Sorry SNL, Gen Z Didn’t Invent That Slang
S1: Unfortunately, no cap, she’s literally dead right now, so she’s laughing. That’s good news. No, I mean, she’s literally dead like that. Dead.
S2: Hi, I’m Matus Malem Kirchherr.
S3: And I’m Rachel Hampton. And you’re listening to I say, why am I
S2: in case you missed it,
S3: Slate’s podcast about Internet culture.
S2: Rachel, this past weekend was perhaps one of the most delightful and also terrible days to be on social media. You know, I’m talking
S3: about of course I do every year, Mother’s Day, where I find out how many of my friends have hot moms and how many of them are willing to post the photo where clearly the mental calculus was. I look good in this photo. Does my mom. I don’t really care.
S2: Brief pause to say hello, moms. Advisee Why am I. We love you lots.
S3: We love you. We’re so glad you listen to this podcast to keep up with your children.
S2: It is a notoriously a rough day on the Internet for a lot of people. I think if you don’t have a great relationship with your mother or a relationship at all or trying to be, there’s just, you know, every
S3: year I kind of just try to hype up my friends who don’t necessarily have the best relationship with their moms, because the thing is, I feel like daddy issues are kind of overplayed. Mommy issues like hot, nuanced, complicated. I told my friend this, I think like Sunday morning. And then I was going to take talk Sunday evening and I ran into this tick tock that says everything that I said, but better.
S1: A lot of people have a lot to say about daddy issues. Why just take so long to go wrong?
S2: But all the hot girls now there’s nothing. It’s like mommy issues. And today is our
S3: day for this. Tick tock features this, you know, young woman dancing around her room. And at first you just hear music and then she comes in and looks at the camera and just says something along the lines of, like, babes, she’s mommy issues or hot girl shit, you know, like daddy issues overplayed the blow
S2: that did not have to go that hard.
S3: It didn’t like she did what needed to be done. So I send my friend this video on Ticktock through their, like, messaging service. And I say. I told you Hawkgirl shit, and it’s not until she responds later to the tick tock that I realize that my message never sent. The video did, but not the message, because according to Tick Tock, this I’m quoting from the message they sent me, they sent this message violated our community guidelines. We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community. If you believe this was a mistake. I have feedback to let us know. And I was just like, whoa, I didn’t realize that y’all were reading my dreams. Like, I knew that the platform censored content that you posted, although so many people say hot girl shit, like I literally think the the tick tock girl said hot girl shit in that video. But me writing it in a message was apparently against Tektites community guidelines. I was just like, what’s going on here?
S2: Wow. Big Tic-Tac has silenced you.
S3: They have silenced me from supporting my friend.
S2: It is funny because like hot girl shit is such a tock meme at this point. Like it’s become a force onto its own. Divorced from the song from once it came.
S3: Yeah, it’s fully wireframe. I like that. I’m sorry. Yeah. It was like, wow, we’re going real proper here. Like hot girl shit is a land of its own now, but apparently not in Tic-Tac. Dems. Should we be surprised. No. Am I uncomfortable. Yes.
S2: Just keep on doing hot girl S.H. asterisked. I’m really going
S3: to be like censoring myself.
S2: Hot girl. She’s hot
S3: girl, shiest
S2: like schist, an igneous rock known for banding and distortion.
S3: OK, seventh grade biology teacher,
S2: oh, ninth grader at science, thank you very much, my academic
S2: Oh, somebody’s about to write in and be like, this is not Ignatius Madison. You remembered that wrong.
S3: I just feel like perhaps ninth grade we should have progressed beyond ninth grade at our big age. But, you know,
S2: it’s OK that that’s that tees up nicely. What we’re going to talk about today, Rachel, does it? Well, no, but we can shoehorn a transition into anything to
S3: lead me into your transition.
S2: We’re actually debuting a new segment here. I see. Why am I today named after one of our favorite Tick-Tock audios?
S4: Oh, no. Oh, no.
S2: In oh, no, oh, no, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We’re going to delve into Internet ephemera of the week that makes you have that exact reaction
S3: and the thing that made us go, oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. This weekend was Elon Musk hosting SNL.
S2: It is true Elon Musk did host SNL this last weekend, which was newsworthy. That’s maybe the kind word controversial. That’s the last kind word for a couple of reasons. Elon Musk, of course, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, you know, in his is opening monologue, he talked about having Asperger’s. You know, they did a segment about Dogecoin. And we are going to talk about none of that. Instead, we are going to talk about one particular aspect of one particular sketch that caught our attention, mostly because I refused to talk about Dogecoin. And this is more important. The sketch is called GenZE Hospital. And in it, Elon Musk plays a doctor delivering some bad news to a group of consumers.
