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A YouTuber duo apologized for their ‘ignorant’ and ‘stereotypical’ idea of having a man dress up as black female singer Normani in a video

A YouTuber duo apologized for their ‘ignorant’ and ‘stereotypical’ idea of having a man dress up as black female singer Normani in a video

  • Niki and Gabi, a YouTuber duo with 8.9 million subscribers, have gotten in trouble with some viewers who said they have pandered to harmful racial stereotypes.
  • In their video “ Going to College Dressed as Celebrities Challenge,” they enlisted their older sister Alex and friend Dennis so they could make themselves look like Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Taylor Swift, and Normani.
  • But some viewers said it was problematic to cast a man to play Normani because of the racist stereotype that black women have “masculine” features.
  • After some backlash, Gabi defended herself on Twitter, saying their decision wasn’t “that deep.” But after a while to consider what happened, Niki tweeted that they had been “ignorant.”
  • “Given time to cool off and let this sink in, I realize we don’t know what they go thru,” she wrote. “People have a right to an opinion and to be angry / feel hurt. I feel ignorant & I’m sorry.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Two famous YouTubers have gotten in trouble because they asked their male friend to dress up as Normani in a lookalike challenge.

In Niki and Gabi’s video “ Going to College Dressed as Celebrities Challenge,” the YouTuber pair enlisted their older sister Alex and friend Dennis so they could make themselves look like Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Taylor Swift, and Normani.

They walked around a college campus in exaggerated outfits, makeup, and hair all the stars are known for. The Swift lookalike was desperately looking for a “London boy,” Cabello was caught making out with an actor who was supposed to be Shawn Mendes, Grande walked around with a Starbucks, and Normani took over a dance class.

Some of the jokes didn’t sit well with the audience

Many called out Niki and Gabi, who have 8.9 million subscribers on their channel, for pandering to harmful racial clichés about black women.

Some said it was problematic to cast a man to play Normani because of the racist stereotype that black women have “masculine” features.

Taylor Swift, Normani, Ariana Grande, and Camila Cabello.
Niki and Gaby / YouTube

“They made a black man play Normani while all the girls were GIRLS but Normani,” wrote one viewer on Twitter. “They gave Normani the stereotypical black girl characteristics and everything when she has never acted like that. I was disgusted!!!!”

After some backlash, Gabi defended herself on Twitter, saying their decision wasn’t “that deep.”

“It IS that deep,” a viewer responded. “It’s a racist trope that devalues black woman. me caring about how women like me are portrayed doesn’t make me anti lgbt+because if that was the case then all yall should’ve been a mix. not just the black woman played by a man.”

Gabi responded again, saying she was sorry for that stereotype and they weren’t aware of it when they were filming. She also said Dennis was a huge Normani fan and that’s why he really wanted to play her.

“There should be no label to who can or can’t do things based on their gender,” she wrote. “I apologize if we have offended anyone by asking our friend to take part in this video.”

“There is a lot more than just the fact he’s a male,” a viewer hit back. “For example: *darkskin* black women, particularly normani more recently, has been drawn as a masculine bod, and casting a male can almost give out the wrong idea. You cannot blame anyone for misconstruing your intentions.”

Several other people responded, telling the duo to delete the video.

The real Normani.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Read more: 44 of the most groundbreaking LGBTQ characters and relationships on TV

Niki and Gabi apologized for their ‘ignorance’

After taking some time to reflect, Niki tweeted that she and Gabi were “ignorant to the situation” because it “didn’t even cross our minds.”

“Seeing the accusations (that are far from the truth) angered us, making us feel like we heavily had to defend ourselves, because that’s not what we were doing at all,” she said. “Learning curve.”

“As much as I hate accusations & Twitter drama, I feel like it does wake me up to shit I should know about,” she continued. “Again, my job isn’t easy, publicly going through shit isn’t easy, but maybe all this drama can wake some of my followers up too, to other issues they aren’t aware of.”

Niki thanked her followers who were defending her and Gabi, but said those who were angry “do have a point.”

“Given time to cool off and let this sink in, I realize we don’t know what they go thru,” she wrote. “People have a right to an opinion and to be angry / feel hurt. I feel ignorant & I’m sorry.”

