How ‘Bring It On’ Is Still Culturally Relevant
When “Bring It On” was released in 2000, it seemed like it was going to be another cliché teen movie, but its social commentary on the exploitation of Black culture for White people’s entertainment and personal gain was a surprise and it’s still relevant today.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and the show’s guest star Addison Rae, who is best known for her TikTok videos, was met with some backlash online after Rae performed dance moves which is credited to Black creators and Black [pop] culture.
‘Bring It On’ told a surprisingly deeper story about Black creators being ripped off
An integral part of the plot of Bring It On centers around a revelation to the predominantly White cheerleading squad, the Toros.
After an injury sidelines one of their own, the Toros newest recruit, Missy (Eliza Dushku) reveals to the team’s successor, Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) that their routines were stolen. The team’s predecessor “Big Red” (Lindsay Sloane) regularly went to East Compton to attend their games to videotape the routines of the Clovers, who are mainly comprised of Black women. Missy takes them to see the Clovers in action. Isis (Gabrielle Union), the Clovers captain, pulls no punches in a confrontation with Torrence as she knows its been an ongoing issue for years. The Toros were always able to use the Clovers routines with impunity, because the Clovers couldn’t raise enough money to travel to Nationals for years, however, the Clovers will be present for this year’s competition. Isis vows that the Clovers will beat the Toros and they ultimately succeed in their quest for revenge.
And when the Clovers utilize their own routine against the Toros —the audience should be able to spot the difference in talent, which is miles apart, primarily due the Toros having no real identity of their own. The Clovers own something that cannot be co-opted by White people without it being watered down.
Black women receive far less recognition than White women
Black Twitter was certainly not impressed; the Tweet above highlights how the dances are supposed to be executed. It’s high-energy, high-octane, and rhythmic.
Indeed, the “celebrities” of TikTok rarely, if ever, have original content. And the Black content creators, Black women especially, who create their own content — in this case, dance moves/routines — rarely get any sort of recognition.
For example, Fortnite’s producer, Epic Games, gave Atlanta teenager, Jalaiah Harmon, an emote after her dance on TikTok went viral, but it didn’t do this until there was backlash and talks of whether or not the company was stealing dances from Black artists. Critics debated the legality of it, but it was an ethical choice for the company to make as artists only sued because they felt frustrated and left out. A good example of doing the ethically right thing is Dave Chappelle asking audiences to boycott The Chappelle Show but not Netflix and/or Comedy Central. The former took it down and the latter eventually paid Chappelle despite him not having any ownership in the show for over a decade. These weren’t contractual obligations but it was still the right thing to do.
Black women almost never get that sort of treatment. Comedian Mo’Nique’s public spat with Netflix is proof of Black women have to work 100x harder to be taken seriously.
Addison Rae is able to wake up every day and put in the bare minimum as she did on The Tonight Show. White content creators usually attempt to show the “behind the scenes” and that their work isn’t easy; but marketing, endorsements, networking, and representation is a lot easier especially on social media where White women are paid more than Black women.
Bring It On does touch on the financial hardship the talented Clovers faced. The Toros lived in a bubble and were able to steal their moves for years and enjoy the success and notoriety. Black women are still facing the same hurdles in media while White women pretend to care about inclusion.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from Elvis, Bring It On and this cringeworthy segment with Fallon and Rae is that nothing has changed.