S1: We now return to the thrilling conclusion of Gen Z Hospital. Row, nobody’s telling us anything, is besty going to be OK?
S2: Last, we demand to know how our bestie is doing. I’m sorry, bro. I told you I don’t have the information yet.
S3: But seriously,
S1: I’m so pressed right now, bro,
S3: in this video, it is for presumable Z people who are clearly not GenZE. It’s like Bo and Yang and Kate McKinnon.
S2: Besty cannot die like
S1: this big fact’s. She’s going to make it, bro.
S2: Michy day has a fanny pack, but like not Maun as a fanny pack.
S1: This Morgan squad gang gang,
S3: Elon Musk comes in and he’s like, I have some bad news, no cap or some shit like that. And it just keeps going and going and going where they just keep sprinkling in sus dead ass cringe surgery.
S1: And it was just for a while. But we have your best Deonna machine and we’re doing everything we can. So this is going to be OK, right. I’m sorry, but at this particular time that’s looking like crap.
S3: I don’t really have any words to describe that except that I saw one minute version of this on my timeline and I thought, oh, that’s it. There’s no way that there’s more. It’s just really bad. And then I realized it was four minutes and I wished for the sweet release of death, which was not granted to me.
S2: I took about 15 minutes to watch the four minute clip because I took breaks bone yang blink twice. If you’re you’re being forced to do this against your will.
S3: Hastag Freebo in twenty, twenty one, he will look like he did not want to be there.
S2: He knew, he knew this was bad.
S1: Oh millions of people flip they had on live every day. Oh yeah.
S3: You know that. So the internet gets a hold of this video and they’re like what the fuck is this. To the point that AVC trends on Twitter on Sunday,
S2: always a sign that the the discourse is going to be fruitful, that people are really going to get into the meat in the heart of the issue.
S3: It’s going to be super nuanced. People are clearly upset. They’re saying things like what SNL seems to think is GenZE language is actually words that are largely cribbed from AVY, which stands for African-American vernacular English words and phrases like no cap or just saying bror, or at one point they call everyone a squad, or I think generally any word that is used in this sketch that is not sound organic coming out of these people’s mouth can probably be squarely traced back to the black and queer communities. It’s being kind of framed as general GenZE Internet parlance. And just to make it clear, the word slash phrase black community is kind of a misnomer in that black people represent a lot of different communities and boiling a down to a few words is just wildly inaccurate. And so I will say one thing that the GenZE hospital thing did correctly was just how badly people are using these words and like how cringe it sounds coming out of their mouths. Right.
S2: Like they they said the quiet part out loud there by naming the sketch GenZE hospital at nine, you know, I mean, obviously doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but like black LGBTQ phrase hospital, a hospital like that,
S3: I mean, they clearly had enough time to have an entire skit about how the black community is uniquely skeptical of the covid vaccine when it’s about access and not about vaccine skepticism. But they can’t go so far as to be like most of these words are not actually just in Z. And so there’s this backlash. There’s all these tweets. People are tracing it back to specific Internet stars who have made the same mistake of describing words that mostly come from a B as standard language. Specifically, they’re talking about Britney broski, otherwise known as kombucha girl.
S2: Kombucha girl, if you’re not familiar, became like incredibly like. I cannot overemphasize how famous this woman became for a video in which she drinks a kombucha and goes on just like a fast journey while experiencing that bizarre, fizzy, fermented sort of ass. But you paid a lot of money for it. Taste that is kombucha.
S3: Yeah, it’s carbonated vinegar. I still drink it, but it is a journey. And so back in July, she had this video where she described a video as just Internet culture. She says. So when someone was quoting that or when someone says period since whatever, it’s very much. Internet culture like stand Twitter, Stan culture has its own language. This is how you speak within these online communities. She’s arguing that creators shouldn’t be penalized for saying video is now part of how, quote unquote, everyone speaks.
S2: You’d be hard pressed to find Britney broski content in which she’s not saying like trial or period with a T at the end.
S1: OK, ok, ok. Yo, yo, what you like.
S2: Part of her branding was borrowing from a B or as she calls it, stand language.
S3: The way a lot of nonblack people use these words is extremely cringe. Like if I have to hear one more white person say per or period with the T, like, I’m going to throw myself off a cliff, do not call me sis, do not call me a queen. Do not refer to me as your bestie because I am not how ever to place the blame entirely on like Britney broski or any other white tock creator is unfair and doesn’t really take into account the fact that this kind of quote unquote borrowing or in most cases kind of stealing of black and queer language is kind of as American as apple pie.