They decided to see the situation as a learning experience

One person responded saying they had never heard the racial stereotype of labeling black women as masculine before, and she appreciated the opportunity to learn.

“I never heard of this and I’ve never ever seen them that way, which is how this mess happened in the first place,” Niki responded. “No one should ever feel that way and I don’t feel the best about making a video somehow triggering that.”

Dennis also tweeted out an apology to “any and all black women I may have offended” in the video. Another issue people took up with the characterization was the over-the-top “fight” between Normani and Cabello.

“The intentions of my acting was not to portray Normani as a ‘bitter black woman,'” he said. “The video was made to be humorous & over exaggerate each artist. We ended up playing to the unwritten feud between the two girls & I went with over the top sassy. This may have been a mistake on my part but it really wasn’t meant in any other way.”

He added that as a person of color himself, he didn’t think about how black women may have been offended. “So to black women i will apologize,” he said.

“What i WILL NOT apologize for is having fun playing Normani as an androgynous individual,” he added.

Insider has reached out to Niki and Gabi for comment.



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13 slang words everyone is using and what they really mean

13 slang words everyone is using and what they really mean

  • A lot of slang can be unique terms, adaptations of phrases that have been said for years, or words that have recently been given new meanings.
  • Common words, like “basic” and “lit,” have taken on some new meanings in 2019.
  • Some words like “stan” can be negative or positive, words like “bae” can be genuine or only used in an ironic sense, and words like “yeet” have evolved to have multiple meanings.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Every generation has their own slang terms, but they seem to be proliferating at an even faster rate in 2019 thanks to the internet.

With all the viral trends out there, it can be tough to keep up with which words have new meanings and which terms have multiple definitions.

Here are some popular terms people are saying these days and what they mean. It’s worth noting that many of these terms have deep roots in many communities and have recently been used more widely in mainstream culture.

‘Yeet’ was originally a dance, but it now has multiple definitions

Although its origins are debated, some of the first mentions of “yeet” have been found in black social-media culture and the word was actually the name of a dance move.

In recent years, the dance move was featured in the game “Fortnite,” which classifies the move as “the dip.” Many have called out the game for appropriating black culture by taking and renaming this dance move without crediting the community that created it.

“Yeet” has also come to be an exclamation of excitement or victory. For example, “I just got an A on my math test, ya yeet!”

Finally, it’s also used as a verb for “[discarding] an item at a high velocity,” such as throwing an empty can into the trash. “Yeeting” something may be accompanied by the exclamation of the word.

In certain contexts, calling someone ‘basic’ means you’re calling them mainstream

Over the past few years, the word “basic” has gained a colloquial meaning you might not be familiar with. When calling someone “basic,” you’re accusing them of only liking mainstream, popular things.

Although liking mainstream things isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in most cases, calling someone “basic” is meant to be an insult. For example, someone might say, “You only drink pumpkin-spice lattes, you’re so basic.”

The term is oftentimes associated with popular things many people love, like pumpkin-spice lattes or black leggings.

“Ya basic” is also used as a catchphrase on the popular TV show “The Good Place.”

To ‘stan’ something is to be the ultimate fan of something

“Stan culture” focuses on obsessive love for an artist, fictional character, movie, or television show.

According to, the origin of the term comes from the 2000 Eminem song, “Stan.” The song is about a man named Stan is who obsessed with the rapper Eminem. In the song, Stan goes through violent, extreme lengths to write letters to Eminem and try to become just like him.

In 2001, the rapper Nas used “stan” as a term to describe an obsessed fan and, over the course of two decades, the word has also been used to describe someone with an intense love for something.

It can be negative, like in the original Eminem music video or more positive, referencing someone who is dedicated to supporting a specific person or thing.

“Stan” can also be used as a verb or a noun — “We stan Beyoncé” or “I am a Beyoncé stan.”

‘Yas’ or ‘Yaaaas’ is a positive exclamation of support

A popular and encouraging alternative to “yes,” “yas” gained additional popularity after a video of a fan emphatically complimenting Lady Gaga went viral in 2013.

The phrase continued to become popular when Ilana from Comedy Central’s “Broad City” made it a major part of her vocabulary.

