#SquadGoals and White Hollywood's Appropriation Problem

Why does everything cool get ruined?

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Complex Original

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You wanna see a dead body? Take my hand and follow me. But please watch your step: there will be myriad carcasses, face down and caked in mud, along our journey. To our left, you will see “Bae” in its proverbial body bag, tattered and reduced to debris. To our right, the remains of “On Fleek” and “Bye Felicia” decaying apace alongside one another. And front and center are the lyrics to your favorite hip-hop songs—from “Big Poppa” to “N*** in Paris” —in the early stages of rigor mortis, depleted of oxygen, rendered completely unrecognizable by a suburban family on Vine. Depressing sight, right? I honestly can’t go any further. It’s too much to bear. Damn you, appropriation. Have you no mercy? Is any phrase, lyric or dance move birthed from Black Cool™ you have spared? 

And wait…what’s that lying there, motionless, in the distance? 

#SquadGoals, DOA. That’s right, friends. Yet another Black Twitter neologism has been plundered, exploited, and whitewashed for mass consumption without any credit or inclusion offered towards its proprietors. With the announcement of a new multi-cam sitcom coming to CBS called Squad Goals, another culturally appropriated nail has been driven into the coffin of black vernacular. To add insult to injury is the fact that Ryan Seacrest is executive producing this soon-to-be shitshow. And if anyone should know better, it’s him, considering how intimate he’s had to be with black artistry and black intellectual property while helping break artists on his syndicated radio shows. But then again, he’s also the guy who reduced the accomplished, empowering superstar Nicki Minaj to a prop when he used her curvaceous backside as a backboard for a miniature basketball game live on the air. So nah, Seacrest doesn’t know any better. Also, fuck that guy.

Here’s a brief description of the new show from Variety, who embarrassingly attributes the term to Taylor “Look How Many Black Artists I Can Parade On Stage On A Single Tour” Swift:


Egregious culture vulture-ing meets dreadful whitesplaining. And, just like in every other classic case of appropriation, it is rife with misinformation. This summary conflates #SquadGoals with #WhitePeopleProblems. Squad Goals began as an aspirational term designed by black youth. Now, thanks to Seacrest and Co., it’s being portrayed as white disaffection and ennui; just another group of white people longing for their lives to be infinitely easier than they already are.

The two lily-white writers who sold their Squad Goals pilot, Lindsey Rosin and Aaron Karo, are relatively green in the TV game, so their comedic sensibility and cultural sensitivity are hard to define. However, a cursory glance at their Twitter feeds provides a glaring look at whom we are dealing with here:

Wanna know how the Pope has so much energy? Dude hasn't had a girlfriend in 78 years.

Sigh. Burn it all to the ground. When black people are left out of the consulting, writing, producing, and casting of their own IP, this is what happens. An entire television show with the chance to reach millions of viewers, built on a foundation of cultural confiscation and exclusion. The same “talent” behind this show would undoubtedly clutch their pearls should the black kids who created the phrase #SquadGoals ever share an elevator with them. Hollywood continues to get it all wrong once again. All we can do is pray that Squad Goals, meets a swift and quiet death like Ryan Seacrest’s last network TV venture, Knock Knock Live. That would be—please don't steal this word, white people—lit. 

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