S2: It’s funny, too, because we have a couple of like, really commonplace examples, you know, in millennial language, like cancer, culture and WOAK, I think are two examples we talk a lot about on this show. Like what white folks, we didn’t we didn’t invent those terms,
S3: didn’t invent those terms. I also don’t even use those terms correctly. That is a whole nother episode about the way we specifically have been bastardized into like a cry for fascism. But I’m not even going to get into that at this point. But flattening this into a kind of like GenZE is uniquely bad at this is divorcing it from a historical context since, you know, Elvis Presley decided to cover doing nothing but a hound dog or, you know, just watch Dreamgirls. Just watch brings something
S2: Cadillac car, Google, and
S3: you’ll get the gist. And the gist is this has always been happening. What the Internet has done, which is very gr8, is divorcing things out of their original context and turning them into something else. It gets really dicey having kind of cultural appropriation conversations because of how much the Internet has just quote unquote democratized or decontextualized, I think is the best word for it where things come from.
S2: Rachel, I’m really sorry that you chose to make a pie metaphor, because it did unlock for me a horrible, horrible memory. Do you remember a couple of years ago there was like this ten year old little white boy named George Dalton who did it cover up trap queen in which he like literally bakes pies in a kitchen. It’s like a doo wop esque cover of Trap Queen. You know very well drag queen by a tiny child. I’m like, hey, look,
S3: pal, you’re pretty awesome as you came in the door. I just want you guys
S2: to go in this video. It’s a bunch of like a ten year old kids, all stylized sort of 1950s retro. And they’re all riding around in this like top down convertible. And George Dalton, the kid singing is like in the back with his arm, like draped over his girl, the girl who’s, you know, ten.
S3: That’s also doing so well. I’m just upset.
S2: I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m really upset. The thing that’s dredged up for me is what sort of you were just talking about. It’s like this is a generation who have been raised entirely online, like this should have raised flags to perhaps people older than this ten year old who I won’t fault here. But for him, it probably seemed like this is normal. This is this is OK.
S3: And the actual covering of the song is not the issue. The issue is how deeply corny it is. Like so much of this comes down to like obviously they’re important, like social political dynamics going on here. The thing that bothers me most is how cringe so much of this is. Like I just it’s corny and bad. Khalistan, check, please free me from this. I would like to be let off of this ride right now. OK, OK,
S2: we will take a break. We’re going to take a break, we’re going to take a lap and we will be back with more cringe related content after the break in the kitchen. Click. All right, we are back from the break, Rachael’s resting heart rate has returned to a healthy place, sure.
S3: Mostly because during our break I was thinking about this really great piece from March 20 20 by former Slate intern Rob Dozier, who is probably one of the smartest people on the Internet. Rob wrote this piece right after Billy Eilish did this interview where she was kind of shouting out the black creators who she very clearly looked up to, like Tyler, the creator, while at the same time kind of taking cheap shots at music genres that she was very clearly taking notes from. She said that all these rappers were just lying in their music and posturing and all of this stuff.
S2: But to be clear, that’s different from when she does it, because she does that. She’s telling a story.
S3: Yes. Yes. And it’s like, ma’am, you are wearing acrylics. Our entire style is taken from 90s era hip hop and R and B, and if you don’t understand that, the kind of like bombast city that is endemic to the genre is in fact a part of it, then what are you what have you even been listening to? What was the point?
S2: I feel like we should probably note that Billy Eilish is incredibly young, right? She’s right now 19 years old. She was born in 2001. So this was last year. She was probably 18, which is not to say she’s not fully capable of forming thoughts and putting them out into the world, but her
S3: prefrontal cortex is not developed. And this is her youth is important. It adds some important context to what I’m about to read from this piece that Rob wrote in paper magazine. Rob says, The Internet has provided for white youth who spent a large part of their adolescence on a front seat to the creation and distribution of black cultural products, black music, slang and dances. But as his cultural products move across the Internet, they get farther and farther away from the original context and meaning and often become collapse under the simplistic label of youth culture. This isn’t at democratizing, as it seems
S2: essentially predicted that SNL sketch in a single paragraph, I guess like it’s spot
S3: on. Exactly. And there’s something else he says later, which I think is kind of really important in terms of this conversation around the concept of cultural appropriation, which is GenZE years. And the generations that will follow spend their most formative years online trends like acrylic nails and Nike Air Force ones or words like Fleak, and that adds to them feel native. And they likely don’t have the awareness that they’re borrowing something or the language to express it.