The word dates back to the 19th century and its use been popular for decades, with its more recent roots being attributed to the queer, people of color community. In the 1980s, “yas” was popularly yelled to support and cheer on drag queens during their runway walks.

The word was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017.

A ‘meme’ is an inside joke that came from the internet

Originating from just about anything in pop culture, like news stories, cartoons, or home-made videos, a meme is a photo-, text-, or video-based reference that is manipulated and spread on the internet to become a humorous phenomenon that exists in the cultural zeitgeist.

There are thousands of memes that exist with hundreds of popular iterations of every meme.

Some popular memes include the original “I Can Has Cheezburger?” cats, the distracted-boyfriend stock photo, newer cartoon images like Surprised Pikachu and Confused Mr. Krabs, the meta love of dank memes which are rare or niche, and the expanding brain meme that shows the progression of thoughts and arguments to an inane conclusion.

The term “meme” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015.

‘Bae’ is a long-used term for someone’s significant other or someone they admire

Your “bae” could be your partner.
The Gender Spectrum Collection

Often used ironically, “bae” is another way of calling someone “baby” or “babe.” Its origin is unclear but it’s believed to have been a term first used in hip-hop and rap lyrics from artists in the black community as early as the 2000s.

At one point, “bae” was thought to be an acronym for “before anyone else.”

In 2012, the term was popularly used in a meme where people posted pictures of themselves sleeping with the caption, “Bae caught me slippin’,” even if it was clear that no one had taken a candid photo, and that “bae” was just fabricated for the selfie.

The commonly used word ‘bet’ can also mean ‘for sure’

Although “bet” usually means to risk something or feel sure about something, it is now commonly used as a brief response.

“Bet” is now used as a positive, laidback synonym for “OK.” For example, if someone asks if you’re coming to dinner later, you might simply respond by nodding and saying, “Bet.”

‘Flossing’ isn’t just for teeth — it’s a type of dance

Exploding in popularity when “the backpack kid” (a 15-year-old dancer wearing a backpack) did these moves during Katy Perry’s “Saturday Night Live” performance in May 2017, this dance move is now widespread in schools.

The move involves holding two straight arms with closed fists in a flossing motion, going from front to back, while moving the hips in the opposite direction.

The dance can also be found in the popular video game “Fortnite.”

GOAT is an acronym for the title ‘Greatest of All Time’

Branding someone with the title of “GOAT” is a way to honor athletes, musicians, and other leaders at the top of their fields. Sometimes it’s just written out as “the goat,” and sometimes it’s just conveyed via the use of a goat emoji.

It can also be used as a casual compliment. For example, “You’re ordering pizza for dinner? You’re the goat.”

That being said, being the “GOAT” wasn’t always positive. Per Grammarphboia, this phrase has been used in the sports world since the early 1900s. Back then, it used to be a negative term for the person who was responsible for a team’s loss. It’s unclear when the term became positive.

Something or someone can be ‘lit’

Calling someone “lit” could also mean you’re calling them “intoxicated.”

In recent years, the word “lit” has gained a few new definitions but, per, it has been part of the English language since the 1910s.

It can be a synonym of “intoxicated,” used to describe someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Lit” gained even more popularity around 2015 when it became a way to say that a party or event was amazing or lively.

For example, you might use the phrase to say, “He had so many drinks, he’s definitely lit” or “The party is going to have great music and snacks, it’s gonna be lit.”

A ‘finsta’ is a private Instagram account that’s usually quite personal or very silly

“Finsta” is the shortened version of the portmanteau of “fake” and “Instagram.” It is usually the secondary Instagram account that someone has.

This account is typically private and only shared with close friends.

This secondary account is usually very personal and emotional, sort of like a diary, or silly, filled with memes and humorous photos. It is meant to be hidden from one’s family members or the general public.

If someone is looking ‘snatched,’ they are looking fierce or impressive

Although the word typically means to suddenly seize something, it actually has another meaning when used in a certain context.

The term “snatched” has roots in the LGBTQ community and it’s typically used to call something fierce or great.

“Snatched” can also be used on its own, meaning that someone is captivated by something or that something looks incredible. It can be used as an adjective, “Her makeup looks snatched,” or a verb, “I’m ready to be snatched by this new movie.”

‘Sus’ is a shortened version of the words ‘suspicious’ or ‘suspect’

“Sus” is slang for “shady” or “questionable.”

