Lexicon Valley

When Brands Cry “Bae,” This Twitter Account Is on It

Here is a confession: IHOP knew about fleek before I did. “Our pancakes stay on fleek,” the corporation tweeted in November. And on Halloween: “How fleek are they?” (the pancakes). And a week earlier: “We StAy On FLeEk, bb.”

A brilliant Twitter account named @BrandsSayingBae has done us all the courtesy of rounding up these tweets so that we might ask, from deep within the crevasses on our wrinkled faces, what is fleek, and, more existentially, why is fleek, and, perhaps more hungrily, what has fleek to do with IHOP? (Is it some kind of gluten substitute?) A machine, Google, can call forth these answers and make them appear before us like my pinkly gleaming scalp through the few straggling gray hairs that remain to me in my senescence, and so: Fleek means “smooth, nice, sweet, or awesome.” The “why” has something to do with a Vine artist named Peaches Monroe, whose eyebrows were “on fleek”—on point—for a few moments of June 21, 2014. And, in a righteous world, fleek would have nothing to do with IHOP. Just as the word bae would have nothing to do with Pizza Hut, or Chili’s, or Mountain Dew. Just as Whole Foods and #swag would never appear in a sentence together. And yet.  

As you can see, brands police the Twitters for young-person slang and @BrandsSayingBae polices the brands for sounding desperate and out-of-touch. The account has more than 17,000 followers. Should we be exasperated with the corporate suits for trying to #leverage #Internet #memes into #profit? With the kids for inventing all these newfangled words in the first place? With the deadpan Twitter account from hell (literally, the makers set their location to “hell”) that insists on countering the market’s cynicism with an equally contemptuous and lazy mockery of some poor social media grunts tweeting for their supper before signing off in a haze of self-hatred and driving, alone, to Applebee’s, where even the grilled chicken wonton tacos are ON FLEEK but at least you can now order a whiskey smash?    

Run along, children. Grandma needs a #nap.