Friday, May 16, 2014

How "Bye Felicia" Became A Popular Catchphrase

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information and comments about the saying "Bye Felicia".

The content of this post is provided for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

WARNING: Some quotes included in this post contain profanity. Those words are partly spelled with asterisks.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who are featured in the showcased video and thanks to the publisher of that video on YouTube

Since at least 2013, "Bye Felicia" has become the "in" putdown phrase to use to get rid of someone who is annoying. In addition to there being a number of recently posted bad (as in not that good) Hip-Hop records with that title, the phrase "Bye Felicia" can be found on Facebook and Twitter, prompting some people (such as me) to wonder who is or who was Felicia and why people are so glad to see her gone.

It turns out that "Felicia" (actually "Felisha") is the name of a female character in the 1995 African American comedy/drama movie Friday. Felisha was a crack addict who was constantly asking to borrow things. In this scene from the movie, the two main characters respond to her begging by decisively saying "Bye".

WARNING: The movie (as well as this scene) includes profanity.

friday clip

HyFlyer988Uploaded on Mar 11, 2007

felisha beggin

According to two bloggers whose comments I found on different online sites, the saying "Bye Felicia" was used by African Americans before the 1995 African American comedy/drama movie Friday first aired. [The pertinent statements are given in italics].

...."Bye Felicia" is straight from Friday, the scene where Felicia — the neighborhood crackhead — stops by Craig’s house while he and Smokey are hanging out on the porch. She asks them if they’re smoking so she can get a hit. And then she asks Smokey to borrow his car real quick. The whole exchange ends with “Bye Felicia” and that has been a saying for black folks since the mid-1990s."
-dragofficial, 19 September 2013
Nunu Hurt, May 2014 [comment]
felicia was debbie's sister on friday. she was sleeping with debo. felicia was always begging for stuff. she asked craig if she could, "borrow yo' car right quick...what you smokin' on, etc.." if you didn't give her beggin' ass stuff she'd call you stingy. when she came by craig, smokey, and them would say, "BYE FELICIA." we have been saying bye to "Felicia" for about 20 years. it's just a meme on facebook now that's why people say it".
While it may be true that Black folks (here probably meaning African Americans) have been using "Bye Felicia" as a dismissive put down for twenty years, I personally don't recall using it, hearing it used, or even reading it until very recently. That said, I definitely recall hearing, reading, (but not using) the word "Bye" in the same way that "Bye Felicia" is used nowadays.

And, if "Bye Felicia" really has been used by Black people as a phrase that means more than its literal meaning, it's curious that websites which lists quotable quotes* from that classic or near classic movie don't include that "Bye Felicia" quote.

*There are many quotes listed from Friday and most of those quotes contain profanity and/or what is known as the n-word.

However, urban contains a definition for "Bye Felicia" from 2008. That's the earliest online use of that phrase that I've found besides the YouTube clip given above. Here's that entry:
"When someone says that they're leaving and you could really give two sh&ts less that they are. Their name then becomes "felicia", a random bi&ch that nobody is sad to see go. They're real name becomes irrelevant because nobody cares what it really is. Instead, they now are "felicia".
"hey guys i'm gonna go"
"bye felicia"
"who is felicia?"
"exactly bi&th.* buh bye."

-pimpin'817 December 07, 2008,
I used "&" instead of fully spelling out those two words as they are found in that quote.

As suggested in some of the comments given above, by at least 2008, "Bye Felicia" was used as a dismissive put down to people regardless of their name or their gender. The person addressed as "Felicia" no longer has to be a freeloader (a person who is always asking to borrow stuff). Instead, a person can say "Bye Felicia" to a person because she or he is annoying, or outrageous, or because you consider that person to be insignificant, or just because you don't like her or him and/or you don't like what that person has done. In other words, "Bye Felicia" has become the latest "in" (hip/cool) way of putting someone down, similarly to the "talk to the hand" ('cause the face ain't listening) saying and gesture which is still used but was a real hot ("in") thing to do and/or to say in the 1990s.

For those interested in understanding how "Bye Felicia" is currently being used, it's important to recognize that that phrase doesn't necessarily mean that the person being called "Felicia" (whether it is a female or a male) has to be actually leaving somewhere. That phrase means that you wish that that person would leave or you are treating that person as if she or he has already left because you hold her or him in so little regard.

As is the case with the insult "game" known as "The Dozens", a person who is told "Bye Felicia" is supposed to act like he or she isn't phased (bothered) by that insult. Indeed, one usual response is to pretend that you didn't even hear that putdown.

The phrase "Bye Felicia" can be found throughout Facebook and Twitter since at least the mid 2013. How did that happen?

Here are the conclusions that I reached as a result of my research:
1. Its use by some Gay people
The current popularity of the phrase "Bye Felicia" can be traced to it being adopted by (but not coined by) drag artists or other members of the American Gay community.

..."So can we please give credit where credit is due, and get this random white drag queen off of this meme like this just randomly burst forth from the gay consciousness last month? I like Vicky Vox and I think she’s funny. I also thought it was funny when she randomly used it in the song. And then here comes the gay white internet passing this around like we haven’t been saying it for almost 20 years already. This sh&t is old, and as usual, black people started it."
-dragofficial, 19 September 2013
Notice the same statement that was given above that Black people (here meaning African Americans) have been using "Bye Felicia" for almost twenty years.

