People Are Comparing the Melania Trump Drama to 'Bring It On'

July 19th 2016

Laura Donovan

Melania Trump has gotten a lot of heat on social media for her Republican National Convention speech, which many have pointed out is uncannily similar to the one that Michelle Obama delivered at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.


To make sense of this political development, Twitter is doing what it does best: comparing the situation to a pop culture artifact. This time, it's the 2000 comedy "Bring It On."

In the film, the Rancho Carne Toros, a mostly white cheerleading squad, unknowingly performs dance moves that were stolen from the East Compton Clovers by their former captain.

Though the Toros cheerleaders had no idea the dance moves were stolen, the Clovers call them out for using their routines.

The narratives line up pretty well. In both cases, a wealthy white person (or team of individuals) rips off the work of a talented black woman (or team of black women) who come from a more economically disadvantaged background. (Obama grew up in the South Side of Chicago, and the Clovers hail from East Compton, where 26.7 percent of residents live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-Year Profile for 2000-2014.)

The plagiarism accusations certainly feel like life imitating art to some Twitter users.

Some said Trump's speech is an example of white people capitalizing on the black community's culture when it is convenient for them.

"What's wild is that this came on the same night where Republican Congressman Steve King said he couldn't think of any great parts of civilization created by people of color," activist Shaun King wrote in a Facebook post about Trump's speech. "Here we have a white woman stealing something great from a Black woman."

"Bring It On" received recognition for highlighting cultural appropriation when it debuted in 2000.

Salon writer Charles Taylor wrote in August 2000 that "Bring It On" created an interesting critique of the presumed "natural soulfulness of black people":

"Cultural appropriation is so often addressed in terms of breast beating or white guilt that the straightforward treatment it gets here is refreshing. 'Bring It On' spins a neat variation on the idea (true or not) of the natural soulfulness of black people. The routines of the East Compton cheerleaders (performed, I’m certain, by professional dancers) are a mixture of dance, acrobatics and gymnastics that have some of the jaw-dropping pleasure of watching the Nicholas Brothers dance."

That said, Taylor felt the film could have done even more to broach the issue of appropriation:

"'Bring It On' never addresses the issue of appropriation as fully as it might, focusing instead on the comic attempts of the Rancho Carne team members to pull themselves back together. But the resolution the movie provides is honorable, a Utopian version of how different groups of people spur and inspire one another to do their best."

Somehow, it doesn't seem the Melania-Michelle plagiarism affair will have a similar conclusion.