Whether it’s diving into a Colleen Hoover novel or hopping on The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo bandwagon, most TikTok users are familiar with BookTok.
While this corner of the app is known for sharing book recommendations and commentary, BookTok is currently at the centre of controversy. Kierra Lewis, one of the creators at the forefront of the community, has found herself at odds with the Seattle Kraken— an ice hockey team competing in the National Hockey League.
At first glance, a controversy involving BookTook creators and professional ice hockey is somewhat unexpected. Mari of @mynameismarines notes that the crossover started after Kierra read PUCKING AROUND by Emily Rath. Being an adult romance novel based in the hockey world, Kierra seemingly developed a new appreciation for the sport— going on to create content about players she finds attractive.
“[After reading PUCKING AROUND], Kierra starts to gain more interest in the Seattle Kraken… she starts making these vlogs where she is watching games,” Mari notes. “She’s also adding commentary where she is sexualising some of the players.”
Soon, the Seattle Kraken began capitalising off this viral moment, posting fan-style edits of players. The team’s TikTok account and the official NHL page even made content referencing BookTok. However, these videos have since been deleted from the @seattlekraken account.
With BookTok being the Kraken’s key to virality, the team’s management invited numerous TikTok creators to watch live hockey games. Kierra attended game four of the playoffs earlier this year, where she was gifted a “BookTok” jersey.
The creator also brought a sign reading “#KrackMyBack” — a popular phrase among Seattle Kraken fans in the BookTok world.
Even though the Seattle Kraken team was on board with all the BookTok content, the players were seemingly uncomfortable being sexualised online. This issue came to a head over the weekend when Felicia, the wife of Seattle Kraken center Alex Wennberg, posted about it on her Instagram stories.
“I always thought Alex was the most beautiful person in the world and that it just seems the world finally caught up,” she begins. “The reason I struggled to navigate this is while I’m all for female empowerment and especially around sex, there has been videos and comments made that has crossed the line of what it means to fancy someone and when it actually sounds pretty predatory and exploiting”.
She urges women to hold themselves to a higher standard— noting that many women know what it is like to be over-sexualised and should not encourage this behaviour.
“I feel that women who have experienced catcalling, getting involuntarily filmed in exposed situation (like a groin stretch at their job) should hold themselves to a higher standards. You can be sex positive without exploiting others.”
Felicia also shared a screenshot from the comment sections of one of Kierra’s videos, writing, “What doesn’t sit with me is when [your] desires come with sexual harassment, inappropriate comments and the fact that with the internet we can normalize behaviour that would never be ok if we flipped the genders around…”
In a series of TikTok videos, Kierra responded to Felicia, encouraging those upset to lighten up and explaining that her content shouldn’t be taken seriously.
“To see my name being dragged with all these false accusations is blowing my mind,” she says. “It’s just literally pissed me off… especially when I tell y’all all the time that these 30-45 second videos are just for fun.”
She also mentioned that she had privately messaged Felicia, asking if she wanted her to remove any of her videos. However, she claimed that she has yet to receive a response from her.
“For me to sit here and see that post that woman posted of me, and me be an adult and message her to say ‘hey if you got a problem with a video I posted four months ago,’ say the word… any video is deleted,” she shares.
Kierra insinuates that Felicia’s behaviour is hypocritical, pointing out that she has previously supported BookTok’s obsession with her husband and the Seattle Kraken.
“My issue is, people want to ride BookTok’s coattails for the clout and then switch up. You were just calling your husband what? BookTok’s what? Now you are having a change of heart … I just don’t like how this whole thing played out,” she admits.
That said, many internet users were confused by Kierra’s concern with Felicia changing her mind, pointing out that “it is okay to take back consent at any point.”
In a written statement on the situation, Kierra noted how the Seattle Kraken had encouraged her to create such content, which left her puzzled by Felicia’s reaction and the team’s decision to delete all their BookTok-inspired videos.
“The Seattle Kraken not only took interest to my videos from the beginning that mention Alex Wennberg but even encouraged me to keep posting as well as them beginning to post their own ‘thirst trap of Wennberg,'” Kierra writes. “I want to also mention my Seattle Kraken reactions and vlog led to them flying me out to their playoffs game and gifting me a BookTok Jersey. This event led to them gaining over 60K followers.”
Later, Alex and Felicia addressed the controversy on their Instagram stories. Felicia started by apologising to Kierra, sharing that she did not intend for her original comments to be an attack. She also explained why she only decided to address the videos now, even though they are months old.
“I understand that people are confused by the timing of my statement, but while the creator is hung up on it being four months since she posted the video, she and her following seems unable to grasp that the videos continued to show up in our life on a daily basis,” Felicia writes. “All I did was give context to a situation where we had enough and ask people to keep their desires and comments in a private conversation versus online where we and other hockey families can see it.”
Alex’s statement had a similar message, adding that he doesn’t want his child to grow up surrounded by this type of commentary.
“I’m all for the BookTok community to write books and fiction about hockey, but the aggressive language about real-life players is too much… this is not something we support or want our child to grow up with. All we ask for is a little respect and common sense regarding moving forward,” Alex shared.
All things considered, this saga has started some important conversations about how the internet treats public figures, often conflating them with fictional characters. This phenomenon is even more apparent in communities like BookTok, where fan fiction and video edits about these characters are popular forms of content.
But what sets this situation apart is how accounts outside the BookTok community endorsed this behaviour, illustrating how things can quickly spiral out of control when official pages like @seattlekraken or @nhl get involved. With the disconnect between the players and the team’s social media management, it’s clear that capitalising off these fantasies is not only an irresponsible but also an ethically questionable approach to building a TikTok presence.