That commentor is referring to the song "Blurred Byne" by drag queens DWV (Detox, Willam & Vicky Vox). Here's a link to that video [WARNING: That video contains profanity and content that contains sexualized content] (The "Bye Felicia" phrase is spoken in that video and is written on the video's screen at 2:48).

That YouTube video was published on Sep 11, 2013 and has over two million hits to date.

2. Its use in a segment of the American reality television show Bad Girls Club (Miami) on August 2013.
"BGC Miami Bonus: Bye Felicia!

Teresa, Jazmone and Tiana talk trash* about Sarah in the green room at the photo shoot.
Capture date : 08/26/2013
Publication date : 08/28/2013
Duration : 01:11"

The Bad Girl Club is an American reality television series about the interactions between a number of young women who live together. In this particular scene, two Black women and one White woman are filmed sitting on the couch casually talking with each other about how much they dislike another housemate Sarah (who is White). The camera is on the White woman (Teresa) when one of the Black women (Jazmone?) continues her rant by sharing that she wants to say to Sarah: “Bye Felicia. Yes, go home, Roger.”

Although that segment predates the "Blurred Byne" song, my guess is that television segment may not have driven or be driving the "Bye Felicia" meme as much as the use by members of the Gay community.

*Talk trash here means “saying mean things about someone; talking about someone behind his or her back”. Click for or what I believe is the more common meaning of trash talk among African Americans

3. Other examples of the use of the catchphrase "Bye Felicia"
Recently (May 2014) the phrase "Bye Felicia" was used by Kenya Moore to Nene Leakes on The Real Housewives Of Atlanta Reunion show. She used that phrase in the same way that I've heard African Americans say "You're dismissed" (to discount what a person has said, or done, or that person's existence).

"Bye Felicia" was used by RuPaul in a segment of RuPaul's Drag Race Untucked Season 6 (2014).

[Speaking of RuPaul's Drag Race Untucked Season 6], Here's a comment that demonstrates how "Bye Felicia" is used as a dismissive putdown:

Dylan, 12/08/2013 3:28pm
"Not enough women of color this year.

Uh, wha?, 12/08/2013 5:44pm
“1 Asian, 4 Latino and 2 African American contestants aren't enough people of color? That's half the cast.

Bye Felicia.”

The actress who portrayed Felisha in the movie Friday exchanged tweets with (former MSNBC newscaster) now sports commentator Keith Olbermann:
Bye Felicia" thread (b/c Keith just got a tweet from her!)

Post by Marie » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:36 am
"This is so cute! #TheRealFelicia sounds like such a nice down-to-earth person. She's been getting a large charge out of the familiarity with and the use this catchphrase, and this morning she contacted Keith -- to his great surprise! =D>"
Angela Means wrote to Keith Obermann in his role as a sports commentator to talk about her son who is a football player.

There are a number of Hip-Hop songs on YouTube with the title "Bye Felicia". I think those songs are a response to the popularity of this catchphrase and not how that phrase became popular.

The videos for all of those songs that I've listened to are from 2014 but it's possible that those songs may have been recorded earlier than that. I'm not including links to those videos in part because of the profanity included in their lyrics and also because I personally don't consider any of those songs to be that good.

UPDATE: December 22, 2014
I omitted mention of the American television show entitled "Bye Felicia" which started airing in November 2014. Here's some information about that VH1 tv program:
Posted: 11/19/2014 6:00 pm EST
VH1 Set To Boost The Confidence Of 'White Girls' In New Series, 'Bye Felicia'
"Ice Cube’s now-popular catch phrase “Bye Felicia” from his 1995 classic film, “Friday,” has now developed into the name of a new VH1 reality series.

According to a press release , "Bye Felicia" is an 8-episode series that will follow Atlanta-based life coaches [African Americans] Deborah Hawkes and Missy Young in an effort to increase the self-esteem of “white girls across the Los Angeles area.”...
According to that article and others, many people who have watched episodes of this series aren't impressed with it. I agree.

Apparently, the concept is that a number of White women have a "Felicia" persona in them- a low self-concept that causes them to be less than who they could be. And these self-appointed? life coaches' goal is to get those women to say "Bye Felicia!" to that part of themselves. Instead, I-and others-have said "Bye Felicia!" to that series.

UPDATE: February 14, 2017
"Bye Flynnecia" is a clever play on the saying "Bye Felicia".

That saying was tweeted by
Hemansu Mangal @Hemansu in response to this tweet by RuPaul about Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn:
RuPaul ✔ @RuPaul
National Security Adviser
Michael T. Flynn, Sashay Away.
11:37 PM - 13 Feb 2017

Source for both

Background: Trump's White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned Feb. 13, 2017 over controversy about his communication with Russia both before and after Trump's inauguration.

Click for a pancocojams post on The Origins & Meanings Of "Shante You Stay" & Sashay Away".

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  1. I just happened upon a comment in which includes a twist on the "Bye Felicia" saying.

    That October 2014 article, written by Ezinne Ukoha, was critical of the [then] new African American television series entitled Black-ish.

    The blogger, Katia P, disagreed with the author of that article and ended her comments with "“Felicia you can stay. BYE EZINNE!"
    I thought that was rather witty.

    1. I should also mention that a number of commenters found the title Black-ish to be problematic for a number of reasons- and I agree.

      But that's a whole 'nuther subject.