For example, in June of 2018, regarding a strange-looking photo of Tesla’s production, Elon Musk tweeted “Looks so sus when we paint cars red.”

Interestingly, this phrase has actually been used for over a century.

In England, as part of the Vagrancy Act of 1824 (which was later repealed), “sus laws,” short for “suspected person laws,” authorized “the arrest and punishment of suspected persons frequenting, or loitering in, public places with criminal intent,” per Collins Dictionary.

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Tips for Shooting Non-Actors in a Small Town with Filmmaker Bob Byington

Tips for Shooting Non-Actors in a Small Town with Filmmaker Bob Byington

How the SXSW feature ‘Frances Ferguson’ captures the best out of its stars and locals.

At its world premiere at SXSW 2019, Bob Byington took the stage to present Frances Ferguson with one of the many non-actor locals from North Platte, Nebraska where the movie was filmed and set.

Like many of Byington’s films, Francs Ferguson mixes professional actors (in this case David Krumholtz, Keith Poulson and the film’s titular star Kaley Wheless) with an ensemble cast of non-actors who reflect the feeling and makeup of its setting.

The result is a cinematic world that is both fictional while almost documentary, where we get to meet characters who feel authentic and just in their place. While this may not be the best option for every filmmaker, it works for Byington and creates some amazing scenes for some standout performances Wheless and Krumholtz indeed.

We chatted with Byington about his unique filmmaking process and how he’s found a way to make it work for him and his characters. As well as garnered some insights into how a small town was able to bring Frances Ferguson to life.


NFS: Frances Ferguson is a film very much driven by its eponymous lead character. So, have to ask, which came first? The story or the character?

Bob Byington: The character!

NFS: The film takes place in the (small town) of North Platte, Nebraska. What drew the story to North Platte? And how did the town respond to the project?

BB: Two things. First of all the town of North Platte is a character in the film, a mix of eccentricity and openness. Secondly, there’s a kind of quality of excitement that remains in North Platte the perhaps other towns don’t have that you’re making a movie and it’s a fun experience and it adds both to the ease of making the film and the quality of the film.


NFS: Kaley Wheless gives a phenomenal performance as Frances Ferguson. It’s a very nuanced performance with intricate quirks and well-defined self-defense mechanisms. How long was spent developing the character? Were there any unique rehearsals or exercises to develop the role?

I asked Kaley Wheless, who plays Fran, and she sent me this:

Kaley Wheless: Over the course of I’d say 6-8 months we molded the character, initially from a blasé, IDGAF millennial type who resided in a short to a slightly older, responsibility-encumbered woman with kids and a husband and an unsatisfactory job. Still DGAF, but with a bit more restlessness.

No unique exercises come to mind, but we definitely played a lot with her voice and tone, and recorded bits of video or voice memos and felt that out until we could pinpoint Fran’s voice and demeanor. And the dialogue was kind of always being workshopped.

There were also a few performances / films Bob pointed me to as points of inspiration and reference for her. I watched Barbara Loden’s Wanda and that impacted me and how I thought about Fran.

NFS: What were some of the challenges, as well as advantages, of using a mix of local non-actors and professional actors?

BB: I like mixing actors and non-actors, if you can do it I think it gives the scenes a kind of tension they might otherwise lack. Some non-actors will give you things actors cannot. Then, with someone like David Krumholtz, you can get something a non-actor could not touch.


NFS: Tell us a little bit about the process of recording the narration with Nick Offerman.

BB: Gosh, Nick was great to work with, a team player, helpful –always a stunning attitude, always raises the bar.

NFS: What camera was the film shot on? Were there any unique technical challenges to the production?

BB: We had an issue with the C300 Mark II presenting magenta horizontal fixed pattern noise in the shadows of certain shots that couldn’t always be solved by black balancing the camera — though that sometimes solved the issue.

NFS: For any filmmakers just starting out, what advice would you give someone looking to make their first short or feature?

BB: Set a date to make the movie and make it then. Don’t change the date because an actor drops out or because your boyfriend dies.

You can follow Bob Byington on Twitter here.

For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

No Film School’s podcast and editorial coverage of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival is sponsored by Blackmagic Design.     

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