Arts & Culture

Pop culture says hello to ‘Bye, Felicia’

Ice Cube and Chris Tucker starred in the 1995 film “Friday,” which spawned the phrase “Bye, Felicia.”
Ice Cube and Chris Tucker starred in the 1995 film “Friday,” which spawned the phrase “Bye, Felicia.” New Line Cinema

You know those moments when someone – especially someone you really aren’t a fan of – is leaving and you couldn’t care less?

Thanks to the 1995 film “Friday,” you now have a phrase to really get your point across: “Bye, Felicia.”

Although the movie starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker is 20 years old, the dismissive line took off in the past year and half in popular culture and is still going strong.

“It took a while to get some steam,” said Robert Thompson, a media scholar and educator at Syracuse University. “I think there are people who use this phrase who don’t even know where it came from.”

Thompson said the scene in “Friday” was minimal. In it, Ice Cube dismisses the neighborhood crackhead, Felisha. Twenty years later, it generally means “get out of my face” or “I’m done with you.”

Shanice Davis, an assistant general manager for the Wichita Force football team, said she grew up watching the “Friday” movies. The third and final film came out in 2002, although there have been rumors of a fourth one.

“Whenever someone is being really ridiculous or being really absurd,” Davis, 23, said she’ll tell them “Bye, Felicia.”

Courtney Seddon, 23, recently tweeted: Easiest way to prove to me that we shouldn't be friends: call yourself a ‘gypsy soul.’ #byefelicia

Seddon described it as a “really flippant way of being like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’”

The diss has been heard in several TV shows and movies, even inspiring the VH1 show “Bye Felicia!” about a best friend duo who offer “no nonsense” advice to struggling women in Los Angeles.

“Bye Felicia” even has its own merchandise online, including phone cases, travel coffee mugs, T-shirts with a peace sign and a door mat.

The name “Felicia” adds to the popularity, Davis said, because it has a quirky context.

Felicia Goodwin said she’s used to hearing giggles from teenagers when she introduces herself.

“I had some reactions at restaurants when you have to give them your name, like at Panera,” said Goodwin, a second-grade school teacher in Wichita. “Or the checkout lady would just start laughing and giggling.”

However, she’s not a fan of the phrase.

“I know what it means,” said Goodwin, who also leads a youth group at River Community Church for 6th through 12th graders.

“I’ve told the kids at youth group – they would be saying ‘Bye Felicia,’ and I’d say ‘No, no, hi, Felicia.’”

Davis said she started hearing the one-liner in the last year or year and a half. Google Trends indicate that the term was most searched in December 2014.

Why the phrase is suddenly so popular is a mystery, Thompson said. Perhaps the “throw-away line” wasn’t an instant trend in 1995, he said, because things like YouTube and online urban dictionaries weren’t around yet.

“I like to think things come in trends and go in circles,” said Seddon, who runs the optical department at The Eye Gallery in northeast Wichita.

Trends in fashion and music repeat themselves, she said, like how bell bottoms and bandana headbands have made a comeback.

“When I think about being an adult, I remember the late 90s and early 2000s,” Seddon said. “Finally our generation gets to change and shape culture. So why not bring Ice Cube back and lip sync battles back?”

Catchphrases from films and TV shows catch on because they so perfectly define a moment, Thompson said. Such as when you want someone to “get lost” that you particularly don’t like.

The phrase “yada, yada, yada,” made popular on “Seinfeld” for example, became synonymous with a conversation gloss over to replace “blah, blah, blah.”

“‘Seinfeld’ was good at creating those catchphrases that were so convenient because there weren’t any other words that quite did it,” Thompson said. “They got borrowed and became part of the lexicon.”

Typically phrases start to lose their original meaning over time, he said. The “Twilight Zone” theme song is now an indication that something weird or supernatural is happening, but that wasn’t the tune’s original intent.

So far, though, “Bye, Felicia” hasn’t lost its translation.

Curious to see how popular it is among his students, Thompson ended a summer course a few weeks ago with the “Friday” phrase.

“Bye, Felicia,” he said to them.

Thompson said it was the most laughter he’s received all summer.

Reach Shelby Reynolds at 316-268-6514 or sreynolds@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @_shelbyreynolds.

The phrase in pop culture

▪ “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” (August 2014): Nicole Richie gave a clueless Seacrest the down-low.

▪ “Conan” (April 2015): Ice Cube, star of “Friday,” appeared on Conan O’Brien to discuss the 20th anniversary of the film. The phrase has “become part of a culture,” Ice Cube says.

▪ A participant in the Oxygen reality TV show “Bad Girls Club: Miami” used the dismissive phrase at the end of a dramatic argument.

▪ “Empire” (March 2015): Cookie Lyon storms into an argument with Anika and storms right back out with “Bye, Felicia.”

▪  Singer Jordin Sparks named her first mixtape, #ByeFelicia (November 2014)

▪  On Twitter, there’s a hashtag dedicated to the phrase. According to the website Topsy.com, it’s been tweeted over 18,000 times in the past 30 days.

▪  Sports commentator Keith Olbermann used the catchphrase during highlight reels on his ESPN show. He even interviewed actress Angela Means, who played Felisha in “Friday.”

▪  “Dance Moms” (August 2015): On last week’s episode of the reality show, the theme of one dance was “Bye, Felicia.”

Modern language

These phrases made the leap from films and TV into our everyday speech:

▪ “As if” as heard in the 1995 film “Clueless” starring Alicia Silverstone, generally means: “yeah, right.”

▪ “D’oh” was coined by Homer Simpson in the late-‘80s from the TV series “The Simpsons.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as such: “used when you realize that you have just said or done something stupid or foolish.”

▪ “Houston, we have a problem” was made famous by Tom Hanks in space film “Apollo 13” in 1995. Now, it’s used indicate – with humor – there’s a problem, and space is usually not involved.

▪ “Yada, yada, yada” got its start in on “Seinfeld.” It’s used to gloss over details.

▪ “Why so serious?” the Joker asks in the 2008 “The Dark Knight” film starring Heath Ledger and Christian Bale.

▪ “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” was used literally in the “Wizard of Oz,” but can be used figuratively to mean a new place is strange.

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