When cultures are misappropriated for profit or the pleasure of an audience outside of this culture, they are offensive and ‘othered.’ In the same way that corporations, publishers, and music artists use AAVE to appear cool and relevant, celebrities will misappropriate AAVE to profit as well. An example of this that I found was on The Ellen Show, a daytime television show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. On this segment, “Ellen helps her audience keep their vocabulary current with some hip new terms,” as captioned on the YouTube upload, ‘Ellen is On Fleek’. The words she uses include “On Fleek,” “Bae,” and “Thot,” and she references the other time she did this type of segment where her audience learned “twerk.”

Nowhere in the segment does she state where these phrases came from, instead using them as a joke to her vastly white audience. Instead of giving credit to hip hop culture, black culture, or AAVE, she says that the definitions for these phrases come from Urban Dictionary, which she claims is “like Webster’s Dictionary if Webster was a drunk girl.” The camera pans repeatedly to the show’s black DJ who is clapping and laughing, an awkward attempt of “affirming” theses jokes. This segment is problematic because they profit from and mock the language that simultaneously holds black people to vulgar stereotypes for use of that same language.

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2 responses »

  1. I find it interesting that Ellen doesn’t give black vine stars credit for some of these phrases (ie: the girl that had the eyebrows on fleek vine) but when it comes to white vine stars like the people behind “Damn Daniel”, they are brought to the show and praised. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly7NLSv6Z9Q)

    It really shows how the work of black people is used for entertainment but never acknowledged in the same way that the work of white people is.

  2. oliviaklugman says:

    I thought the presentation on AAVE was so interesting! I was really uneducated on the topic before and understood AAVE terms to just be general modern slang, which really demonstrates how ignorant white culture can be about where our slang originates from

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