Young creatives are using social media to shape the culture we consume. But what happens when they don’t own their work? by Doreen St. Felix
In an article for The Guardian, writer Hannah Giorgis argued that content-sharing among black users and consumers constitutes a “21st century meta-language” that gives place to dances, songs, memes, and other “sociolinguistic phenomena” that are compelling enough to make the leap from the producer’s specific context to even the most corporate of marketing campaigns. Evidence teems. In August 2015, Dancing with the Stars shot a promotional campaign featuring mostly white celebrity has-beens doing Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” a song and attendant dance popularized on Vine. In one breathless appearance on Ellen, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tried it too. In those moments, black teens’ internet production becomes a means for communication and entertainment. Their names as creators are harder to find.
Cultural sharing is ancient. That the speed and relative borderlessness of the internet makes cross-platform, global dissemination seem like a consequence of tech is a convenient amnesia.