S2: I’ve been thinking about Fleak a lot, actually, as we’ve been having this conversation and talking about this sketch with Fleak was the product of a young black woman named Peaches Monroe who never got the credit or the cachet or the literal cash that come with, you know, being a creator of something so, so culturally critical and ubiquitous. The phrase on fleek comes from a vine of a friend, Peaches, back in twenty fourteen, which honestly, I thought it was older. And it’s about, you know, when your eyebrows are on fleek, when your eyebrows are like perfectly shaped and filled and looking really great. We in a speech when I get
S3: Evraz on fleek book. And what’s really interesting about Peaches Monroe is that with most words you cannot trace them back to the originators. And exactly. Peaches Monroe is one of the only times I think in the past five or six years where a word that has become so ubiquitous has a clear creator. And so it seems like perhaps the best possible time to actually credit and give money to the creator. And it didn’t happen. And so the Peaches Monroe kind of saga, combined with what Rob was saying, is that this isn’t new. This is a tale’s all this time. This is, in fact, America’s founding origin story. But I mean, what’s interesting about what the Internet has done is that when I don’t know, Myracle was stealing stuff from, like indigenous tribes, you knew where it came from or when Elvis was stealing from Big Momma Thornton. You knew who it came from. But the Internet has so decontextualized everything that it’s easy to see things and not have any sense of their original context and not having any sense in a lot of cases of the original political meaning of. These things, so things as simple as like acrylics or hoops or Internet slang or Avey, and so it is too late to have that conversation and we need to move beyond to the next level, which is like people are going to get a hold of words that they have never heard of before on the Internet and maybe not know where they come from. And they should do their best to find out where they come from. And when they find out where they come from, they should be giving, like respect and I don’t know, money to the communities that they come from. Like, there’s something just really gross and there should be some kind of dissonance. If you’re regularly using black culture production for your own clout and you’re doing absolutely nothing to give proper homage to where it comes from.
S2: Rachel, I have a question, actually, because we’ve talked a lot about people doing this wrong and not giving credit and not treating Avi with the nuance and historical context it needs. Is there anyone who does it right? Does does like is there a role model for the next SNL sketch?
S3: There is no role model for SNL because SNL should be abolished. It’s not funny, but in terms of creators, who
S2: has is the end of our show.
S3: If I get canceled for wanting to cancel SNL, I would ride that ship down to the bottom of the ocean because I firmly believe that SNL is not funny. However, I mean, when I think of somebody who like heavily borrows and has clear influences in black culture production and who is not black and who does not raise any like little like sirens in my head, I think of Bruno Mars to be completely honest, like
S2: I’m gonna need more.
S3: His music and his style are both deeply black. That man is not black. And yet whenever he’s asked about his influences or who he takes inspiration from, he is very quick to point out that they are all black. All of his backup singers are all black. He mostly works in terms of his features with black artists. I think what bothers me so much about this conversation is that people will pretend that they came up with something and it’s like, no, there’s a rich history behind this thing that if you respect, you can also take part in, even though you will most likely sound cringe.
S2: I I’m not going to lie. I have felt a little like this episode was a setup just to get me to self cancel, auto cancel.
S3: I mean, I’m just here to inspire white guilt, really. That’s my entire purpose in life.
S2: A job well done today is Hampton. So if you find yourself online, about to post a tweet with what you think is some new Internet slang that you’ve encountered, maybe take a second. Think about where it came from. Find out where it came from. At the very least, I would like you to hear this sound in your head. Oh, no.
S4: Oh, no. Now.
S2: That’s the show if you are listening for the first time. Welcome, thank you for joining us. We’re so glad you’re here. We’ll be back on your feeds on Saturday. Please subscribe. Our show is free and it’s the best way to make sure you never miss an episode. If you really liked what you heard, leave us a rating and a review and Apple podcasts and tell a friend to check us out. It really does help us to find new listeners. Just a reminder, we are still looking to hear from anybody who is trapped on a weird side of tick tock. My example is that tick tock is convinced that I am a former Mormon. I am not. If that’s you sent us a voice memo describing the weird side of tick that you can’t escape at. I see. Why am I at Slate Dotcom and you can always find us on Twitter. Our hashtag is ICMP I Pod.
S3: I see Why Am I is produced by Daniel Shrader, a supervising producer, as Derek John works with Slate’s culture editor, Jay Brothas, editorial director of Audio See online or not.
S2: Oh, Phuket’s metamorphic, it’s metamorphic.
S3: DALHART On next week’s episode, Anderson takes Earth Science again.