not My Name,” a 2007 banger with 1980s attitude by the Ting Tings, a still-active duo from the U.K. It’s about sexism!

Side Hustles

The meme was properly hijacked by Gen-Z stars such as Bailee Madison (38M views) to subtly dunk on their elders by having racked up significant credits by the age of 22; youngest millennials (Victoria Justice!) threw in too, as did oldest millennials (Zooey Deschanel, the oldest millennial of them all). But the meme was also used by non–household names, such as Kevin Chamberlin, Broadway queen Idina Menzel, and Jessica Marie Garcia. These actors did surprisingly big numbers with the format (13M for Kevin! 10M for Idina!). People love to be fans.

Some Interesting Omissions

Drew Barrymore included Casey Becker (of the opening of Scream, very key, a visionary moment in cinema!) and Dylan Sanders from Charlie’s Angels, but omitted her star turn as Little Edie in HBO’s Grey Gardens???

Jessica Alba, for some reason, reminded us that she was Sue Storm in the much-hated Fantastic Four (a movie that she says nearly convinced her to retire from acting) and also reminded us of her identity as a “founder.”

Jennifer Garner gave us Sydney, of course, for Alias fans, but somehow omits Gray, the lead of the impeccable rom-com Catch and Release, possibly the No. 1 movie ever made, honestly better than anything Scorsese ever made.

Christina Aguilera, busy elsewhere dropping pretty great Spanish-language tracks, showed up to remind you of her acting career.

Kyle MacLachlan made a rare male appearance in the meme, reminding us he was everything from Agent Cooper to a longtime character on Sex and the City, as well as the original Paul Atreides, but … my man could not bring himself to mention his star turn in Showgirls??? This is exactly why corporate memes like this can’t be trusted and celebrities can’t be trusted with social media.

Bonus Content

Scott Evans, the brother of Chris Evans, has apparently posted his first TikTok using the meme, and he’s pretty much the first person to do it right: It’s about how often he’s called “the gay brother of Chris Evans.”

Meme Explained: ‘My Name Is …’