What Bring It On Teaches Us About Appropriation In The Age of TikTok

As influencers continue to get opportunities from Black creative's work, here's why a movie from 20 years ago is more important than ever.



Over quarantine, TikTok exploded in popularity, and with it, so did hundreds of influencers. While the app shows off tons of different content such as memes and trends, perhaps its most famous is usually dances created by users that others learn and participate in.


Now many of us are probably not thinking about the creators of these dances as we mindlessly scroll through our "For You Page." Still, when someone gets the opportunity to promote themselves through those dances on a bigger platform than TikTok, then at a bare minimum, credit should be given to the originator. And yet, that wasn't the case when TikTok influencer Addison Rae was asked to perform various dances on Jimmy Fallon's late-night show.


As Black creators continue to have their content co-opted off the app, the scene is reminiscent of the movie Bring It On, released in 2000 and clearly ahead of its time. The film's plot looks at how a group of privileged White cheerleaders -- the San Diego Rancho Carne Toros -- were able to steal the routines of the Los Angeles' East Compton Clovers, whose cheerleaders are predominantly Black. The Toros were able to win national championships for years without anyone knowing they were stealing choreography because the Clovers didn't have access to the same resources to attend those championships for others to see them. The movie then follows the new cheer captain of the Toros, Torrance (played by Kirsten Dunst), as her cheerleading reality comes crashing down, and she tries to make things right.


“Every time we get some, y’all come trying to steal it,” the East Compton Clovers’ captain Isis (played by Gabrielle Union) tells Torrance. She accuses the Toros of “putting some blonde hair on it, and calling it something different.”


While Tik Tok influencers may not necessarily be trying to "call it something different" and their intentions may not be malicious, with the platforms they're being given, they do have to do more to make sure smaller creators doing the brunt of the work are getting the credit they deserve too. It wouldn't have been difficult for someone between Addison Rae or Jimmy Fallon and his team to make sure the Tik Tok handles for the various choreographers in the segment were included while Addison does the dances. At least that would've given new fans who have never seen these dances a chance to see the originators at work. It's possible Addison reached out to them individually; I would hope she did. But the national audience she was given that night could've and should've also been extended to the creators who gave her material for a segment in the first place.

Update:

Thanks to PopSugar, we know the name of the choreographers are Mya Johnson and Chris Cotter. You can read Mya's full interview, where she asserts that she would've appreciated seeing her name on Jimmy Fallon's show while someone else performed her dance.